HPX Digital — Smart, Agreeable, Indiosyncratic

(Kyle McDonald and Faris Yakob and Blind Self-Portrait . . .Thanks to Rosie Siman for the photo)

After 20 years as a music festival, Halifax Pop Explosion (HPX) this year added its first digital conference — following the lead of SXSW and NXNE. On the experience of this inaugural digital event, at which I was a guest presenter, there should be a second year, and it should stay about the same size with a similar mix of topics.

Smart presenters, intelligent questions from the audience (how often do you get that?), agreeable dinners with fellow presenters . . . all together an idiosyncratic amalgam of hard core geek presentations and sentient social analysis with some of what can only be described as quirky 'performances' (see below).

As with any digital conference, even one that takes place in only two small conference rooms, there were too many new ideas to take in at HPX Digital. So, here are the four pivotal ideas I will keep until next year:

  1. Faris Yakob (@faris) — showman, cultural savant and creative digital analyst — lets us know that Proximity is a Virtue and that marketers should not be marketing to people, but context. Other axiomatic comments: 'Proximity is influence', 'location is a form of media', 'geekery is the R+D of humanity' and 'think of mobile as the constant now'.
  2. Rosie Siman's (@rosiesiman) presentation called Year of the People, which walks through a quiz about people vs. brands proves (to me anyway) "that people matter more than brands." Ms Siman's six trends that matter: storytelling, content curation, entrepreneurialism, transmedia, influence, do good. Digital strategist (with 360i in New York), pop culture curator, on her website she includes Canada among those places she might like to live for a while: You're invited!  
  3. A media artist "working with code as medium and theme: interactive installations, tactical openness as performance" named Kyle McDonald (@kcimc) made everyone feel like a juvenile coder. Don't believe me? Take a look at his website, or this description of one of his latest projects: "Blind Self-Portrait 2012 with Matt Mets While the visitor keeps their eyes shut, a moving platform guides a pen in their hand to draw a self-portrait, using computer vision to track their face and generate a line drawing. The result is a machine-aided drawing, a self-portrait you could never draw."
  4. Stacey Mulcahey (@Bitchwhocodes), who unfortunately thinks "her lack of verbal filter and extreme candor (is) just a small part of her womanly charms" is something other than an embarrassing attempt to appear hard ass, has this to say about the responsive web: embrace fluidity in design and function, focus on one content source, think mobile first because it starts with the barebones and works outward, and as a corollary of the last point when it comes to mobile design "Don't think enabled; think optimized."

I missed a couple I wanted to take in, including Daniel Berkal's (@danielberkal) Project Butterfly and Alex Ohanian's (@Alexisohanian) closing keynote. I guess HPX will just have to invite us all back.

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