Pär Sikö interviews opening keynote speaker Anna Beatrice Scott

Our program chair Pär Sikö and our opening keynote speaker Anna Beatrice Scott virtually got together and had a conversation on IT, arts, crowdfunding and making things happen.

Let's get started.

[Pär] Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you've done in the past and what you do now?

[Anna] Bits about myself, also requires bytes. I love getting people to do great things. I'm a recovering girl jock, so team spirit and ethics are a big part of how I organize myself. I've been a project manager since middle school, when I organized my class to take a weeklong field trip from Holly Springs, MS to St. Louis, MO. We did fundraisers, campaigns; it was somewhat ridiculous yet inspired. I've never stopped doing things that seem impossible. My last day gig was as a professor in a dance department where I trained PhD students in the theory of corporeality...and I had them dance. These days I set work on my performance instigation team, VISCERA, when I am not running an event or project. I am also a mother of two mad scientists, so things are always interesting in my home. 

[Pär] What do you think of the theme this year ("The Arts") and what relationship do you see between IT and arts?

[Anna] Well if I answer this one, what will I say in my talk?!? Seriously, I thought immediately of The Baroque Cycle and Anathema by Neal Stevenson when I saw the title of the conference. In his novels, the treatment of code as codex, as in ancient pearling notation, causes us to understand that all leaps in informatics are artistic endeavors, requiring the same craft and zeal that an artisan brings to their work, but also the exuberant fear that an artist brings to her own. An artisan understands that their object must be a useful tool; an artist has no clear idea why their work or object must be done, other than it is necessary, thus, they fight fear--their own and that if others--in order to bring the work into the world.  I think technology has revolved around "arting" since there was "tool." Now, we are recognizing this story in the overdeveloped world and trying to better fashion our artful tools with generative story.

[Pär] You seem to be a busy woman, with plenty of ongoing projects. Can you tell us more about them?

[Anna] Oh, the portfolio life! So the two largest ongoing projects I have are Idea Project and TEDxSkidROW. Neither are my babies, but I love them very much. Idea Project is a gathering of folks in LA and San Francisco who generally enjoy TED and TEDTalks but are looking to pivot an idea into a practical use. It is lead by Cooper Bates of Hint Mint fame. We are considering starting again since our work with TEDxSkidrow subsumed the team these last two years.
TEDxSkidRow is the brainchild of R. Vijay Gupta, Senior TED Fellow and violinist with the LA Philharmonic. He was also a med student at some point, so his interest in music is also about healing. In particular, he investigates the impact music has on the neurology of people in crisis. I am HONORED to assist in putting together the conference and also in telling the story of his organization, Street Symphony. The quartets perform in jails, homeless shelters, parks, hospitals, and juvenile detention facilities. Working with them gives me a very different perspective on the role of technology in the world.

[Anna] My own project, VISCERA, is gearing up to remount and extend a dance work that we premiered earlier this year, "For Kara, Gigi and N'em." This team also keeps me on my toes with my performance instigation thought work.

[Pär] The description of one of your projects, OCTENATE, is "OCTENATE surfaces deep conversations and insights that lift you above the fray before the noise even begins". Can you elaborate on what that actually means? 

[Anna] The octopus hears at the infrasonic level. It gets into motion before other creatures in its environment know that there us imminent danger. As a metaphor, this works well for a process I use called quantum storytelling. We learn to "place bets" in particular points in a particular narrative that a business is telling about itself or that its clients/users are telling. It's a deep dive research tool that allows a business to co-create value with their customer base without ignoring the culture that has sprung up around it.

[Pär] Crowdfunding has become quit popular. You're the editor of "The Crowdfunding Atlas", a digital newspaper, how did you end up there?

[Anna] I am the founding editor of Crowdfundingguide.com, but it now runs without an editor in place. I fell into that gig after completing the market research for a new crowdfunding platform. While the paperwork has been filed, they have yet to launch. I am just about done with my book, The Crowdfunding Atlas. Hopefully, this will ignite the team to get the platform live already.

[Pär] What do you think is the next step in crowdfunding? Will it continue to thrive?

[Anna] It's funny, but I think crowdfunding is going to need to return, in part, to civic structures. To me the beauty and terror of crowdfunding is that its success is due to people wanting to help each other in unsystematic or ad hoc ways. This is not sustainable and why all cities, states and nations have taxes. Crowdfunding is about failed state apparatus. Our governments are tuned to a past that never was. With the pressure that the realtime web is exerting on global trade, travel, health and memory, waiting for systemic change and response seems foolhardy, but actively refusing to support civic initiatives for political reasons is also ridiculous. Crowdfunding is carrying a lot of weight and could collapse if governments continue to withdraw support from their citizens. When you have nothing left to share other than goodwill, will you?

[Pär] On your web page, there's a statement "300. People that I help make things happen. They tell me what they could never do, then we go and do it." How do you manage that? What is your approach? 

