From Ben Franklin to Jetpacks: Highlights from All Day Buffet’s Feast On Good

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All Day Buffet put on a stellar day of presentations at the Feast on Good conference — “a cross-disciplinary series of programs addressing social innovation and new ways to make the world a better place” — last Friday at the Times Center.  Unfortunately, it seems that this will be their last conference – they are scrapping the format in favor of small retreats.  The day was recorded and broadcast via Livestream, and we’ve linked below to some of our favorite talks.

This year’s theme was Reinventing Industries.  Jerri Chou and Tamara Giltsoff introduced the day, with a set of (very Zeitgeist-y) observations on the forces that are compelling changes in industries and an overview of what those changes look like:

To roughly summarize, change is being motivated by these factors:

  • There is a growing awareness of the impact of unlimited consumption on the environment
  • Global financial crisis is motivating people to reduce consumption
  • We are now networked and have begun to harness the generative power of the internet

As a result of this last factor, a big shift is occuring:

  • Individuals are increasingly integrating and aligning their lives and their work with their passions.
  • What was closed/top down is now networked/transparent
  • We have discovered new ways to engage with big problems through the generative and networked nature of the internet.

They quote Eric Zimmerman, saying: “If the last era was summed up by cinema, the next one will be summed up by gaming, because it’s participatory,” and extend that, in effect saying that if the 20th century was about creating and selling more consumer goods, the 21st century is about unlocking human potential, and solving social problems, and in order to understand this, we need a new kind of economics that can create value from human flourishing.

The other presentations are, for the most part, well worth watching.  Here are some of the highlights:

Mitchell Joachim (Terreform ONE) SOFT Jetpack: Bee Blobs with Parachute and Air Pillow Crotch

  1. Floating countries — Patri Friedman of the Seasteading Institute asks, if we can have start-up companies, and start-up organizations, why can’t we have start-up governments?
  2. Mitch Joachim of TerreForm One (and one of the guys who advised the makers of Minority Report on what the future would be like) takes seriously the complaint that we should have jetpacks by now.
  3. Naveen Selvadurai of Foursquare reveals that Ben Franklin was interested in self-tracking and convinces me that I should be taking fish oil every day.
  4. Rachel Botsman, co-author of  What’s Mine is Yours, explains “collaborative consumption” and lets on that there are now 1,905 more farmer’s markets in the US than there are Walmarts.
  5. Scott Belsky talks about creative meritocracy and how we can create systems that enable the best ideas to and talents to be recognized and promoted.
  6. Michael Epstein of the Unreasonable Institute tells us about getting together some of the world’s most dynamic “unreasonable” entrepreneurs to address social and environmental challenges of a global magnitude.
  7. Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, says our current system of education is doing a terrible job of giving kids the skills they’ll need to be relevant in the economy of the future, and that educations is more about asking the right questions than about knowing the right answers.
  8. Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise tells us about his near-death experience with a monster wave, about meeting a child in India whose dearest wish was for a pencil, and about having the passion to create an organization that builds schools while breaking all the rules about how non-profits are supposed to be run.

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