Howells.

My notes from Brooklyn Beta… two months late

The original title of this post was “It was Brooklyn last week” and had it closed for two months.

I don’t know why. Going to an event like Brooklyn Beta is tricky to capture in a written post, but there was plenty of insights to take away. So I thought I better return to my notes and capture them in bullet points.

There’s a lot missing, but here are the main take-outs I gleaned from what is undisputedly the best design and technology conference out there, expertly conjured by Chris and Cameron.

  • Ted Nelson—who I didn’t know before the event—was an extraordinary speaker, who simultaneously captivated and lost the audience with his alternative visions of the internet (all tinged with sadness that Tim Berners Lee got there first). Check out Computers for Cynics.
  • Squarespace’s new developer platform looks very interesting.
  • Maciej Ceglowski of Pinbord was by far the most funny, insightful speakers of any tech conference, who delivered these laughably sensible tidbits of advice against a backdrop of VC obsession: “Don’t get in the way when people want to give you money”, “Success feels not much different from failure. But you are not allowed to stop.”, “Barely succeed. Not everybody and everything has to grow super big and scale like crazy”.
  • Cory Brooker: what a legend, and it was exciting to see a potential future President speak at a tech conference. Main take-out, “It’s cheaper to invest in education than to pay for ignorance.”
  • Each year, Chris Shifflet gets up on stage and imparts ridiculously good advice that seems to come from the heart and not from a self-help book. I’ll leave it to his own blog post to explain what he said.
  • Arguably the greatest start-up promo video ever created, for WeBe.at, by OK Focus
  • Lachlan Hardy really loves taking photos. And that’s his way to meet as many people as possible at an event: take great portraits and you’ll end up knowing everybody.
  • This tweet from Whitney Hess amused me, and is basically true. The dress code at Brooklyn Beta is compelling.
  • The words of Seth Godin (possibly the most effortless, charismatic speaker I’ve seen) imparted some sage advice: “Everyone should write a blog because it makes it harder to be a hypocrite. You have to decide what you believe.”, and on social media, “Whisper to the people who want to listen to you, don’t yell at the masses who are trying to avoid you.”
  • Brooklyn Beta Summer Camp was a new initiative started this year, and the participants got a few moments to present their app. The standout apps for me were Farmstand, which helps promote and connect farmers markets and the people that shop at them, and Maker’s Row, which connects makers with factories that can help turn their designs into reality.
  • The king of infographics, Hyperakt, made a beautiful one of the people that constituted the event. My mother even made an appearance in it, on being asked what it is I do: “It’s all a big mystery to me.”
  • Ben Pieratt gave an astonishing heart-felt talk about his experience on being CEO of Svpply: a startup that he founded, and then resigned from 3 years later. The turmoil of running of startup (especially as a designer-founder) are never discussed so for us gathered audience it was refreshing to hear a warts-and-all account.
  • Scott Belsky talked about Behance, and proffered a few words to aspiring founders. Having recently sold his company to Adobe for Good Money, we should listen: “When everyone tells you you’re crazy, you’re either crazy or you’re onto something.”

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