photo by Sami Niemelä
In addition to SWAT Summit, I had the pleasure of attending one of PSFK’s conferences in San Francisco this past week. PSFK is known for trend insights and bringing together unique and intelligent people from a variety of disciplines.
After a brief introduction by PSFK founder Piers Fawkes, Ed Cotton (BSSP) talked about why you should care about trends. Ed stated that trends are just stuff, from guerilla gardeners to cupcakes. Super-saturated society is not a new concept and inspiration for trends can come from anywhere, whether it be an RSS feed or a flower. The presentation talked about other “not new” concepts like how consumers own a brand and not the brand itself. This old concept got me thinking about the web 2.0 landscape and how social networks quite possibly are a smidge behind brands in learning this lesson. Many social networks/services/apps are still struggling with the idea that the community owns the service and not the service itself (a statement for a separate post that I intend to write more at length about).
Next on the agenda was San Francisco Snapshot with Colin Nagy (Attention), Amit Gupta (Photojojo), Jeremy Townsend (Ghetto Gourmet), Kevin Allison (Financial Times) and Liz Dunn (Funny Or Die). After living in San Francisco for almost a year now and loving it, this was a great session for me to sit in on. San Francisco is fairly unique – despite being geographically smaller, it tends to hold its own internationally. The panel discussed how the time shift of the Pacific Time Zone from the rest of the world (e.g. we wake up later and are the last ones to go to sleep in the U.S.) allows for innovation. Someone in the audience asked about how SF residents come off as very smug about everything and I really enjoyed Liz Dunn’s answer. Liz smiled and said (I’m quoting from memory), “well, it’s like LA has the celebrities and New York has the financial power, and we (SF) are like the nerds saying “well, I didn’t want to hang out with them anyway!”. Our celebrities in SF are like Steve Jobs, a nerd, and I think that says a lot about who we are”.
The rest of the conference featured more brilliant minds and inspiring talks. Andrew Hoppin (NASA) and Ezra Cooperstein (Current TV) discussed how they engage and collaborate with individuals and communities from around the world. Gareth Kay (Modernista), Eric Corey Freed (Organic Architect), Frank Striefler (Media Arts Lab) and Josh Morenstein (fuseproject) gave examples of how to make inspiration matter. One of the most notable examples was an architect asking about the menstrual behaviors of a client – the client confessed that she wanted a wall that was three feet in front of the toilet because when she experienced cramps growing up, she would put her feet on the wall in front of her. By taking the time to learn such intimate details about the client, the architect was able to design a house that truly worked on a custom level.
Listening to so many positive examples and people was inspiring and comforting to know that many are dedicated to making positive changes across the world on a one-by-one basis.