Lessons and success. Stories from Craigslist

Could you imagine a very simple website with hundreds of millions page views per month, managed by only 27 people? This is what Craiglist is and Juan Pablo Puerta, a Spanish Computer Science engineer, is one of these 27 guys. The company is a centralized network of online communities featuring online classified advertisements with sections devoted to jobs, housing and services. Craigslist has more than 700 local sites in 70 different countries.

Juan Pablo Puerta started with an introduction on the philosophy of the company and how different this is to the rest of the organizations in the Bay Area. For example, if you are interested in working for Craiglist, you need to know that you would be interviewed by all the employees. They also interact with each other constantly and they don’t have any general orf ormal meetings.

Juan Pablo, who happens to have one of the first accounts created in Twitter (he is user number 26), is responsible for the internationalization of Craiglist. One of the main problems he has had to tackle over the years is spam. He shared with the group some of the creative solutions he came up with to fight it, always bearing in mind that Craigslist remains a startup. As he said, “we have to face the problems that big companies have, but with the resources of a small company”.

Craiglist’s main secret for success lies in listening and taking care of its users, according to Juan Pablo: “You have to know and understand your costumers. You have to treat them as if they were your own children.” That’s why even the founder and the CEO answer the phones and talk to the users on a regular basis.

After the Q&A session, the dreamers talked about their projects with Juan Pablo. It was a really good opportunity for them to get some feedback from a professional with years of experience in Silicon Valley and prepare for the big event, the final presentation on the 27th at Public Works.


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A Day at the Computer History Museum

Yesterday the dreamers had a special visit scheduled: the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Being in Silicon Valley, it definitely was a must and the whole group of participants was very excited about it. The museum is the world’s largest one for the preservation and presentation of artifacts and stories of the Information Age.

The museum hosts an incredible myriad of computing devices, spanning the simplest abbacus, Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine number 2, IBM’s Deep Blue and going up to the latest iPhone. It was a good way to realize that the Silicon Valley is making history as we speak.

The day continued with the third and last workshop with Angelika Blendstrup. During the session the dreamers discussed with the Stanford Instructor their approach to the final presentation to be held on July 27th. It was the first time that the participants were testing their ideas in front of an audience. Not only they had Dr. Blendstrup’s advice, but also they had other people’s feedback, such as other dreamers and mentor Josep Lluis Sánchez, Project Management Specialist.

In the evening, the group went back to the Computer History Museum. But this time, the purpose was a networking event and a talk about entrepreneurs who nearly failed but finally managed to succeed on their endeavors, with speakers such as Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of AirBnB. The dreamers found this testimonies very inspiring and once again, they heard one of the most important messages of the Valley: failure is a valuable learning experience.



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Neil Harbisson by dreamer Aitor Ochoa

Yesterday we had an opportunity to talk with Neil Harbisson.

We talked using videocoference and it was an a very inspiring experience.

In the begining Neil spoke about  his personal history, then he started to explain his invention “ the Eyeborg” and at the end we were able to ask him some questions.

It was very interesting to learn about the experience of a person who has been able to overcome many obstacles and who has created a product that can help many lives.

At the begining I was very surprise about this amazing project, I realise that there are some ideas that can help a lot and that they can change completely the life of some people.

For example here you have some themes that we discussed;

-What was color for him before the eyeborg?

He visualized fast energy.

-How many colors can he hear?

He can understand 360 color combinations through sounds.

-When he’s inside a room, he hears the main colour of the room or of the space.

-He can move the eyeborg and put in differents positions, is a part of his body.

-When he dreams , he hears differents sounds.

-When a mobile phone or some other gadgets send a vibration, he hears the color green.

-Some flags send the same melody to him.

-He has developed a new sense.


Now I have a new hero.


History on Neil

Neil Harbisson (27 July 1982) is a British-Catalan man.

Musician and performer he is best known for his self-extended ability to hear colors. In 2004 he became the first person in the World to be fitted with an eyeborg and to be officially recognized as a cyborg by a government. Color and the use of technology as an extension of the performer’s body and senses are the central themes in Harbisson’s work.

Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a condition that only allows him to see in black and white. He grew up in Mataró, Spain, where he studied music, dance and drama at various schools and began to compose piano pieces at the age of eleven.

At the age of sixteen he started studying fine arts at Institut Alexandre Satorras, where he was given special permission to use only black, white and gray colors in his works. Harbisson’s early works are all in black and white.

Neil moved to Ireland in September 2001 to finish his piano studies at Dublin’s “Walton’s New School of Music”. In 2002 he moved to England to study Music Composition at Dartington College of Arts.

