Reflections of a Web Summit Journey – Lisbon 2018

 

 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Rick Ridgeway from Patagonia recited these very words to a standing ovation at this year’s Web Summit in Lisbon. In the midst of the worlds leading businessmen and women all trying so very hard to hold back tears of pure emotion, I realized that I was living ‘my plan’. Even though my plan has come with a mountain of challenges, as most startups do, I was surprisingly doing what Rick urged everyone in the audience to do – in his heartfelt talk ‘We Need More Responsible Entrepreneurs’. Rick called on entrepreneurs across the world to focus solely on their environmental practices – because as was highlighted in another talk – we have 12 years to save the planet. 

This was my first year attending the Web Summit, entering with the title ‘Woman in Tech’. I have spent the past twelve months in a high intensity, university-led, incubation center for startups (Ignite UCC) – focusing on AnimaVenture.

AnimaVenture is a story game application that invites the reader to become a co-author through embarking on meditative, dreamtime journeys through natures many kingdoms and the cosmos. The story game comes with an educational solution teaching skills in creativity, innovation, and wellbeing – motivating young people to ‘imagine, create and collaborate’ on behalf of the environment, together.

Given the sheer size of the summit – it would be possible to have infinite experiences and therefore infinite opinions – however, as I followed my flow from talk to talk and day to day I was surprised and reassured by how similar the core message of the speakers were. 

Investing in sustainable companies arose time and time again with Andrew Beebe from obvious ventures declaring that “companies driven by purpose are what we predict will be around in 10 years time”. Pia Heidenmark Cook from IKEA shared how IKEA (annual turnover of 35billion) is one of the worlds largest private investors in renewable energy, understanding that consumers increasingly want to stand up for what they believe in and seek out brands that share their values. This echoed Rick Ridgeways talk when he said that it’s a whole lot harder to get into Patagonia than it is to get into Harvard – as employees are seeking companies that align with their core values and vision. Jager McConnell (Crunchbase) also spoke strongly to this stating that millennials want their work to have purpose and meaning as all research on happiness shows that if you are doing a good thing it makes you happy.

The reason why the tide is turning so powerfully towards sustainability and purpose-driven business was continuously highlighted with shocking statistics such as; 

  • Plastic is becoming embedded in our natural systems and mixing with our food. We are now consuming plastic on a daily basis, which is being proven to be directly linked to cancer, diabetes, and other major illnesses. 
  • The ocean provides 70% of our breathable oxygen – it is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 
  • The worldwide recycling rate is only 9% meaning the majority of our waste goes to landfill and sea.

However even in the midst of such shock and shame at how much we have destroyed our ‘one and precious planet’ I never once felt overwhelmed. Hearing the worlds business leaders commit to exponential change offered a much-needed ray of hope.  Christiana Figueres (the Paris Climate accord) encapsulated the mood perfectly when she stated – “we are creating a completely new world.. we are all witnessing the deepest transformation of society.. it is incredibly exciting.”

Innovations such as Tipa sustainable packaging which bio-degrades within six months and can be reintroduced to our system as organic waste added to this sense of security that a sustainable future is within reach. 

The movement toward meditation and wellbeing was another highlight of this years summit and like sustainability is an area of particular interest to me, as meditation forms the foundation of my dreamtime journeys through nature. During the AnimaVenture dreamtime journeys, users are guided into the depths of their imagination – with the mission of accessing ideas for planetary health and restoration. Listening to Alex Tew and Michael Acton the co-founders of Calm, at their talk ‘A Calm Mind is a Creative mind’ reminded me just how helpful AnimaVenture will be in teaching skills in creativity and innovation.

I also felt reasured that AnimaVenture can become a sustainable, even thriving business, with the abitlity to effect postive change in the long term when Alex spoke about how the health and wellness industry is booming over the past four years and is now a four trillion dollar industry. Calm are generating over 80 million dollars a year and Alex believes that this is just the beginning of the wave, that any company coming into this space now are entering at the perfect time. Most people now know that meditation greatly benefits your mental health and wellbeing, science has proven this – so there is no longer a need to educate. It was refreshing to hear how this is such an exciting space as “there is nothing more important than looking after your mental health”.

For my master’s thesis, I researched flow states as part of the underlying theory of AnimaVenture. Flow states were spoken to numerous times during the summit specifically on how meditation brings us into flow states, and when in flow states we find it easy to access our creativity. I was surprised by many of the facts that arose around creativity and sleep, that I hadn’t yet come across yet, given this is my area of interest. For example how Sergio Bin came up with the original idea for Google in a dream. How Monet would take naps to access his creativity and how Thomas Edison had a bed in his office so that he could take naps during the day. I realized that the most inspired minds in the world were accessing their ideas in a similar way to what AnimaVenture dreamtime journeys offer. 

It has taken a while since coming back from the web summit to integrate all that I learned, experienced and observed, inspirational advice from Sean Rad the founder of Tinder on how mistakes are exciting and obstacles are opportunities for growth to remembering that Christian Kroll from Ecosia has planted a tree for me – adding to his already 40 million trees. 

But what has really stuck with me goes back to the words of Rick Ridgeway from Patagonia “It’s not about the summit, it’s about the footsteps and the way you get there … your business needs to have a purpose .. a purpose bigger than yourself!”

I’ll finish in the same fashion as the circular economy and in the same grace as Rick Ridgeway and ask – 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Thanks for reading.

