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Beyond the Fat Wire

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Conference Wrap up

There are some session presentations available now -- especially "Rules for Remixing" (get the PDF), the conference opening session with Rael Dornfest and Tim O'Reilly.

The most important session for us was "Creating Passionate Users" -- a 1/2 day tutorial presented by Kathy Sierra, who was a creator of the Head First series of books for O'Reilly. And from this session, the most important message was "allow your users to have an 'I Rule' experience"

That is -- in the end, it does not matter what your users think of you or think of your product. (That is, it doesn't matter what library users think of library resources or services). What REALLY matters is how users think of THEMSELVES as the result of their interaction with your product.

There were other themes of note at this conference:
  • The O'Reilly Radar and remixing
  • Innovation and creativity, such as at Applied Minds and the Center for Bits and Atoms Fab Lab
  • "All Complex Ecosystems Have Parasites" by Cory Doctorow of EFF and Boing Boing -- if a system is complex, there will be messiness. If you try to "fix" the messiness, you will only succeed at breaking the system and removing the complexity. With maturity in a system, you also have to expect and embrace the complexity, and with complexity you have to expect and embrace the diversity, and with diversity, you have to expect and embrace the mess.

Day Four

Conference Announcements
Rael Dornfest
Time: 8:20am - 8:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Lawrence Lessig
Time: 8:30am - 8:45am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Conversation with Lawrence Lessig
Cory Doctorow
Time: 8:45am - 9:15am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Military E-Tech
JC Herz
Time: 9:15am - 9:30am

Location: California Ballroom
Track: Social Software

Emerging Massive Media
Paula Le Dieu
Time: 9:30am - 9:45am

Location: California Ballroom
Track: Emerging Topics

The Economics of the Long Tail
Chris Anderson , Joe Kraus
Time: 9:45am - 10:00am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Conversation - TBD
Time: 10:00 - 10:30

Putting the P Back in VPN: An Overlay Network to Resist Traffic Analysis
Roger Dingledine
Time: 11:00am - 11:45am

Location: California Ballroom A
Track: Peer-to-peer

VC Funding for Geeks; or, How to Get Your Technology to Emerge the VC Way
Marc Hedlund
Time: 11:00am - 11:45am

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Business

Remixing the Networking Platform: Hacking Hardware and Adding Services
Nikolaj Nyholm
Time: 11:00am - 11:45am

Location: California Ballroom C

Ask Jeeves Alpha
Rahul Lahiri , Apostolos Gerasoulis
Time: 11:00am - 11:45am

Location: Plaza Room B
Track: Products and Services

Trust Me: Adventures in Social Engineering
Jon Oliver
Time: 11:45am - 12:30pm

Location: California Ballroom A
Track: Social Software

Life Hacks Live
Danny O'Brien , Merlin Mann
Time: 11:45am - 12:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Emerging Topics

Odeo -- Podcasting for Everyone
Evan Williams
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom A

It's Not Rocket Science: The Brain for Designers
Matt Webb
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B

Tech That Helps the World
Lee Felsenstein
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Emerging Topics

Making Web Services Personal
Ben Trott
Time: 2:35pm - 2:55pm

Location: California Ballroom B

From the Garage: Lessons Learned Birthing and Building Web Start-Ups
Mark Fletcher
Time: 3:00pm - 3:20pm

Location: California Ballroom B

Public Documents as Weblogs
Mark Simpkins , Gavin Bell
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Web Services

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Maker Fair

About a dozen people had tables showcasing their inventions at this reception, which also was an opportunity for O'Reilly to promote its new magazine Make

I think the coolest thing there was this guy who graduated from MIT in 2002, who is responsible for the original hacked XBox.

Here is Ben Hammersley again. He wore a kilt the first two days of the conference. I saw him in pants earlier, or maybe last night, but today, he was wearing a skirt.

More Makers:

Another maker ... with interesting head decoration:

Some crowd scenes:

The O'Reilly conference staffer handing out free drink tickets at the door:

The door prize (which you can win if your name is drawn AND you are present at the final session of the conference):

And finally... sometimes you just have to get away from the crowds:

Afternoon break

one hour break (well, more since the previous session ended early) because the vendors exhibit room closes at 4:30 today

Remixing Culture with RDF

Remixing Culture with RDF: Running a Semantic Web Search in the Wild
Matthew Haughey, Creative Director, Creative Commons
Mike Linksvayer, CTO, Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Licenses and Metadata
  • tracking the licesne
  • format of the work
  • permissions, requirements
  • extra metadata

Why use the Semantic Web?

  • small organization
  • natural language search not good for plain text metadata
  • decentralization -- other search engines could use it
  • existing RDF toolkits could be used

Metadata format
  • publishers and search engine needs
  • considered html head elements
  • considered robots.txt hacks
  • considered data in extra files/link element
  • chose RDF in HTML

Metadata format II
  • ease of use primary goal - copy/paste button and rdf in one chunk
  • any custom elements automated by license app
  • (one more but i missed it .... it's hard to type balancing an 8 lb laptop on one knee)

Nutch -- open source web crawler/indexer/query interface, aims to be massively scalable, built on Lucene Java text serach library


Oregon State used Nutch to replace their Google search appliances


the future of Creative Commons metadata: RDF/A, Semantic XHTML, GRDDL (pron: griddle)

  • semantic web lets anyone use the entire web as a db
  • nutch is a mostly prebuilt app for your domain
  • domain specific search engines without the infrasturcture of a search engine company
  • solves semantic catch 22: publishing data/consuming data

