Cautionary tales

Growth tsunami

DHH’s essay on the poison prevalent among a great deal of startup culture is both a cautionary tale in terms of the insanity of seeking high growth and an exit, and a useful lesson on what happens when you bootstrap and grow slow.
Much to be gleaned from this.


While I’m behind on the main session posts as I type this (three sessions behind now…), this is worth highlighting.

One of the unique things (and there are many) about TED@PalmSprings is the opportunity for audience members to get on stage and share their ideas worth spreading.

This morning, a bunch of us did just that. And it was AWESOME!

Welcome to TED DIY!


  • why is a Guitar Hero instrument not a legitimate music tool?
  • imagine if

Al Myers

  • edu revolution!
  • innovate learning methods!
  • immerse!
  • mentors
  • empowered

Jim Fallon

  • UC prof
  • neuroscientist
  • history of deep research into creativity (and other areas)
  • also research into psychopathic killers why?
  • gene expression as consequence of exposure to extreme violence
  • cultures exposed to violence have potential for increased gene expression


  • treat donations themselves as a form of currency
  • work, innovate, create
  • representative cause credits
  • open platform
  • just 1%?
  • what couldn’t we do?


  • difficult to teach genetics, even to doctors
  • have created a how to kit/visualisation for genome comparison

Annette Greenstein

  • evolution about mobility
  • access to location
  • change in thinking
  • what thinking do we need to do?
  • mobility solutions in underprivileged communities


  • Dean of Engineering SMU
  • 1 lifetime to increase computing power 1Mx
  • power of innovation + power of imagination makes everything possible
  • from “one-off” to one billion
  • Global Open Source Home

Jenny Morel

  • Martin Jetpack


  • ex-Navy diver
  • 27y in tech now
  • rowing across Atlantic 2nd Atlantic Trade Winds Expedition
  • 14 man crew
  • Canary Is to Barbados
  • mind over body body needs to be ready
  • gruelling selection process and training
  • lost rudder 11 days in

Seth and Jose

  • creating stock market to fund 10 large scale public artworks
  • auction after 1yr
  • proceeds split between artists and funders
  • invest social capital into social art
  • clever idea!

Sebastian Verbeke

  • storytelling
  • buffalo!
  • (buffalo)^n=English sentence
  • ambiguity
  • just let the buffalo roam

Lisa Buksbaum

  • Soaring Words
  • 250K kids and families helped

Elaine Parker

  • what skills do we need for success?
  • get kids into the kitchen to learn
  • magic as analogy for cooking
  • diabetes and obesity big issues
  • as kids think they make intelligent critical choices about food

Tony O’Driscoll

  • poem about power of TED
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TED Session 4 – See

Today started oddly for me. Tired after too few hours sleep (I was on Canberra time last night), the first session, while certainly interesting didn’t feel like it resoonated with me quite so much as the previous day. I am neither artist, scientist nor musician and the morning was dominated by these disciplines.

Don’t get me wrong, it was all deeply interesting, it just didn’t sing for me. That changed dramatically over the day, as I will explain in a further post.

Deepak Ram

One word. Haunting.

Oliver Sacks

  • we see with the eyes but we see with the brain as well
  • imagination and hallucinations – they are different
  • patient – Rosalie, 95 years old, blind, no mental deterioration
  • began visual hallucinations
  • “It’s like a silent movie”
  • unrelated to anything she was doing
  • no familiar components
  • Charles Bonnet Syndrome – originallly described in 18th Century
  • approximately 10% of Sacks’ patients have visual or auditory hallucinations
  • as vision decays, visual center of brain becomes hyperactive
  • less than 1% of patients with hallucinations acknowledge the condition
  • not the same as psychotic hallucinations which are fully interactive
  • temporal lobe hallucinations are recollective and involve all senses
  • Bonnet is very different as you are an ousider – common factors of facial deformation in characters (large teeth and eyes) and seeing cartoons
  • FMRI now possible during hallucination
  • these issues need to be normalised as a condition
  • “The theatre of the mind being generated by the machinery of the brain”

Jo-ann Kuchera-Morin

  • at UCSB
  • the Allosphere
  • imagine a giant microscope hooked to a supercomputer
  • fit 20 people on viewing platform inside
  • massive visualisations of any activity at any scale
  • H atom particle emissions mapped to sound output
  • listen to the hydrogen

Dale Chihuly

  • trained as interior designer
  • melted some stained glass and changed his life
  • went fishing in Alaska to pay for his graduate study at U Wisconsin (only US glass blowing course at the time)
  • studied in Venice

Olafur Eliasson

  • studio is more like a lab
  • “What consequences does it have when I take a step?”
  • is art about that?
  • works with space – has dimension and temporal factors
  • Negotiability
  • Tangibility
  • Responsibility
  • Causality
  • Consequences
  • between thinking and doing is experience
  • his students (average 20yo) expected TED to be Technology. Environment. Democracy.

