The theme of this year’s TEDxVienna conference was “Instanity” – the organisers’ choice for summing up the “everything now” angst pervading our digital age.
The main topic that framed the independently organised one-day event went a little bit like this: amidst all of this tech progress, how are we doing in terms of consciously taking stock, adapting and keeping up, or rather, sane?
To ensure that the event didn’t fall short of that utmost ideal of the TED brand (INSPIRATION, of course), the first session opened with a characteristically dizzying Jason Silva video, in which the filmmaker-turned-futurist delivered his thoughts on the “infectivity of ideas” and the “radical openness” which seem to define our times.
With sure-fire inspirational references to “ideas having sex” (from Matt Ridley’s 2010 TEDGlobal talk) and being “the new replicators” (think Richard Dawkins), Silva’s opening set the stage for three great sessions of talks by a total of 13 speakers at the Odeon Theater. Palatial and hence quintessentially Viennese, the venue also made space for a variety of tech-related exhibits, ranging from surface computing and personal robotics to a Metalab stand, showcasing the city’s very own proud hacker space.
As part of the talks, Federico Pistono, author and co-founder of WiFli, presented his new book Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy. He wondered whether we were missing an opportunity to re-define our approach to employment and productivity by leveraging exponential technology to create a more resilient, self-sustaining system, which prizes DIY and open-source applications.
Georg Holzer, co-creator of Project Pingeb.org, who showcased his “gift to the world” – combining NFC technology and QR codes to go from initially creating a free virtual library of e-books and music in the city of Klagenfurt, to building an international community of locally discoverable artists. After all, not everyone can be found on the likes of Spotify.
Moving on to social games, Wolfie Christl of Vienna’s metaflimmer gave his account on how to gamify personal data. The slogan? “Legal? Illegal? Whatever!” Having co-crafted online game Data Dealer, Wolfie is a proponent of providing “ a casual and humorous way to engage in issues of privacy and the economy of personal data in the digital age.” From shady health companies to villainous insurance multinationals, Wolfie warned of a future society of “Big Brother on steroids”. A release of a full-feature international version of the game is planned for 2013.