Well, that was fun!

February 27, 2008 at 12:33 am | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, northernvoice, nv08 | 9 Comments

Northern Voice 2008 was amazing.

First off, Matt Mullenweg‘s keynote was amazing. Just for a taste, take a look (er, I mean listen) at this site and look at these photos posted to Flickr or this reverse liveblogging transcript from Stewart Mader.

Some key points that stuck in my mind: Exhortation #1, remove the FRICTION (“we need invisible software”); that volume is going to blow all predictions; that there’s no shortage of information anymore – what we need now are effective filters. Matt also talked about what he called the bloggers’ “hierarchy of needs”: 1 – Expression — presentaton / theme: make your online presence your own; 2 – Public — that you’re sharing with people; viral growth and permissions are in conflict; 3 – Interaction — comments on blogs; 4 – Validation — check stats.

What’s the Achilles Heel of web 2.0? Spam. Anything that takes attention away is spam (relates to the attention economy). This relates to Exhortation #2, Respect people’s time.

Exhortation #3, Kill the megabrands. The Age of Portals is over. Matt referenced Danah Boyd’s one company, ten brands: lessons from retail for tech companies post regarding this point.

There was much more, but don’t miss this photo, which shows Matt’s slide illustrating the 4 freedoms of open source. (Very important!)

Also during the morning session, Marc Canter spoke about putting the social back into software. See these Flickr images and perhaps watch this December 2007 video for an idea of what he presented at Northern Voice on Saturday. He’s a fantastic presenter – engaging, educational, entertaining.

Marc had a most fascinating re-imagining of capitalism, which I wish I’d noted more carefully. I thought at the time that I understood it — if not perfectly, at least implicitly. But now I notice that I can’t quite completely re-articulate what he said. It had, of course, something to do with making the relationship between users and providers more equitable, and with turning those laneways that too often today are one-ways into two-ways, which in turn could subvert the usual scenario of having the capitalists in the center of the picture (collecting the tolls?), and instead put the user-creator in the center, …with capitalists arrayed like happy campers around the flame of you as proceeds are shared out differently — and, one hopes, more equitably? With ideas flying fast and furiously from all angles and some tech/geek lingo thrown in just for fun, however, it’s not as easy to recapture the arguments once the presentation is over.

Marc strikes you as the kind of guy who can play hardball, but at the end of the day I screwed up my courage and introduced myself. I said that I’m one of those Berkman Center bloggers, the blogging enterprise that Dave Winer helped set up at Harvard. So he wanted to know if Dave and I were friends, and I said that I hadn’t ever actually met Dave, but that we were Facebook friends – another one of those weird virtual things. I also had to explain that I don’t live in the Boston area anymore — it’s difficult to explain to people at that sharp edge of the social software wedge that you live in a place like Victoria.

I had a similar P2C2E sensation when, just after registering on Saturday morning, I finally got to meet Roland Tanglao. By way of conversation, he innocently asked something like, So, are you planning on staying in Victoria? I’m getting defensive — I mean, Roland is such a sweet guy! I don’t think he knows the meaning of mean, and the question was just a …well, an off-the-cuff question. But of course for me it’s the question.

Am I going to stay in Victoria?

I guess it depends on what you mean by “stay.” Physically? Probably. I’m not into hopping about (although I don’t mind the occasional jumping-up-and-down event). Intellectually? I’d prefer not to.

But back to the conference and all the great people there.

During a coffee break, Isabelle Mori asked me to sign her digital guestbook, which was something I’ve never done anywhere else before. Thanks, Isabelle!

Mark Lise from Victoria’s Flock office (which Boris Mann and Marc Canter tested at NV08, with Boris giving it a big thumbs up here!) and I exchanged some quick emails during the morning session, in an effort to locate one another. We hadn’t met before, but Mark had left a comment on my blog entry about Rick on Rails, and we sort of agreed to find each other at Northern Voice. As I was eating my lunch, he sent another email that included a link to a just-posted Flickr photo showing him at the conference. So then I knew what he looked like, and was able to find him in the lounge area! Cool, eh?

