ETech 2009 call for proposals: "Living, Reinvented"

The call for proposals for O'Reilly Emerging Tech 2009 has just gone up: "Living, Reinvented." I was involved in every ETech from the first P2PCon in 1999 right up to last year (I'm taking a year or two off while I catch up on fatherhood and book-deadlines), and I have had some of my most mind-blowing, life-altering conversations and experiences at these events, which showcase the leading edge of (often impractical but never boring) experimentation, skunkworks, and passionate development. This year's theme sounds fantastic, too. Proposals are due Sept 17, and the event is next March 9-12 in San Diego San Jose.

# Nomadism & Shedworking: As cities and their suburbs rapidly increase their footprint, there are some who reject the crowded living conditions, but take advantage of the connectedness. They adopt a high-tech lifestyle within the constraints of a smaller space or take their posessions and their bits with them on the road, to the farthest reaches of the globe. How do they do this and what can we learn from them?

# Sustainable Life: The American lifestyle is unsustainable. How do we move to one-Earth economy? What are Europeans doing? Will Dubai be the trendsetter with its newest sustainable city? How will a renewed interest in environmental design affect us? Last year’s keynoter Alex Steffen posited that it would be technology driving the change, not a restriction of habits or an energy diet. Right now the abundant world is being changed by rising oil and medical costs, forcing change. What technology will break through?

# Life Hacking & Information Overload: We are bombarded with too much information, but at least some of it is relevant. What are the tools that we can use to process it? How can we identify the subset we actually care about? How do we identify the necessary bits of information that makes us more productive? Can we use cognitive science to help us deal with modern day living? What does neuroscience tell us about our brains and how we should handle learning and processing? Will ubicomp be able to help us stave off the overload or will it hasten our doom?



  1. “Will Dubai be the trendsetter with its newest sustainable city?”

    *snort of disbelief!!!*

  2. “# Sustainable Life: The American lifestyle is unsustainable.”

    It’s very fashionable to blather on about how America’s life style is unsustainable. It was also impossible to fly, or go to the Moon, or any number of other things. “Our” lifestyle doesn’t have to end, it can be sustained with innovation. The Bitchun Society doesn’t have to be just a stupid fiction, it can be real if we work for it. And Americans, more than any other culture, know how to work towards a goal and achieve their dreams. Besides, if we can’t innovate, we’ll take what we need. Resistance is futile!

  3. @Jeff:

    The American Lifestyle of car-dependent/suburban living is unsustainable. The simplest reason? One word, oil

    Putting aside the environmental impact, people communing 15-20-30+ miles a day to work is getting prohibitively expensive due to gas prices. Homes built over the past few decades have been predicated on a certain price point for heating, a price point that we’ve more than surpassed.

    I’m not going to cry “DOOM!” at all. That strain of environmentalism is counter-productive. It’s about realizing that changes in behavior, construction and lifestyle can not only help preserve and protect the enviornment, but also improve quality of life. Someone struggling to lose weight who starts biking their errands on the weekend takes a solo driver off the road, saves money and gets in exercises. A family that uses ride share and car-share services saves hundreds of dollars in gas, car payments and even insurance. There are collectives forming across the country of people volunteering to help install solar and geothermal heating on member’s homes in return for getting their own homes worked on.

    Hybrids and electric cars are great, but the real innovation is the realization of the benefits of a more sustainable lifestyle.

  4. Proposals are due Sept 17, and the event is next March 9-12 in San Diego.

    The March event will be held in San Jose, not San Diego.

  5. # Life Hacking & Information Overload:We are bombarded with too much information, but at least some of it is relevant

    So much of the “too much” information is redundant – or ancillary – or low-grade. What we need are more sites which put things in context – giving us overview, in a condensed form, and giving us a measure of the significance of new discoveries as well as a better comprehension of what we already ‘know’ in a sketchy way.

    Details are easy to assemble but “meta-information” requires more effort and broader comprehensibility. There are a dearth of such sites on the web; the best that do exist tend to be about the sciences, where the facts and the conclusions are often easier to put hands on.

    Efforts like the Earth Portal ( are, I think, first stirrings in that direction. But I’ve yet to see much thought given to how overview can be accomplished in a community fashion. Free time and expertise can only be had for a price. Where are the “knowledge venture capitalists”?

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