Ontology is Overrated

Ontology is Overrated: Links, Tags, and Post-hoc Metadata
Clay Shirky, Decentralization Writer/Consultant, shirky.com

ways we think we understand categorization is wrong. what we're doing to categorize on the web is a leftover from previous models that don't fit now

periodic table of the elements - his perfect classification scheme

library card catalog - the most recognizable classification scheme

of course, he trashes LC, which I sympathize with, but he mistakenly assumes that LC is hierarchical, and he is trashing it because he is looking for hierarchy and isn't finding it.

then, with library problems, he complains about using the classification system as a means for shelfmarking. which is also true

first there was the periodic table of elements, then there was the library card catalog, then there was Yahoo as the first attempt to categorize the web

The idea is -- how do you organize the world -- create a categorization system -- WITH NO SHELF .... that is, with no extenally specified "correct location" for an item

(moving through faceted classification to nothing but lots of links between items -- that is, search rather than browse)

An ontology presupposes a set of users, for whom, the structure and terminology of the ontology are designed

the more you move towards size, scale, nonexpert users, the less useful an ontology is

Voodoo Categorization

most of the world is not amenable to categorization, and when you try to force it you get problems
  • signal loss (is it Mac, Apple, or OSX) -- you have to create, mandate, and enforce terminology (is it movies, film or cinema? and what do you lose when you collapse terms?)
  • predicting the future is hard (a book about Dresden goes in the category "East Germany" -- what do you do when there no longer is an "East Germany"?)

Organic Categorization




well, i agree with him but only to a point. users should create their own categories. their own, ad hoc, fully in-the-moment categories are going to be great, at least for them, at least for now.

searching is great, and a massive ontology has problems

but ...

organic categorization is even less useful for finding the UNKNOWN ...

at best, you can only find individual unknown items that are within known categories ... or among the categorizes of people in your network who you trust with their categorization

does the world make sense? if you think so, then you make a categorization system based on that, not regarding those who don't agree with the way you make sense of the world

Day Three PM - Sessions

Building Communities with Software
Joel Spolsky , Michael Pryor
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Social Software

Ontology is Overrated: Links, Tags, and Post-hoc Metadata
Clay Shirky
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Emerging Topics

Python in your Pocket
Erik Smartt
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: Plaza Room B
Track: Products and Services

Lessons Learned While Building Basecamp
Jason Fried
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Business

Remixing Culture with RDF: Running a Semantic Web Search in the Wild
Matthew Haughey , Mike Linksvayer
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Emerging Topics

Introduction to Yahoo! Search Web Services
Jeremy D. Zawodny
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: Plaza Room B

Hardware Hacks from the Far Side
James Larsson
Time: 4:20pm - 5:05pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Hardware

Forgiveness, Not Permission: Retro-fitting the Semantic Web onto British Democracy
Tom Loosemore , Stefan Magdalinski
Time: 4:20pm - 5:05pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Emerging Topics

The Easier, Faster Route to Building Mobile Applications: Using the Best of Existing Approaches and Overcoming Current Limitations
Rodney Aiglstorfer
Time: 4:20pm - 5:05pm

Location: Plaza Room B
Track: Products and Services

Social Robotics, Scmocial Robotics: Feral Robotics and Some Other Quacking, Shaking, Bubbling (what would the opposite of feral be?) Robots
Natalie Jeremijenko
Time: 5:10pm - 5:55pm

Location: California Ballroom B

BBC Programme Information Pages: An Architecture for an On-Demand World
Tom Coates , Gavin Bell, Matt Biddulph, Margaret Hanley
Time: 5:10pm - 5:55pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Web Services

Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds

Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds, or Is It Possible to Be Too Connected?
James Surowiecki

author of "The Wisdom of Crowds"

Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool

Tom Hoffman , Tim Lauer

Tim Lauer is an elementary school principal

Networked Objexcts

Tom Igoe



a network is at least 3 objects

KU -- a network app where, one user sits with a cry sculpture, which cries when someone in the social network expresses his/her sadness. then when the user caresses the cry sculpture, a "happiness" light illuminates at the place of the user who cried. as a way to express emotion and response over a network

Phone as Platform

Clay Shirky

Phone as Platform, or "Please, Mr. Carrier, May I Add Some Value?"

it's a class at NYU

PacManhattan -- a game of PacMan played on the grid of Manhattan streets -- came out of a games class

the urban grid and the game grid could be merged in interesting ways. But they learned that GPS doesn't work that well in an urban environment. the class ended up using the phone not for GPS but for two-way voice (hahah). somebody in the control room on the phone with the person running the physical grid. So, the phone was not the platform for the app, the phone was in the app.

ConQwest -- something about moving large inflatable figures around -- a semicode (2D barcode) is captured by a phone, sent to a server, processed by the server, and then a message is sent back to the phone

Dodgeball -- mobile social software. embedding a social software pattern into a real life social network. after housekeys, the phone is the one item that everyone carries. social scanning -- it knows who you want to meet, it messages your phone when the person you want to meet is in the room (whatever), so you can go talk to the person (hmmmm...........)

Mobjects/HeartBeat -- send a hug. a way to say "I'm here, I'm thinking about you" without composing a message or being too intrusive. strip presence from messaging, leaving the presence intact

the potential of the phone as a device is hardly being tapped

check the Nokia 6630

US carriers are a real barrier

server intrstructure is the key

phone number or Bluetooth ID as a universal/foreign key

Voice is underused

Asterisk expands single PSTN line
VoIP allows geographic distribution

Mesh (multiple network devices) - hardware support is not here yet, and the carriers are still a problem

Morning Break

The exhibits room is open today. The O'Reilly table says "take one free book". I wonder how many people refrained from taking more than one, if they were inclined to want more than one?

There were some tough choices.... Head First Design Patterns, Firefox Hacks, XBox Fan Book, other books with "hack" in the title. I chose Head First Design Patterns.

