I’ve just come back from the Good Experience Live (euroGel) conference in Copenhagen (more on the city and Denmark in a later post). It was a superb and surprisingly moving experience, and as a conference that I paid for myself, I would say it was worth every penny for personal development reasons alone. I would recommend it to anyone with a wide range of interests.
The theme of the conference is hard to pin down; it is defined as ‘good experience in all its forms’. I’m still struggling to ‘get it’, but it didn’t seem to matter that I didn’t. In practice, this seems to mean a variety of speakers from across the arts and technology, some of them specialising in user experience or customer experience, coming together to share their stories.
This is the first time the conference has been run in Europe (it has been run in New York City since 2003), and current indications are that it will return to both places. The creator of the conference is Mark Hurst, who also leads the sessions at the conference, and who I unfortunately didn’t get to meet. A large number of the speakers are obviously personal friends of his and there is accordingly a sense of community, which is also explored online (see the Gel blog category on goodexperience.com)
The presentations were almost all entertaining, and most informative and passionate. Some of the highlights were:
Han Bennink - I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Han before. It turns out that he is one of the top Jazz drummers in the world, and his natural exuberance for his work was obvious for all to see - a man who managed to enter the stage, drop a bunch of metal pipes haphazardly on the stage, and make it part of his performance, he obviously has more talent than just a natural sense of rhythm.
Stephen Bauman - Stephen is a Methodist minister in New York, and in true ministerly style, he told stories. These helped to illustrate what he called ‘Basic Truths’ (on which he has also written a book). I was lucky enough to discuss these and others things with him later on, and he struck me as an extremely perceptive and open-minded religious man: an inspirational American preacher who didn’t hector about Jesus.
Alison Young - Possessed of a beautiful voice, Alison Young is a supremely talented singer with Southern influences. Why she isn’t more famous is a mystery to me.
I also met some interesting folks:
Kareem Mayan - Kareem is a returning Gel participant (and volunteer), and obviously enjoys it greatly. His blog has some interesting discussions about emerging technology, including plenty of media and YouTube links (including this ‘How to drive a stick shift’ video - sadly, this doesn’t impress chicks here in the UK, where manual cars are the norm).
**Alexander Kjerulf **- Alexander is an irrepressibly bubbly fellow, and describes himself as ‘The Chief Happiness Officer’. He writes and consults on happiness in the workplace, and his passion for his work is obvious. What he says is not rocket science, but it bears repeating. His blog is well worth a read.
I was also lucky enough to win one of the prize draws - for a set of books written by some current and previous Gel speakers, so I now have the following to work my way through:
Bing Get Dressed by Ted Dewan
To the Desert and Back by Phil Mirvis and others
Net.art Per Me by Vuk Cosic
Bosch & Fjord by Bosch & Fjord
Simple Truths by Stephen Bauman
All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
Life Between Buildings by Jan Gehl
The Power to Heal by Rick Smolan
From Alice to Outback by Robyn Davidson
Thanks to all the folks who donated books for this - and to Mark Hurst and his team for organising euroGel. I will go again.
Update 2006-09-12: Alison Young’s website can be found here.