Documentation 2014 - The Conference

The Guide

This is a guide to help you navigate the collective knowledge that was being shared on the stages of The Conference. Malmö, Sweden, August 19-20, 2014.


Brian Reed

A story should make a larger point about human experience and the world

Brian Reed, producer at This American Life, gives an insight about important basic elements to be able to craft a good story.

He and his colleagues focus on three things in This American Life: action, reflection and stakes. Put together, these become really powerful. But you also need to think about motion when telling a story, as this will pull people forward and make them actually listen.

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Jenny Wilson

I’m drowning in a deep sea of ideas

What does a creative process look like? Few things can be as personal and abstract like the creative process.

Artist Jenny Wilson talk about her voyage going from a hollow shell to having a finished album. How the initiating stages of a shut down intellect and vacant space slowly fills up with elusive signals of inspiration. The fear of acting on these signals as they surely will lead to a long and heavy task of collecting material but at the same time the satisfaction of feeling alive and sparkling.

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Jill Nussbaum

Let's tattoo design fiction on our arms... Or legs!

Designer Jill Nussbaum takes a closer look at storytelling from a design perspective and discusses how stories can be a framework to help imagine the future of products and services.

Good stories have the ability to take new ideas and put them in a context that everybody understands. But today's designers are envisioning a future of how things can potentially be, and need to be able to communicate this to their clients.

Design fiction, as a kind of idea prototyping, will help to inspire and imagine the future.

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Nonny de la Peña

It starts to feel very actual after a while

How do you create a sense of embodiment in cyberspace? Nonny De La Peña, Senior Research Fellow at USC School Of Cinematic Arts, has the answer.

She takes us into the world of immersive journalism, which uses gaming platforms and virtual environments to create experiences of news and nonfiction.

Looking at how immersive journalism works, you start to feel how your mind can be tricked into giving you presence in another place.

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Per Cromwell

Either you’re part of the content or you’re part of the disruption

In the eyes of Per Cromwell, co-founder of Studio Total, storytelling means designing and crafting something that people will want to retell.

Today, you cannot buy attention, you have to deserve it, and to be perceived as innovative, you also have to be innovative.

With examples from various Studio Total campaigns, Per talks about the importance of standing out and getting everyone to look – not only your target audience.

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Magnus Thure Nilsson

It is not us, it’s you – but without us, there is no you

Magnus Thure Nilsson, CEO of Media Evolution, defines what a community is and what it means in a greater context. Hereby understanding that "we are all in this together" is one of the most crucial aspects of communities, because we are the motor.

This is also the basis for Media Evolution City and The Conference as platforms. To exchange knowledge, be engaged, to learn and listen better, as well as to collaborate – together!

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Eva Hoffman

If we don’t allow ourselves to waste some of it, time can turn on us

Author Eva Hoffman points to the fact that lived time today is a highly valuable entity.

She speaks of how digital technology has changed our perception of time, whilst our body and mind still follow its own biological pace, playing a vital role to our well-being.

Therefore, to really experience our experiences, we occasionally need to unwind – and unplug.

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Paul Adams

Stop applying your ideas on how the world works today

Throughout history we have consequently been applying new technology to fill needs the existing world. As the VP of Product at Intercom, Paul Adams aims to identify user problems.

Instead of obsessing about the technology itself we should focus on what it can be used for. Just like the combustion engine and electricity came to be revolutionary for human networking, we should focus on how we can use the internet to change the world we live in.

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Juliana Rotich

It is in sharing that we create value

Out of the need for better media coverage, Ushahidi was born. Co-founder Juliana Rotich explains why this new technology is a door opener to create a more transparent and better world – not only in Africa, but also on a global scale.

Through the concept of crowdsourcing, knowledge is being put in people’s hands. This enables us to find true stories in data and give the world a better picture of what is really going on.

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David Gram

We are like mad scientists that are allowed to experiment

How to create a longevity in a product that was invented 80 years ago? And how to still stay relevant in the ever changing world?

