On the Second Day

Just to follow up on my wildly popular report from day one of Creative Good᾿s Good Experience Live (Gel) Conference, here are some notes on day two: this was the heart of the whole thing, a tightly orchestrated, ten hour marathon of speakers, hosted by the generally impressive Mark Hurst. Each person spoke for twenty minutes a piece, and Hurst was gracious and firm in keeping them on schedule — it seemed unnecessary at first, given how expensive the tickets were; I felt that if anyone had something to say that it should be said regardless of the clock. But I had to admit, the time constraints kept things lively and entertaining. What also helped was the diversity of the talks; Hurst did a knockout job of bringing together folks from unexpected walks of life, many of them truly inspirational, and most all of them thoroughly entertaining.

Here are some very quick notes on the slate of speakers from that day.

  1. Douglas Rushkoff, Author
    All I remember was that he gave a fine speech, but jeez, his session started at 8:00a. I was barely awake for it, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of detail.
  2. Craig Newmark, Founder, Craigslist.org
    Is there anybody out there who hasn᾿t seen Craig speak by now? If so, there’s nothing I can tell you that will be any more informative than the Craig Newmark speech that you will inevitably attend somewhere in your near future. Just keep an eye out for him.
  3. Jane McGonigal, Game Designer for Avant Game
    McGonigal’s company specializes in designing and producing real world gaming experiences — for real, that’s a money-making job. She presented a very interesting case study of how she developed a game that took place in real cemetery, and somehow managed to avoid offending everyone in the room.
  4. Seth Godin, Author
    Mr. Godin, who was the originator of Hurst’s This Is Broken, zipped through a horde of ‘Broken’ slides to very humorous effect. He’s an energetic and often hilarious speaker.
  5. Danny Brown, Video Artist
    Hurst showed two artful videos steeped in reverse action trickery that Brown had created and distributed online, and then he came out and addressed the audience while walking on his hands. It was totally wacky!
  6. Katy Börner, Information Science Professor
    Börner was the curator of “Places & Spaces: Mapping Science,” which I discussed in my last post. She basically repeated the speech she’d given at the NYPL the day before.
  7. Leni Schwendinger, Light Designer
    Schwendinger talked about the process of a project her company was contracted for, in which they were charged with redesigning the lighting beneath a fairly unattractive bridge somewhere in Europe… I’m embarrassed to say I don#&8127;t recall.
  8. Marc Salem, Mentalist
    Salem is a master of reading non-verbal cues, which means he can tell when you’re lying. He asked five volunteers to each draw a picture, and was able to identify who had done which drawing with uncanny accuracy based on very simple questioning.
  9. Cathy Salit, Improv Coach
    Salit’s company, Performance of a Lifetime, coaches Fortune 500 executives on stage appearances.
  10. Erin McKean, Lexicographer
    Running counter to whatever stereotype of lexicographers you didn’t know you carried around in your head, McKean gave an hilarious, endearingly self-effacing and entertainingly literate presentation on the wonders of creating dictionaries. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary and the editor of Verbatim Magazine.
  11. Ji Lee, Art Director
    Lee founded The Bubble Project, which is applies speech balloon stickers to street advertising, inviting public comment. He showed a slide of the various kinds of feedback he got.
  12. Dennis Diflorio, Commerce Bank
    Diflorio gave a talk on the ways in which Commerce Bank re-thought its relationship with its customers. It basically boiled down to a pitch for his company — you wouldn#&8217;t call it inspiring, really — but it was the most practical session of the day, probably.
  13. Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone
    Canada, a commanding speaker with gift for storytelling, gave a talk on the ambitious ways that he’s been working to rebuild a neighborhood in Harlem. Easily the most inspiring talk of the day.
  14. Dan Dubno, CBS News
    Dubno and some compatriots lightened the mood with a series of throwaway gadgets, like a technology round-up on a local news channel.
  15. Linda Stone, Former V.P, Microsoft
    Stone talked at length about what she calls “continuous partial attention,” the modern condition of feeling constantly compelled to multitask.
  16. Jason Fried, 37signals
    Fried talked about how much he likes Microsoft Office except for the fact that it doesn’t have enough features. I’m kidding.
  17. Andrew Rasiej, Former Candidate for New York City Public Advocate
    Rasiej talked about his experience running for an office no one really understood on a platform of free wi-fi for the whole city.
  18. Charlie Todd, Prankster
    Todd showed a video of how he’d hired a band to impersonate U2 and play on his roof.
  19. Rick Smolan, Photographer
    Smolan, the man behind the “America 24/7” and other photo book projects, told the story of how, as a young man, he had helped an Amerasian orphan in Korea get adopted by his friends in Atlanta. The last session of the day, it was truly, gut wrenchingly touching… I was trying to keep from tearing up the whole while he was showing his beautiful photos of the experience, and by the time it was over, I was relieved and amazed I hadn’t broken down into a mess of tears.

Whew, that’s it. All in one day!

Looking back, I really wish I had taken notes during the course of the sessions, as I remember a lot less than I thought I would. D’oh! Which explains why several of my comments above are so flippantly dismissive. But, as I mentioned before, I’m generally too lazy to bother with notes during lectures; it’s a bad habit. In any event, none of my wiseacre remarks should take away from the fact that the whole day was deeply engaging and, I thought, deeply worthwhile. I’d recommend it to anyone who can manage the cost of the ticket. I’ll definitely try to attend again next year; this time, I’ll take better notes.

  1. “Fried talked about how much he likes Microsoft Office except for the fact that it doesn’t doesn’t have enough features. I’m kidding.”


  2. It’s been a few years since I had a job where I attended similar conferences, but I remember being energized by an electric speaker. Unlike you, I’m an obsessive note taker and I would furiously fill my pages with notes of the speech and plans for utilizing that new information to improve something at my job. On the flight home, I’d flesh out those ideas, even making bullet points and action items.

    Invariably, once I returned to work, I’d spend a couple of days catching up on emails and work that had sat for a week. Then some emergency or another would arise and I’d spend another day or two putting out brushfires.

    I usually got my Trip Notes published to the intranet for my co-workers to see, but more often than not, my big plans borne in the heat of a great speech, fell by the wayside. Forgotten and alone. But when I was able to follow through, oh the fun I had!

    If you remember enough to formulate a plan of action, I hope you actually get to follow through on some of your ideas. It’s why we attend these things after all. Well, aside from the free trips, nice hotel rooms, after parties, and free food. And the booth babes. And the expense accounts. And the time away from office.

  3. I definitely regret not taking more comprehensive notes, if only because it would have made this blog post much easier to write and, more importantly, more substantive. I know I should get better about that, but I’m generally so hung up on note-taking and ticking off boxes and crossing my T’s etc. that when I go to a conference, I tend to just like to sit and listen.

    I’m not sure that, in the past, when I’ve conscientiously taken notes that they’ve amounted to anything… and I’m not sure that I retain the knowledge from a talk better when I spend the time furiously recording the finer points. Of course, it’s a personal thing, and I certainly understand how some people find it useful. Just not me, I guess.

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