Reboot10: a belated report


WordPress ate my first attempt, so here I go again. After several years of recommendations I finally decided to make it to Reboot, the much-loved Copenhagen-based conference orchestrated by Thomas Mygdal-Madsen. I was there primarily for Tinker mind you (we ran a workshop on the second day) but I attended a few talks and thought I’d jot down some quotes and thoughts from these 2 days.
FAVORITE TALK: Marko Ahtisaari spoke about wellbeing from a philosophical and economics point of view which I quite enjoyed. The theme of the conference was “free”, which a lot of speakers seemed to interpret as an invitation to add the word “free” to the title of their talk. Marko didn’t make that mistake and spoke eloquently revealing his background as a professor of philosophy. Quoting from 3 different perspectives (those of John Rawls, Esa Saarinen and Amartya Sen) he presented different approaches to how wellbeing and happiness are evaluated, how we approach our establised institutions and the impact they have on our happiness and issues of perception of freedom. Fantastic stuff.
TALK WITH THE MOST POTENTIAL: Molly Wright Steenson spoke about the concept of space and modularity by comparing the work of Cedric Price in his Generator project and the war tactics of the Israelis during the mid-90s also referred to as “walking through walls”. I thought it was interesting to think of the different intepretations of space especially from a historical perspective. I’d like to see more cross-overs with the way we look at the web from a historical perspective (especially in the light of recent debates) I think we have a tendancy to be too much “in the moment” when we think of new technologies and to bridge out to other areas of specialisation would be really useful in geek conferences. Molly’s perspective was really welcomed in that respect.

A quote I thought Brendan would enjoy from Molly’s talk “Designing for delight and pleasure should very seldom be seen to happen and must encompass doubt, danger, mystery and magic”.

I went to see a few other talks, most of them not really worth reporting though as they were either really badly structured or product pitches in disguise. Not my cup of tea in a conference context but part of the dynamics of Reboot as the schedule is pretty much decided in an un-conferency kind of way. The weather was beautiful though and this gave me an excuse to go in and out of sessions and catch up with a few people who I hadn’t seen since my Amsterdam days.

I gave a talk on the challenges of building a business that is part of the ecology of an open-source hardware platform (not posting the slides right away, as I want to test this talk on the Americans next week) and even made it to Danish radio!
In general, I loved the city and the context of the conference. I can’t say I came back with any great new ideas on the state of things and I thought a lot of it was rather old stuff being presented for the nth time, which of course affects the level of enthusiasm of the speakers. Having said that, perhaps that’s not what conferences are for these days. They’re maybe just a way to meet up with old friends and make new ones, because really, the rest is all online :)

Writing 'Creating a Culture of Innovation' (Out in 2020, Apress)