David Gram, Marketing Director of Lego Group’s future lab, speaks about his experience of Intrapreneurship within the Lego Group. With this approach, it is always a challenge to stay true to the core values and be a rebel at the same time. You have to accept that people will hate your project in the beginning but that's what the invention of future play is about.

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Uffe Elbæk

The most interesting place to be is at border between the known and the unknown, and how you handle your life there

What you are doing right now? What is important to you? Should you do it differently? Are you already on the right track?

These are questions that social entrepreneur and politician Uffe Elbæk invites us to reflect on. Combined with four personal stories, he talks about how the people we meet, and the mistakes that we make, have an influence on our worldview and how we go about things.

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Behavioral Research and Observation Techniques

Molly Crabapple

A sketchpad can go places cameras cannot look

For Molly Crabapple, art is the discipline of seeing. Together with her sketchpad, she has been able to see things cameras couldn’t – portraying Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Occupy Wall Street protesters and Syrian refugees.

Molly talks of the importance of drawing in a networked world, where there are more images than ever before.

She also challenges us as listeners to draw. Because even though it can’t change the world, it might make us see it a bit differently.

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Rob Fitzpatrick

Leave your idea and your ego out of it

Presenting your idea to other people is fishing for compliments, and compliments are bad data. Instead of talking about your product and idea directly, discuss on detail how people have handled their problems in the past.

Rob Fitzpatrick, author of The Mom Test, speaks about how to solve the issue, get commitments and keep away from guessing about the future.

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Erika Hall

Data won’t tell us what to do

Is more data really helping humanity make better decisions?

Even though everything is measurable, and almost everything we do is generating data, human problems often require illogical approaches.

Erika Hall, Senior Strategist at Mule Design, reminds us that in order to meet real human needs, we need to approach the data we collect with empathy – seeing not only the facts, but the story.

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Ge Jin

There is always an inspiration waiting to be found, at an unexpeted stop

Functioning as Human Factor Researcher at IDEO in Shanghai, Ge Jin works with translating research into innovative design.

In this, he has discovered the importance of learning from subcultures and understanding the offline context when interpreting online stories.

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Human Behavior

Daniel Margulies

The mind is anything but silent!

To be able to understand human behavior, the activity level of the brain is vital. Did you know that the brain is always active, no matter what we are doing?

Daniel Margulies, brain scientist at the Max Planck Institute, presents insights on how spontaneous fluctuations in brain activitity are connected to how we experience the world around us.

As you get more into it, you will understand how these fluctuations balance internally oriented and externally oriented attention.

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Kevin Allocca

The ones that are really good are the ones that are rewriting the rules

Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture and Trends at YouTube, breaks down the concept of virality with the help of phenomenons such as the Harlem Shake and the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Kevin describes how technology has brought a more open form of distribution, resulting in decentralization and participation.

But is there a secret to what works? Or can it be so, that the things that make it work actually cannot be measured at all?

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Caroline Jönsson

The ultimate power is decision

Sport psychologist and former football player Caroline Jönsson looks into human driving forces from the heart’s perspective and explains the nature of human motivation.

What is it really that drives us? This is a frequently asked question, especially in sports, that cannot be generally answered.

The main driver depends on the individual’s own values. But following our hearts is something that we all should have in common, because that is what gives us ultimate fulfillment.

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Elaine Hsiao

We have evolved with trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the human body

Everybody has, at one point, wondered what we as humans are and are made of. Elaine Hsiao, Senior Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, responds to the latter with a simple answer: microorganisms.

They are also referred to as "the forgotten organ", as not a lot of people are actually aware that more than 10.000 unique species of microbiota inhabit every exposed surface of the body.

Not only do these play important roles in biological processes – they also impact behavior, health and disease.

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Erin Moore

Don’t underestimate what one second can do

Today, time is a utility. We expect to get something from the time we use, and we expect it to be worth it.

Erin Moore of Twitter speaks from her experiences in UX design, concluding that in order to design for time, we need to design for efficiency, simplicity, access and delight.

Designers are the new clockmakers, and we need to make sure that the seconds we design for actually matters.

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Sille Krukow

90 percent of the time we are being automatic

Why is it so hard to change our behavior on an every day basis?

Nudge and behavioral design expert Sille Krukow explains that changing human behavior is not just about having the right knowledge. Often, we are not even able to explain why we do the things that we do.

But by observing both the behavior and the context, it is possible to use design to change our habits to the better.

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Ivan Poupyrev

Gadgets are your friends

To make sense of technology we need to use it in new and interesting ways. Instead of just ending up in a large pile of junk, how can we think beyond gadgets? Can we make it more sustainable by making the physical world interactive?

Labeled one of the best interaction designers in the world, Ivan Poupyrev, Technical Program Lead at the Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP), shows some mind-blowing examples of combining new technology with our environment.

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Clara Gaggero Westaway

There is no such thing as a pure digital experience

As a designer at Special Projects, Clara Gaggero Westaway constantly tries to gap the bridge between the digital and physical experience. Even though you product is digital it always exists in a physical context.

Listen to Clara talk about some of the amazing products that have come out of Special Projects, how they work and their use of extensive research to reach the best results.

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New Technologies and Digital Literacy

Skylar Tibbits

DNA is such a great design material

Skylar Tibbits, research scientist at the MIT Self-Assembly Lab, spoke of his work with 4D printing and the exciting shift that is taking place in how we assemble things.

Skylar describes that by listening to materials, and make use of their interaction with each other and with energy, parts are actually becoming able to build themselves.

The future of fabrication might already be here.

Ingrid Burrington

Infrastructure is only something you notice when it stops working

Internet is more than just what you interact with online. With miles of fiber lines and future ways of providing wireless connection, the major online companies are moving beyond tech into infrastructure while we are losing access.

Artist and writer Ingrid Burrington brings up the question on how we can use the infrastructure to take control of our own communication.

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Sarah Jeong

Human beings want to trust each other and the systems around them

Can money exist without a government? And is the biggest value of the coin actually the gold or the face of the king?

Sarah Jeong, writer and Harvard Law School graduate, discusses the trust issues surrounding the Bitcoin blockchain.

She concludes that even though Bitcoin may have started out as a reaction to the financial system, it has actually become a part of it.

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Nell Watson

Machines will replace humans at every level

Children automatically gather a lot of capabilities and evolve through pattern recognition, when can we teach machines to do the same? According to Nell Watson, CEO of Poikos, we are already on our way.

As the technology grows more powerful and sophisticated we are moving towards creating true artificial intelligence. We are already at the stage of a bee and it’s only a matter of time until our new colleague’s mind was created by IBM.

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Sara M. Watson

We need to demand more of the digital platforms that gather our data

Through advanced algorithms and how we interact online the major digital platforms are turning our behavior into personal data. Although they are becoming more transparent, how can we make this data more legible to us?

Listen to Sara M. Watson, internet critic at Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, talk about how we can make sense of the data behind the scenes with digital tools and plugins as well as personal interventions.

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Amir Rubin

What if machines could sense the world the same way humans do?

Perceptions shape our experiences and allows us to experience new realities. Having machines perceive the world as humans do opens up for a new paradigm of what it means to experience content.

By using laser sensors we can create exact 3d replicas of the physical world, bringing the content into our reality instead of the other way around. Paracosm co-founder Amir Rubin explains and shows examples of how it can be used.

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Masakazu Takasu

Done is better than perfect

Masakazu Takasu, technical evangelist at teamLab, takes us on a journey to his homeland of Japan and their exciting ways of using technology, design and science. teamLab combines these disciplines to create innovative digital solutions often with physical elements of interaction.

Through playing and experimentation, connecting prototyping with 3d graphics, art and much more, they're creating a whole new world of gaming, interactive decorations and augmented reality.

