PUSH: Day Two of Two

As you read today’s post, I need to lay out my initial perspective and, perhaps, my personal bias on conferences before I leap into an ongoing recap of today’s events.

The concept of unconferences is one I embrace as well as its central premise: there is more intelligence collectively in the audience than any given set of presenters. The exceptions yesterday were the global perspectives of several of the presenters on geopolitics, macroeconomics and the core science behind energy and I found these quite valuable. As a consequence to the way this conference is delivered, there are less opportunities to interact with folks than others I’ve attended and/or methods to allow people to cluster around specific topic areas (e.g., tracks of topics, etc.).

That said, many of the side conversations I’ve been having are remarkably prescient about the future and have been probing about things that are *not* being covered at PUSH…like the Internet as a platform; the massive inefficiency and cycle times being reduced in virtually every industry and NGO because of it; and the biggest impact of what is occurring right now: the acceleration in human connection and what that means to the future of everything occurring here.

Perhaps it’s the luxury I have of attending numerous cutting edge conferences in a host of areas as well as being married to a trend forecaster. Combine that with the volume of thought leaders I follow daily and books I read (specifically on the future) and I’m probably somewhat atypical as an audience member — though I’ve gravitated to six other people whose perspective is exactly the same as mine.

One thing I will mention, however, about their positioning this as an unconference. What is atypical is that all sessions are in the theater and all attendees see every presenter. Therefore all the participants have a synchronous experience which doesn’t do what I experience at all other conferences: I get bummed that I can’t attend every single session and feel like I’m missing something at other ones.

Come back periodically today as I’ll be publishing after the morning and afternoon sessions.

+ Right now we’re listening to a panel of judges for the Emerging Leaders session from yesterday as they’re advising those that gave presentations yesterday. Wow…there are more conferences that are doing these sorts of six minute presentations of some person’s given value proposition and I can’t imagine standing up naked and alone in front of an audience as your pitch is being dissected.

The winner is Dale Rosendahl, the fellow approached by a friend who had a briquette production line making ceramic briquettes for the outdoor grille market. With most of these devices being made in China, shipping heavy briquettes from here to China and back within the grille inside it’s packaging, was simply not cost-effective. Pressing byproduct waste from corn ethanol production into briquettes for use as a fuel is the breakthrough and the basis for the company.

Demographics: This section of the morning is to be focused on demographics:

Amanda Jones from Potentia Media on Women, Demographics and the Future. A former journalist covering the third world, she decided at the age of 40 that it was time to give back. We’re watching a Flash presentation right now showing facts about women globally and is now moving into facts about children…all set to dramatic music. Very sobering statistics of the state of women in the world and what her initiative is doing to deal with it.

Alan Greig, Consultant, International AIDS/HIV Alliance. His talk focused on Gender Orders and Regime Change starting off outlining this as a feminist presentation to applause. He focused on training resources and curricula that address the factors of vulnerability, such as gender inequality, violence and oppression, and writes about the important relationship between social factors and infection.

Katherine Fennelly from the University of Minnesota to talk about immigration and public policy, human rights of immigrants and refugees in the United States, preparedness of public institutions to adapt to demographic changes and more.

Very enlightening statistics about the number of immigrants currently (the largest in US history = 35.7M). The bulk of her presentation was a solid overview of the immigration reform issue so currently prevalent in our national consciousness.

The meaning as I saw it: These were awareness building presentations, but I was expecting and hopeful for more data and information about age and class and its distribution globally. Age because of the acceleration in the aging of the global population and the impact on everything from healthcare and work to cultural shifts occurring because of it.

Class since many argue that there is a seeming reversal in the re-distribution of wealth and a consolidation of power and money occurring globally. Yes, both of these comments of mine and my characterization of them are sweeping generalizations, but data with inferences were evident in Ms. Jones and Fennelly’s presentations and just some in Mr. Greig’s.

