The art and science of failure

This article originally appeared on the web published by frog design’s Design Mind; this is an English remixed version of the article in Italian I co-authored with Leandro Agro’ on Innov’azione magazine (here’s the original article in PDF).

Nowadays we’re living on a planet where almost everyone, everywhere, can follow lessons from more than 300 top universities through iTunes U. A planet where, given all the constraints we are confronted with, the adoption of Open Source and Creative Commons is spreading like wildfire. Institutions like the Singularity University and events like TED, Lift Conference, or the World Science Festival are doing a great job at spreading (good) ideas and democratizing the access to knowledge.

But still in this scenario of strong interconnectedness and possibility, there’s a highly influential group of naysayers that like to put the accent on the many aspects that we, the inhabitants of this planet, have lost the way (think in recent crises, scandals, global warming, etc). In such an environment it’s fundamental that we focus on:

  • Spreading the “can do” attitude
  • Knowing how and where Talent can be found
  • Finding and showing The Way among all that negative noise

With these goals in mind, I created — along with my partner Leeander — the Frontiers of Interactionconference in Rome in 2005.

Frontiers explores topics and ideas in the field of Interaction Design and, in a very short time, it has become known as the leading Innovation conference in Italy. Its unusual format creates an immersive experience featuring music, interactive and artistic installations, demo sites and keynotes, and makes it an ideal meeting place for thinkers and doers, innovators and academics, early adopters and long-term geeks.

In the first 5 years of the event, we hosted luminaries such as Bruce Sterling (Sci-Fi author and futurist), Adam Greenfield (Nokia), Nicolas Nova (Lift Conference), our own Fabio Sergio (Frog Design, Milan studio), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo), Jeffrey Schnapp (Stanford University), Bruno Giussani (TED Global), Dirk Knemeyer (Involution Studios), and other renowned speakers from educational institutions such as Tokyo University, MIT, Fraunhofer Institute, and UCLA.

We thrive to arrive at those apparently distant boundaries, because when you get there you become aware that they are truly large and opportunity-rich places. This perspective of thinking and acting following your values and the need to build a better World is not just tacky Romanticism. It’s a real catalyst for innovation, and in my opinion innovation is the only possible way to achieve a better life for each and every one of us.

Through inspiring presentations and hands-on workshops the 2010 edition of Frontiers of Interaction on June 3-4 aims to stimulate the radical change of mindset that is necessary to acquire the consciousness of the present moment and nurture the process that will take us to a new and better World. And I am more than happy to welcome to Rome, among other great speakers, frog Fellow Luke Williams, Adjunct Professor of innovation at NYU Stern School of Business. Luke will give a keynote on “Thinking the Untinkable.”

To learn more about this year’s conference, please visit us at

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