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December 16, 2010 / Sophie_Paterson

Something very Boring

If you’re trying to promote a conference you’re organising you’ll probably be using words like ‘innovative’, ‘exciting’ and ‘inspiring’ to get people buying tickets. James Ward has done just the opposite, and surprisingly it worked. The Boring conference, which Ward started as an alternative to Russel Davies’ ‘Interesting Conference’ sold all of its 200 places and continues to  receive excellent feedback, just search #boring2010 on twitter to see the buzz surrounding the day. But why

When I think about it, geek chic fashion has been all over the high street, Data Analysis being hailed as the future of journalism and Ben Goldacre and Professor Brian Cox have officially made science sexy, so maybe it’s not so surprising that Boring2010 was such a hit, Boring might just be the new ‘cool’.

I chatted to guest speaker Aris Tsontzos about his experience of the conference…

Sophie Paterson: Aris! Tell me about ‘Boring 2010’?

Aris Tsontzos: Okay! Well, it was organised by a very nice man called James Ward who I had encountered on Twitter through a mutual friend. There’s usually a conference called ‘Interesting’ every year, which was cancelled this year, so Mr Ward cleverly decided to get back at the system by organising his own conference, called Boring. That’s how it all started.

The conference itself was a hoot. I had a great time speaking about the weather, and really enjoyed everyone else’s presentations. There was everything from missives on the secret joys of car park roofs, to a live milk tasting, to a very informative talk about why Orthodox Jews can’t have garden parties on Saturdays. Everyone was so enthusiastic, and it wasn’t boring in the slightest.

image credit to http://www.lucypeel.com

SP: It does sound interesting, so is there a ‘point’ or a focus to it all? What kind of people were there?

AT: Nope. Essentially, it was all about conventional boring topics, that are actually quite interesting when you get down to the nitty-gritty. There were a whole host of speakers in attendance, most of whom are quite popular on Twitter, but there were students, graduates, journalists, comedians, authors, radio DJs, and board game designers. They were all a great bunch, and altogether I think the mix worked really well.

SP: How did you end up as a speaker and why did you decide to speak about the weather?

Many months ago, James put out a call on his blog for speakers. I e-mailed him, and received a response asking what I’d like to talk about. My talk on the weather was about a topic that is used every day as fodder for small-talk. I think we’re a nation of small-talkers, really, and it was my hope that my talk would inspire people to take their small-talk that extra step further, into the realms of stimulating conversation.

SP: So there was a bit of a meeting of minds? Do you think there will be ‘outcomes’ from the day (other than a sold out Boring2011)?

AT: Actually, I think this year’s conference sold out! I’d be very surprised if next year’s didn’t either.

We were all very different, but as I say, I definitely think it worked well. As for any other outcomes, I’m definitely going to try and do more public speaking, which is something, I guess! Who knows? Someone will probably become famous and get cast in a hit TV series, maybe. I’m pretty sure of something like that happening.

SP: You’re a boring convert! How would you convince more people to embrace their inner bore? Is there a message you want to spread?

AT: I’d say the secret is to not be boring about anything; even the most mundane and seemingly boring things can be vastly interesting with the right outlook. Embrace the boring, keep an open mind, and you might just surprise yourself.

You find more from Aris on his blog.

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