Over the years, Gel events have spotlighted hundreds of diverse speakers, including some who debuted on the Gel stage and went on to become prominent names: Jimmy Wales (showing Wikipedia at Gel for the first time on-stage), Sal Khan (debuting Khan Academy at Gel), Ze Frank, Marissa Mayer, and others. (See also Past Events.)
In 2017, sensing a shift in the tech industry away from any concern for its users, Mark Hurst ran two Skeptech events as Gel spinoffs – to discuss how we should respond to the emerging threat of Big Tech. More on those below.
Skeptech 2: Thur, Oct 26, 2017
Skeptech 2: More Tales From the Dark Side of Tech
Skeptech 2 was held on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at WFMU’s Monty Hall in Jersey City, NJ.
Watch the Skeptech 2 video.
Presented in partnership with WFMU, Jersey City, NJ
All Skeptech info: skeptech.info
Speakers at Skeptech 2:
JON RONSON, journalist, author, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, and radio presenter. He’s the author “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” “The Psychopath Test,” and other books. His upcoming podcast, The Butterfly Effect, will be available on Audible.com starting in July 2017. He also co-wrote “Okja,” a Korean-American action-adventure movie directed by Bong Joon-Ho. Online: @jonronson
NANCY LUBLIN is the CEO of Crisis Text Line, a not-for-profit organization providing free crisis intervention via SMS message. The organization’s services are available 24 hours a day, throughout the US, by texting 741741. Lublin was also the creator of Dress for Success and served as the CEO of Do Something Inc., a company that attempts to mobilize youth to participate in social change, from 2003 to 2015.
APARNA NANCHERLA is a New York-based comedian. She has appeared on “Inside Amy Schumer” and has written for Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Nancherla released her debut comedy album “Just Putting It Out There” through Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball Records in July 2016. Online: @aparnapkin
MARK HURST (host of Skeptech) has spent his career consulting, writing, and speaking about how to create digital tech that benefits users more. Hurst is the founder and host of Skeptech – as well as the Gel conference series, which featured the first stage presentations of Khan Academy and Wikipedia. Hurst’s books “Bit Literacy” and “Customers Included” introduced the world to the empty inbox method (now known as Inbox Zero), and made the case for companies to treat customers better. He’s also the creator of the Good Todo mobile productivity platform. Online: @markhurst
Skeptech is a new event discussing digital technology and its effects on our day-to-day lives – not in Luddite opposition to tech, but rather raising awareness about the challenges raised by digital technology today. Online apps and services can be addictive, they can threaten privacy, and they often manipulate users without their knowledge or consent.
To dive deeper, Skeptech will feature tech experts who will speak about “the dark side of tech” that they have witnessed in their own fields. Between the speaker presentations and audience participation, Skeptech’s goal is to “gel” some diverse perspectives while offering some ideas and inspiration for next steps: how to choose better tools, and perhaps even how to create better tech in the future.
WFMU Benefit: 100% of Skeptech ticket sales went to WFMU to benefit the station and its free-form programming.
Skeptech 1: Wed, May 24, 2017
Skeptech 1 video: Watch the video here. This was the first-ever livestream of a Gel event!
Speakers at the first Skeptech (May 2017)…
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, writer, documentarian, and lecturer whose work focuses on human autonomy in a digital age. He’s the author of 15 bestselling books on media, technology, and society – most recently, “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” – and is the creator and host of the Team Human podcast. Rushkoff is Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens and technology and media commentator for CNN. Online: @rushkoff
NATASHA DOW SCHÜLL is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her recent book, “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas,” draws on research among compulsive gamblers and the designers of slot machines to explore the relationship between technology design and the experience of addiction. Her next book, “Keeping Track” (expected late 2018) concerns the rise of digital self-tracking technologies. Online: natashadowschull.org
VICKI BOYKIS is a data scientist examining the intersection of technology and the humanities, particularly with regards to data privacy and content creation. She writes on the impact of data and technology on the human condition and has been published in Offscreen Magazine, the Forward, and Lilith. She’s also currently working on Ironed Curtains, a project chronicling the experience of former Soviet immigrants in the United States. Online: @vboykis or vickiboykis.com
KEN FREEDMAN is the Station Manager of WFMU, the longest running and most renowned freeform radio station in the United States. Freedman also developed WFMU’s internet presence: WFMU was the first radio station to offer full on-demand listening, podcasts, and a working iPhone stream. He recently founded Congera PBC which is developing the Audience Engine, an open source platform for small and medium sized broadcasters and journalists. Online: @stationmgrken
LIZ BERG is the Assistant General Manager at WFMU. In addition to hosting a weekly radio show and podcast, Liz oversees the station’s operations, web development projects, and more. Alongside WFMU Station Manager Ken Freedman, Liz has recently been hard at work as a Product Manager for Audience Engine, a suite of open-source software tools to help media makers build community and crowdfund online.
MARK HURST (host of Skeptech) has spent his career consulting, writing, and speaking about how to create digital tech that benefits users more. Hurst is the founder and host of the Gel conference, which featured the first stage presentations of Khan Academy and Wikipedia, and is the creator of the Good Todo mobile productivity platform. His books “Bit Literacy” and “Customers Included” introduced the world to the empty inbox method (now known as Inbox Zero), and made the case for companies to treat customers better. Online: @markhurst
Gel 2016 Speakers & Videos
For last year’s event, Gel 2016, our theme was journey – what are the user journeys, customer journeys, human journeys that all experience designers and managers should know about? Gel 2016 featured leaders and innovators who create good experiences in a wide range of fields.
Deputy Administrator, NASA
President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City
Partner, Union Square Ventures
Host, WNYC’s Note To Self podcast
Founder, Trotti + Associates
Co-founder, Girls Driving for a Difference
Co-founder, Girls Driving for a Difference
Founder and CEO, Stamen
Creator, The DNA Project
Founder of the Reanimation Library
Founder, Haptic Lab
Founder and CEO, Creative Good
Gel 2016 began on Wednesday, May 11 with afternoon icebreaker experiences for attendees to meet each other and begin to explore this year’s theme of “journey”:
• cityHUNT: Our friends from cityHUNT, a Gel community favorite in past years, returned with a custom-designed experience for attendees to explore Manhattan, in teams, in a friendly competition.
• The Hired Guns: Allison Hemming, founder of The Hired Guns, led a facilitated discussion to help attendees directly connect Gel themes to their workplace challenges.
See also: full Gel 2016 agenda
Gel 2016 continued the next day – Thursday, May 12 – at the TimesCenter on West 41st Street for a full day of on-stage presentations (see speaker list above).
Friday Deep-Dive Experiences
The Gel 2016 experience continued on the morning of Friday, May 13 with deep-dive workshops:
• The Power of Creative Practice: Author and past Gel speaker Noah Scalin hosted a workshop inviting attendees to try a new creative practice – showing how this practice can build resilient, powerful organizations.
• Unlock Your Network: Mark Monchek, founder of The Opportunity Lab, led attendees through a resource mapping exercise, helping them visualize their resources as an ecosystem – a changing and living network – and show how that ecosystem can accomplish their most important goals.
• Creating a Good Experience: Mark Hurst, host of the Gel conference and founder of Creative Good, led a discussion about Gel learnings and how they can help attendees “create a good experience” on their team or product – including Q&A with Mark and a workshop exercise.
We concluded with lunch on the roofdeck overlooking the Hudson River, thanks to mbinnovations (part of mcgarrybowen).
See also: full Gel 2016 agenda
Upcoming Gel Events
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