unconferences

Don’t Be Boring

Written by Phil Shipley, Annie Little and Josephine Kiernan

Everyone knows that other people’s dreams are boring, but that you’re going to get told them anyway. The same is true about conference recaps. My half-baked reconstruction of the fascinating talks from last night’s Interesting conference is nothing compared to the joy and passion shared by brave souls talking rapid-fire about topics ranging from gnome sex to feminist picture-books, via the connection between synths, squid, and the military industrial complex. Yes, it really had everything…

But if I’m going to have to recount a talk –  my personal favourite was Tim Dunn‘s on the Sierra Leone National Railway Museum. He told the story of the recovery of Sierra Leone’s heritage through a trainspotter’s quest to find some lost locomotives. Once located, they created a wonderful museum, digitised an archive, and gave training and jobs. They had taken a niche passion and done something with it that makes the world that little bit better.

The main feelings I left with were: inadequacy at my limited hobbies, and a small flame to just get on and do something that I care about.
Phil Shipley, Strategist

From the impressive variety of weird and wonderful topics that were covered at Interesting 2016, one that stuck with me the most was Ade Adewunmi’s TV evangelism. She repeatedly emphasised how much she loves TV. I am a TV sceptic, with the shows I currently watch woefully limited to Bake Off and First Dates. I am not a box set binger or series devotee. But Ade’s perspective on how we learn and test ourselves by watching these shows made me a potential convert.

I found her premise that TV is the arena in which we can reconsider our social constructs, prejudices and push the limits of what and who we experience in everyday life in an importantly low risk environment, a new way to think about the shows that are broadcast every day. I, like she, consider myself to have a relatively liberal outlook. But to include those who live more conservative lives, we are all offered a socially acceptable window into experiences beyond our own, allowing everyone to experiment with ideas without effort or offence. Definitely a good reason to spend more time in front of the box I think.
Annie Little, Strategist

Somewhat hazy from the fervour of London’s Conway Hall mixed with the effects of too much free Waitrose wine – for which now, thanks to the unapologetic wine taster‘s speeches, I can detect notes of marmite in – I found myself travelling home on the tube, writing a letter to my 4 year-old niece about the importance of pursuing whatever it was that she finds interesting. This may be largely due to a mother‘s talk on her plight to create a gender-equal inspiring and imaginative literacy landscape for young readers – so all children can explore whatever career they wish, without gender stereotyping.

In any case, for someone who has always binged on sources of inspiration and consumes TED Talks more hungrily than a 12″ pizza, last night’s Interesting conference could not have been more, well, interesting. The sheer eclectic spread of topics covered; from digging up graves to vibrating underwear, the speakers’ passion points reached into the far corners of our imagination and stirred up, certainly in me, a desire to apply my free time more freely and interestingly.
Josephine Kiernan, Account Manager

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Phil, Annie and Josephine were all at Interesting2016, curated by Russell Davies. ‘Diamond Geezer’ has a full round up of what went on there, here.