May 27, 2010
First Robots Graduation in HistoryWillow Garage hosted the first robots graduation in history last night in their Menlo Park offices on Willow Road, the same road where Google was birthed.
CEO Steve Cousins and founder Scott Hassan gave an emotional speech about how Willow Garage got started, the vision behind it and everything that led up to this historical moment.
Hundreds of people gathered together for the celebration: friends, fans, employees, a couple of local mayors, press, bloggers and universities. Among the university attendees were the 11 recipients of the PR2 beta program, who flew in from around the world to get trained on their robots this week and to celebrate the honor.
Together with the visionaries at Willow Garage and the Directors of the Personal Robotics Program Keenan Wryobek and Eric Berger, the recipients will work hard in the coming two years to accelerate the growth of robotics research and development and yes, change the world.
Below, Keenan and Eric thanked the open source community, the recipients, other Willow Garagers and of course, the PR2 robots. As the winners were announced, the PR2s decided it was time for them to celebrate too, with a little flag waving and dance for the crowd. I think they were starting to realize that they now have fans.
Later on, the PR2s danced with the attendees and zipped around the floor to show off their abilities. And why not, last night was about celebration and giving thanks to a community who accomplished this great achievement. As Scott so rightfully put it at the beginning of the event - "we can't do it alone, we don't want to do it alone." With more effort, resources, passion and talent behind robotics, advancement can happen that much faster.
A few shots of the event, the speeches, the party and the dancing below. A thumbs up to ROS and the efforts of the Willow Garage team and recipients who are going to work together to make magical things happen in the next two years.
Eric Berger demonstrates PR2 in front of a group of bloggers and press
Eric Berger, Scott Hassan, Steve Cousins and Keenan Wyrobek
The Singularity Hub guys Keith Kleiner and Aaron Saenz
Googlers and friends showed up to celebrate
Yes, that's John Markoff in the Texai robot
The PR2 robot graduation ceremony, the first in history
Steve Cousins and Scott Hassan
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
PR2 claps as his audience claps for him
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
Jonathan Knowles, Renee Blodgett
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
Photo credit: Steve Brehaut
Kamal Shah and Janet Rae Dupree
The deserving 11 recipients are:
• Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
• Georgia Institute of Technology
• Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
• MIT CSAIL
• Stanford University
• Technische Universität München
• University of California, Berkeley
• University of Pennsylvania, GRASP Laboratory
• University of Southern California
• University of Tokyo, JSK Robotics Laboratory
May 27, 2010 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Social Gigs & Parties, Videos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 20, 2010
Google IO: 5,000 Developers & Geek Toys Under One RoofLast night, thousands of people gathered to see the latest and greatest apps at the Google Developer Conference (Google IO) in San Francisco. As the day turned into night, the lights of the Moscone West Hall were lowered, purple and blue lights spanned the ceilings and music videos played on a massive overhead screen.
The two previous days featured 80 sessions of deep technical content featuring Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, GWT, App Engine, open web technologies, and more. The event attracted more than 5,000 developers who showed up to present 100 showcasing their technologies. Al Seckel, the illusion genius was also there doing demonstrations.
While they do include their Twitter hashtag on the front page of their website, I had to ask 9 people on-site before I could find out what it. The previous 8 had no idea what a hashtag was -- a hash what? asked a thirty something video producer who was walking the floor. Another said, I'm a coder, why would I care about Twitter? The official hastag btw was apparently #io2010 although many were using #googleio, including myself.
Below are a few shots I took of the show floor, which included the intriguing and fun heavy pedal cyclecide bike rodeo, which you can try at the Maker Faire event this weekend in San Mateo if you're in the Bay Area.
Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro with a PR2 robot
May 20, 2010 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Events, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Social Gigs & Parties, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 17, 2010
Robots Attend This Year's X Prize Benefit for HumanityThe X Prize Foundation's annual event was held at San Francisco's Letterman Digital Arts Center this past weekend.
Coined as a radical event for humanity, X Prize Foundation's Chairman & CEO Peter Diamandis gathered some of the brightest visionaries in the areas of science, sustainability, entertainment, technology and medicine together under one roof.
