March 1, 2010

In Praise of "Chit-Chat"

Last week I spent a most interesting evening at Victoria's inaugural "Pecha Kucha Night".
                                        "Pecha what now ???"
Pecha Kucha- a Japanese phrase which roughly
translates as "Chit-chat". As a format for the public sharing of
ideas Pecha Kucha has become a media phenomenon that now
takes place in close to 300 cities world-wide.
Began seven years ago in Tokyo by Astrid Klein and
Mark Dytham, this movement engages its audience on many
different levels, and yet the presentation itself if quite simple.
              Here's how it works;
Pick 15 people who are involved in interesting projects in your community.
Give each of those people just under seven minutes
to present a slide show to an audience.
Limit each presenter to 20 slides.
Invite the public.

The place was packed.
And, except for a few small technical glitches,
the format worked like a charm.
The producers of the show were smart enough
 to mix in enough variety so
the audience was presented with a wide range of topics.
From Eco-utopian ideals to self-promoting artists,
the presenters all gave us an intense and thought- provoking evening.

And there was a bar.
The show was billed as "An Evening of Thinking & Drinking"

Afterwards I got to wondering why Pecha Kucha has been such a
success, both here and around the globe. After all, we can all
pretty much go on-line and get information about any of these
projects or artists via websites/blogs and social networks, right?
But in this age of instant information we often find ourselves
isolated in front of our screens and laptops, and Pecha Kucha 
has found that people have a thirst for coming together for a
live/public/in person exchange of ideas, outside of academia, 
and outside of whatever church they may, or may not belong.

Any complaints I have are minor;
a public Q&A at the end of the evening would have
made the show a lot longer,but it would have engaged the audience
a bit more, and, for future events I'd recommend more science,music,
and/or comedy.

The people that put together Victoria's first Pecha Kucha Night
are planning three more for 2010. I suspect they all will be
very well attended. Keep and eye out.
And if you want a good seat - get there early.


  1. First red flag: I'm deeply suspicious of any trend emerging from the Roppongi district of Tokyo, especially trends from that neighbourhood thought up by gaijin (non-Japanese) living there.

    I'm all for meeting people in real life! But do we need gimmicky methods to do it? Is this what the Internet age has brought us to? - resorting to structured game-like strategies just to engage in social interaction?

    This sounds like speed-dating for creative people.

  2. Very good event - and a good post to accompany it.

    Pecha Kucha is something that is really cool - kind of like really accessible TED talks when done right. Only with booze.

    Kudos to the organizers and here's to the next one!

  3. I agree with YRS - the first thing I noticed was the last names of the people who came up with this "idea" weren't even Japanese. Sounds like yuppies cocooning to me. (But I'm glad you had fun, Paul!) Seth

  4. the first thing i noticed about the above comment is that is doesn't say much . . . because they were in japan and used a japanese name, but were not japanese they are suspect? because they are not japanese they shouldn't use japanese? i don't get it.

  5. Sounds like it would be a lot of fun and possibly educational with the right people. Why do people insist on trying to tear down things that offer folk a bit of fun and entertainment? Who gives a good GD who came up with it or where or why for that matter. . Do we really need 9 out of 10 buddhist monks to attest to the purity of this kooky night out?