When Technology and Creativity Collide - EYEO 2019

Last week I (Dave) had the opportunity to be back at one of my conferences, the Eyeo Festival. What makes Eyeo Festival great is it brings together people from all over the world around art, creativity, technology, data, and social impact. You get discussions around science, machine learning, social justice, art, data visualization, and more and many of the sessions cross multiple disciplines.

One of the key takeaways for me was learning to create better spaces and communities around us. The cross-discipline nature of an event like this opens up so many avenues to creatively address business and social challenges, and in turn makes it easier for people to harness the power of data.

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To give you a sense of just how diverse an event like this can be, here are some examples of the people I met and the conversations I had…

A person came by my table saying he needed our input on visualization. We chatted for a bit, discussing the challenge he was having, without realizing we were talking to famous Bre Pettis, who co-founded MakerBot, a fantastic company that pioneered affordable 3-D printing! Such a cool opportunity to kick around ideas with amazing and talented people!

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I had to laugh when we got into a fascinating discussion on better transportation approaches in large cities. Turns out we were talking with employees from both Google and Uber!

This night is just an example of the excitement Eyeo can bring or really any event where you bring diverse, creatives, and technologists together that have a shared mission.

Needless to say there was no shortage of knowledge being shared and absorbed. Eyeo is a reminder for me that I can never stop learning and sharing. The world is always changing and the challenges are always developing where we can play a small part. Find a way to share something with others and always a way to learn something new from others.

Beyond interesting conversations, there were also great sessions to attend. While I don't like to call favorites, one session I found fascinating is Darius Kazemi discussion around the FriendCamp network that he started. FriendCamp is a “local” social network that is intentionally kept very small with only Darius and a set of friends being allowed in.

Darius encourages others to think about creating a similar type of network. This is somewhat of a natural pullback of the not-as-free-as-we-think culture we live in where our data is sold to others and privacy is challenging. He says it is about taking responsibilities of your data and something we should be doing no matter at home or work. If you are not aware of your data, who has access to it and how, and what it is being used for then don't expect anyone else will treat it any better.

While I certainly agree with some of Darius's premises, I also realize not everyone is going to maintain a social network server and rigorously identify and maintain their private social network.

Thank you everyone that came to #Eyeo2019 and the entire team that puts it on because this event is really inspirational. Hope to see you at #Eyeo2020 back in the Twin Cities.

Quick side note: During Eyeo I had the chance to record Data Able podcast episodes with both Nadieh Bremer and Catherine D'Ignazio. Nadieh and Catherine are both phenomenal people putting out great work into the world and sharing information. Make sure to check out their work and subscribe to the Data Able podcast so you don’t miss their episodes when they drop later this summer. 

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