Boring Conference 2010: Chairman of the bored

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Having long pondered life's least interesting topics, James Ward has organised a conference to explore them further

Ever wondered about the best way to catalogue a tie collection or pondered the intangible beauty of car park roofs? Just what is the attraction of computer games which allow players to simulate being a bus driver? And does semi-skimmed milk differ in taste depending on which supermarket it is purchased from?

To some, the answer to these and other slightly absurd questions might seem inconsequential. But for James Ward, they are of sufficient interest to merit organising Britain's first conference dedicated entirely to pushing back the boundaries of humanity's knowledge of, well, boring stuff.

Suitably entitled "Boring 2010", the inaugural gathering of up to 25 experts on some of the more obscure areas of human endeavour will take place in central London in December after Mr Ward, a DVD distribution manager, was inundated with requests when he floated the idea half-jokingly on Twitter.

The gathering, which will take place before an audience of 200 aficionados of the esoteric, is intended to be an unofficial successor to the "Interesting" conferences, a cult movement of talks about obscure subjects which has spread to New York and Vancouver but whose London event was cancelled this year.

Mr Ward, 29, from Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, said: "I was looking forward to this year's Interesting conference, so when I saw it had been cancelled I put a message on my Twitter suggesting it would be a good idea to get lots of speakers on strange subjects that sounded boring but somehow turned out to be really interesting. I wasn't really being serious, but I got so many replies saying it was a good idea that I felt obliged to push ahead with it. It has mushroomed from getting 25 people in a room somewhere to a full-blown conference. It just shows you should be careful what you Tweet but hopefully we can all bond in a common interest in specifics."

The event, whose speakers will include cultural historian Joe Moran and screenwriter Jon Ronson, author of the Hollywood hit The Men Who Stare at Goats, is evidence of the growing popularity of eccentricity, ranging from BBC2's Genius programme, in which weird inventions are "stress-tested" by celebrities, to increased interest in the Ig Nobel prizes for obscure academic research.

Among the subjects which will be tackled at Boring 2010 are the history of dust, the purpose of vending machines and the reasons for draws in cricket Test matches. Organisers are also considering holding a live game of computerised solitaire transmitted on to an overhead screen together with a live commentary.

The conference is Mr Ward's latest foray into the world of the bizarre. He is the co-founder of the Stationery Club, which is similar to a book club with the difference that its members meet regularly to muse on the qualities of a particular ballpoint pen or note pad.

Earlier this year, the club held a special event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Post-it note.

Mr Ward said: "I don't actually want people to be bored. I want to make the point that things which might seem mundane or boring actually become interesting the more attention you pay to them."

Boring 2010...

Cataloguing ties

For those who have always wondered how to organise their cravats, a users guide to tie organisation. Tips on how to distinguish neckwear on the basis of colour, material, thickness, pattern and style. Advanced learners will also be introduced to the "smartness index".

Milk tasting

Possibly a first in beverage research, a self-declared expert in all matters lactic will stage a live comparative tasting of different types of milk (whole, semi-skimmed, UHT) from different supermarkets and shops seeking to establish variations in taste, consistency and colour. Audience participation welcomed.

Municipal plug points

Where are the best places to charge a mobile phone in a public building? What is the price to the taxpayer of people plugging in their laptops in libraries?

Are power sockets public property? These, and other questions, will be answered in a talk entitled: "The Ease of Extracting Electricity from Muncipal Buildings in the Metropolis and Beyond: A Comparison."

Car park roofs

To many, the urban multi-storey is an unloved blot on the landscape but few consider how the top floor is a hidden oasis of calm in a crowded world. Visitors can enjoy uninterrupted views of their surroundings, untroubled by motorists who prefer the lower floors. Where better to eat a lunchtime sandwich?

So, did last year's agenda live up to its billing?

Interesting 2009...

Anatomy of cool

What's cool? What's daggy? Who decides? Remo learned the anatomy (and alchemy) of cool by observing a kid named Bob D'Angelo in a school playground circa 1973.

Perform your own stories

Who types the stories that the De Niros of the world speak? Why don't writers speak? Speakers write. Why aren't we telling our own stories?

Away with words – creating icons and images to satisfy all audiences

Millions are invested translating words to explain products across lingual markets. But what about the visuals? Some eye-opening examples reveal that icons and images too often fail the needs of their audience.

How improv can save the world

Improv can save the world, end all wars and make everything better. It teaches you to say "yes"; to listen; it forces you to work with people and not against them in a creative and constructive manner.

We welcome our new placebo overlords!

Learn how powerful the "placebo effect" can be in medicine and human behaviour. The presenters have an abid- ing interest in the topic and a surprising proposal: we should consent to the administration of placebos even – especially – when we're critically ill.

Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

IT Support Analyst (2nd Line Support) - City, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare: Ashdown Group: IT Support Ana...

KS1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: KS1 Teaching Specialist Leic...

Y3 Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Key Stage 2 specia...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor