Pausefest 2018: Journey = Destination

February 2018
Pausefest 2018: Journey = Destination

A few of the Pretty Neat people got down to Pausefest this week for a look around. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a festival looking at the intersection of Creative, Tech and Business held annually in Melbourne, Australia.

Pausefest runs from Feb 7-11 this year and while it’s sold out, you can still visit some of the stalls and hang out among the throng today if you like.

It’s a little bit SXSW, a little bit TED video playlist but mostly a great place to meet up with folks have some great conversations, learn a bit and think on the work we do.

This year the theme was Journey = Destination. 

It’s been said that not every year a festival has a break-out success or a series of defining moments that shape the years to come. Some years a festival might be reflection, introspection or a time where everyone compares notes. Perhaps that was the journey this year?

Here is our take on the best of Pausefest 2018 so far…

 Georgie Batt, Design Director

Amazon Head of Research Design, Cecilia Ambrose kept the shop talk to a minimum in Creative Chaos and shared her thoughts on some of the bigger questions on creativity today.

She reminded us the creativity is not a liner process and we should free ourselves from that and keep it a constant conversation.

Too often our ego prevents the best work from progressing as a community. Be generous with your ideas: they should be abundant, not precious.

She felt shiny object syndrome needs to be kept in check and then we shouldn’t polish ideas too soon. The craft is in the story you tell around the idea (this come later).

Her ideas were democratic, generous and useful.

A panel session The Vault: Authentic – What’s real anymore? put the spotlight on stunts, influencers and campaigns real and fake to discuss what we should believe in.

Reece Hobbins of Taboo felt ‘authentic’ is being transparent and showing the evidence for it while influencer Bonnie Borland threw it out there as ‘whatever gets the most likes’.

Myki Slonim, of Vice Australia made all giggle/groan with the Dulwich Shed fake restaurant stunt (and others) but Emma Welsh of Emma & Tom’s brought it back to the product and being consistent over time.

Inconclusive but interesting!

In 5 Lessons from running a purpose-led business Simon Griffiths of Who Gives A Crap? shared some no-nonsense advice for being a business for good.

They are remembered for the impact they make, not the quality of the paper or the branding. It’s a different dynamic altogether.

Being good good is hard. Your are held to a different standard and people ask more from you.

Everything is a marketing opportunity: ask yourself is this actually interesting? Will people pass it on? Will people ‘gram our loo paper packaging!?

Its always impressive to hear people thinking deeply about their product and brand in a different way.

 Lily Feng, Senior Producer

An IBM talk could be anything really but Dr John Smith was high on horror movies and creepy intelligence in his chat Creativity: The Next Horizon for AI.  

His provocation is creativity the process or an outcome? is an interesting one. Often ‘creative’ is sold like a product but is the real value in what happened along the way?

He looked at AI in film-making and how IBM used Watson to analyse actor’s expressions from watching The Omen and 99 other flicks. It then made a trailer for the movie Morgan. The result was even scarier than the original trailer.

My take was that AI is often a complementary process today, we still need to guide, shape and validate the approach in a human way. AI can be part of a creative process but it is often best with human oversight.

Inclusive design is something we discuss at Neighbourhood. Our own work with Raspberry Ripple recently meant it was top of mind while Code for Australia build it’s acceptance week by week. Michael Sui, Inclusive Design Lead at Airbnb revealed Inclusive Design’s Hidden Legacy – And How To Rise With It. 

His talk outlined a ‘new spectrum of normal’ for design and how we’re often only exposed to the outliers of design. If your design solution allows for the broadest use, you’re on the right track (cross-species is even better, mostly).

I was struck by his view that unlike Law and Medicine that have evolved over thousands of years as a discipline, the speed technology and design moves at means we decide our ethics as we ship. Helloo Black Mirror.

In Training Astronauts To Ignore Reality By Using Virtual Reality Dr Marissa Rosenberg of NASA showed how longer missions in space are creating a need for nurturing ‘reality’ with astronauts returning to Earth.

VR has been useful for helping people re-adjust to the Earth’s gravity as they return from space (it can take from 2-12 days to re-adjust). This could be a standard part of the approach to Mars travel as explore that horizon.

HTC Vive has been the most suitable device for NASA to date (we love at Pretty Neat too).

 Warren Davies, Managing Director

I got along to a couple of the sessions above and also Netflix Studio: From Pitch to Play. Kelsey Whelan, Product Manager at Netflix told a short story of her journey from UX Designer to Product Manager at one of the fastest growing media organisations in the world.

For a professional at sea in a big organisation there were a few valuable lessons:

Do your homework. She had no understanding of Hollywood and content production yet knowledge of this became a large component of her work as a Product Manager. Learn as much as you can as fast as you can.

Speak the language. It can’t be assumed there will be understanding and easy empathy across a large organisation today. The language of media was entirely new to her and she felt it was her responsibility to pick it up to be better at her work.

Her observation and slide on how to explain product or content to different stakeholders based on their preference for words or images, deep or shallow information was nifty.

On Wednesday night we interviewed Pausefest Head of Programming, Andrew Ranger on Byte Into It on Triple R. I asked what he felt was different this year.

He said movement and getting people to mix was more of a focus in 2018. As more venues and more talks are added it’s important we’re still encourage to journey. Having sessions of all sizes and formats is important but a time once a day where we all get together is helpful too.

Did we get anywhere?

It’s easy to look at the brands and names on the signage and make a judgement on it’s success or stature as a festival. On that measure alone this year was huge. I’m not sure that’s it though.

To us it felt like all of the various tribes that make up the community shaping creativity, tech and business were interested in the program, stimulated by mostly good content and have some new thoughts and inspiration to drive their work.

Maybe as a city we’re maturing and the industries humming behind these three pillars can’t all squeeze into Beer Deluxe on a first-name basis any more.

Maybe we’ve arrived Melbourne.

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