In October 2003 during his second year at Dartington College of Arts, Neil attended a lecture on cybernetics, particularly on sensory extensions, given by Adam Montandon. Neil found this of immense interest and at the end of the lecture he went up to Adam to explain his condition.

The eyeborg.

The eyeborg works with a head mounted camera that picks up the colors directly in front of a person, and converts them in real-time into sound waves. Neil memorised the frequencies related to each color: high frequency hues are high-pitched, while low frequency hues sound bolder. In Vienna, they co-presented their eyeborg project, one of more than 400 entries from 29 different countries, and won the  Europrix Award in Content Tools and Interface Design (2004), as well as the Innovation Award (Submerge, Bristol 2004).

In 2007, while hitch-hiking around Europe, Neil met Peter Kese in Ljubljana, a software developer from Kranj, Slovenia. Kese offered to develop the eyeborg even further so that Harbisson could perceive color saturation and not only color hues. After a few weeks he had developed a new eyeborg model that allowed Neil to perceive up to 360 different hues through microtones and saturation through different volume levels.

Matias Lizana, a student from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya is currently developing the eyeborg into a small chip as part of his final year project. The new chip will allow Neil to hear colors in stereo and to implant the eyeborg into his forehead.

Aitor Ochoa


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When today starts to be tomorrow in San Francisco by dreamer Alvaro Sanmartin

Trends are something that is difficult to create, they just happen. And you don’t know why, they usually start in the same places. San Francisco is one of them. Living here for 17 days is enough to understand why many of the revolutions that shake the world take place in the bay area. It’s just that there is so much talent, so much creativity and so much time invested in changing the world. When you join atitude, aptitude and work, the mix can only be success.

This is not a perfect place. It has some downfalls. There are more than 6.000 homeless in San Francisco. When you live here, you get used to cross some words with them. It’s simple; they ask you for money, and you usually say no and keep walking. But this week, as dreamers that we are, we have learned that we have to look where nobody looks, trying to find what others take for granted.  So some of the dreamers had the experience of being homeless for one night. Can you imagine sleeping on the streets?

I was not there, but it moved me. The worst part of this experience was not being alone in the street, or the frozen wind of the ocean. It was the cold touch of the exclusion, and the sensation that everyone asked them to go somewhere else to sleep. Some of the other homeless confessed that they are used to sleep two hours until somebody (normally the police) ask them to move away. They are the nomads of the 21st century. And the worst part is not that they have lost everything (even their mental health), it’s that they have lost hope. They think that nobody can solve their problem.

But there is hope. I have hope. Few days later we visited a Palo Alto school. And I saw the future of this country written in a wall. They were just some pictures, sometimes quotes, but I would love that every single kid would read them from time to time. Here you have some of them:

“If you´re going to be passionate about something, be passionate about learning. If you´re going to fight something, fight for those in need. If you´re going to question something, question authority. If you´re going to lose something, lose your inhibitions. If you´re going to gain something, gain respect and comfidence. And if you are going to hate something, hate the false idea that you are not capable of your dreams”

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”

“It´s not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences”

“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes”

“Think globally, act locally”

“Get involved: the world is run by those who show up”

“You will never regret doing the right thing”

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”

I have never seen a wall with the future of a nation painted on it. Looking at this wall I could see where this country wants to go. It’s clear that it is not a perfect society, but at least I can see the values that they are living in. It is terrible to compare it with Spain. Luckily some of us are here to get inspired and take action to change it.

In fact, it is quite simple: Work hard, don’t be afraid to take risks, and respect the ones who are different. These days I have observed that life here takes place sooner: the activity starts at 7 Am and ends up at 10Pm. It is like if they were anxious to start doing things early in the morning, and at night they are so tired that they are looking forward to going to bed. Maybe that’s why they are ahead of other countries. We should look at ourselves and see what are they doing right as a country.

However, I maintain that the same things that give them advantage in productivity, give us advantage in creativity. I am really comfident in us as a creative leaders. Our history, our climate, our cultural background give us the opportunity of having a more relaxed lifestyle, and that forsters creativity. I can not think about a poet, a painter, a designer or a dreamer, working crazy from 8Am to 8Pm in New York city. Creativity needs space to be calmed and think about what needs to be created. And that takes time. Time that Americans dont have, because they are too busy doing things, or making money.

That’s why I think that Imagine makes so much sense. It’s a declaration of us as a country. It’s taking the suitcase and going to the highest hill in the world to say: Hey, Spain wants to be the leader in creativity! We are not afraid of showing it to you!

