25 Feb 2008

Why does Ecobuild have 467 speakers?

It’s the last week in February and Ecobuild is upon us once again. It runs for three days, starting tomorrow, at Earl’s Court in London. I feel I must attend because it’s right there in the middle of what I live and write about, but I went last year and came away feeling very depressed. Mostly because it was just so big and so consumerist, which all these shows tend to be, but which is ironic for a show called Ecobuild.

So this morning I started to try and work out which day would be best to go on. And to see if there was anything or anybody I really wanted to see. What stands out is that there is an amazing amount going on. So amazing that it’s actually overwhelming. The speaker list has no less than 467 names on it – given that the show runs for three days, that’s about 3 minutes each. They get around this by having ten or twelve theatres where speakers can strut their stuff. But that just adds to the overall confusion. How do you decide where to go or who to listen to? And how would you know afterwards if you’d seen or heard the ones you wanted to? Or merely just been witness to a random cross section of people babbling?

It’s a bit like the choices you get from Sky TV. About 200 channels and none of them are worth watching. Somehow this seems like part of the problem, not part of the solution. I can see that the organisers of Ecobuild are probably delighted to get so many speakers to turn out for them, but as a potential visitor I actually find it just too much to handle.

So I may go Tuesday, or Wednesday, probably not Thursday and very possibly not at all.

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