ETA was quite literally like no event I have ever been to, and based on the feedback we’ve gotten from attendees, I am not alone in feeling this way. The things we did differently at ETA, the format, the speakers and the conversation, made this event unique and incredible.

For the first time at an FITC event, attendees were put across the table and in discussion with the speakers of the day. Not only did our speakers challenge our attendees to think differently about advertising and marketing in their presentations, but our attendees challenged them and each other in the group discussions that followed.

The ever creative Jason Theodor facilitated the ‘conferensation,’ a hybrid term he came up with to capture the concept of the reinvented conference format.

Here are some highlights from the presentations and discussions…

The self-proclaimed techno-illusionist, Marco Tempest, demoed his augmented reality projection tracking and mapping system, as well another illusion which involved syncing videos across multiple screens of mobile devices.

Following his presentation, attendees discussed the idea of deception, the concept of accepting a lie because it’s magic and how advertisers and marketers can continue to create things that maintain a sense of wonder by provoking emotion.

Author, professor and past director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, Derrick de Kerckhove presented three levels of social media pervasion in society; the condition under which new technologies exist for ad and brand promotion, the extent to which people trust brands and the strategies employed by a brand to speak to so many different audiences.

Following his presentation, attendees discussed whether or not we have we lost our private identities as result of externalized online networks defining more who we are than the ‘private identity’ we’re taught to cultivate as children.

Faris Yakob, strategist, geek, CIO at MDC Partners and co-founder of Spies&Assassins brought a ton of energy to the stage when he talked about how the future belongs to the most awesome (awesome as in awe-inspiring). He talked about how content is no longer enough because everyone makes content and how brands can use technology to remind people of their awesomeness.

Following his presentation, attendees discussed how advertising can keep up with rapidly emerging technologies and the challenges traditional agencies run by creative artists face in embracing technology as an equal partner.

Subject of documentary film We Live in Public, the much anticipated Josh Harris was very animated on stage as he challenged attendees to consider the concept of the singularities effect, a result of the average home becoming a production studio which overtakes traditional television studios. He discussed how home monitoring will be refined for security, entertainment and hygiene, causing mundane activities to become isolated entertaining and engaging events, as well as the implications of this.

Josh Harris’ vision of the future sparked debate amongst attendees. Harris said, “The home studio is the idea to focus on with the client – the idea that we live in public. Who’s going to do it first?” The room was buzzing.

Trevor Coleman and Ariel Garten from InteraXon, shared their thought controlled computing system and its applications in advertising and marketing. Two attendees were invited onstage for a gum ‘chew-off’ where their brainwaves battled over who could concentrate on flavour the best. They also showed how their system paired with an iPad app allows you to test your level of focus. The concept of training subconscious brain processes captured the attention of the room.

Following their presentation, attendees discussed the brand opportunities that exist with the emergence of unprecedented access to internal information and the ethical challenges this presents.

David-Michel Davies has a very cool job as the executive director of The Webby Awards, which exposes him to some of the best content produced for the web. David-Michel shared his view into the ever-changing landscape of what's happening online and what it means. He talked about how Twitter is a hyper-powerful complaining device and how the internet has become a bar/café/lounge.

Following his presentation, he prompted the audience to discuss, “as advertisers and marketers, how do you follow the people?”

To wrap up the day, Jason Theodor interviewed artist and researcher, Evan Roth. A supporter of the open source community, Roth discussed his work as co-founder of the Free Art & Technology Lab (F.A.T. Lab), a web based, open source research and development lab. He also discussed the creative looting of graffiti, street art and new media, and shared examples of creative curating which supports artists and funds honest work.

Evan Roth also shared that seeing a Banksy at an FITC event a number of years ago, inspired him to quit his job and go back to school. Following his presentation, attendees discussed whether advertising can be open source, if and how agencies can work with OS communities, and how artists and agencies can engage with each other.

The continued conversation, drinks and laughs that were shared at the after party also helped make ETA a memorable event. We hope to provide more details on the conversation that took place in the weeks to come. In the meantime, you can view photos from ETA on FITC's Facebook page.

Special thanks to our event partners Entrinsic, The Webby Awards and Lunch. Also to teehan+lax, who provided a Twitter visualizer which dynamically grew with the #etaevent conversation – learn more here.