Don Levy

  • Sony animation
  • making Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs
  • massive labor intensity
  • computing power changes mean realistic area rather than point lighting now possible
  • also light bounce for surfaces
  • release will be September 2009

Ed Ulbrich

  • team worked on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Benjamin is 100% CGI from the neck up for the first hour of the film
  • have we crossed the Uncanny Valley?
  • anything is possible with enough time, money and resources
  • David Fincher insisted the character be played by a single actor
  • prosthetic would not hold up
  • very high risk
  • beleived they had “a solid methodology that might work”
  • sample verion done in 2004
  • Ed threw up when they were green-lighted
  • 325 sfx shots in the first hour of the film
  • looked at marker-based motion capture
  • needed the “between” data – skin behavior, muscle and bone
  • walked away from motion capture
  • now have a “technology stew”
  • Facial Action Coding System (FACS) defined in early 70s has a set of core actions
  • capture surface in 3D in real time
  • FACS library of Brad Pitt built, mapped against realistically aged maquettes
  • digital puppet that Pitt could control with his face – no animators needed
  • emotion capture
  • 155 people took 2 years

Randy Gleason

  • we have developed a culture of always-on availability
  • we have a proliferation of mobility
  • we have established an expectation of availability
  • we are documenting everything – to the detriment of engagement in the moment
  • there is a correlation between availability and a need for shared narrative
  • “I share therefore I am”
  • we create technology to build shared experience and therefor recreate our world
  • let’s create technology that makes us more human, not less

Ray Zahab

  • just set world speed record for on foor to South Pole – 33d 23h 55m
  • towed own sleds
  • Also ran across Sahara in 111 days – most strong memory is number of people affected by lack of water
  • there has to be a reason for adventurers
  • use adventure to bring attention to issues
  • for Antarctic trip had live updated web site
  • use it to tell the story re pollution and ozone
  • answer questions from school kids
  • solar powered equipment – no batteries
  • inspire young people through web site and also being inspired by their interest
  • has only been running 5 years – before that a pack a day smoker
  • “We can make the impossible possible”

Golan Levin

  • where is art on the iPhone store?
  • empower people through interactivity
  • “The mouse is the narrowest experience to suck the human experience through”
  • Remark system visualises the shape of sounds in the voice
  • phonesthesia
  • Gaze system eye-tracks as a relationship marker
  • videos at
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TED Session 3 – Reconnect

Another session where we were challenged, exhorted and faced with the growing reality of our affect on the planet. In all – it’s time to take action, people.

Be and do something!

Seth Godin

  • Balloon animals
  • We try to change everything
  • What is that process like?
  • SF become the first no kill city in the US (ASPCA)
  • Then NY, N Carolina, others
  • Any idea has a lot behind it
  • We are living through a period where we are changing the way ideas are made
  • Factories
    • efficiency advantage
    • cheaper labor and faster machines
  • Ads
    • push
    • we have a better mousetrap
    • mass marketing means your product has to be average in ideas and needs plenty of ads
    • hypnotise the consumer
  • Tribes
    • connect people and ideas
    • tribes are everywhere (Ukranian dancers)
    • tribes can change things because they want to
    • go out and make a movement
    • you don’t need everyone (Kevin Kelly)
    • heretics are our leaders – they work against the status quo
    • don’t be a “sheepwalker”
    • you just need a few
  • Tell a story —> Connect a tribe —> Lead a movement —> Make change —> (loop back)
  • Leaders mnemonic of C’s
    • Challenge
    • Culture
    • Curiosity
    • Connect
    • Charisma (given by the tribe)
    • Commit
  • So go create a movement today
  • We need you to lead us

Saul Griffith

  • 1000 years of history for kites
  • Wright Bros > kites become toys again
  • Miles Lloyd > more sky=more power
  • Maui testing kite powered energy generation
  • Working toward megawatt scale kites
  • 6Mw from 747-sized kite
  • All US electricity in 10 years if commitment

Jake Eberts (and Jaques Perrin)