Did I choose an additional book, however illegal and/or unethical that might have been?

You'll have to consider all you know about me and then choose your own answer to that question...

Not so many people here today. I guess yesterday was the big deal day, with Tim O'Reilly and Jeff Bezos on the program

By the way, I need to shop for a small laptop. Maybe a tablet. Battery life notwithstanding.

Folksonomy, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mess

Clay Shirky, Decentralization Writer/Consultant, shirky.com
Stewart Butterfield, President, Ludicorp
Joshua Schachter, del.icio.us
Jimmy Wales, President, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

letting people/users create their own categories and categorization

social computing -- resolving conflicts between the individual and the group

resolving conflicts between different people's views of what the categorization of something should be

now that we have tags, can we connect our tags across different systems? technorati might be doing this now

what are you tagging for? your stuff for yourself? your stuff for other people? other people's stuff? -- remember why you are tagging and who you are tagging for

tagging as a part of RDF applications?


Jimmy Wales

social computing


since January 2001

people sharing information freely

Wikipedia lets people publish on a widely viewed platform, but provides a measure of quality control and avoids the neglected or lost personal sites made by home page creators

The Swarming Web

Justin Chapweske, CEO - Onion Networks

Large File Support - higher probablility of failuer

swarming -- RAID for the web -- looking for an alternative to TCP/IP with large/infinite bandwidth

fault tolerance? load balancers? commodity servers like at Google? (but, scalability, expense)

an array network? a mirror network? -- even more expensive, security concerns, user experience problems

self-healing data transfer -- integrity checks during the transfer. can store data on untrusted systems and still know if the content remains intact


Best Practices for swarming:
  • static elements, composed dynamically (CSS, RSS, Google maps)
  • utilize http caching semantics
  • thing cheap servers, cheap bandwidth, and intelligent software: the promis of grid computing delivered

SwarmStream public edition

Cory Doctorow

All Complex Ecosystems have Parasites

(he's reading text that he will put on the web later)

email is a sloppy, diverse, complicated ecosystem

you can solve spam -- but the solutions we can imagine right now would break email

an email system that can be controlled is an email system without complexity

a system that is complex can be influenced but not controlled

you cannot create a new DVD player without permission from the one organization controlled by the TV/Movie industry, and they will not give permission if your DVD player has features that the organization does not like -- the things they don't like are things that they think will interfere with their own business model.

simplifying an ecosystem happens when a group tries to fix something they consider to be a problem.

simplification -- suppressing innovation, suppressing openness, suppressing diversity,

why should Hollywood control Digital Rights Management, when they are the smallest player in the world of people who create digital content? when Hollywood itself is controlled by just a few individuals?

all we have spent on spam prevention have been for nothing -- in fact, spam proliferates as though we had done nothing. This should tell us that the approach to spam is wrong directed

parasite elimination programs all fail. the idea that we just haven't tried hard enough is the wrong idea.

forget about: a simple ecosystem where only you are allowed to add value and where you control who benefits

Neil Gershenfeld


Director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT

"State of the Art Fabrication"

Shannon - 1940s - there is a threshold below which you can avoid communication signal degradation

"How to Make (almost) Anything" - a class at MIT, and not just for engineers or computer scientists --
  • Scream Body
  • a web browser for parrots
  • garment with protection for your personal space

what is literacy -- liberation of expression.
personal fabrication -- stuff for a market of one, things that make you individual

fabrication as another means of expression


Conversation between Neil Gershenfeld, a guy from Squid Labs and another guy from Applied Minds

on one hand, it's hard to imagine creativity and engineering going together. On the other hand, the Applied Minds guy says, how can one be an engineer and NOT be creative?

need a full size 3D prototype as well as the other, mini, virtual ones because there is such a thing as human scale and you can't ignore the tangible level of interaction with the thing

a one-day fab bootcamp?
Gershenfeld -- 1/2 hr to learn to use a laser cutter, rest of 1/2 day on design principles, last 1/2 day making something
Applied Minds guy -- one day to learn how to break something really nicely

nurturing the village tinkerers -- amateur inventors

Day Three AM - Opening, High Order Bits and Conversation

Conference Announcements
Rael Dornfest
Time: 8:20am - 8:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Bits and Atoms
Neil Gershenfeld
Time: 8:30am - 9:15am

Location: California Ballroom

A Conversation with Neil Gershenfeld
Tim O'Reilly , Dale Dougherty, Bran Ferren, Neil Gershenfeld, Saul Griffith
Time: 8:45am - 9:15am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

All Complex Ecosystems Have Parasites
Cory Doctorow
Time: 9:15am - 9:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C
Track: Emerging Topics

The Swarming Web
Justin F. Chapweske
Time: 9:30am - 9:45am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Wikipedia and the Future of Social Computing
Jimmy Wales
Time: 9:45am - 10:00am

Location: California Ballroom B & C
Track: Social Software

Folksonomy, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mess
Clay Shirky , Stewart Butterfield, Joshua Schachter, Jimmy Wales
Time: 10:00am - 10:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

From the Classroom: Phone as Platform: Lessons from ITP
Clay Shirky
Time: 11:00am - 11:15am

Location: California Ballroom B & C
Track: Untethered

From the Classroom: Networked Objects at ITP
Tom Igoe
Time: 11:15am - 11:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

From the Classroom: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool
Tom Hoffman , Tim Lauer
Time: 11:30am - 11:45am

Location: California Ballroom B & C
Track: Social Software

Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds, or Is It Possible to Be Too Connected?
James Surowiecki
Time: 11:45am - 12:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Mobile Computing On the Edge
Jon Bostrom
Time: 12:15pm - 12:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B & C

The Westin Horton Plaza

This really is a lovely hotel. Nice big room, big bathroom, chaise lounge as well as an easy chair. The staff is friendly, polite, and professional.

