Notes on how your blog can change the world!

Post ImageWe’re into the last session of the day now, this one on the five ways your blog can change the world. Here are some notes:

  • Sounds like we’ve gone from four presenters down to one due to some family issues that have come up. I didn’t catch his name though.
  • Yes! He asked what kind of change we want to see in the world, so I stuck up my hand and proclaimed my well-worn mantra, wireless everywhere! Seems as though people agree.
  • There are lots of ways you can take part in some effort to change the world, using things like badges (graphics) or common tags.
  • Seems if you really want something spread quickly, get it on Boing Boing! That’s not the point of the example he is currently sharing, but it is remarkable how that blog can spread information.
  • This is kind of funny, he’s got one of the other presenters on the cell phone with the device held up to the microphone! This is because she didn’t have a microphone to use Skype. Sounds like a telephone interview or something you might see on CNN, kinda neat, and yet pretty low tech!

Lot’s of examples of different projects, like that We Are Sorry campaign after Bush was re-elected, etc. I haven’t been paying that much attention, so I am sure I missed a few things here and there – be sure to check out some other posts on the aggregation servies. I think the links mentioned will be posted on Northern Voice too.

Notes from the Geek Out panel

Post ImageHere are some notes from the Geek Out session administered by Robert Scoble, Will Pate and Kevin Marks:

  • Sounds like they have some topics to discuss at first, followed by some good questions at the end.
  • Kevin is talking about microformats, specifically tagging. We’re also getting a demo of the Blog Finder and Explore features on Technorati. Microformats can be used for tags, events, names, addresses, etc.
  • Kevin just entered “canada” into the Explore feature, and every post on the page was from my blog. Something cool about seeing your blog appear on the big screen in a presentation 🙂
  • Scoble is talking now, about sharing information through and using other Firefox extensions.
  • We’re going around the room sharing favorite Firefox extensions, some of which include: Session Saver, Fangs, PDF Download, Download Status, Signatures, Fasterfox, Web Developer, Firebug, etc.
  • Will Pate is talking now about his blog, and how he uses Drupal for customization. Specifically he is focusing on the aggregation of content capabilities.
  • Kevin just showed an awesome animated graph of the long tail of posts in response to a question about the A list and how to break in. Basically if you get a single inbound link, you’re above average!
  • Scoble reiterates that he’s interested in mapping, and thinks that within a year someone will have “put this room up on a map”. He’s talking about taking the basic mapping capabilities and making them extremely relevant and useful.
  • Will wants better tools for “normal” people, things like posting from within Microsoft Word, etc. He also says user interface is very important!
  • Scoble is interested in the photo sites like Riya and Bubbleshare.
  • Someone asked about Web 2.0 and all of the new products we’re seeing, and both Scoble and Will seem to think we won’t really see a slowdown of new ideas, even though the big three pick up companies along the way.
  • Scoble says the new advertising based business model will allow a lot of new companies to grow. Sounds a lot like the idea behind if you ask me!

Notes on Everything Casting

Post ImageBack from lunch (we went to Quizno’s in a nearby mall) and I am in Eric Rice’s session titled Everything Casting. Here are some notes:

  • “everything”casting: doing whatever you want, for whatever reason, in whatever medium.
  • your thing, your product, your “it”, your epsilon
  • Four primary elements or categories: content/concept/purpose, medium/materials, audience/behavior, sustain/making money.
  • Content: personal/intimate, art, informational, performance/rock star. You need to have at least one, sometimes you can do all four!
  • Medium: text, audio, video, photos. For all the religious opinions on the medium, it doesn’t matter. Some are better than others, depending on the context, sometimes you can mix them together!
  • Audience: passive, active passive, participatory, active participatory. You can be in any of these moods, and it depends on where you are, the type of medium available, etc.
  • Sustain: zero, fame, barter, cash. It’s perfectly okay to not make money, and in fact, it’s usually hard to make money from things you love doing – think of sports, or playing video games, etc.

More good discussion! Eric will be posting the audio of this session, as well as the slides. Everything is licensed under Creative Commons, so you’re encouraged to use it!