Jaykumar Menon, Susan Celia Swan
Robin Williams, Renee Blodgett
Bruce Katz on the right
Jaykumar Menon and John Hagel meet a PR2
On the left, Keenan Wyrobek
Committee members who add their knowledge and time to the foundation include the likes of Sir Richard Branson, John Doerr, Scott Hassan, Reid Hoffman, Arianna Huffington, Chad Hurley, Steve Jurveton, Dean Kamen, Vinod Khosla, Eric Schmidt, Craig Vender and a host of others. In addition to Peter Diamandis, Sergey Brin and Larry Page co-chair and Larry gave a short speech.
The live auction included Taj Jaguar and Airship Ventures packages, Chihuly Glass Art, a Harry Winston Ocean timepiece, a Genome 100, a SpaceShipOne Full Size Replica, an ICON A5 Amphibious Aircraft, a Zero G with James Cameron and a Virgin Galactic Flight.
They announced a new prize platform called "X CHALLENGEs," which unlike an X Prize which focuses on a global paradigm change over a 3 to 8 year period, concentrates on a near-term technology advancement over a one to two year window. The amount raised is also smaller, ranging from $250K to $2.5 million. The hope is that when these contributions are properly used, the money raised can serve as a powerful economic tool for solving difficult challenges and bringing about authentic breakthroughs.
Bobby Yang & His Unrivaled Players performed during a cocktail reception while Willow Garage robots zipped around the floor. The PR2 robots 'played' with attendees and Robin Williams even managed to do the cha cha with a PR2 named "007."
Tony Robbins, Esther Dyson, Autodesk's Jonathan Knowles and a few others navigated Texai robots remotely from southern California and elsewhere in the Bay Area and as far away as Prague and Argentina. Below Tony says hello to Peter and laughs with some of the attendees.
Below is a video of Google's Sergey Brin who addressed the crowd from Utah via the screen of a Willow Garage Texai robot. He says hello and waves to Esther Dyson who was hanging out in another Texai propped in the front of the room. What an incredibly innovative and cool way to experience an event you cannot attend in real-time.
Listen to Ray Kurzweil talk about how far computers have come, and the power of a system that combines doctors with artificial intelligence which can bring high quality medical care to the vast number of humans. A short video clip below.
X Prize competitions provide the opportunity for individuals and companies to make philanthropic investments that are low-risk leveraged grants (teams typically spend in aggregate, 10 to 40 times the purse in research and development) that yield unprecedented returns in innovation, public awareness and support for radical breakthroughs that benefit humanity as a whole.
More shots taken throughout the evening.
Scott Hassan, Peter Farrell
Steve Cousins and Adeo Ressi
Peter Farrell, Renee Blodgett
Eric Berger on the right
Peter Diamandis and Sergey Brin
And, for those wondering what else was on the menu, they served green garlic pistou, fresh favas, white truffle mashed yukon gold potatoes, crispy roti, skywalker ranch herb zucchini cakes, porcini mushrooms, avocado and basil creme fraiche as well as a killer organic TCHO dark chocolate dome to die for with strawberry reduction. I had two. Ouch!!
May 17, 2010 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Events, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Social Gigs & Parties, Videos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
April 19, 2010
140Conf NYC Kicks off with VIP Party on the East SideNew York's second 140 Characters Conference kicked off last night at Room Service NYC on East 21st, not far from the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Avenue. It seems like most of our festivities this week will be on the East Side.
Everyone wore a badge in typical #140conf style that says I'm a Character, although the room held more than 140 of us and there were tons of video and still cameras shooting throughout the night. MC Hammer graced us with his presence towards the end of the evening when lots of mini-groups jumped in cabs and headed off for food and schmooze.
For those at the 140Conf at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, this memory will bring a smile.
The King of the Show himself
Scott Beale, Steve Garfield
Renee Blodgett, Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams
Alan Weinkrantz, Renee Blodgett, Owen JJ Stone
March 22, 2010
SXSW: Chaos, But Quest for Bonding & Authenticity ReignsI first attended SXSW Interactive in it's early days and wasn't familiar at the time with its Music and Film content, it's true foundation. That said, Interactive was small and intimate enough that I was able to cross over into Music and Film because there was time. I'm not sure if I simply got lucky, but was happily surprised and amused time and time again.
Unknown musicians' in second-tier venues that didn't necessarily rock my world or uncover any jewels, were a cut above the rest, so much so that we were jamming and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.