However, apart from the chaise, which is very comfortable, seating is not a strong point here. I think the only hotel room desk chairs I've sat in that were more uncomfortable were straight wood dining type chairs in something like a Super Inn.

Also, Westins like to advertise their "heavenly bed" ... I don't know about other Westins, but the bed in my room is not heavenly. It's hard! I think my 25 year old mattress at home, that I finally replaced last month, was more comfortable than this hotel bed, and that old one was bad -- only saved from replacement earlier by a heavily padded mattress pad.

Still, the rest of the hotel is quite nice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Building a New Web Service at Google

Google AdWords


making it simple. making it so it will work and also be simple

Document / literal SOAP -- think of it as passing XML around rather than as API function calls

but, interoperability is still hard, WSDL support varies by toolkit, SOAP document/literal support varies by toolkit

Good: .NET, Java (Axis)
OK: C++ (gSOAP), Perl (SOAP::Lite)
not gooed: Python (SOAPpy, ZSI), PHP (many options)

interoperability example: sending "nothing" is hard

SOAP interoperability hazards (I didn't have time to type them)

if all else fails you can give up and parse the XML directly

so why not just use ReST? -- low ReST use GETs everywhere, high ReST use HTTP semantics to build APIs

Remixing DNA

Interesting session but a little more science than I was in the mood for at the moment. I considered going to the "sex laws and technology" one, but I knew it'd be packed with people.

Any engineering of DNA sequences we can do right now results in an inferior manipulation than what we find in nature.

Policy and politics intersecting with science -- more people died of SARS than of anthrax, yet at the merest trace of a possibility of an anthrax spore in an east coast postal service office, and postal service offices close down across a region.

Registry of Standard Biological Parts - parts.mit.edu
this talk -- mit.edu/endy/www/talks/

Tangible Computing

One of the speakers for this talk is Matt Jones, who was a speaker at IA Summit in 2004 where he talked about things he did at BBCi.

Windows / computer screens -- you lose things. windows overlaop. task bars, app bars, blah blah blah.....

all of that has been an inferior metaphor for interacting with the world in a digital environment

especially --- you can't click a mouse while waiting at the bus stop

Mac app interface as a beautiful but unintuitive thing

Ubiqitous computing IS HERE NOW -- it's just not evenly distributed and the interaction is still a work in progress

As interface designers, we must play to our strengths -- we are situated in space, we are embodied, we have opposable thumbs, we can touch, our senses and our brains are not disconnected.

"Where the action is" by Paul Dourish ...

"Extelligence" -- cognitive economy, social legibility (if i see you doing it in the world, i can copy you)

"Use our intelligence wisely" -- glance-ability, important information is not only in a computer window, important information bubbles up, direct combination (I didn't understand their examples of direct combination)

"Tangible tiredness" -- interfaces are pushing us to our physical limits, we cannot detect constant small visual changes

What's out there now?
  • tablets
  • audiopad - jazz mutant
  • smart furniture: interactive tables, sensitive objects, smart carpets, DDR
  • all seeing eyes -- cameras are everywhere
  • digital pens, eyetoy, augmented reality
  • passive information display: internet toaster, ambient devices, natural displays
  • smart objects: haptics/force feedback, physical movement, 2D barcodes
  • NFC - Near Field Communications -- touch technology, tell technology to talk, read write show, 2 major design principles (put readers/writers everywhere -- e.g. covers of phones) real information stored in the (RF) tags, not in a database. works at a range of some centimeters

But what can we do? Tangible computing hacks
  • computers make it easy to take inputs and manipulate
  • but now, computers are everywhere
  • more inputs: knobs, microphones, OpenEEG
  • more outputs: Dotdotdot. Palm revival, Airport Express -- walk around the house and the music follows you
  • more programmability: standard protocols, software affordances, programmatic access to internals


Day Two PM - Sessions

Endangered Devices and How We Can Save Them
Wendy Seltzer , Jason Schultz
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Emerging Topics

Tangible Computing
Chris Heathcote , Matt D. Jones
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Emerging Topics

Remixing the Network - Getting Cooties Out of Your Data
Kevin Kealy
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm

Location: Plaza Room B

How Sex Laws Incite Technological Change
Annalee Newitz
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Emerging Topics

Remixing DNA
Drew Endy
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: California Ballroom C

Building Applications Without Software
Adam Gross
Time: 2:35pm - 3:20pm

Location: Plaza Room B
Track: Products and Services

Reinventing Radio: Enriching Broadcast with Social Software
Tom Coates , Matt Biddulph, Paul Hammond, Matt Webb
Time: 3:50pm - 4:35pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Social Software

Building a New Web Service at Google
Nelson Minar
Time: 3:50pm - 4:35pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Web Services

Microsoft Research - Turning Ideas into Reality
Phil Fawcett
Time: 3:50pm - 4:35pm

Location: Plaza Room B
Track: Products and Services

Taking Back Television: An Open Approach to the Development and Deployment of Next Generation Media
Tim Halle
Time: 4:40pm - 5:25pm

Location: California Ballroom B
Track: Emerging Topics

"Just" Use HTTP
Sam Ruby
Time: 4:40pm - 5:25pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Web Services

ifabricate: Collaborative Atom Hacking
Saul Griffith
Time: 5:30pm - 6:15pm

Location: California Ballroom B

Amazon.com: E-Commerce at Interplanetary Scale
Werner Vogels
Time: 5:30pm - 6:15pm

Location: California Ballroom C
Track: Emerging Topics

in the research labs

Microsoft: was talking about turning any surface into a computing environment (e.g. virtual keyboard)

Yahoo: various Yahoo Research Lab beta projects, mostly involving social software/apps

Google - Peter Norvig

Google Suggest
more personalization
Google sets

Morning Break

Morning break is almost over.