The 27th we have a date. We have a chance. We have an opportunity to change the world.

Let’s Imagine that we make it.

Álvaro Sanmartín



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Imagine presents ideas to change the world on July 27th

IMAGINE Creativity Center is pleased to invite you to the final event that will be
taking place in San Francisco on the 27th of July at 7:00 pm at Public Works SF (161 Erie St). Please note the capacity is restricted to 200 people.


If you would like to attend, make sure to register at the following eventbrite invitation:



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Visting Googleplex and The Quest for the Flavor of the Month

Angelika Blendstrup kicked off the day with a workshop on how to give good presentations. Dr Blendstrup, an instructor at Stanford University
herself, explained how important is to know the overall idea and the objectives of our presentation. Knowing our audience and having the skills to reach them is crucial. During the session, the dreamers did group exercises that allowed them to start practicing public presentations, like the one they will be doing on the 27th at Public Works, in San Francisco. To finish the workshop, the group watched several presentations made by some of the best public speakers like Steve Jobs or Guy Kawasaki.

This time, the session with Dr Blendstrup was shorter than the previous one since the dreamers had an important appointment afterward: a visit to the Google headquarters in Mountain View. Our guides for the day were Carlos Gómez, from the Online Sales & Business Development Department and Ernest Delgado, Software Engineer. The visit started at the Doodles department, where the group could meet and talk with the designers of the doodles that appear every day on the search engine. They could learn about the creative a work process used by this particular team, who also shared with them their personal impressions. For example, the big responsibility of publishing a drawing that millions of people will see.

After lunch at the Google canteen and some time to take pictures, the dreamers visited different departments of the company, the working spaces and some of the facilities, such as the gyms, the rest areas or the brand new slide that they could personally test. The visit ended with a Q&A session with Ernest and Carlos.

In the afternoon, the dreamers went to a Palo Alto High School where they participated in a creative cooking workshop with Cecilia. Divided in 4 different groups, they had to come up with a new ice cream flavor. The rules were easy: no fruits, no meat and the their budget was no more than 10 dollars. After doing their grocery shopping, the participants prepared the following creative ice cream menu:

- “Yogi’s choice”, made of honey and cereal
- “Guacamote” ice cream, made of tomato and guacamole
- “Mimos de Mango”, made of honey, mustard and mango
- “Albahaca” ice cream, made of basil and crunchy cereal

The ice cream experiment gave the dreamers a lot of experiences to share
with their tutor in this activity, Ceci. It all become very interesting as they competed in a contest for the best ice cream flavor as well.

And… the flavor of the month was… “Albahaca”, by the Shopping experience team!

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A Formulanimation class with Inigo Quilez

Most of the people who attended the Iñigo Quilez’ workshop knew already that drawing without a pencil and paper was possible. What they did not know was that some of the animations that we see in video games, advertisement and even movies can be made with a totally different tool: formulas. Iñigo, talked about his personal projects and how he makes animations without being a hand-drawing skilled person. After a brief introduction about math, he started his workshop showing some examples of 2D animations and how he was able to play with them. He surprised the audience showing a slide where there was a drawn heart on one side, and a computer science source code on the other. Then he began to modify some source code: the shape of the heart changed every time that he typed something different.

The dreamers could see how he was able to animate the blinking of a sun just by changing the sinus and the cosinus of one mathematical formula. If the 2D animations impressed the dreamers, the 3D animations would leave the audience even more open-mouthed.The Basque mathemagician showed a video that he had done with two other animators where we could see an animation of a very precise designed mountain landscape, after showing the video he explained that everything that we had seen had been made with source code, even the music and only in 4K! Iñigo concluded his talk explaining how he likes to mix two of his passions, music and numbers. He showed how he can play mathematical music with a keyboard and a computer, and thanks to the dreamer Oscar we could listen to an unusual version of  John Lehnnon’s song Imagine.

The session ended with a sample of a project Iñigo is currently involved with: Sexy Visuals. This project let Iñigo and the rest of his team show their visuals at the Google IO 2011. Another good example of how math is linked to more things than we think, because as one of the dreamers put it “Iñigo’s work has been the most impressive things that I’ve seen in the Bay Area so far”.

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Remembering the beginning of our dream by Janire Gordon

Friday 17th of June started very early but were all were really enthusiastic. We arrived to ‘Barcelona Activa’ and eventually we met each other, the 12 dreamers of this magic Imagine 2011 edition and also the staff.

After taking a few pictures the event started. We entered the room and the dream began. It was decorated with yellow balloons and the 12 dreamers sat on the first line. We felt important and very grateful, it was awesome.

