Permanent Beta Day 4


Permanent Beta wants to improve the world with a combination of Arts, Science and Technology. June 30th they organized Permanent Beta Day 4, a day full of presentations, workshops and other exciting stuff. I was there from 9.45 until 21.15 and had a great day. I had no problem keeping myself entertained. There must have been over 50 presenters! My most memorable experience was the day itself. The fact that it’s possible to ‘organize’ an event like this (50 speakers, about 300 visitors) by creating an open invitation and letting everything sort itself out is amazing. What we got for free today was much better than a lot of costly conferences in my opinion. This shows how easy things become when you let them happen. On to the my personal best of #PBDag4.


Alette Baartmans (@AletteBaartmans) wants to change education. By following the money she wants to know how the €,- that we pay for education each year is being spent. Her arguments about innovation in education are as follows:
* It’s impossible to monitor the current state of education. The only things that can be checked are the reports that are generated from the bottom up, not the actueal performance of students.
* Every organization (in education) should answer a few questions, such as (we generated these in the session):
– Why was I instituted? Which goal am I meant to achieve?
– What can I do to make myself superfluous?
* There should be room for experiments in education. If we can’t try new things, how can we improve? Just as important, there should be room for failure in these experiments.
I was already inspired by Alette when she spoke at TEDx Utrecht in April. She has an original concept and might actually change the world!

Helping our Hosts

De Nieuwe Stad/The New City (@DeNieuweStad) hosted the event, for free (€ 0,-). The complex consists of (among other things) an old toothpaste factory. It’s an inspiring environment for a day of knowledge exchange, but I wouldn’t want to work in that factory day and night…

The hosts asked us to help them activate their renters. De Nieuwe Stad is not their project, but that of the inhabitants. They are the ones who should do whatthey want. But how do we get them to realize that they are in charge? We talked about this in the MKBuzz. This was the most interactive session of the day. We advised the entrepeneurs to help their inhabitants create the city they want to live in by:
* Helping them find out what they want to change
* Showing them it’s okay to go and do stuff
* Facilitating sessions to help the inhabitants get to know each other
* Communicating the why of De Nieuwe Stad instead of the what. The why is something people can get behind, while the what is something nobody knows yet.

I hope the founders of De Nieuwe Stad will find our suggestions useful. Good luck!

I don’t know either…

Maarten den Braber (@MdBraber) spoke to us about the creepy side of big data. Maarten was one of the first people in The Netherlands who was into quantified self. Now he’s having doubts… What happens to the data your FitBit/FuelBand/Jawbone Up collects? Who really quit WhatsApp when they were acquired by Facebook? Is it necessary to improve everything? And what is the cost of that improvement?

I really like that Maarten didn’t preach a solution. He only tried to get people to think about the data that they create and share. It’s actually shocking to see the lack of thought about this in a crowd of frontrunners. What about society at large?

Who wants to live forever?

Berend Watchus told us about the quest to live forever. There are actually two kinds of life extension: creating a better life for the 120 years we’re programmed to be alive, or extending life to make it longer. The second group can be divided into two groups again, one that wants to enhance our bodies to live longer, and one that wants to leave our bodies for a digital environment (transhumanism). There are exciting developments:
* Did you know we can regrow fingers using a special powder?
Cryogenics and subsequent reanimation has been succesful on a frog?
* Scientists have transferred memories electronically between rats?
* There are animals that are biologically immortal (this means they don’t die unless there is a trauma?

Fascinating stuff to think about! Would you want to live forever?

If you can’t beat them, use them

Brenno de Winter (@Brenno) was tired of the inadequacy of the Dutch Government when it came to ICT-projects. So, he corralled some public servants from multiple institutions and started doing it another way. Dropbox is insecureopaque and very foreign. Time to build a local alternative that’s localsafe and well tested. Localbox is born. And not just born, but in time and on budget.

According to Brenno, the fact that the government is inadequate when it comes to ICT-projects means we have to do them ourselves. A big problem is the lack of capability when it comes to the supervision tasks the government is supposed to carry out. There is no way for the people to perform the tasks of the CBP for example.

Grass doesn’t grow any faster when you’re pulling it

The last talk I attended was that of Boer (Farmer) Bos (@BoerBos), a recovering business man who decided to take over the farm of his parents after all. A wonderful story about sheeppeople and letting things happen. He reminded me a little of the Dude…

I would like to thank the organisers of Permanent Beta Dag 4 again for their initiative and their enabling of the people to create a wonderful day together. I’ll take the inspiration and try to spread my new enthusiasm.

If you want to read more about the day, head to Twitter and search for #PBDag4.

A headshot of Marnix


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