[Anna] I used to be a professor, so my reach was quite big, lol! These days, I dance as civic duty, stay on social media to bridge people offline, host dinner parties and convene conferences and colloquia.  You change the world one person at a time, but it can be asynchronous.

[Pär] A tweet, that you retweeted a while back, asked  "If you could nominate one company for the 'Coolest Social Business In The World Award', which one would you submit?” Which one would you nominate? And why?

[Anna] Well, there some pretty cool businesses that have recently launched, headphones made of leftover wood from cabinetry, shoes that get a pair sent elsewhere, but I really love a project here in LA called The Do Good Bus. Most of the time it is the band, Foster the People's tour bus, but is also a volunteer ride service. You pay to go do something awesome for a day. You have no idea really where you are going! They also do corporate team building events in the same style. Angelenos get to meet each other, be of service, and support a local business. I love it!

[Pär] Have you ever been so Sweden before? 

[Anna] I have only been to Sweden telematically. I performed for a workshop on environmental sustainability run by Stuart Pledger of Sustainable Leadership in Stockholm a few years ago. I'm looking forward to seeing Sweden up close!

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Jessica Kerr, hooked by "The Arts"

Some words from a first time speaker, Jessica Kerr

"Earlier this year at a conference, other speakers noticed this excitement I have for software development - the programming, the people, and the progress of our young field. They told me, "You should go to Øredev!"  Then I read this year's theme -- the Arts -- and I was hooked.

This is the conference where programming is more than a job. It isn't about math, it isn't about money, it isn't about me. It's about creating something great together, and at the same time, creating something great in ourselves. For how better to improve the software we write, than by growing ourselves?

I'm excited to speak at Øredev about two great programming paradigms -functional and OO - and how we can export the best of each into the other. At our best, we erase the lines. We learn from all of math, all of logic, all of philosophy, all of life.

There's a name for someone with the kind of passion I feel about a topic as seemingly narrow as our work: geek. This kind of passion, it drives us to turn over rocks until we find whole tunnels to new worlds that no one guessed were below the surface. Programming is like that. And down these tunnels, what do we find? People. The deeper into the geeky topic of programming I get, the more I learn about people. And the more I find great people to learn with. This is what I expect from Øredev: people who are passionate about programming and compassionate with each other. When I leave, I'll know more about code, more about teams, and more about myself."

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From Saint Louis to Malmö, the concept behind our conferences

As Conference organizers, we visit other conferences to check what is trendy, find ideas or simply get inspiration. This year, Øredev will welcome Mario Aquino who is one of the organizers of Strange Loop, a multi-disciplinary conference that aims to bring together the developers and thinkers building tomorrow's technology, like Øredev!

Mario will visit Øredev for the first time in November and as a lot of opinions and expectations.

"As a conference organiser, I look at session lineups with a critical eye. Exceptional conferences create platforms for professionals from different domains, paradigms, and tech stacks to share insights with peers. Øredev will do that: the program teems with a massive array of topics spanning mobile, agile, enterprise, human dynamics, design, and concurrent programming. On top of that, this year Øredev is focusing on the Arts. The Arts! Where most software conferences simply build a schedule around current tech trends, Øredev explores the connection between technology and the beauty in creative human endeavours.

The keynote I am most looking forward to will be delivered by Randall Munroe, author of xkcd. No other web comic captures the mix of irony, humour, frustration, and humanity that is the world of science and computers. It is a touchstone for nerds, communicating experiences that we so often share. xkcd speaks to software developers and science geeks from many backgrounds, with insights that make us think. It reaches a wide audience in the same way that Øredev will this year, with its serious technical core, diverse range of subject areas, and integration of the Arts theme.

But conferences are more than the sum of their talks. The schedule is the seed for a community hungry for new ways of creating great technology. People connect around common interests and share a diversity of perspectives. We will relate to each other in meaningful ways and scatter ideas that may grow into the next great open-source project. Ideas from all over the world might take root in any of us. Perhaps it will happen over jazz music on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The most interesting person at Øredev will be someone I never expected.

A great experience comes from finding connections in the ideas that we bring with us to those shared during interactions with attendees and speakers. As well, I hear that on Monday night we will jump into the ice-cold Baltic for as long as we can stand the frosty waters, then warm up in the sauna and dine with an international audience of nerds, artists, and creative types. How cool is that?"

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Would you hire a lumberjack to paint Mona Lisa?

The Arts as a theme for a programmers conference. Are we out of our minds? Are we just provocative?

Jakob Wolman from the program committee came with the idea of this year’s theme, the Arts. Thank you Jakob!

