You can find out a lot about the conference here and you should be able to find some of the talks on video.
About the conference:
Some of What was Cool
- It was great to hear about how companies like Google are promoting in house mindfulness programs or how senior executives incorporate meditation in to their lives.
- The research was fab. Did you know that people consume 11.8 hours of information per day? Half of all Americans use social networks and half of them are over 35. Only 39% of parents are Facebook friends with their kids.
- Dr. Dan Siegal explained about how the mind is bigger than the brain.
- Seeing how Google enabled H.H. the Dalai Lama video conference into Bishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday gig when the South African government caved to pressure and denied HHDL a visa.
- U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan advocating for a mindful society.
- Actually most of the speakers were pretty good. And it was also interesting that you had founders from Twitter, Zynga, Facebook, and key executives from big tech companies (Cisco and Google), in other words most of the hottest companies in the valley, and a venture capitalist mixing it up with spiritual teachers.
- The unconference was fun and a great chance to meet some of the attendees.
- The general fact that 600 people took the time to think about how to make technology that enables wisdom and even the how process of making new and more tech should enable wisdom, compassion and awareness in the modern world.
What could have been Cooler
- More focus on compassion. Way More.
- Oddly low tech event. It was hard to see the speakers, hard to hear them if you sat too close to the front, because of the position of the loudspeakers. Just seemed like it was the presentation tech of the 90s not the 2010s.
- The guided meditations were waaaay tooooo talkative! There seems to be this trend that the leader of the meditation feels like every moment of the guided practice should be filled with the sound of their own voice. I noticed it at some of the meditation centers I visited in NYC last fall as well. At a certain point we should all be given some space to just sit quietly and be. At least that is what we try to do in the WhatMeditationReallyIs classes, so maybe I am biased.
- Nobody is pointing to the seeming contradiction between internet/tech culture (more stuff, even faster) and the fact that spiritual growth doesn’t really have a short cut. I can see ways that tech could help for study (how about the whatmeditationreallyis app!) and practice (like where is the super advanced bio feedback machine that tells you when you are meditating properly or being especially empathetic and is easy and fashionable to wear?). But there is a reason that Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche spent more than 20 years in retreat.
All in all this conference is a big step in the right direction. Yay Soren!
It is interesting that almost none of the companies from my time as a Vice President of Software Engineering at big software company were represented. The new wave of companies that have come to prominence since I left (with the exception of Google which was already pretty big) obviously represent a new breed. I remember when I used to give a meditation class in a conference room at my old job. It was in response to a request from a few employees who missed the spiritual traditions they grew up with in Asia. The company kind of tolerated it.
A big, huge, enormous THANK YOU to Meng (Chade-Meng Tan) at Google. He made it possible for me to attend Wisdom 2.0. Meng is one of the early programmers at Google and now has the title Jolly Good Fellow. His current job description is, "Enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace". One of his main projects is Search Inside Yourself - a Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence course, which he hopes will eventually contribute to world peace in a meaningful way. I think Meng embodies a lot about what is great at Google and Wisdom 2.0.
Over the next days I will post interviews I did with a few of the conference speakers. In the meantime meet one of the participants, Cameron, a 25-year-old programmer who is leaving YouTube to start his own company with some friends.