The size of the audience has grown even since this morning. The room is full and there are still lots of people out in the hallways.

Bag o'Shwag

Woo hoo. Guess what? I won stuff! There's a drawing of the people who filled out session evaluations the day before, and so I figure, not so many people filled out evaluations yesterday ;p

Anyway, I got an ETech messenger bag (navy, mustard, and olive), JBL on tour speakers, an iTrip (to get an FM signal on your iPod), EarJams (sound enhancers for iPod earbuds), a Bluetooth MacMouse, a MicFlex (USB microphone), an iBreeze (laptop stand with USB cooling fan), and a $25 gift certificate to Weaknees (they sell DVR/TiVO stuff). And I usually never win stuff!

Jeff Bezos from Amazon

what is global consciousness? it's the guy who decided that decaf coffeepots should be orange

vertical search -- A9.com --

they want OpenSearch to do for search what RSS has done for content -- make it easy, make it functional, make it ubiquitous

Remixing at Applied Minds

Applied Minds

Applied Minds is a small company that invents, designs and prototypes breakthrough products and services for both industry and government. We are an interdisciplinary group of artists, scientists and engineers, with skills in architecture, electronics, mechanics, physics, mathematics, software development, system engineering, and storytelling. Our projects range from toys to cancer treatments, from buildings to algorithms, and from off-road vehicles to high-resolution displays. Our team of world-class innovators enjoy building the next industry-changing technology ideas from concept to prototype.

robots - what's really cool are making little robots to try things out -- like, what's more stable? a 6-legged or a 4-legged robot?

how about a snake robot?

or a centipede robot?

an approach that says -- wouldn't it be cool if... ?

a workplace where engineers, artists, musicians, and an astronaut work together to develop ideas

"Remixing toys" -- take sections of different toys (ray gun, helicopter, and a car) to make something new

GIS maps that emulate the experience of spreading a paper map out on a table. Including a 3D table that will not only emulate spreading the map out on a table, but add in topographic features in 3D

Random thoughts

I'd guess there are 500-600 people here this morning. It's interesting that O'Reily, which you'd think of as a book publisher, sponsors all these conferences. It relates to points from the "Create Passionate Users" tutorial yesterday -- things you do might not relate directly to your mission, but they can end up furthering your mission even more than if you hadn't done them

This is a gathering of geeks, but it's one side of the geek world. This is the side of hackers, creatives, anti-establishment, push-the-envelop because it's there and who knows what cool things you'll find after you've pushed

Makes you excited about the future again, being here.

On the other hand, it's all chairs today. no tables. which is fine. my laptop batteries will hold out. However, I'm wishing for a smaller laptop right now.

Day Two AM - High Order Bits & Conversation

O'Reilly Radar: News From the Future
Tim O'Reilly
Time: 9:00am - 9:15am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Web Services as a Strategy for Startups: Opening Up and Letting Go
Stewart Butterfield , Cal Henderson
Time: 9:15am - 9:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C
Track: Web Services

The App is the API: Building and Surviving Remixable Applications
Mike Shaver
Time: 9:30am - 9:45am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Remixing Technology at Applied Minds
W. Daniel Hillis ,
Time: 9:45am - 10:15am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Jeffrey P. Bezos
Time: 10:15am - 10:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

From the Labs: Microsoft Research
Richard F. Rashid, Ph.D.
Time: 11:00am - 11:15am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

From the Labs: Yahoo! Research Labs
Gary William Flake
Time: 11:15am - 11:30am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

From the Labs: Google Labs
Peter Norvig, Ph.D.
Time: 11:30am - 11:45am

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Von Neumann's Universe
George Dyson
Time: 11:45am - 12:15pm

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Remixing the Network - Getting Cooties Out of Your Data
Kevin Kealy
Time: 12:15pm - 12:30pm

Location: California Ballroom B & C

Tim O'Reilly

The O'Reilly Radar

"Design Patterns"
  • provide source as well as display versions
  • design for participation
  • user-centered development
    • release early and oftern
    • user feedback
    • bug reports

syndicated ecommerce -- you no longer need to build or own all the components of your application -- isbn.nu

"The perpetual beta"

acknowledgement that things are continually changing and evolving

Network effects by default

Apps that include sharing features by default -- Flickr

The long tail

the monetizing of niches -- no niche is too small to speak to.

Software abovce the level of a single device

cross device apps -- it's not just the PC anymjore

Social Networking

campture and share the social fabric underlying your applicatoin

social networks are a by product of social applications like email IM, photo sharing, and even book buying


a realtime flow of info, comments, idea sharing

Data is the next "Intel Inside"

Where 2.0 in JUne in SF -- O'Reilly conference on location technologies

Web 2.0 Conference in Oct in SF

Packets and shipping containers

The key is small packages and containers -- to make delivery successful, efficient, and to make the delivery system last successfully over a long period of time


when content is digital it lends itself to being broken down and remixed

So: b uild your business model so as to make your living from the smallest atomic unit

SafariU -- OReilly books to let students professors remix to suit themselves

Ajax: Asynchronous JavaScript + XML -- eg Gmail and Google maps

Hardware Hacks


Data Visualization

Krazy Dad -- using flickr, gives a color wheel. you pick a color and it finds photos w/ that color
Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager

Voice Over IP

Asterisk, Skype


The P in P2P is People -- Dave Winer c. 2001

Opening Remarks

An example the speaker gave of an alpha geek was an amateur astronomer ;-)

The hacking is "remixing" ... you chop something apart, examine the component bits, and use skill, creativity and ingenuity to make something new from those bits.

