22 Jun 2024
Gather – Really not your average conference
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Gather – Really not your average conference

Gather was back with their second edition and brought along more than 50 speakers for the conference part at Nobelberget, more than a hundred artists at 15 different venues for the music festival part, as well as 15 different innovation labs, innovative restaurant cooperations, and well, even sauna sessions. There was definitely something for everybody.

Gather was founded by Jakob Grandin, who runs one of the most popular clubs in town, Under Bron. The aim of the conference-cum-festival has been to investigate society and its future, embrace complexity and burst filter bubbles, to offer inspiring and unexpected experiences for the curious minds. It’s where people of different backgrounds meet up to get inspired and inspire others to try to solve the most important contemporary issues.

The keywords the whole conference centered upon were Question. Collaborate. Think different. There were five main themes, all very topical and fascinating in their own right: Urban Planning & Society, Humans & Machines, Democracy & Power, Media, Design & Creativity and Money, Business & Transactions. The speakers ranged from academics to entrepreneurs and grassroots activists to innovators. There were also some controversial speakers like Sheela Birnstiel, the former spokeswoman of the Rajneesh movement featured in the Netflix documentary series, Wild Wild Country; as well as the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

The atmosphere was laid-back, people seated on pillows and foldable floor-level chairs, and the lights turned atmospherically low, so the focus was on the stage and the speakers. Beside the two bigger stages, there was also another smaller stage as well as “box talks” for small break-out sessions, and obviously the labs, where people could get hands on with the issues. There were so many things going on during the day that everybody could tailor their own programme to their liking. You could start your morning with a yoga session, or spend your evening in the forest with others wishing to experience the wilderness.

We bring you our pictures of some of the highlights of the Gather 2018 conference.

Dancers at Gather
Dancers illustrated one of the keywords of the conference: Collaborate.


Azmat Khan
Award-winning journalist Azmat Khan recounted her experiences in covering places like Iraq and Pakistan and gave her perspective on global challenges. She spoke of how easy it is to be consumed with our own little world, and how important it is to escape our bubbles when our social circles are getting narrowed by algoritms. She urged everybody to get informed, know the history and to listen to people on the margins.


Lots of clever visual and decorative details at the venue formed the atmosphere


Faduma Aden
In the session called Across Generations, Faduma Aden told about her fashion brand Jemmila, making modest fashion with Scandinavian style for the Muslim business women. She also spoke about the importance of inclusion, diversification and representation.


The yard
The yard was filled with food trucks, DJs and places to hang out in the sun, and oh yeah, a golden dragon…


Thunder Tillman
Multi-instrumentalist Thunder Tillman took to the main stage with his dreamlike musical landscapes.


Sheela Birnstiel
The first conference day ended with a full-packed hall, when Sheela Birnstiel was interviewed. In her younger years she was known as Ma Sheela Anand, one of the key figures and the spokeswoman of the Rajneesh movement, as seen in the much talked about Netflix docuseries Wild, Wild Country. People were curious to see this person who they thought was a megalomaniac monster, and what they got was a sweet old Indian aunty talking about love and acceptance and about the care homes she is running in Switzerland. When an audience member asked her what is the meaning of life, she simply answered: live it!

Ed Boyden
The second day started with a keynote from Professor Ed Boyden from the MIT Media Lab, who explained the tools they are developing at the Synthetic Neurobiology Group for analyzing and repairing biological systems such as the brain.


Democratic Movements
The session Democratic Movements brought on stage many grassroots activists, who have used the power of tech and the Internet to amplify their movements. The panelists included Farida Al-Abani of the Streetgäris, Omar Al Zankah from the Welcome App, Maria Fabricius from Numbe10 and Minea Frykman from Höj Rösten among others.


At the Glass House stage, Grebnellaw brought their pop-art concert consisting of electronic music, spoken word, projections and idiosyncratic dance by the red-and-white creatures, exploring non-conformity, gender and climate change.



Music panel
One of the most interesting panel discussions touched on the future of the music industry. Ankit Desai of Sna:fu Records told about how they are using algorithms to find the next global star, crunching data to analyse both the music and people’s reactions to it. Åsa Enström brought in perspectives from the record label side as well as the collection society Stim and the music publishers organisation Musikförläggarna. Serial entrepreneur Linda Portnoff explained the workings of Riteband, which is developing into a sort of a music stock exhange getting funding for music rights owners and investment opportunities for everyone. Erik Beijnoff told about Repertoire, which is using blockchain technology in music rights licensing.


Linda Franco
Linda Franco, co-founder and CEO of Machina from Mexico. The company makes next generation wearable technology, which turns your body into an immersion controller.


Jessikka Aro
Finnish award-winning journalist Jessikka Aro recounted her personal experiences of being the target of organised hate campaigns and harassment after her investigative work on the Russian troll factories.


Christopher Wylie
The conference programme ended with the interview of Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie. He explained in detail how he helped set up the company, which was supposed to work in the context of national security as a way of degrading the operational effectiveness of the enemies. They used data in order to deceive, manipulate and give targeted disinformation. When the American investor Robert Mercer bought the company, it was repurposed for use in politics and marketing, and Steve Bannon came into the picture. They applied the techniques on the US population and used it to undermine society. When Wylie saw the system being used against people, he left the company, and later on made it public. He thought things went terribly wrong and wanted to own up to his share of the responsibility… “If we can’t agree on what is real, we can’t have a functioning democracy”…’



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