As I mentioned in my last post I was given the opportunity to attend The Entertainment Gathering or EG in Los Angeles earlier this week. When asked if I wanted to attend I hesitated because I had a board meeting, a very important business development meeting and was generally way behind at work at the time.
In retrospect, if I had missed it, it would have been a tragedy that I would have never understood.
One of my former colleagues at MP3.com, Brian Dear the current founder of Eventful is a frequent attendee at certain conferences that I never truly understood. Where I understood trade shows or conferences like the CTIA or Digital Hollywood, I wasn't clear on the value of a multidisciplinary gathering of smart people where there isn't an obvious thread or theme. One of my investors, Steve Tomlin, when reflecting on the conference and my obvious enthusiasm at having attended described it as a mental spa, which I think is an apt description.
So before I talk about the amazing speakers, I think one other thing needs to be mentioned, the amazing attendees. In the first session I was seated a row behind Jeff Bezos, who was showing some friends his kindle. Robert Metcalfe the inventor of Ethernet and Metcalfe's law was there along with Steve Wozniak and Matt Groening. Seeing this early on, and realizing that this conference was something that these people were spending three days of their time wading through gave me a strong respect for the expected quality of the event. It certainly didn't disappoint.
There is a blog on the EG2007 website that you can see a good slice of the speakers and the program. My condensed bullet point of the conference follows:
Rob Glaser from Real Networks spoke about his non profit activities around branding Progressive as a positive message to potential voters.
Jim Citrin from Spencer Stuart spoke about his new book and parallels of excellence between people in business and sports and the difference between amateurs and professionals as a function of disciplined practice and time.
Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of Amateur, railed about the erosion of quality and the tension between the religion of technology and it's impact on media.
Brewster Kahle spoke about the efforts around the Internet Archive and archive.org to create a library of everything on the Internet.
Don Katz spoke about his time as a journalist and as an executive of Audible, the audio book file company. I know Don from a previous life and it was great catching up with him.
Brian Greene gave the audience a 20 minute primer on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.
Paul Horowitz spoke about some of the math and timelines involved that underlie some of the assumptions that drive the efforts behind things like Seti which he is involved with.
Keith Schwab hit some of the same highlights as Brian Greene but also talked about the implications of quatum mechanics for code breaking and the development of objects at a larger than quantum scale.
Marvin Minsky spoke about his new book on Artifical intelligence and his position that emotions primarily manifest themselves as a switching of of certain rational components of our mind. (Which was meant to be a positive as I understood it).
Pablos Holman showed some of his amazing hacker techniques and tricks.
Caleb Chung, the inventor of the Furby, showed off his newest toy/robot the Pleo. I can guarantee you will both hear about and want one of these little lifelike robot dinosaurs in the next month or two.
Frnas Lantig, the famous naturalist photographer gave a mind bending presentation of his recent collection of photos from around the world of nature accompanied by a soundtrack by Phillip Glass and a poetic narrative from his partner.
Yves Behar talked about design as a concept and walked through some of the examples created by his firm including the Jawbone headset, The Herman Miller Leaf lamp and the design for the One Laptop Per Child project.
Nicholas Negroponte followed with an overview of the One Laptop Per Child project which I have to say was among my favorites both in terms of what the endeavor to accomplish and in how amazing the device is that they have come up with.
Tim Kring the Executive Producer and Creator of Heros spoke about how the show came to pass which was a compelling personal story.
That was the first day for me and I omitted the segments I unfortunately missed. I will hit my second day in a brief follow up post later.