Remix your web:
  • View source
  • Firefox and Thunderbird
  • JavaScript

Remix your music:
  • Rip -- we love your music so much and hate the format so much, we will resort to illegal methods to put things the way we need them to be

Remix your TV:
  • TiVO obviously

Remix your network:
  • WiFi
  • War driving
  • Hotspots
  • Airport Express

Remix your movies:
  • BitTorrent
  • NetFlix
  • Blockbuster runs scared

Remix your data:
  • scraping --: XML
  • hacks --> standards
  • syndication
  • web services

Remix your text:
  • Blogging

Remix your syndication:
  • RSS allowed Netscape to compete with Yahoo
  • RSS reinvented syndication
  • RSS flows into Yahoo
  • everyone monetizes RSS

Remix your bookshelf
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Search Inside the Book
  • Google Print

Remix IT
  • all kinds of IT specialties
  • "be liberal in what you accept"
  • Hacks become frameworks become foundation

Remix the browser:
  • Firefox

Remix brick-and-mortar (and remix again):
  • Order online, pick up in the store
  • shop and research online, buy in the store

Remix space:
  • Spaceship One

The unreasonable man adapts the world to himself -- George Bernard Shaw

Day Two AM - Opening and Keynote

Opening Welcome
Rael Dornfest, CTO, O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Date: Tuesday, March 15
Time: 8:20am - 8:30am


Rules for Remixing
Rael Dornfest, CTO, O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Date: Tuesday, March 15
Time: 8:30am - 9:00am
Location: California Ballroom B & C

Citizen engineers are throwing their warranties to the wind, hacking their TiVos, Xboxes, and home networks. Wily geeks are jacking Jetsons-like technology into their cars for music, movies, geolocation, and internet connectivity on the road. E-commerce and network service giants like Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and Google are decoupling, opening, and syndicating their services, then realizing and sharing the network effects. Professional musicians and weekend DJs are serving up custom mixes on the dance floor. Operating system and software application makers are tearing down the arbitrary walls they've built, turning the monolithic PC into a box of loosely coupled component parts and services. The massive IT infrastructure of the '90s is giving way to what analyst Doc Searls calls "do-it-yourself IT."

We see all of this as a reflection of the same trend: the mass amateurization of technology, or, as Fast Company put it, "the amateur revolution." And it's these hacks, tweaks, re-combinations, and shaping of the future we're exploring in this year's Emerging Technology Conference theme: Remix.

In this opening session, your conference host introduces you to the gestalt of ETech and how the subject matter of past years has woven itself into the fabric of ETech today.

Then Dornfest looks ahead to how the remix culture will impact business and technological innovation, product and service development and adoption, the Internet ecology, and change the way ordinary people interact with ever more tech in their midst.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The one thing to take away from this conference

Even if I take nothing else back from this conference, the final point from the morning tutorial will be enough. And that is:
"The Secret" to creating passionate users ... What is it that really drives people?

The user has an "I Rule" experience. It doesn't matter what they users think of YOU (or your product). It only matters how the user thinks of THEMSELVES as a result of their interaction with you (or your product).

I would say, we need to understand how to apply this to UTA library services.

When the library interacts with students, faculty, and staff -- or when the library staff interact with the library intranet (for example):
  • Do they feel smarter than they did before? -- or was searching for articles, or using library services, or translating library jargon, so difficult that we made them feel stupid and inadequate?
  • Do they feel like we have included them? -- or did we talk in "library-speak", or in terms that are irrelevant to their experience?
  • Do they feel satisfied? -- or did they have to settle for what they could get out of the interaction?
  • Do they feel like coming back to us? -- or will they choose another source of help next time?
  • If they come back, is it because they WANTED to? -- or is it because they feel like they have to: because a professor told them to, because we're the only source even if we are an inferior source, or because it's "college" and they are "supposed to" use the library?

Random bits, part two

There's a guy here who I think is using an OQO but I haven't had a chance yet to go get a closer look to see if it's true or not.

This afternoon, the guy sitting next to me I think is a well-known blogger. That is, I caught sight of his name tag and I recognized the name, but now his name has escaped me and I haven't had a chance to look again.

I don't know if Jakob is here (Jakob Nielsen). A couple of times now I've seen someone who looks a lot like him.

The morning tutorial today was really good. The woman who taught it is the creator of the "Head First" series of books.

The afternoon tutorial was ok, and interesting, but not as good as the morning one.

Atom API tutorial (continued)


you have input ---> then that input gets turned into content stored as Atom Entries ---> then you send that out to be viewed

An Atom Entry Document can become (be represented as):
  • Atom Feed
  • RSS
  • PDF
  • Atom API

Extending Elemental
  • More inputs
  • More outputs
  • Use Apache and Content Negotiation

Using Atom yourself

and ... he is finished one hour early

Build ContentCentric Applications on RSS, Atom, and the Atom API

RSS 1.0 - uses RDF (even though nobody is using RDF functionality)

3 Formats:

RSS 2.0 - Sinple, ad hoc, temporary, loosely defined data, very loosely defined standard, many many uses. Fantastic for machine readable lists. Useless for anything else

RSS 1.0 - Complex, strict, pre-planned, strongly defined data, strongly defined standard, burdened with the evil buzzwords of RDF and "Semantic Web". Fantastic for complex document mining. A nightmare for tiny ad hoc apps. Used widely in the scientific publishing community.

Atom - simple, strictly defined data, strictly defined standard, with extra architectural loving.