Notes on The Changing Face of Journalism

Post ImageStaying in the same room, where Mike Tippet, Mark Schneider, and Robert Ouimet are talking about the changing face of journalism. This probably going to be similar to what was talked about yesterday during Moosecamp. Here are some notes:

  • We are experiencing an existential moment in the news.
  • Readers can now make their own news, and they are going online to consume news.
  • Michael Tippet essentially gave an overview of NowPublic and the circumstances that allowed it to exist.
  • Robert Ouimet is from CBC, and is talking about how news is changing.
  • He asked how many people in the room watch the 6 oclock news – very few hands went up!
  • Mark Schneider is now sharing his journalistic background. He says the truth of the matter is, the news is really sick. There’s a toxic quality about what we are consuming. The news organizations themselves have been tainted.
  • Now we’re on to discussion. Not many notes on this session – it was very interesting, but much harder to write stuff down. I am getting hungry for lunch too, maybe that has something to do with it!
  • Mark says there is something called NewsML (markup language) in the works.
  • Robert: focus is important, and is taught to journalism students and employees, but is an exercise in rejecting everything else.

Really great discussion in this session!

Notes on The 7 Competencies of Online Interaction

Post ImageI decided to switch rooms to check out Nancy White’s session on Snow White and the Seven Competencies of Online Interaction. Some notes:

  • I’m also chatting live in the NV Back Channel. You can join if you want! Dickson just commented that he hates IRC…I guess he’s run into too many viruses!
  • Our world is far more unbounded – we’re creating our own reality.
  • Nancy is kind of telling a story like Julie, using images on the screen as she goes.
  • We have the ability to let this magic happen by changing our organizations.
  • Communications Skills – scan, see patterns, write, image-inate, vocalize, intuit; write blog daily, test, draw, record, summarize, listen
  • Learning with others – learning as a practice, gift economy, collaborate, open hand…
  • Ramlinger – 6 Network Functions: filters, amplifyers, convenors, facilitators, investors, community builders
  • Nancy: note, make a competency about tools!
  • Facilitation for: relationship, identity/reputation, presence, flow
  • Shouting creates quite a different environment online than in meatspace. Learn about improvisation and creatively abrasive!
  • Convening Conversations – invite, name the question, initiate, design for local choice, nurture
  • Intercultural antennae: broadly defined, heart variations, “default” culture – look, read, live/work/play, bridge!
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity – OK with not in control, not knowing, move forward without certainty
  • Ability to switch contexts – connectors, networkers, multiple perspectives, outsiderness
  • Self-Awareness!
  • So what? Undeterred by failure, care for the whole, willing to be vulnerable, value the human system first
  • The struggle is the solution. Grieve for the cost of what exists now. Treat the conversation as action. See the reality in the current situation.
  • Edith Wharton – There are two ways of spreading the light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Notes from Sifry on the Blogosphere

Post ImageDave Sifry and Tim Bray are on stage now, getting ready to do their presentation, apparently with no visuals! Sounds like they will be accepting questions from the crowd as well.

  • Kind of a cool interview setup, Dave and Tim sitting on stage.
  • How many people are bloggers? Everyone raises their hand. How many people don’t have a Technorati ego feed? No one raises their hand!

I’m going to try and capture some of the Q and A here but don’t expect exact quotes – I’ll be summarizing essentially.

T: Why do we need blogs?
D: [Explains why he started Technorati.] Mailing lists suck! Started looking around to see if there might be a better way and came across a dynamic web publishing system, a blog. I immediately became a stats whore, I wanted to know what people were saying about me! The problem was fundamentally the way search engines are built – in essence built on the model that the web is the world’s biggest library. Even today we talk about the web as if it were a library – web pages, documents, indexes, etc. What I wanted was the immediacy of conversation. Traditional search engines don’t really understand the concept of time. This doesn’t mean that the web as a library metaphor isn’t a good one. What I realized was, pages are created by people. Authority does not denote veracity! I built Technorati because I wanted to know who was talking about me.

T: What leaps out at you from your state of the blogosphere series?
D: We don’t pretend to say we’re tracking every blog that exists, but we’re working hard to get all of the public ones. Korea for example, we don’t track quite as well. There’s about 27.6 million blogs, and that grows by 75,000 every day (about one new weblog per second). How many blog after three months? Just over 50%, about 13.7 million. About 2.8 million post once a week or more, and just under a million post once a day or more. There are about 15 new posts per second. The blogosphere is incredibly many-to-many. People like Instapundit or BoingBoing are starting to look a lot like the mainstream media, where they get a lot of links and just can’t respond to every comment, etc. It’s the people after these top ones that are much more interesting; their traffic is still manageable enough to carry on a conversation, yet they are still authoritative. The idea behind Technorati’s Blog Finder feature is to try and help these people get discovered.

