This weekend you could’ve found me at Worlds Fair Nano in the rather conveniently located Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. When I wasn’t volunteering at this “future festival”, I was just a regular attendee who greatly enjoyed the smörgåsbord of strange snacks1.

While Worlds Fair Nano is not a true world’s fair (hence the “nano”), it is intended as a stepping stone towards developing the first world’s fair in the United States since the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. To host a world’s fair is to showcase the achievements of humanity. It’s an ambitious goal, and it’s an inspiring effort.

This exciting and immersive weekend offered me the chance to think about a lot of things, so I’d like to share a bit of my thoughts on the event. First, the plusses:

Talks. The most intellectual part of Worlds Fair Nano was the talks. While I wasn’t able to listen to very many speakers, to me this was critical to making this event serious.

Diversity. There’s something inspiring about seeing diverse groups of people convene for the possibilities of the future. Even if visual diversity isn’t complete diversity, it can be a sight for sore eyes.

Experiences. From trying out electric skateboards and virtual reality to eating cricket chips and meatless burgers, there were a lot of fun and exiting things to experience.

And next, the deltas (things that I think could have been done better)2:

Scale. Even for a nano event, Worlds Fair Nano was still smaller than I expected, and I heard others commenting the same.

Art. The art at the event was presented poorly, even if the pieces themselves were well done. The two largest pieces, Aqueous and Sound Sculpture were interactive but not very discoverable—it was difficult to understand how they respond to different behaviors.

Consumerism. Worlds Fair Nano was extremely consumer oriented—it dominated the event. If you weren’t just seeing a company’s product, you were demoing, buying, or eating it. Some of this is understandable—sponsors and exhibitors are more than willing to present their products, and consumers readily identify with products they like.

All in all, I enjoyed Worlds Fair Nano very much. Where it was lacking, I saw inspiration for what could be improved. I greatly appreciate those who made this event happen and gave me the opportunity to volunteer.

  1. As I just learned, smörgåsbord very aptly became “internationally known” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Thank you, Wikipedia. Of course, the smörgåsbord I spoke of just before was a figurative one.
  2. I framed my thoughts as +/Δ (plus–deltas), a form of feedback used at Pivotal Software, where I am currently interning. And as a disclaimer, note that this blog represents my opinions and not Pivotal’s.