When Fernando Botella first showed up we were all astonished thanks to his knowledge about the human brain mixed with his creative side.

He explained to us some of the brain’s curiosities, meanings of creativity, innovation and lots of games related to the human intelligence and mathematics. He also quoted some inaccurate predictions in order to keep on dreaming and making us believe that everything is possible despite of not being immediately.

There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home

Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.

‘Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?’

H. M. Warner, co-founder of Warner Bros., 1927.

Fernando Botella’s speech was alternated by Ramón Fauria’s mentalist activities.

We all participated, spent a really amazing time and learned about creativity.

We received our yellow shirts and understood why the balloons were also of that color. The Imagine color.

Our energy was fully charged for the following weekend in Cadaqués and we all were expectant and impatient to start the program in San Francisco.

Thank you Fernando Botella and Ramón Fauria for this wonderfull introduction to Imagine.

Janire Gordon


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“Imagine & IDEO = creativity at its utmost expression”

Silicon Valley is widely known for hosting some of the most creative and innovative companies in the world. With innovation and the ‘work hard,play hard’ idea in mind, many organizations offer an unusual environment to their employees so they can be more creative and achieve more. One of these companies is IDEO, a global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach that helps organizations in the public and private sectors to innovate and grow. They identify new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires.

The dreamers payed the IDEO headquarters a visit last Friday. Guided by Alex Castellarnau, Project Manager of the company and disruptive innovation specialist, this visit showed the Imagine group from the beginning that they were not in a traditional workplace. They first were asked to draw a sunset in a short period of time in order to see how creative they were. Then Alex explained IDEO’s work organization and values, and its disruptive innovation methodologies. He explained how everything at IDEO had been thought to create the best possible environment to be creative, from the recruiting process up to the selection of team-mates for a project.

IDEO‘s work methodology is based on three main ideas:

- Everything has to be user-centered,

- Idea Prototyping

- Transformational Innovation.

IDEO‘s approach is, the companies must listen to their audience and costumers, and in order to get a better feedback they have to be creative in this process too, using different tools like the concept of radical users. Once they know what the costumers need, they start prototyping as soon as possible. As he pointed out, “you can’t even imagine how much you can learn from a prototype made by 20$ made of cardboard boxes”. Alex added, “It’s not about how much we earn. Is about how much we learn. Radical innovation is about learning”.

A tour around the headquarters followed, with an unexpected surprise: the group had the opportunity to meet with Tom Kelley, one of the IDEO founders, who was at the lobby of the main building.

During the visit, they could see a working space built inside a van and they could even take part in a war of slingshots and foam arrows. Not your usual day at the office, was it?

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Creatividad al alcance de todos por dreamer Jordi Sahis

Quién ha dicho que llegar a buenas ideas solo estaba al alcance de unos pocos afortunados? Es facil llegar a unir conceptos y extraer soluciones de hacer zooming al problema (zoom in & zoom out).

Juan Prego le puso nombre y apellido a todas las técnicas conocidas para incentivar la creatividad del grupo, pero lo más interesante de toda su Master Class fue enseńar a liderar las sesiones creativas del equipo.

Primero hay que aportar el mayor número de ideas para poder ser más estricto en el filtro que realizaremos después. De esa forma transformaremos la creatividad incontrolada que nos aporta cantidad de información y transformarla en innovación combinándolo con nuestro conocimiento. The power of our knowledge

Tratar de resolver problemas con conceptos cruzados o partir de una palabra escogida totalmente al azár, son dos de las 10 técnicas aprendidas. Fue curioso conocer conceptos que sin saber, ya utilizaba de forma intuitiva.

Otro gran factor a la hora de realizar estas sesiones es el tiempo. A menudo tendemos a pensar que si dedicamos más tiempo, más ideas y mejores soluciones encontramos. No es cierto. Juan Prego nos puso a prueba realizando ejercicios en 30 segundos en las que se extraían buenos puntos de partida (focos) que posteriormente servirán para que en 15 minutos pudieramos aportar nuevas y creativas ideas.

El valor diferencial de una persona creativa y una que no lo es, son las ganas de participar en una actividad diferente. Ser por un día otro ser. Hacer las cosas diferentes. Para finalizar quiero compartir una frase que me ha resultado muy interesante:

“Tanto si crees que puedes hacer algo como si crees que no puedes, estás en lo cierto” añadiendo a esto que los segundos no molesten a los que tratan de materializar sus sueños.

Con esta reflexión que me despido hasta dentro de unos días: Hola!

Hola? Si, hagamos las cosas diferentes :)

Jordi Sahís


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