Last week, we announced the commencement of Campus Party Recife, the technology event held for the first time in Brazil outside of São Paulo. Following Campus Party’s Thursday inauguration, the four-day gathering has continued over the weekend. In our coverage of the event, we’ve prepared a wrap-up of its highlights, which will come to a close today.
While many conclusions may be made surrounding Campus Party Recife, what is perhaps most remarkable about the event is the human emphasis that saturated its content. While the business of technology remained front and center throughout the weekend, it was impossible to ignore its essential base – humanity and improving lives. Related themes included social innovation, human behavior patterns, politics, and even the business of creating more human-like robots.
Campus Party attendees, better known as campuseiros, began setting up tents at 10 in the morning in preparation for the evening’s inauguration, for which Campus Party President Bruno Souza served as emcee. A number of individuals from Campus Party and Recife took the stage, including Campus Party Co-founder Paco Ragageles, Futura Networks Director Mario Teza and Telefónica Group ǀ Vivo President Antonio Carlos Valente.
Pernambuco Governor Eduardo Campos described the event’s importance in Pernambuco and Recife, “The arrival of Campus Party is a tribute to decades of work towards closing gaps and overcoming challenges in the Northeast. Our achievements come by way of encouraging contemplating minds.”
A number of topics were covered on this first full day of Campus Party Recife 2012, ranging from copyrights to web trends and even biotechnology. The day was highlighted by two main lectures.
First was that of Mike Comberiate, who worked for 44 years as an engineer at NASA. Comberiate spoke about Robotics Boot Camp, which brings together engineering students and hackers to build robots for NASA missions. The program is open to students from around the world and has had a presence in the University of Pernambuco since 2010. Following his session, Comberiate spoke with the press and made note of the importance of attracting more women towards the world of robotics in order to humanize robot interfaces, expressing his opinion that women are more observant of movement.
Later in the day, Swedish IT entrepreneur Rick Falkvinge of the Pirate Party took the stage. Falkvinge founded the Pirate Party in 2005 as the first political party focused on the issues of file sharing, copyrights and patents. In his session, titled Changing the world by refusing to understand you can’t, he stressed the need to hold fast to civil liberties and rights with regards to digital information and communications and resist corporations that infringe on such rights. Inciting young campuseiros to make a change, he set the stage for the first Brazilian Pirate Party event the following day.
In a world in which consumers and businesses are connected 24-7, how are innovation and differentiation possible? Two speakers set out to answer this question on Saturday: Facebook Latin America VP Alexandre Hohagen and Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce.
Hohagen’s session focused on the power of connections, focusing on two main points: the speed at which the world is changing due to new technologies, and the fact that human behavior largely remains the same. He expressed the need for constant conversation with customers and consistent influence. Most interestingly, Hohagen gave a bit of insight into the winning formula behind Facebook in the company’s recognition of the human being’s need to connect and communicate – Facebook hasn’t changed this innate element of human nature, it’s capitalized on it.
Later in the day, Bel Pesce presented. Originally from Brazil, Pesce is a rising star in Silicon Valley who holds four degrees from MIT. Her first endeavor was a project aimed at improving cell phone network coverage in poor and rural areas of Africa four years ago. Pesce went on to turn her attention to software, work for Google, and eventually launch her own company, Lemon. Pesce’s presentation highlighted the importance of learning something new every day. She also touched on the importance of politics and economy surrounding technological endeavors, two elements that are often ignored by budding entrepreneurs but that can make or break a company.
The final full day of Campus Party Recife was headlined by Julián Ugarte, a social innovator and entrepreneur from Chile. Ugarte founded and now acts as the director of Un techo para mi país, a social housing initiative now known as TECHO. One of the largest NGOs in Latin America, the organization helps poor and rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean through sustainable and innovative initiatives. TECHO is best known for its social housing projects and volunteer programs.
Ugarte spoke mainly of his personal experiences with TECHO and social innovation, saying, “Every problem has a solution that can add value by generating sustainable and scalable business, impacting millions of people and thus changing the world.” Ugarte worked out a co-creation model focused on the development of solutions for the housing crisis in Chile and the rest of Latin America. He elaborated his aims with the project, “We constructed those houses, connected people with opportunities they did not have. We are trying to expose the reality of the country and demonstrate that the poor are not poor because they are weak or lazy.” Ugarte’s presentation placed a notable emphasis on the social obligations of technology and entrepreneurship.
Campus Party Recife will wrap up today as a few lingering activities and award ceremonies remain.