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Juan Cartagena

Should we let algorithms run the show – or should we do it by human hand?

Juan Cartagena is the founder of Traity, a startup focusing on measuring people’s reputation across social networks.

He speaks of the growing importance of reputation in an economy where transactions between strangers are becoming more common.

Also, he mentions the challenges this entails – most notably, to which degree algorithms should be allowed to determine reputation.

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Content Strategy

Scott Cohen

We are not the ones consuming information, information is consuming us.

We live in a world that is information rich, which empowers not only professionals but also everybody to create content. This means that we are now competing on with user-generated content and time.

Coming from the music industry, Scott Cohen, founder of The Orchard, gives an insight into how to navigate today’s jigsaw puzzle of micro content. He explains that we have to ask ourselves a different question, namely how to make people addicted to your content?

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Evan Sandhaus

Our relationship with the past has started to change

Evan Sandhaus presents the future of the past told through the lens of the New York Times archive and talks about the challenges of how to digitally manage the 46,595 issues the New York Times has produced since 1851.

Let’s face it: users don’t have the time and inclination to find their way through the 163 year-old archive. Hence, the New York Times has found a way to successful digital archiving, based on three pillars: distribution, discovery and curation.

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How To Make It Happen

Jessica Lawrence

The way we work is no longer working

Many organisations, old and new, are facing challenges when it comes to company culture.

Jessica Lawrence, Executive Director at NY Tech Meetup, argues that in order to help people flourish and innovations take place, we need to change the way we work and dare to defy unhealthy company cultures.

And that doesn’t just mean offering a free lunch or putting up a ping-pong table.

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Lisa Lindström

To be able to do better things, you need to invest in trust

Lisa Lindström, CEO of Doberman and board member of several Swedish companies, wants us to think of each meeting as something beautifully important that we can invest in.

But the more complex things we are working on, the deeper the relationships has to be.

With examples of tools, tips and tricks, Lisa is showing us ways to fast-forward trust – both with our colleagues and our costumers.

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Mattan Griffel

Coders are the modern day artists

The what, why and how of learning how to program. Like painting with a blank canvas, programming can help you make reality of the ideas in your head.

Mattan Griffel, co-founder of One Month, argues that by brute-force learning you can quickly pick up coding skills that allows you to manipulate the world around you, instead of being directed by the ones who can.

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Ed Cooke

Memories need to be used

Memory techniques teaches us how to use our imagination to store information more powerfully, making our memories last longer.

While explaining the basic foundations for Memrise, an online learning platform focusing on memory training, Ed Cooke – himself Grand Master of Memory – learns us how to become better at remembering with the help from a few essential tricks.

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Stephanie Pereira

FOMO can't hurt!

Kickstarter is a place where people can make things that might otherwise not exist. In her talk, International Partnership Lead Stephanie Pereira shares inspiring community stories from people with creative idea, who want to bring a community together, and their methods for achieving this.

In its core, Kickstarter is a true ecosystem of ideas and projects, that brings together different people that care about the same thing, and make them collectively own it.

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Peter Siljerud

If the world was static we wouldn’t need to change

Generations ago it would be hard to convince people that today we take pictures of our food, upload it to a network and have friends and strangers interact with them on a global level.

Interpreting and understanding what the future will look like is very hard, but fortunately there are ways and tools to analyze what might lie ahead. Peter Siljerud, futurist at Futurewise gives us his favourite tips and tricks.

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Erik Thorstensson

Trust immediacy - play

Who would guess playing around with waste material from plastic industries could lead up to creating one of the most flexible prototyping tools around? Prototyping and experimenting with materials and using things in other way than they were intended can lead to amazing products. Listen to co-founder Erik Thorstensson's story about how they work at Creatables.

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Credits: Texts by Kajsa Lindström, Monique Schröder and Fredrik Wallin. Photos by Jesper Berg. Code by Pelle Wessman. Design elements by Hvass&Hannibal.