Interactive was raw, undiscovered, and organic. The mood and purpose centered around community.....a bit like the reason you went to Koh Samui before they built their first high rise hotel. You went for its beauty and the fact that those who made the attempt were people who were there to discover, learn and explore.
Today, there is more than one SXSW. Interactive registrations were up 40% from 2009, which means that March 2010 housed and entertained more than 15,000 attendees. What the volume did for me was move the needle from an organic community-driven event to a moving circus with multiple agendas.
By the end of the first day (which due to the nature of SXSW, was 4 am the next day), I thought and tweeted: Has SXSW become the CES of Social Media? By the end of the second day, I thought: Has SXSW become the Burning Man wanna-be of Social Media? By the end of the third day, Florida's Spring Break of Social Media?
Many of the sessions were aimed at virgins, others wove in interesting dialogue in and around what is happening or changing right now, i.e., the horror film producers/directors panel. It was impossible to find folks, even with Foursquare and Gowalla in full force and I checked in on average 10 times a day to assess the energy and trends.
It's no grave surprise that with the massive growth in numbers that segmentation and off-site events will occur within the SXSW brand, not unlike the TEDX events which have spun out of TED.
With VIP passes in hand, there were still one hour waits for parties, 2-3 hours if you didn't manage the right access card in advance, even with a massive network, text messaging and phone calls. There was a divide between the early social media creators and curators and those marketing to them and the latter subscribed to VIP List or STAND IN LINE.
Unless you're willing to sign up for a Spring Break experience and getting drunk on cheap beer and tequilla while you're standing in line, to only arrive to more cheap giveaways and booze when you finally make it through the door, it's time for better quality. It's clearly time for new players and micro-brands and events to emerge within the SXSW walls -- aimed at ADULTS: adult conversations where real-business and real-marketing conversations can happen.
An annoyed Paul Carr writes a piece in TechCrunch entitled: SXSW: Because Hell Doesn't Have Enough Promotional Stickers. I resonated with so many of his points, yet I deny not that I encouraged clients to attend, bring STICKERS and lots of them.
Stickers still have an impact here and I participated every step of the way, leaving them on tables, plastering them on people's jackets and butts (yes, really) and giving them away at parties. Saturated and tacky, but they're still part of SXSW's MO and scene. In order to win at the 'tease and leave-behind, you're required to play the game and that game requires you to go from venue to venue to venue to venue.
Paul rants: "In reality, it’s just a non-stop orgy of bullshit fanboyism – a chance for people with stickers on their laptops to go and add more stickers to their laptops; an opportunity for sweaty dorks in Diggnation t-shirts to line up for two hours in the hope of getting Alex Albrecht to – I dunno – sign their laptop, I suppose, or maybe give them another freaking sticker."
You hate to admit it but if you're over 30, hell yeah, it's spot on.
I've been going long enough that running into industry people where 'real' conversations can happen on your own terms, in your own time, still have tremendous value. Now, however, with 15,000 people and more sessions than you can keep up with even with a full time planner and admin, you really have to work at it.
At one event, I ran into a Wordpress developer who screaming at me over the loud music, gave me a fix to a glitch we needed to resolve for a client and at another, I watched rappers master a creation using all of our brand names on the fly in the hallway. I met smart people who had a lot to say (when they were sober) and bonded with people in the biz in the same way we all do during college reunions. That's what makes it still thrive, because bonding and the quest for authenticity reigns.
While you can argue "what kind of authenticity can you find amidst a pool of parties with cheap booze, long lines, loud music and drunk people?," the bonding that can happen from merely showing up still exists, at least for now.
I would like to see the birth of more insider events that capture a bit of the old with the new, with more community discussions after hours and less VIP lines and bad booze parties. It's time. With 15,000 attendees, trust me, it's time.
Writes Jay Baer in a moment of mutual discouragement: the conference isn't that good. He says: "several people I know who live in the developer or entrepreneur world frequently checked in on Gowalla at panels and parties that I had never heard of, and were completely off my radar. The feeling of community, and “we’re all in this together” is slipping away."
I waited in line for sessions that could have really used a leader or experienced moderator. Tons of industry buds were on panels and gave great talks, but more sessions than not had people with little experience or mediocre presence on stage. It boils down to submission of a quirky interesting session name that can get a lot of votes.
