LIFT08: Living in the Next Few Minutes

Having fought the global air travel system to get back from LIFT08 in Geneva, I've had plenty of time to digest the last few days' experience at what is fast becoming a must-go event. The 3-day gathering of curious, bright and open minds that focuses on the impact of technology on society is itself a forward-leaning microcosm of many of the phenomena discussed on its stage, in its workshops, in hallways and on trams by LIFT attendees throughout the city. What Davos has in fading star power, LIFT has in potential energy. With CERN and its Large Hadron Collider just a few miles away, LIFT has become a "large idea collider".

I was privileged to have a chance to speak in the closing session of LIFT, alongside Bill Cockayne and Francesco Cara, but coming after so many fantastic talks, the task of navigating the flow of remarkable insights and somehow tying them into the topic of foresight was enormous. Where Bruce Sterling started the event off lamenting the disappointing "now" we seem to inhabit, Bill, Francesco and I talked about looking toward the future in a grounded, meaningful way from our own perspectives. I painted a picture of "Human Foresight" to encourage those in the room to take more of a direct role in seeing change for themselves and helping others to shape it, but in retrospect, the beauty of LIFT08 was that so many of those who had come to Geneva are already living a few minutes, months or years ahead of their colleagues through their open desire to make change happen in their own fields.

So many people liveblogged, streamed or filmed the event that there is little need to provide a talk-by-talk recap. A perusal of the excellent video archive of LIFT08 made in near realtime will let you see for yourself the variety and depth of many of the talks. I can particularly recommend excellent talks on design, technology, mobility and experience by Genevieve Bell of Intel, Younghee Jung of Nokia and Paul Dourish from UC Irvine which were featured on the first day of the event, but a sampling of any of the talks gives a good idea of the breadth of LIFT.