The inaugural Techmanity conference will debut in San Jose October 1-2, 2014. Techmanity is focused on the intersection of technology and humanity. It's a summit for innovators to share big ideas without leaving the area. Unlike Creative Convergence, which made an effort to tie downtown San Jose's unique urban spirit with Silicon Valley, Techmanity is focused on creating its own name synonymous with innovation and watershed moments.
This isn't your dad's tech conference. Sure, there will be plenty of networking and sessions on everything tech, from semiconductors to software, but there's also a strong emphasis on people-driven design, human-focused engineering and social entrepreneurship. The conference agenda is packed with sessions in the day and concerts at night. The founders of Github, Drybar, Blue Bottle Coffee and Task Rabbit are among the speakers attending. For those who aren't interested in cult brands, there's always crowd funding (donation based fundraising on the Internet) to fight urban poverty. And you may have heard of the youngest speaker, ten-year-old Vivienne Harr of Make a Stand. She produces her own fair-trade organic lemonade in order to raise money to end child slavery.
The musical acts represent a blend of multiple genres. I've been assured that they are all popular among the tech trendsetter crowd.
There's bound to be some unplanned artsy moments at the conference produced by Fast Company, IDG World Expo and Live Nation. But for all you creative entrepreneurs that like to plan, here's a list of five things not to miss:
1. Jared Leto on Work That Matters
Yes, Jared Leto. The people over at Fast Company are fans. He's on their 2014 Most Creative People in Business 1000 and was number 72 on their list of The 100 Most Creative People in Business. Leto is constantly creating new things and re-creating himself. He's a successful actor, musician and entrepreneur. His band 30 Seconds to Mars set a Guinness World Record for most shows performed during a single album cycle. Leto has launched three entertainment-related endeavors. The first is The Hive, a social media management company designed to engage fans of his band and other artists like Jessie J and Semi Precious Weapons. After that he launched The One and Only Golden Tickets -- renamed Adventures In Wonderland, which arranges VIP experiences for fans. His most recent start-up is a concert streaming site called VyRT. He's set to kick-off the conference on Wednesday with a session on the power of technology in entertainment.
2. Music's Changing Landscape with Eric Hilton and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation
Hilton and Garza are electronica artists with an appreciation for traditional bossa nova. Their band, Thievery Corporation, produces well-crafted lounge music perfect for yoga classes and cool coffee shops. The duo's been involved in the music industry since the mid-1990s and they've witnessed the challenges that artists face as technology and music evolve together. Hilton and Garza will highlight business opportunities for artists in the world of streaming, mobile apps and YouTube in a session on Wednesday afternoon.
Stick around for Thievery Corporation's performance in the evening. Their gentle electronic sound is perfect for any relaxation playlist and will provide excellent background music for networking.
Here's their most recent album, Saudade:
3. Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz Screening
The documentary, screening Wednesday at 5:30, is about hacktivist Aaron Swartz, who helped develop RSS and co-founded Reddit. His activism around social justice and information access ensnared him in a two-year legal battle, which ended when he took his own life.
4. Go Inside the Hacker World of CBS' Scorpion
Curious what's cooking in the Hollywood + Silicon Valley love affair? Enter Scorpion, a thriller drama about a man with an IQ of 197 who works with other geniuses to solve crimes. The show is predictable. There are plenty of references to how smart yet awkward all of the geniuses are and how "normal" everyone else is. The action is unrealistically intense, or at least it was for the pilot episode. The cast and crew will host a screening and Q+A session. It will still be interesting to hear what the creators and actors have to say about the show and why they thought the concept would work.
5. The Concerts
There's a surprise concert scheduled for Wednesday night. The mystery DJ is one of the top ten in the world.
Wednesday's Infinite Loop Party at the City National Civic should be excellent; it features Thievery Corporation followed by Crown and the M.O.B. Crown is a hip hop artist from Brooklyn. He grew up a few blocks from some of his major musical influences: Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, and Daddy Kane. Like most early career rap artists, Crown raps about things with substance such as social issues and life in Brooklyn as opposed to women, money and drugs. His band M.O.B. (Message of the Blues) is from Venice. Their music is full of jazzy horns, pianos and drums. Together, Crown and the M.O.B. evoke '90s hip hop with a fresh take. Their debut album isn't out yet, but they've released a few singles:
Friday night's Love Bomb Party at the SJSU Event Center features KONGOS, Young Rising Sons and Weezer. KONGOS are four talented brothers from Phoenix, by way of South Africa and London where they grew up. Their dad is singer John Kongos. Their album Lunatic is a blend of rock, reggae and folk, with a touch of accordion. It was well-received in South Africa when it was independently released in 2012. Their songs are rugged with worldly sex appeal, kind of like them.
The other band on the bill, Young Rising Sons, are a few guys from New Jersey. Their single "High" has all the elements of one of those catchy summer pop songs complete with whistles, claps and "heys!"
Weezer's got a new album coming out soon. Here's the second single off Everything Will Be Alright in the End. I do hope they take us down memory lane with a few of their past hits. The band's debut album Weezer came out 20 years ago.