Jay writes about his dialogue within his own social media bubble: SXSW is conference roulette. Evan Williams’ (co-founder, Twitter) keynote was so disastrous that an anecdotally estimated 80% of those in the room left before conclusion. Sadly, I missed Ev because of a conflict, but heard that moderator Umair Haque was too glowing and barely gave him a chance to speak.
Louis Gray seemed to also agree. He writes, "after thousands of Twittering geeks and quasi-geeks alike had settled in to the packed exhibition hall and overflow rooms to hear the latest updates delivered straight from Twitter's leader, their excitement soon turned to boredom and finally, severe annoyance, as the interview's pace, tone and content fell well below expectations."
While community will always reign in the eyes of social media purists, SXSW Interactive needs to pay more attention to its vetting process moving forward if it hopes to retain the standards and educational value that people expect every March.
Geo-loco was buzzing this year and events like SXSW are such a great use case scenario for geo-location services. I could get a sense of the pulse in real-time in a matter of minutes. For example, i.e., JoeKZcat and WallyRogers213 just checked into The Belmont, meaning that the volume and energy of the party would likely increase within a 30 minute period. The same applied to well known people who left a particular event and went somewhere else. You could also easily see what was trending and what wasn't.
Bar codes were the other thing. I'm not buying in yet. Sorry.
Then, there was the blogger lounge which was full of random people. At any given time, I think I counted 5-10 bloggers out of 80-100 who had nothing to do with blogging. From an authenticity perspective, it was lame. That said, I ran into some old and new pals within its walls and the passing musicians who gave their time to entertain were great.
I picked up three signed books from industry pals, including Charlene Li's new book: Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (more about it after April 15), Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness (right up my alley, can't wait to dig in) and Brian's book for brands and businesses: Engage - great name and cover.
The Sex Scene showed up too as did players and wanna-be social media gurus from around the world, including Europe, South Africa, Australia, and LA. (its own country some would argue). Amanda from TechZulu interviewed me on what was in my SXSW bag - tips for future attendees.
The upside is that the movers and shakers still show up and creative hallway conversations still happen. The random moments, however, are what really make it still worth the trek. Future treks given what SXSW has become just means that you have to really prepare for it - know you won't sleep or eat and that you'll have to work that much harder to sift through the mediocrity which includes panels and conversations.
And, I'd add, get creative about hosting your own off-site high quality events that will draw the real creators and game changers.
March 22, 2010 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Conference Highlights, Events, Music, On Geo-Location, On Technology, Social Gigs & Parties, Social Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
December 13, 2009
Paris City Hall and DotParis #tg09 #lewebThe Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe and Jean-Louis Missikia, Deputy Mayor responsible for Innovation, research and universities hosted LeWeb attendees for an evening of champagne and decadent walls, ceilings and floors. As we entered, the city set up cameras to interview people on their opinion about dotParis. Should there be a dotParis and why? Should there be dotCityX? Below, a few of us were interviewed and below that, a short video I took inside City Hall, talking to some of LeWeb attendees, speakers, Traveling Geeks and random folks who made it into my zoom. (the best part of the video of course are the gorgeous ceilings)
October 01, 2009
Imaginevening Event Merges the Magic of Commerce and Creativity
A uniquely entertaining 21st century approach to business development debuts Wednesday October 14, 2009 when Imaginevening premieres for one night at the once top secret 140-seat George Lucas Theater in San Rafael, CA.
Created by Geoff Puckett, Imaginevening blends business networking and the creative arts into a night filled with audio and visual surprises, education and live music.
Imaginevening brings both business and creative minds together under the same roof to envision new projects and explore and understand diverse perspectives. Three guest speakers will present topics related to cutting edge experiential education, theme park conceptual design and the business of music.
Walt Disney Family Museum Founding Executive Director Richard Benefield will reveal the magic behind the opening of the new museum, the world famous man it chronicles, and the fascinating multi-year development story.
Former Disney Imagineer Nina Rae Vaughn brings her nearly quarter century of hand-drawn images together with stories about conceptually illustrating Disney theme parks amidst legendary Disney designers.
And lastly, Brooke Wentz will discuss her self-made role as a Bay Area music supervisor and music rights executive advising artists while licensing compositions for motion pictures, television, radio and special projects.
