Last Saturday I went along to Interesting 2008 in London. Explaining to someone what Interesting is can lead to fuzzy definitions. It’s basically a day where people talk about topics they find fascinating. These range from neat ideas, things in the real world, to art projects or just passionate hobbies.
There were so many topics on show last weekend. Here’s just a taster:
- Design of the new UK coinage
- Toilet politics around the world
- Geophysical mapping of the WoW
- Being a creative generalist.
And that’s leaving out the demonstration of a homemade Zoetrope, a public premiere of that lo-fi Radiohead tribute and a recorder recital made up from members of the audience. Big themes explored across the day included civilisation, space, perception and imagination.
The structure of Interesting is an integral part of its success. For one, speakers came every walk of life. All united with a drive to share insights on their topics. Interesting is not designed to be day of nerdy talks. Instead, it’s a pot-pourri of skew-eyed fascination.
Secondly, commercial interests were left at the door. Speakers didn’t abuse their time by trying to upsell their skills, services or push a product. I really liked this. If Interesting were to be replicated here, organisers would have to follow this spirit, else they’d sell out the soul of the day. Props were given to sponsors as was well and proper. That’s a good thing also. It was nice to see companies recognise the importance of curiosity by supporting the day.
Thirdly, the setting really helped proceedings. Conway Hall is one of those great English community halls you can imagine when you close your eyes. It’s got a sizable first-floor gallery. You can almost picture a choir in the eaves.
Every presentation was recorded and will be available on the web soon. I can’t wait to rewatch them and to recommend some of the best to friends. Great credit must go to Russell and his Interesting helpers. The organisation of the day was exemplary, from an early morning tea start to the very end. The selection of speakers was inspired too. Almost all of the talks were brain candy. The after-Interesting beers were a lot of fun. I had the pleasure of meeting Josie Fraser, Will McInnes, Annie Mole, Funky Pancake and Colm Brophy. Looking forward to next year’s Interesting already.
Some Interesting photos.