Current Atom users: blogs, particularly blogger; Flickr

5 Atomic facts a machine can know about a document:
what it contains, what it is, where it was made, where it is held, when it was made, who made it

"how" is not an atomic fact -- it is qualitative -- must be human added, not machine added

Key Concept 1:
An Atom Document explicitly states the minimum we can know about the resource AND NO LESS (prinicple of the conservation of metadata)

Once you've lost (or failed to enter) metadata, you can't recreate it -- that is, once the moment has passed, you can only INFER what the atomic metadata would have been, you can't capture the actual, realtime metadata

Key Concept 2:
It's ok to have a lossy representation -- RSS, HTML, whatever -- but the resource itself must conserve the data. Data Entropy Cannot Be Reversed.

Two types of Atom documents:
an Atom Entry Document and an Atom Feed Document

Resuable Syntax of Constructs
  • Text
  • Person
  • Date
  • Link
  • Category
  • Identity
  • Service

Say, you have an album review, and in the context of the album review you want to display metadata about the album. He would use RSS 1.0 in this case -- which is employing metadata for an external object within the context of a resource (the album review is the resource. the album review resource has its own metadata. But, the album review employs metadata within it)

Atom Feeds

The Elegant Feed - An Atom feed is a collection of documents, topped with its own metadata

Creating a feed - Slice (choose a view), Dice (take the namespaces out), Mash (stick them together)

Key Concept 3:
A Feed is the representation of a Query over Resources

Atom Documents, Revision:
  • An Atom Document contains at least the minimum that can be said about a resource, whether an Entry or a Feed
  • An Atom Feed contains the Atom Entry documents resulting from a Query over resources. It's a type of resource in itself.

The Atom API

APIs through the ages:
  • Blogger API, Metaweblog API
  • For the manipulation of resource: REST

First Principles
  • HTTP has verbs - GET POST PUT DELETE
  • Representations of Resources (however it is you decide to define "resource")
  • GET and HTML representation of the resource

Manipulating a resource:
  • Full control means stating all of the data we know
  • Hence, we're stating (most) of an Atom Entry document
Key concept 4:
An Atom API call is an Atom Entry Document over an HTTP verb

PostURI - one per system
EditURI - one per resource
FeedURI - one per query
ResourcePostURI - one per system


and ... the afternoon break ...


Afternoon tutorial

The speaker this afternoon is Ben Hammersley. He is wearing a kilt.

Day One, Afternoon Tutorial

Build Contentcentric Applications on RSS, Atom, and the Atom API
Ben Hammersley

Date: Monday, March 14
Time: 1:30pm - 5:00pm
Location: California Ballroom C

Use the two Atom standards (Atom and the Atom API) along with RSS to create the next generation of contentcentric internet applications.

This tutorial covers:
  • The contentcentric conceptual idea behind Atom and the opportunities it presents
  • The Atom Document model and what it means
  • How to create and edit online resources with the Atom Publishing Protocol
  • Using the Atom Publishing protocol's security and network features
  • How to create a content management system using Atom and RSS
  • Atom and RSS's place in the internet ecosphere

Creating Passionate Users - part two

There is a different between pain and stress: pain is bad, but stress is not necessarily bad. Stress at a certain level raises memorability, increases engagement, creates emotion that makes an ultimate success more successful

Book: "The Culting of Brands"

Learning Theory:
  • Learning is not passive
  • The learner co-constructs the knowledge they are receiving
  • FAQs are not learning -- maybe they are a good reference point, but they will not go too far in developing the deep understanding that charactizes a passionate user
  • Learners have to be engaged, involved, paying attention -- all happening past their crap filter
  • Learner has to be motivated -- continuously motivated -- you have to constantly revive or refresh that motivation
  • Involve all senses -- as many senses as possible

  • The learner has to flex their brain cells -- there is higher level thinking -- you don't clutter the learning activity w/ extraneous things that divert their mental activities to trains of thought that are unrelated to what is being learned (Cognitive overhead / Cognitive overload)
    • Examples that are so hard to decipher that they divert thought and attention
    • "Don't Make Me Think" -- Steve Krug's book
    • Use patterns and chunks to help people process the information you are giving them

Learning theory books:

What Do Game Designers Know?
  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The user has to believe that, at every step, they are only ONE (step, click, etc...) away from their point of success
  • When you are in the flow state you lose track of time. In fact, the flow state is the only time you lose track of time (excluding drugs and alien abduction)
  • Deconstructing flow:
    • Challenge
    • Knowledge/skill to meet that challenger
    • As the challenge level rises, knowledge/skil rises to meet it
    • If knowledge doesn't rise fast enough, people get frustrated and quit. If challenge doesn't rise fast enough, people get bored and quit
    • NOTE: the challenge/knowledge balance is IN THE PERCEPTION of the user
    • The challenge has to be perceived as WORTH IT and DO-ABLE
  • Sometimes "Challenge" and "Knowledge" have to be re-defined for the context
    • The key is the balance, and providing a level of challenge that is what the users want in the context

The experience cycle / how to keep people engaged?
  • The reward at the end has to be worth it in comparison with the challenge they have to go through to get the reward
  • Think: game levels -- the superpower you get when you finish a level has to be really good if the level is really hard
Cycle = Activity (playing the level), motivation (the superpower you get when you finish the current level or the activity you get to do when you reach the next level), payoff/resolution (the actual next level)


Very good session. Good speaker. It was a day's worth of material, but the handouts provide help for later self-learning


I'm enjoying one thing in the handouts. A late 50s/early 60s photo of a girl looking up admiringly at a guy, with her thought bubble containing: "Jen says you can teach me to hack my XBox. That's SUCH a turn-on!")