The hybrid networking event will be accentuated with live music from local composer Kit Walker. You can purchase tickets at Imaginevening. The event starts at 7 PM and the theatre location is 3210 Kerner Boulevard in San Rafael.
August 21, 2009
Ubergizmo's Digital Summer
Ubergizmo's Digital Summer was held last night in San Francisco's Temple on Howard Street, and while they had partners and sponsors, Eliane Fiolet, co-founder of Ubergizmo was the head and visionary on this amazing event.
A few random shots from the event last night below. I went through one of those sorrowful photographic experiences. Like most events of this nature, light was limited and my flash was flaky at best. I also spent less time flitting from group-to-group and more time connecting with fewer people. Hard for a publicist. Hard for a blogger, Even harder for a photographer.....I need better lenses.
Forgive the fact that I don't have everyone's names....entire set, essentially more of fewer people found on my Digital Summer flickr set.
Kudos to Eliane, Hubert and their partners for an amazing event.
Hubert and Eliane
Raising money to plant a tree - rock on that they did this :-)
July 12, 2009
TechCrunch Europa Awards in London
We were lucky to be in London for this year's TechCrunch Europa Awards this past week.
Held half in a venue that was separated by a wide hallway (great for networking), one section had a stage set up while the other was dedicated to passing plates of food and a bar.
There were many differences between similar events in Silicon Valley, notably the diversity, the level of enthusiasm and the dedication to staying up all night to celebrate, well after the venue closed its doors.
Outside, people gathered as it was a relatively warm night; cameras were shooting, flips were activated and wine was pouring.
Mike Butcher hosted the event, who was able to command an audience despite the fact that it grew louder as each award was presented.
Robert Scoble jumped on the stage at one point to say 'hey' to the crowd, one which began dancing and networking in full force once the ceremony ended.
Spotify landed three awards this year, which we had an opportunity to play with at London's Seedcamp earlier in the week.
As for the winners, they ranged from digital music and social innovation that benefits society to mobile and entertainment.
Best Web Application Or Service went to Spotify.
Best Design went to Songkick.
Best Bootstrapped Startup went to Soup.io.
Best Social Innovation which benefits society went to Mendeley.
Best Enterprise / B2B Startup went to Huddle.
Best Cleantech / Environmental Startup went to Alertme.
Best European / Real World Gadget went to Poken.
Best Entertainment Application or Service went to SoundCloud.
Best Mobile Startup went to Nimbuzz.
Best Mobile Application went to Spinvox.
Best Startup Founders went to Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon of Spotify.
Best Investor (VC or Angel fund) went to The Accelerator Group.
Best Investor Personality went to Yossi Vardi (go Yossi :-)
Best New Startup and the Europas Grand Prix both went to Spotify.
Below are some shots I took at the event:
Sven Hock of Segno Consulting
Surai Sharma of eMarket
Michael Birch, Renee Blodgett
Rahul Verma of Kubera Money
Emmanuel Carraud of MagicSolver
The Skimlinks Team
Mike Butcher, TechCrunch Europe
Symbian Foundation's Joe Neall, Renee Blodget, Roelof Kotze
Joanna Butler and David Freeman from Latitude and Anthony Eskinazi, CEO of Park at my House
Tom Foremski and his son
Cognitive Match Glen Conybeare and Jon Hadley from Odbody
Cedric Giorgi from Goojet and Stephanie Valorge from Clipperton Finance
Bretton Putter from Forsyth
Bebo founder Michael Birch
Ash Jhaveri and Christian Hernandez from Google and Andrew Blachman from Get Me In
Alex Bellinger from SmallBizPod
Aidan Fitzpatrick from Reincubate and Louise Campbell from eHive Creative Community
Additional photos and video here.
July 06, 2009
Great Show for Traveling Geeks' London TweetUp
Below are a few snaps from the event that included start-up entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, bloggers, journalists and vendors.
Traveling Geeks Sky Schuyler, Susan Bratton, Renee Blodgett and Howard Rheingold
Claire Walker and Mark Mellor from Firefly Communications
Sarah Lacy, Meghan Asha
Craig Newmark talks to a group of London geeks
Symbian's Joe Neale
Micha and Danielle from Digitrad
Jon Wheatley, founder of Daily Booth
Dennis and Joe Morin
Rosemary Forsyth, Vincent Camera, Renee Blodgett