Conversations – Another World

October 28, 2004

in Strategic Foresight

What methods are available for bringing more international conference content to America? For me an important theme running across Pop!Tech was the global world. While we had a few foreign presenters and participants in the audience there really weren’t many. There were plenty of excursions to ‘foreign” places, many maps that looked similar, and yet these interpretations were “researchers” rather than Brazilians, Africans, Asians, etc. I know the message got out and for cost reasons is a difficult task for conference organizers. Still I know Andrew Zolli wants suggestions for next year. Dina blogged the problem very succinctly below after we watched the Bhutan presentation. I believe Dina could also be part of the solution.

Some thoughts as an Indian in an audience that is primarily American – The theme of the conference is The Next Rennaissance and a lot of the presenters yesterday and this morning talked about developing countries and how the world order is changing – India is one of them. Naturally, from an American or first world perspective given the location of the conference and the composition of speakers and audience.

What bothers me a little is that presentations like the one on Bhutan earlier today only reinforce ”exotica” – they in no way are telling us why and how these nations must be embraced as one world, how these nations have real people, real development, real innovations that might often surprise the first world. And that the first world could learn a lot by sharing. Alex Steffen touched upon some of these – but i havent seen enough of it yet, or any depth. And what about commitment ?

The sense i get from many of the speakers so far is the attempt to tell or ‘warn’ America to wake up to the potential and growth happening in these parts of the world. I just wish they had speakers from these nations who are actually affecting and changing the future in those parts of the world, through work they are doing.

I feel the audience here would benefit from hearing their stories, diving deeper into projects that are on, and then moving the conversations to how the first and third worlds can come together as one community to chart the course for the development of our world, which is indeed one world. Dina Mehta

Dina has been working on an ethnography project around India for the last year. Dig a little deeper and you learn she also has a talented sister Sherna Dastur whose last film won some international prizes. So my suggestion would be to find a small sum – sponsorship for these two to document 12 “India Changing” insights, captured in local language, with a linked commentary. Creating stories though a more impartial lens. An element of human voices and the more gritty side of some of the challenges.

This just seems like the right opportunity to me. Comment on Dina’s blog and make her write a proposal for next year. How’s that as a plug for a blogging buddy?

There are some other possibilities for Pop!Tech conversations too. I was just amazed at the number of people that had been there more than 5 times… some 8! Many of this core community was local. I’d think that they could provide a very interesting commentory on change too. Clearly this conference has a life. Some of these we got in the very well organized lunches which grouped us nicely together with different people at different cafe’s. Still I’d really like more opportunities to find the real nuggets of wisdom in the crowd. I realize that I missed meeting so many neat people.

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