  • www.animaventure.net
  • info@ciarajosephine.com
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The Adventures of a Technoshaman Guiding Collective Realities – Virtually

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I have recently been connected with the creator of this digital artifact as he, like myself, is exploring the use of technology, story and creativity to inspire movement towards a more sustainable planet. He calls himself a ‘Technoshaman’ and from reviewing his artifact his magical abilities are truly apparent.

Angus (Technoshaman) is using the power of digital technology to show people the effect of their actions, bringing the user on a journey from present to future realities, depicting, presenting and inspiring timelines, as shamans do, utilizing the beauty of story. Showcasing what the future will look like if we continue on current timelines and what it will look like if we change our actions.

He invites open collaboration and community building – on a possibly similar idea to open street map. Except Technoshaman is envisioning ‘alt.city worlds and cross link narratives and characters’. He is using digital tools to inspire future city planning, correlating data on the rising sea level against our current infrastructure, in this ‘Story World’.

His ‘Big Idea’ is I believe still an idea, but one I feel is infused with palpable intelligence, seeds of golden innovation, offering a direct, creative and somewhat magical response to our current planetary needs. I feel it is projects like this that need to be cared for and supported as it inspires true innovation in a connected world. It is projects like this that Lawrence Lessig speaks of, and is playing his part to protect as is depicted in ‘The Future of ideas”.

In one sense Technoshaman takes the fantasy out of the game, matching ‘the content’ to our current real life situation, this may reflect the current trend away from fantasy reality and identity towards a more authentic presence and a move towards what is ‘real’ on the internet as Koster speaks about in his article on open democracy.

However Technoshaman still holds an element of otherworldliness and fantasy as he weaves the vision rather magically – which I believe is necessary when enticing users to get involved with information that is more real than most of our everyday reality! Information that most would rather push under the virtual carpet so to say, information regarding our current planetary crisis.

Perhaps many people are attracted to virtual worlds such as There as they offer a space where one can live in a sort of utopia, not having to deal with the limitations and pain of our current reality, this is promised as part of the ‘deal’ when signing up.

“There is everything you’ve ever imagined and wished for. It’s the place you’ve dreamed about; it’s all the good things in life, and if you can’t find them, you can make them. It’s a place where your spirit can soar and you can fly—literally.”

It is rather genius when you reflect on how Technoshaman is using this same digital space, however enticing people to connect with and get involved in the truth of our shared reality, constructively and creatively.

“The movement now is towards people-led social evolutions, chosen, designed and implemented by the people themselves. Knowing that the ‘Government-corporation-military complex-Greed Machine’ does not have our interests and health as concerns, the people have been meeting in public open forums across the world, using horizontal democracy methodologies to figure out how They themselves can solve their local problems and develop future plans. To imagine a future city you want, and to blend it with the communal vision, is to activate the manifestation of this dream.”

What I also found interesting in Kosters article was his plea for a new use of virtual and game based technology.

“But to someone who cut his virtual world teeth on more immersive, 3D environments like There and Second Life, these never-ending announcements of new companies trying to jump on the social gaming bandwagon have left me with one nagging question: Where is the innovation?”

How Koster answered the question:

“The innovation lies in making something that matters to ordinary people.”

I feel this digital artifact I speak of holds seeds of true innovation as it is envisioning something that is hugely important to all people, ordinary and every other type – our shared home, Earth, Gaia.

It envisions using creativity, storytelling, open source technology, linked data, and cross-cultural collaboration to weave a beautiful response to our planetary needs – envisioning a harmonious future, becoming involved with this vision through action, virtual city planning and story.

I truly admire this vision as many aspects of it reminds me of my own, quite literally, showcasing how there is a greater intelligence underlying and weaving through all. The Anima Mundi as it is called in the life sciences, which is calling intelligent innovation to emerge within society through the genius of technology, among other things. Innovation that is a response to what matters – which seems to me, may show up rather magically amongst Techoshamans globally.

I feel true innovation will emerge in virtual world game design when we get real about what’s important. Not another war game, not another walking penguin advertisement, not another virtual farm revenue stream. True innovation will happen with projects like this that look beyond revenue, advertising and profit building schemes towards questioning simply how digital technology can assist humanity, how digital tools can assist our shared home and most importantly our ‘internal’ growth – questioning ecology – rather deeply, as we consider how the internet reflects our shared mind space.

Continuing with this thread of musing I ask, are projects like the Technoshamans reflecting our move collectively from a disconnected war mind mentality towards a connected society? This I question in my article on nature vs technology. If what is happening on the Internet (which connects us beyond space/time) is showcasing trends in our collective consciousness then projects such as Technoshamans are truly pioneering, enlightening – possibly showcasing the seeds of innovation that are inspiring and depicting our move as a collective society out of fear, out of war mentality, out of closed system thinking towards a inter-connected society. I therefore applaud and celebrate this digital artifact as it is reflecting back to the collective this shared move towards connection, collaboration, peace and I dare to say unity – perhaps projects like this are positively inspiring our ‘Morphic Field Resonance’ – that shared field of consciousness that we exist in.

It is the shamans responsibility to move and guide people through our quantum realities, through our collective mind space where the past, present and future reside simultaneously, so it is not surprising to see a project as pioneering as this being led by a Technoshaman, poetically beautiful.

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