Someone asked me :”how are you going to tie this theme with programming?”. But it took no time before a lot of interesting questions popped up into my mind: Is programming an Art? Are programmers artists, scientists, craftmen? Then came the other questions, such as; are there platforms and languages allowing developers to be more creative? Can you really feel like an artist when you work in a team of 25 persons???
Paul Graham few years ago, wrote an interesting book called “Hackers and painters” which is a collection of essays discussing hacking, programming languages, and many other technological issues. In one essay, he draws a parallel between the work of hackers and painters and finds many similarities bringing him to the conclusion that hackers are like painters!

Hackers need to understand the theory of computation about as much as painters need to understand paint chemistry. You need to know how to calculate time and space complexity and about Turing completeness. You might also want to remember at least the concept of a state machine, in case you have to write a parser or a regular expression library. Painters in fact have to remember a good deal more about paint chemistry than that.

I was taught in college that one ought to figure out a program completely on paper before even going near a computer. I found that I did not program this way. I found that I liked to program sitting in front of a computer, not a piece of paper. Worse still, instead of patiently writing out a complete program and assuring myself it was correct, I tended to just spew out code that was hopelessly broken, and gradually beat it into shape. Debugging, I was taught, was a kind of final pass where you caught typos and oversights. The way I worked, it seemed like programming consisted of debugging.

Far from everyone agrees on this. Anders Janmyr also member of the program committee found a funny blog post from idlewords.com giving a colourful opinion on Paul Graham essay, here are few extracts:

So let me say it simply - hackers are nothing like painters.

Computer programmers cause a machine to perform a sequence of
 transformations on electronically stored data.

Painters apply colored goo to cloth using animal hairs tied to a stick.

The reason Graham's essay isn't entitled "Hackers and Pastry Chefs" is
not because there is something that unites painters and programmers
into a secret brotherhood, but because Paul Graham likes to cultivate
the arty aura that comes from working in the visual arts.

Great paintings, for example, get you laid in a way that great computer
programs never do. Even not-so-great paintings - in fact, any slapdash
attempt at splashing paint onto a surface - will get you laid more than
writing software, especially if you have the slightest hint of being a
tortured, brooding soul about you. For evidence of this I would point to
my college classmate Henning, who was a Swedish double art/theatre
major and on most days could barely walk.

And it’s why we like this year’s theme, because we know and we hope it will provoke a lot of discussions, reflections, emotions.

Here is another article speaking of coding as art. We like this article because it features the opinions of speakers who already attended Øredev.

So Yes. We think this is the best theme ever. It will tickle your brain, it will provoke you and certainly it will inspire your creative mind!

Emily, Creative Conference Manager

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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a bunch of test cases in your trunk

What’s new this year? Well we didn’t spend the long Swedish winter hibernating!

First of all we designed a wonder-dunderhoney website. Our goal was to have a website that works as well on mobiles as on desktops, so that we can skip native apps during the conference. We started by designing the mobile version of the site and from the mobile version we went on to the desktop version. It works perfectly! It took us time to design and develop it, so I’m afraid that we didn’t test it very much yet. But we will test it now, at least. If you see something strange, then please tell us. Maybe we should launch a summer contest: Find 5 bugs and win an Øredev tee-shirt! 10 tee-shirts to win. Send your list of bugs to info@oredev.org

Secondly, we wanted you to be able to create your personal schedule and save it on our servers so that you can pick it up on all your devices. And we wanted you to be able to do it without having to use a username and a password. BINGO! Now, you can create your schedule and save it on a URL you pick yourself. Of course, we are counting on your creativity to give your schedules interesting names. Just so you know, oredev.org/2013/openschedule/emily is already taken.

Using your URL, you can also share your schedule with your friends/colleagues/buddies or pets. We will also send you an ugly URL which will allow you to edit your schedule.

Then of course with such an inspiring theme as “The Arts” we have a zillion ideas about what we want you to experience when you are at the conference. A lot is still to be decided aand announced.

Emily, Creative Conference Manager

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Dancing Code? Shake your syntax!

After choosing the theme and writing a text about it, we needed to create a graphic profile.
In the picture, with an Øredev orange tee-shirt, meet Peter Kleine, the magician/designer/stuntman/UX designer/superman (I swear)/ the man behind Øredev graphic profiles. How do we work? We sit together for a week, storming our brains high on Lipton Yellow and we go through the freeway of the internet, looking for inspiration. We have a ratio of 1 good idea to 25 crappy ones, without speaking about the ones who would need parental advisory.

Because we love to share and we are not ashamed (should we?) we decided to show you the posters you missed ...

The result, with the dancers is what we liked the most. It is abstract and beautiful. Is it art? Who knows?

But the boxers are as well so nice that we decided to make a limited edition of it.

Thank you Peter for all the fun you bring to our work and for being such a talented designer. And I take the opportunity to thank Fredrik Frodlund and Michel Bajnocy who worked on the conception and development of the website.

We hope you will enjoy this year’s visuals and I can tell you that this theme will bring a lot of surprises. See you live in November!

Emily, Creative Conference Manager

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