I go to a lot of tech conferences and trade shows.
It's a necessary evil for me. I don't enjoy it much, in fact they give me a screeching headache most of the time.
But last Tuesday and Wednesday, and Wednesday night in particular, I went to one that made all the others worthwhile: The World Technology Network Summit and Awards (WTN).
Founded by Jim Clark (no, not that 'Jim Clark') about 10 years ago, WTN is a membership association of people with deep interests in and commitment to technology; technology of all kinds and shapes. Biotech, Nanotech, IT, Software, Hardware, Communications (both Marcom and traditional), the Arts, Design, Education, Energy, Entertainment, Ethics, Environment, Health & Medicine, Law, Policy, Media & Journalism, Materials, Social Entrepreneurship, Space and more. It is amazingly diverse and interesting to me with all the divergent technologies it represents.
The Summit started with two days of speakers and start-up company demos at the Time-Life building in NYC. Highlights included: a talk by and interview with Ray Kurzweil (a personal favorite); Sarah Miller Caldicott, Thomas Edison's great grandniece; James Gleick, who's written books on amongst other fascinating subjects, Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics; Susan Herman, President of the ACLU; and a crowd favorite, Marco Tempest, who put a smile on everybody's face.
But the show-stopper was the awards night gala held last Wednesday night at the UN. Jim Clark said, "You are all changing the world." and he was right. This group of pure technologists and scientists mixed in with academics, authors, experts and a healthy dose of biologists and medical doctors are discovering, inventing and perfecting the technologies of the future. Their products will save money, the environment and lives.
There was Second Sight Medical Products which won for their sight-saving efforts; Mitchel Resnick who won in the Education category for his innovative efforts building "Computer Clubhouses" for kids -- really making a difference in young lives; and you had Otavio Good, a youngish programmer who delightedly showed how he invented an app which would translate foreign languages by using the camera. The topper for me? A company called Airdye Solutions which has invested a process through which this planet's textile companies can stop ruining trillions of gallons of water with their dying chemicals, leaving more for the rest of us to drink.
Jim Clark, WTN's founder and CNN Anchor, Poppy Harlow handled the MC duties jointly with humor and panache. All in all, it was a very engaging, inspiring and optimism-filled evening. And that, was a rarity for the tech conference circuit.
Here are the winners for each category:
2011 WINNERS -- WORLD TECHNOLOGY AWARDS
ARTS: MARCO TEMPEST
BIOTECHNOLOGY (INDIVIDUAL): JAMES J. COLLINS
ENERGY (CORPORATE): AQUION ENERGY
EDUCATION: MITCHEL RESNICK
HEALTH & MEDICINE (CORPORATE): SECOND SIGHT MEDICAL PRODUCTS
IT-HARDWARE (CORPORATE): APPLE
FINANCE (CORPORATE): BAND OF ANGELS
IT-SOFTWARE (INDIVIDUAL): OTAVIO GOOD
MATERIALS (INDIVIDUAL): ANDREW BARRON
ETHICS: PAUL ROOT WOLPE
ENVIRONMENT (INDIVIDUAL): ANN HAND
ENERGY (INDIVIDUAL): XIN ZHAO & ROD RUOFF/MERYL STOLLER
MATERIALS (CORPORATE): 3M
MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS: AEDHMAR HYNES, TEXT 100
ENVIRONMENT (CORPORATE): AIRDYE SOLUTIONS
HEALTH & MEDICINE (INDIVIDUAL): ANTHONY ATALA
ENTERTAINMENT: KATI LONDON
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: HOWARD WEINSTEIN
FINANCE (INDIVIDUAL): ESTHER DYSON
IT-HARDWARE (INDIVIDUAL): STEVE TEIG
LAW: ARTI K. RAI
POLICY: ALEX DEHGAN
BIOTECHNOLOGY (CORPORATE): CELGENE CORPORATION
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (INDIVIDUAL): GABRIEL CHARLET
DESIGN: ALEXANDRA DAISY GINSBERG
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (CORPORATE): SKYPE
SPACE (CORPORATE): SPACEX
SPACE (INDIVIDUAL): GWYNNE SHOTWELL
IT-SOFTWARE (CORPORATE): AMAZON
MEDIA & JOURNALISM: ATHAR OSAMA