Chris Messina spent 15 years immersed in the culture and tech companies of Silicon Valley. Among other popular creations, his best known contribution to social media is the ubiquitous hashtag. In this talk, Messina reflects on the unprecedented adoption of social technology and ponders a future similarly transformed by artificial intelligence. Drawing in his observations about the impact of the hashtag, he suggests that we can promote long-term, positive cultural change not by focusing so much on technology, but on the mental fitness and emotional wellness of the people making technology. Then, as they design human-friendly features into their technology products and those products become massively adopted, their users may become better connected to themselves and to others.
“Chris Messina has spent over 15 years living on the edge of social technology. He has designed products and experiences for Google and Uber, founded startups, and changed the world by giving away many of his creations, including the hashtag. His skillset is broad, anchored in product and user experience design. He lead developer experience at Uber and co-founded Molly (YC W’18), a conversational social AI. Chris has created movements online and off, and acted as catalyst for change in large and small organizations. In 2004, he helped organize the grassroots movement that propelled Mozilla Firefox to its first 100 million downloads. In 2005, he co-organized the first BarCamp and then popularized the unconference event model to over 350 cities around the world. In 2006, he opened the first coworking spaces in the world, giving rise to a global movement. Then in 2007, he championed the idea of the hashtag, eventually changing social media forever and galvanizing popular social revolutions.
He has spoken at conferences like TEDx, SXSW, Google I/O, and Microsoft’s Future Decoded, and is frequently quoted in media outlets like The New York Times, Business Week, LA Times, Washington Post, and Wired.” This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.