Where are the discussions of Millenials and the attention they’re paying to everything BUT traditional media? What that does to their perceptions? The democratization of communications with audio, video, messaging and how that is driving cultural memes that are leaping over geography, class, color and creed? Perhaps we’ll get to this in the afternoon sessions.

More to come…


Amy Mitchell, Deputy Director for the Project for Excellence in Journalism discussing The State of the News Media 2007. Ms. Mitchell mentioned that if printed, this report would be “two and a half books worth” so her presentation is a summary of broad trends. Very useful and insightful even though I read this report within a few days of its release.

Anne Elizabeth Moore, Author, co-Editor, Punk Planet. It’s a publication devoted to non-corporate, non-governmental media. Ms. Moore is humorous and delightful which instantly warmed her to the audience. She expertly outlined the underground view of traditional media and one woman’s quest to be counter to that.

Missed opportunity with Ms. Moore. This should’ve been a segue into a conversation about the shift in transparency, user generated content and the revolution in conversation and how she — a prime mover in underground media — presents a balance to the ‘push’ of corporate marketing and messaging co-opting done by the mainstream. Whether or not you agree with her approach, it is balance and certainly caused the most discussion amongst people I talked to afterwards.

Scott Rafer, a serial entrepreneur with a lot of Internet street cred. He started off with how he met the PUSH founder, Cecily Sommers, and characterized Ray Kurzweil’s “The Singularity is Near” book as a tome that Kurzweil positioned the Internet as the solution for all mankinds ills. Man….that is so not what I took from that book which now makes me be skeptical of everything that follows.

I talked to Scott a few times since yesterday and he mentioned just now that he re-did his presentation for our Minnesota audience. Now I understand why he’s being so basic — for the most part this is a pretty unsophisticated audience with respect to the Internet (this is based on dozens of personal conversations I’ve been having). This is a good primer for my non-savvy peers and I wish it had happened the first day early on since it would’ve provided a core, informative mindset that I believe is key to so many changes in everything discussed here.

Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Rafer are up in a Q&A session and a nugget just emerged to a question of trusted sources and so on. They mentioned NowPublicMedia which is meeting a need I’ve been seeing for some time: a user generated content network or a “stringer” network that feeds content to the major networks.

It’s now the end of the conference and Cecily Sommers is wrapping up. Lots to think about after the conference as well as ways I might suggest it improve going forward.

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  1. Phil Wilson on June 13, 2007 at 6:05 pm


    Love the insights on PUSH. Obviously, I picked up your comment on a “stringer” network since you and I have often spoken about it.

    I spent a few minutes cruising around the sight. As you would expect from such an open platform, there are some well, and not so well, written pieces. There are also some very personal takes on news events and, of course, there is ALLOT of content.

    It does sort of answer one of the questions you and I have discussed, “Is there a stringer “network” on line?” Sort of. Now Public has positioned itself as an outlet for citizen reporters. Both those stories covered in the print and electronic media and those that aren’t (and can be more an outlet for personal concerns and injustices) are there.

    One of the questions that Now Public still doesn’t answer…Is there someone covering those news stories that impact us most but are not “popular” enough to make the six o’clock news? You know the ones…the coverage of the city council meetings, the water board, the utilities board. Once we covered these religiously. Now, not so much. We are far too busy trying to find the local connection to Paris Hilton. Yet these meetings usually result in impacting the local community far more than, from Now Public, “Life, Science and Penguins-Research In Antarctica.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

    The other question…How reliable are these stories? Are facts and sources being checked? (Note: I’m not talking about the Penguins anymore.) Is the story reality, fabrication or a combination of the two?

    OK, this site isn’t meant to be used as “the” news authority and it does bring those that want to report the news together. However, is it a “stringer” network? If you use the word “stringer” as it has always been understood, a part-time correspondent…no it isn’t.

    Now Public is a step in the right direction. But if we are to look to the web to address the need to get news that truly impacts us we need to answer the two remaining questions above.

    Thanks again for giving me access to PUSH.

  2. Scott Rafer on July 4, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    On the stringer side, also check out metroblogging.com, a company I do some work with.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.