I had a great time livetweeting the Future of Money and Technology conference on Monday.
Now I've had some time to reflect, and my overall impression is, as it often is, peripheral:
In a convenening of leading edge experts, there needs to be plenty of unconference time. Not "networking," which is also fun but not as crucial to the conference itself; but some mechanism of meeting people in situ and gauging their relevance. Unconference. Location-based game relevant to the topic. Table topics. Q&A of yet more entrepreneurs is a public service and it does allow people to ask questions, but it's just not as fruitful as full-on unconference dynamics.
After going through and counting the number of women on panels as well as black-looking people, Asian-looking people, and the Hispanically surnamed, diversity is still an issue. Representation wasn't horrible (it wasn't good but my expectations are very low); the issue is socioeconomic diversity - particularly in a forum about money. Convening the opinions of financially supported "global" college kids and their sophisticated parents do not make a diverse group regardless of skin color (and increasingly, country of origin). Avoiding groupthink of the innovators is crucial to the adoption of new ideas into new markets.
The second crucial issue of the conference is the difference between new people who have been reading for a year and have been forming opinions that are sometimes interesting but just as often a little bit sophomoric, vs. people who have been in the space for a decade. As always, the latter group pushes against the former's well-meaning obliviousness. And the former may become self-aware to the point they clam up, which is a bad thing because they bring new ideas and energy. It's up to the conference organizers to pull out the true experts, and when this is delegated to the panelists, they sometimes have extra-conference agendas to advance, relationship-wise. Another point for unconferences.
And last, Jim Benson and others have been urging me to find the time to write up the way I look at valuing ROI for intangible assets. The interest it garnered when I was teaching a class was surprising as well. I know it will be helpful. I need to find some reason to prioritize that as #1.
Other than that? The topical highlights
- Plenty of focus on community banks that are almost coops
- Tying virtual currency to actual currency
- Unbelievable amount of focus on mobile as exchange platform - and some things are actually nifty
- Microfinance has become a cult (well, ok, maybe not quite - but it's getting there!)
- Interesting comments about repurposing bank physical infrastructure
- Effort to create exchanges for credit card debt terms (etc.).