Tiffany Shlain: A Declaration of Interdependence

Tiffany_shlain_2[Image courtesy of Geoff Oliver Bugbee]

Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker and founded the Webby Awards and the International Academy of the Digital Arts and Sciences.

Her prize winning films have appeared at the Sundance, Tribeca and Rotterdam festivals.

The title of her presentation today is a Declaration of Interdependence.

Beginning: "In thinking about carbon offsets," she says that perhaps we need some "Karmic offsets." Interdependence is terribly important.

What are our links today? she asks.

Explaining her upbringing in the Bay area of California in the 1970's, she describes her fascination with technology, and in particular her first computer, which had a modem.

She was also fascinated with her Russian Jewish heritage. She studied film theory and production at UC Berkeley. An interactive filmmaking class connected her love of film with computers.

In ten years the Internet has grown from 16 million to about one billion users, she says.

"Why do we need to be so connected?"

We spend or lives trying to get connected, which in her case also means creating boundaries, having technology downtime. She tells this joke where a friend of hers told her boyfriend that she loved him - by email - along with his family - AND two of his ex girlfriends.

It draws a big laugh.

Some images she show have surreal qualities.

She also shows 15 minutes from one of her films, which asks "What does it mean to be tribe in the 21st Century?" It's an exploration of what it means to be Jewish, to be on the outside looking in. Describing the current generation, the film talks about how diverse the tribe has become.

"What," the film concludes, "does it mean to part of any tribe in the 21st century?"

Her creative style is very Internet-like, she explains, a montage of equal parts educational and documentary styles. She also gets many of her images from the Web. It's her palette. Exploring topics in new film, she says that it takes creativity and Moxie to see it through.

She shows us a map of her ideas that's criss-crossed lines, each connecting an idea with another or many, many other ideas. It's attention-deficit disorder ideation.

"It used to be that the smartest guy in the world had all the facts. Now it's enough to know where to find them." Her creative style fits perfectly.