"The Secret" -- the underlying theme

What is it that really drives people in all of this?

The user has an "I Rule" experience. It doesn't matter what they users think of YOU. It only matters how the user thinks of THEMSELVES as a result of their interaction with you.

Creating Passionate Users

What do passionate people do?
  • do research on the thing
  • tell other people
  • spend money on "stupid" things
  • get all the accessories
  • get all the fan things
  • convert others
  • seek out community
  • adopt a lifestyle
  • try to learn more all the time

Benefits to you when your users are passionate
  • loyalty and retention
  • want more of what you have
    • When "The Da Vinci Code" hit big, suddenly all of Dan Brown's books were bestsellers
  • more interest in the higher end
  • Bigger Wake
    • all the add-ins, plug-ins, third-party accessories that go with your product (when you try to shut down that wake so you can own it yourself, the smaller the wake will finally be)

Things that inspire passion (making people irrationally passionate)
  • xbox
  • Mini Cooper
  • iPod
  • The Sims
  • geek gadgets
  • operating systems
  • horses
  • cooking
  • bands
  • dancing
  • (basically, anything)

What will be the benefits of passion for "my thing" (library intranet)?
  • Loyalty and Retention
    • staff use the site
    • staff who said they would never use it, use the site
    • staff make the site their browser home page

  • Want more of what you have
    • ask for additional apps/components

  • More interest in the high end
    • comfort with technology

  • Bigger wake
    • people think of their own apps

What are the attributes / characteristics of a thing that makes people passionate?
  • there is gear -- stuff to buy
  • ways to spend money
  • you know what a being an expert at that thing looks like -- a concept of an expert level
  • there is a community of users
  • there is a wake (third party items)
  • myth, legend, stories, famous people -- these have developed about the thing
  • there are collectibles (the eBay effect)
  • *** there is a lot to learn about the thing ***
    • there is challenge, complexity
    • there is some snob appeal
    • there is the opportunity for continuous learning and growing
    • there is extensibility

What can we do to develop Continous growth? (help them learn, develop expert level, get them excited about continuing to grow and improve)
  • it doesn't have to be about the product itself, directly
    • if your product is trash bags, then you might have a site with environmental tips, activities, community, etc
      • people send in video of their local clean-up projects
        • the site becomes a great tutorial site for producing digital video, even though the real product is plastic trash bags

Also... we need to know how to get past users' "crap filter"
  • sexy
  • surprise
  • novelty
  • shocking
  • scary
  • pleasureable
  • faces -- the brain responds to the human face (see "Mind Hacks")

(and now, the morning break)

Day One random bits

Elevators did not work this morning

In the conference session rooms -- all seating is at tables (for laptops). There is wireless all over the conference (and my room is close enough to the 4th floor conference dining location that I can get a good signal in my room). The conference session rooms -- there are power strips at each table.

Attendees are 90 % male, as might be expected

The two guys sitting next to me work at the Fashion Institute of Technology of SUNY NYC

Homogeneity in the sense that this is conference full of geeks, but that also means diversity, at least diversity with the range of geek-counter-culture:

Oh... and ... it's RAINING this morning! Rain in San Diego ... who would have thought???

Day One, Morning Tutorial


Creating Passionate Users
Date: Monday, March 14
Time: 8:30am - 12:00pm
Location: California Ballroom C

What do game designers, neurobiologists, and filmmakers know about creating passionate users? How can we exploit the way the brain works to reach users/customers at a deep emotional level that inspires their devotion, enthusiasm, and most of all--their desire to evangelize your product, service, or cause, to everyone they meet (or blog for)?

The latest research in cognitive science, brain chemistry, and psychology points to a dramatically different way to craft your product, service, and community in ways that are far more important today than they were even five years ago. There's never been more competition for a person's attention than there is today, and the old ways of standing out among the pack no longer work.

If you want to build a community around your product, service, or organization, the research and lessons learned in these other domains will help you do what you need to do to get their attention and keep it. You'll learn to work around the brain's natural filters that keep your message from getting in. You'll learn to give your product or service an almost addictive quality to keep users engaged and wanting more. Most importantly, you'll learn the key secret that will turn their brains and hearts on.

Whether you're looking to drive up the hits on your web site, increase membership in your organization, build a passionate fan community around your brand, help people learn far more effectively, or dramatically increase sales, we'll look at some of the research that defines a path to reaching your goal in the quickest possible way.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Some conference links

Presentations will be here some time after the session is finished and the speaker has given them the files.

There is also a conference wiki and a news coverage page with links to blogs, photos, and a Flickr egroup for the conference.

O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2005

I've arrived for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference here in San Diego, California. It's cloudy this evening -- thankfully, no rain -- but it's supposed to be sunny and in the mid-60s F all week.

The conference in is the Westin Horton Plaza -- very nice!

I've picked up my conference goodies: materials for the 2 tutorials tomorrow, the usual vendor stuff, a copy of Mind Hacks, and nice little note pads from O'Reilly and Yahoo, all in a nifty canvas bag.

There in another conference in town, the American Chemical Society at the Convention Center a few blocks from the Westin. Some 20,000 chemists, I hear, have filled the downtown San Diego hotel rooms.

In-room internet access is $16 a day -- that's the highest I've ever seen. However .... the conference has wireless, the meeting rooms are on the 2nd floor, my room is on the 5th floor, and I'm picking up the conference wireless signal in my room. Woo hoo!

Only one other observation at the moment -- used to be, I'd travel a few or even many time zones and would barely notice a thing. This time, I've gone only 2, and granted I've only been here a few hours, but I'm a little disconcerted at the fact that it's not even 6:30 pm yet.

By the way, the time zone for this blog is now PST.