The first day of the ideaCity conference in Toronto has wrapped up. Well not entirely -the first night’s party is just getting underway, but I was up at 4:30am today to get here, so I passed on the fun to put together some posts before I fall asleep. It’s a glamorous life… I’ll be putting up several more detailed posts about presenters I found particularly interesting, but consider this a general overview of the day.
Child drum prodigy Isaiah Gibbons started things off in style with a rocking version of the national anthem. This kid has got to be in high demand when his friends play Rock Band.
The first session was titled "Calamities" and hopefully it was staged first in order to sucker punch the audience and leave nowhere to go but up. Water shortages, food shortages, near earth objects and pandemics. All scary stuff. But at least these guys have a sense of humor. Chris Wood, speaking about the coming water crisis, considered the other speakers and proclaimed: "my calamity is bigger than their calamities."
Husband and wife team Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio walked us through their Hungry Planet: What The World Eats project. You’ve probably seen photos from this book making the e-mail rounds -shots of families from various cultures and countries posing with a typical week’s worth of groceries. A Molecular Gastronomist (i.e. chef) told the story of his unconventional training and put together a lemon tart using liquid nitrogen. And a Yiddish rapper -yes, a Yiddish rapper- blew off the last of the calamity blues. The hard science guys (Dark Matter, Learning Machines, Viruses and Genome Mapping) had the difficult post-lunch shift. And there was a final session featuring more music and the New Urbanism themed presentations.
One of the more interesting and frightening gadgets I saw was the Walkstation, which was being prominently featured. The gist of this demonic device is to hammer together a computer, workstation and a treadmill. So you get exercise while working or playing on your computer (ideaCity Founder Moses Znaimer is seen trying out a Walkstation in the accompanying photo). In some ways, I like it; in other ways, it seems like we’re giving up on the idea of ever getting actual activity-based exercise.
ideaCity continues on Thursday and Friday. Check out their web site for details.