Audience Member: How can we deal with the fact that the world of tagging is messy and there’s multiple languages, etc?
D: When you setup the system so that it’s easy to do, an emergent system starts to occur. As long as tagging is easy, emergent thinking will occur.
T: I think we can agree that’s the only hope too, no one can create a big dictionary.

T: Blogging is changing so much, what can go wrong?
D: Wow! The growth cannot continue forever, because there’s only so many humans in the world! We’re still very much at the beginning though, and there are some enormous challenges like spam, splogs, spings, etc. As Cory Doctorow said, all healthy ecosystems have parasites! Net neutrality, is one of the most dangerous threats to the net. This is the idea where telecom providers try to do preferrential pricing.

Audience Member: How many spam blogs are being created by robots?
D: About July of 2004 is when they really started to appear, and there’s two kinds; the ones that do SEO type blogs, and those that are scraping content to try and make money. The way to solve this is to get down to the economics of why people do this. And it has to be an ecosystem approach, different companies have to work together.
T: I think it is hitting the long tail less hard than the head of the tail.

T: [Asked something about RSS and advertising I think.]
D: Your RSS aggregator is not “push”…it goes off at some regular interval to pull down information. And they all understand when something is “read” differently.

Audience Member: What about federated networks?
D: It’s a shift in the economics of publishing. We’re starting to see, in effect, a guild system. It comes down to, can you write with quality and can you work effectively with advertisers to make money?

Scoble made a comment about advertising at this point.

D: I think advertising sucks, but imagine you could see ads you actually want to?

Okay I am back to just some notes:

  • Google Bowling – people will create spam sites that point to competitors so that they get kicked out of the index.
  • Tim says he observed bored children in the audience, and reminds everyone of the kids room.

Notes on Why Stories are Essential

Post ImageJulie Leung is up on stage now to present her keynote Starting with Fire: Why Stories are Essential and How to Blog Effective Tales. Julie always has an interesting presentation so this should be good.

  • Just as she did at Gnomedex, Julie has started by sharing a story from her past, using pictures to illustrate her words. I’ll pick out some of the key quotes from her story.
  • “We are surrounded by stories. Nature reveals why stories are important.”
  • “It is in our nature to seek stories. We are our stories.”
  • “Stories can be indirect, yet powerful. Stories are perfect for complexity.”
  • “Stories are tools of change.”
  • “Stories heal us emotionally.”
  • “We come together around stories. They continue culture, and they change culture.”
  • “Stories are essential because stories are essentially human.”

Julie is now sharing some of her principles for blogging stories:

  • What is a story? They usually have a beginning, a middle, and an end. However “one way”, is for traffic signs! She highlight’s Robert McKee’s book “Story”.
  • Change the familiar! Avoid cliches, but also try to take the ordinary and give it new color and new meaning.
  • How to begin? When beginning a story, listen and link to others.
  • Take notes. Include sensory details.
  • Use the power of pause, blank space, etc.
  • Blogging has a freedom you can’t find in other places – a story can be any shape or size. You can break a story into many pieces, and each can become a blog post.
  • Hiding! Make it suspenseful, as in life, we don’t know all of the story until the end.
  • Experiment to continue growing as a blogger.
  • Voice comes naturally, and you’ll find it as you experiment and share your stores.
  • Have fun, be creative, and play.
  • It’s the raw and sometimes the imperfect that speaks to us the most.
  • Linking and commenting make stories real. The story is corrected, confirmed and can lead to collaboration. It takes two to make a story, the teller and the listener.
  • Blogging is transforming story telling.
  • Be generous and creative with links; they can add another dimension to stories.

Now Julie is sharing some examples of blogging stories:

Julie says: start with fire, start with the hearth.

Opening Remarks

Post ImageDarren Barefoot just started giving his opening remarks in the theatre here at UBC. Looks like there’s quite a few people who decided to sleep in this morning – lots of empty chairs in the room!

