Entering a new decade and celebrating 10 years of innovation in business and creativity, Pause Fest 2020 was aptly themed ‘New Odyssey’. The focus of the festival was about new beginnings, looking ahead at what’s to come. In a time of global uncertainty and existential crisis, it was nice to see the world grounded in different perspectives of others.
In true Pause Fest style, the speakers came from far and wide from an overwhelming range of subject matter areas. Ranging from looking up at new technology in satellites, to looking inwards at our own mental health, there was something for everyone looking for inspiration to start the decade. For myself, the intersection of design, technology, mental health, business and management really struck a chord. I was excited to have the opportunity to pick and choose from such a dynamic range of speakers. With my day-to-day work at Portable engaged in researching and understanding Youth Mental health, I was excited at the prospect of hearing insights from a number of organisations researching young people, behaviour change and future trends.
Day one started big, and I attended presentations about Data Science and Artificial intelligence. Pause Fest is known for showing off interesting ways technology is being used, and in particular Aurelien Simon’s talk about ‘Virtual Production’ was a highlight for me. Aurelien Simon is an Executive Producer at The Mill, and he showed the ways in which virtual sets and motion capture are providing a price efficient way to create animation in real time. The potential for the technology to create real-time fan engagement is massive, with proven examples of ways in which real actors filmed with motion capture can give life to fictional characters performing and interacting at live events. I had not seen anything like this before and it was thrilling to be presented with an emerging tech being used in this way. This video gives you an insight into how this technology works.
On day two I saw a dynamic range of talks, from the $30 billion dollar sex tech industry presented by Bryony Cole, CEO of Future of Sex, all the way to new development in satellite technologies presented by Mike Safyan, VP of Launch of Planet Labs Inc. Virtual Reality was a strong theme, with Trent Clews-de Castella of PHORIA presenting their work in creating VR experiences to help drive positive behavioural change through their work on ‘Rewild our planet’. Speaking of purpose, it was great to see Kate Barfield, CEO of YUME present about how their platform is linking businesses to tackle the issue of food waste, as well as the tough learnings that come with running a start-up. Barfield is a veteran of this industry, being the founding chief executive of SecondBite, a platform rescuing surplus food and providing it to people in need. Seeing Barfield present left me feeling like there are a lot of problems to solve in the world, but here was an individual who was rallied (and rallying others) to contribute toward solving a problem with purpose and drive.
"there are a lot of problems to solve in the world, but here was an individual who was rallied (and rallying others) to contribute toward solving a problem with purpose and drive"
The last day I enjoyed some of the more introspective, practical talks. Dr Angus Fane Harvey, Co-founder of Future Crunch, talked about the concept Nicole Wong, the former deputy CTO of the United States, put forward around her call for a ‘slow food’ movement for the internet. He spoke about the ways in which he has changed his consumption of information. Reading more books (essential wholegrains!) through to curated podcasts (fruits!), minimising our social media intake (junk food in moderation is best!) the talk discussed ways in which to manage a healthy ‘information diet’. Diversity and accessibility were key themes, with excellent talks by Kelly Calheiros, HR Business Partner of Shopify and Ashleigh Wilson, QLD Student Services and Community Manager at Coder Academy, about ways in which we can all be more inclusive spoken from the perspective of lived experience.
Full to the brim with new learnings and perspectives, the close of Pause Fest 2020 left me feeling hopeful for what’s to come in this new decade.
A special mention goes to Stephanie Winkler whose talk “Vice Presents: The Future” was an overall highlight and right on point for the theme “New Odyssey”. Winkler is the Head of Insight APAC for Vice, and spoke through their research into Gen Z trends. Key themes around fluidity and surprisingly, optimism in young people gives me hope that the future is in good hands.