Interesting2008: fascinating and inspiring

When Russell Davies first floated the idea last year of holding an event full of interesting speakers, I was hooked. Unfortunately I couldn’t go due to holidays so when Interesting 2008 was announced, I was determined to go (I don’t know Russell, but am in awe of his energy and his imagination. “How to be interesting” really inspired me when I was in a creative rut”).

Yesterday was the big day and I went along to learn some ‘interesting’ stuff. I wasn’t disappointed, in fact it was great. I’m not going to give a comprehensive review here of all the speakers (others have already begun doing that) just a few things that stuck in my mind (The Guardian will be uploading videos of all the speakers in the next few days. They’re well worth watching if you couldn’t make it).

  • There’s enough Lego bricks in the world that each person could have 62 bricks. Why isn’t Lego made out of wood rather than nasty chemicals? (a great example of pace and brevity from Roo)
  • Horses have a blind spot in front of their noses.
  • We need more creative generalists rather than specialists (moot point for me, plenty of generalists in the civil service, creativity is often at a premium).
  • The ecological footprint of the world would need to expand by two and a half times if we all lived in Salisbury (which has the third best carbon footprint in the UK) – and children need to explore more.
  • The history of popular music and graphic design is interlinked and both inspire each other (phew, this one was a riot).
  • Exploration is not finished, its online.
  • Patagonian mirrors – an amazing method of long distance communication (now sadly long gone).
  • The best time to slaughter calves for ethical veal – “when they stop looking cute”.
  • The cure for insomnia – trash crime fiction (must try this). Can I add, I find a sound asleep pillow to assist in this regard :-).
  • Churchill’s leadership style – improvisation and dare (I’ll go along with that).
  • Funny words are more likely to contain a K than an L in them.
  • Old computers make great musical instruments
  • Turntables make amazing zoetropes

All in all an amazing day. Not perfect by an means. The start (a communal rendition of “The Final Countdown“- you had to be there to appreciate how absolutely effective this was) had everyone pumped up, the meditation after lunch almost sent me to sleep and left me drowsy for the early afternoon set of speakers (though the two pints I had around the corner probably didn’t help). Running longer sessions straight after lunch didn’t help either and didn’t feel as punchy as the morning.

But these are minor quibbles. My real takeaways were:

  • You can learn an awful lot from seemingly random subjects to apply to your own work and life, provided they are interesting. Personal passion from the speakers went a long way in this regard.
  • Not really knowing what’s happening next, and a healthy dose of chaos, makes a conference many times more exciting than the usual corporate dross.

I’d love to see something runalong these lines inside Whitehall to inspire and educate decision makers about the opportunities of online / digital / web and creativity. Who knows, it may happen…

Two more quick things: Lloyd really does have the most amazing voice, and hello to Arthur.

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  1. Dammit. I SO want to go to that. We’ll have to manufacture some international Govt 2.o event for the day after Interesting next year, so I can justify the plane ticket.

  2. Sure somebody in Canada is up for organising one of these! One of the speakers travelled over especially from your beautiful country just to speak for ten minutes.

  1. June 22nd, 2008
  2. June 27th, 2008

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