This year the conference has a “kid’s room”; a place where parents can take their kids and self-organize to supervise. Everyone has been asked not to take photos of kids or blog their names without their parents permission.

Coffee comes at 10:15 AM, even though Megan just ran to Starbucks! Time for Julie…

Scoble's Vista Demo

Post ImageSo the icon is a little different, but we’re still at Northern Voice. This session is a demo – Robert Scoble is going to be sharing Windows Vista (hence the graphic!). Here are my notes:

  • Scoble’s just getting things setup now, looks pretty sexy so far, people are watching and chatting. I can hear a few people in the audience saying “that’s just expose” or something – the Mac bunch is out in full force!
  • This is not a scripted demo! Chris Pirillo is helping out. The build used in this demo is only two nights old!
  • They are starting by showing a video of two machines, XP against Vista, to see the stress on the system. Windows XP is failing under the stress – essentially they simulate 100% CPU usage with different levels of priority. Now for Vista: much, much better!
  • Underneath the covers, things are quite a bit different.
  • Chris has been talking with the UI team to make sure all of the artwork, icons, etc. are updated.
  • Aero is supposed to evoke a feeling of “more space” on the desktop.
  • Scoble is not showing the tablet, media, or any of the other custom versions.
  • You now have the ability to do per-application volume levels!
  • Entire networking stack has been rewritten, and the performance is about 40 times better between Vista and Vista compared to what it was with XP. There is a 2-10 times performance between Vista and Linux machines.
  • Customization for colors and that sort of thing is much, much improved. No more Blue, Silver and Green – you can choose anything! Chris says he’s been hammering away at making sure that the fit and polish makes it into the product.
  • Apparently when it crashes in the beta builds, a dialog box appears that says “Blue Screen” 🙂
  • Search really is everywhere, in every window.
  • When you edit photos, the original and the edit are both saved, so you can always go back to the original photo. And RAW is handled by default.
  • The new IE7 is “open search compliant” – something created by A9. Chris says this is basically RSS search.
  • Printing has been completely revamped, so printing is easier and much more accurate.
  • IE7 converts everything to RSS 2.0 and uses a transform to display it in the browser. When you subscribe, the feed is pushed to a central store. Windows Mail is the aggregator by default, though IE does save the feeds and stuff. Outlook 12 has an RSS aggregator using the same feed store.
  • The RSS rendering in IE7 also strips out anything that might be a security concern.
  • Apparently the Gadgets will be Firefox compatible.
  • Beta 2 is coming in the next month or so, release sometime in August with a release candidate sometime in the middle, which means users should have it around Christmas time.
  • The concept of tagging and stacking files is definitely in the product. People using the product so far are losing the concept of hierarchies, which is good for everyone!
  • Vista looks awesome!

To end, Chris announces that he has OS X running on his ThinkPad (the developer build). And now we better leave before the Apple lawyers descend…

Notes on Leadership

Post ImageNext up is Dave Sifry’s session on leadership and entrepreneurship (yep, he’s the founder of Technorati). Here are my notes:

  • There’s a distinction between leadership and management! The latter is a function of the former.
  • You’ve got to be a little insane to start a technology venture! You have to have passion.
  • Dave: “I’ll never fill a position just to fill a position.” Think of the A-level person hires a B who hires a C scenario.
  • Product-Feature-Company: when you have an idea, is it a feature, a product, or a company? Can you write your business model on the back of napkin? Or at least, the back of an envelope – goal should be cocktail napkin.
  • Dave says “don’t do it” to outside investment. There’s nothing quite like getting a cheque from a customer. Hold off on outside investment as long as you can!
  • If you do go the outside investment route: get a good lawyer, give homework to your board, etc.

At this point Dave went around the room and entrepreneurs introduced themselves and their businesses and shared a leadership or startup hack. There are so many good ones I couldn’t possibly share them all here, you kind of have to be here. I am surprised at how many entrepreneurs are in the room!

Dave’s rules for entrepreneurs (from his first or second slide) meant to be discussion points:

  • Find your passion
  • Team, team, team
  • Lead, don’t manage
  • Develop Leaders (80% on yout top 20%)
  • Prepare for the scalability traps
  • Back of the napkin it!
  • Remember, it is a business
  • Vision is easy, execution is hard
  • Fail fast
  • Be of service