MIT Hacking Arts 2014


This weekend was MIT’s annual Hacking Arts conference that features both hackers working on various projects in the arts as well as panelists from around the country speaking on pain points in their various industries.

HIGHLIGHTS: “We had a great line-up this year with a kick-off performance by Grammy-nominated artist Ryan Leslie and a Hackathon ideation session by Kiran Gandhi, the drummer of MIA. Saturday, we had panels on Film/TV, Design, Gaming, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Music, Fashion and Virtual Realitywith incredible panelists such as Benji Rogers, CEO of Pledgemusic; and Marco Tempest, cyber illusionist. Thank you to everyone that was involved to make this year great!” – MIT HACKING ARTS 2014

I was asked to give the introductory speech for the ideation session on Friday evening. In order to do this, I thought about the IDEO make-a-thon I had been part of at the Harvard Innovation Lab back in March, and realized that many of the techniques I used that weekend had come from my experience on the road with MIA in 2013.

To that end, I spoke about 3 key things I had learned about hacking the arts when I was drumming for Maya, and how that helped me during the make-a-thon:

1) “There’s Only 1 U” – know what makes your teammates tick. Find out what you can do to enable them to do their job better.

2) “Enable the Vision” – they may say crazy things or half-heartedly offer up a suggestion. Support them by doing what you can to enable their vision. It builds the team’s solidarity, trust, risk-taking ability and allows the team to arrive at a solution faster because the vision will keep evolving. But there is nothing to work with unless that initial step is taken.

3) “Atomic Living” – when you are together as a team, set the day’s or week’s priorities by identifying and agreeing on 3-4 key tasks that must be done. Then, when you are by yourself either in your own thoughts or out in the world meeting various people and accessing new resources, you know exactly how these various atomic moments can fit into your group’s purpose. When you all come back together, you will have lots to share, but it will be focused on those points you all previously agreed on.