  • Are we so overwhelmed that we can’t act?
  • Jaques Perrin is thinking about the creatures of the ocean
  • Making a film, “Oceans” about life beyond land – 2 years pre-production, 4 years shooting
  • All latitudes
  • New techniques of filming to stay with the animals during movement
  • Amazing footage* – we got a 9 minute sneak peek
  • Jaques on stage
  • “This is not about words”
  • All of us have the same salt percentage in our blood as the ocean – help us return to our origin

Sandy Leong

  • Her adoptive parents moved to the US for work – lived in Anchorage (doctor)
  • Sandy adopted
  • Brother adopted too, 18 months later
  • Remembers thinking of hospital “this is where babies come from”
  • When records opened, brother sought information on birth parents
  • Sandy sought smae info at later date
  • She and brother received same information about nature of birth parents
  • Thinking was “Bullshit!” This must be the same information they give to every Chinese extracted adoptee
  • Really did share the same parents
  • “If I ever need a kidney…”

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

  • Showed us the TED Commandments
  • Commandment 10 – “Show the impact”
  • “My work is to show our impact on the planet”
  • Amazing, evocative photos of man’s impact – pollution, reduction in food, land degradation, deforestation
  • We use 3x more oil than we find each year
  • “We don’t want to believe what we know”
  • Northern sea ice melt now means new Atlantic-Pacific crossing during Summer
  • 40% reduction in permanent Arctic sea ice over 50 years ago’
  • Kilimanjaro has lost 80% of its ice
  • 77% of global wild fish stocks now overfished
  • 1B people do not have enough to eat
  • 50K square miles of deforestation a year
  • 20M refugees in the world
  • 5K interviews in the 6 Billion Others project –
  • Also filming Home for the last 3 years
  • We’re moving faster than the planet can sustain
  • On June 5, Home will be downloadable and  have no copyright
  • “Use it as you want”
  • “It’s too late to be pessimistic. We are all a part of the solution. Be bold. Act now.”

Matt Harding

  • Dancing Matt is in Palm Springs!
  • “100 bajillion views”
  • Dancing should be fun, natural, easy
  • New idea – each culture doing their own national dance
  • Too “It’s a Small World” – cynical
  • Melissa (Matt’s girlfriend) found the twist in the tale – teach them someone else’s dance
  • Make connections criss-crossing the globe
  • Find new solutions to old problems
  • Want to dance?
  • Crowd rushes the stage!

Regina Spektor

  • Insane voice – lyrical, sweet, touching, clever
  • Working with Ben Folds
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BarCamp Sydney #4 – Saturday, 15 November 2008

The (un)organisers of BarCamp Sydney have let me know that they are preparing for yet another festival of creativity to engage and excite the Australian tech and innovation community. Details below.

Date: 15 November 2008

Venue: UNSW Roundhouse

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PMpm (registration starts at 8:30AM)

Register: Do it yourself on the wiki

If you’ve never been to a BarCamp before, I highly recommend it. Make some time in your schedule. For those that have been before, I needn’t remind you how great BarCamp is. Take a look at my tag list below to see just how much of your life this might touch.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there. I’m not sure how my timetable is yet.

BarCamp Canberra is Go!

Thunderbirds are go!

After a year of trying, we’ve finally scored a venue and BarCamp Canberra is happening!

Here are the details:

  • Who? Anyone who is interested in technology, the Internet and related topics. We have room for 60ish people, so bring your colleagues.
  • What? A good opportunity to share ideas and projects and to work with like-minded individuals.
  • When? 1000-1700 on Saturday 19 April 2008
  • Where? BarCampCanberra will be held at the CSIT Building, North Road, ANU.
  • Website? The BarCampCanberra blog is located at We’ll be posting updated information about the event there.

The page is We’ll be posting updated information about the event there.

There is a signup page at You need to sign up there if you want a t-shirt. Make sure you read the t-shirt details!

There is an Upcoming event at so we can track who’s coming and presenting.

There is a Google Group at where most of the backchannel is happening. Subscribe there to keep in touch.

And there’s the Facebook Group at

BarCamp Canberra logo

Passionate workaholics

Seth Godin’s latest post describes a new type of worker, comparing them favorably with the old school workaholic:

A workaholic lives on fear. It’s fear that drives him to show up all the time. The best defense, apparently, is a good attendance record.

A new class of jobs (and workers) is creating a different sort of worker, though. This is the person who works out of passion and curiosity, not fear.

I am deeply passionate about what I do, and am working hard to build knowledge, credibility and profile around it so that I can be passionate all the time rather than relying on clients who expect me to be a workaholic.

Passionate, futzing workers of the world, unite!