I had lunch at a table with Mike Tan, who’s one of the founders of Victoria-based TeamPages (company blog here). Mike was there with Naomi Buell, who currently works at TeamPages through UVic’s co-op program. Naomi is a student in UVic’s Commerce Department, which she gave a big thumbs up — good to hear, as my son is very interested in that program.

Also at the table, and busily uploading photos to Flickr, was Carol Browne. We didn’t get a chance to talk, since Mike, Naomi, and I were hashing out the intricacies of the Victoria scene — but check out her blog and her Flickr photos (the NV08 set here).

I got to say a few (good) words about LibraryThing at the conference at the end of one session called “From book to blog or blog to book,” moderated by Monique Trottier. That was a fun panel which included the authors kc dyer, Crawford Killian, Meg Tilly, Pete McCormack, and Robert Wiersema.

Meg Tilly is a firecracker — very funny woman with a most subversive and mischievous sense of humor. At the end of the session, a fellow named Brendon Wilson asked me if I work for LibraryThing, as I had my LT logo-emblazoned messenger bag over my shoulder.

“No,” I answered. “It’s just the only bag I have that’s big enough to hold my very heavy very unhip laptop!”

Well, I obviously didn’t mind being associated with LT, otherwise (a) I wouldn’t have bought the bag in the first place (via Cafe Press, incidentally) and (b) had I minded, I could have duct-taped over the logo, right?

So of course I sang its praises, and it turns out that Brendon is at work on a bar code reader with a twist. Unlike the CueCat type reader, which has to be plugged in to the computer and then passed over the bar code, Brendon’s model would be downloadable directly to one’s laptop, whereupon the omnipresent built-in camera would read the bar code when you hold the book up to the screen. It’s a pretty cool application.

I didn’t get to meet Boris Mann or Kris Krug or any of the other Northern Voice organizers aside from Roland Tanglao, but that was basically my fault for not going to MooseCamp, which took place on Friday, or the introductory party, which happened on Thursday night.

Next year I plan to remedy that. I have nothing but good things to say about the entire day — the vibe, the energy, the people, the whole package was really positive, upbeat, professional, heterogeneous (so many different voices!), sometimes hilarious, informative, goofy, and wise. All in all, a very quirky kind of thing that made me feel quite young but also strangely purposeful.

It’s like genres or niches or germinating things all being given their due in …oh, dare I say it? …in what struck me as a generally very non-judgemental (and therefore signature Canadian) sort of way. The conference was also peopled by many other persons of my sex: it didn’t achieve gender parity, but there were significantly more women there as audience, organizers, and presenters than you’d find at many an other tech conference. That said, you gotta read Gillian Gunson’s blog post, The lame at Northern Voice, where she – a geek and conference organizer – skewers (rightly so) an unnamed boor who chatted her up (or should that be “down”?) with typical male condescension. Let’s hope his ears are burning.

Overall, though, this conference is “two thumbs up” all the way.

Edit: I’ve added the tags DemoCampVictoria and democampvictoria01 to this entry as it relates directly to DemoCamp Victoria01’s genesis.

Daily Diigo Public Link 02/27/2008

February 26, 2008 at 5:41 pm | In links | 1 Comment

Here’s one reason students Barack the vote: respect – Crosscut Annotated

tags: blogging, citizen_journalism, clinton, obama, politics, presidency, respect, seattle

Wow, and wow again! U-Dub communications prof David Domke describes how his citizen-journalist blogger students were treated by the politicians campaigning for president, and the differences between Hillary & Barack are astounding.

One of Domke’s students, Jennifer Ware, describes it like this: “John McCain spoke in Seattle (the same day) to about 500 people at the Westin Hotel’s conference room. Clinton spoke to a gathering of 5,000 at a waterfront pier (on February 7). Obama spoke at Key Arena, home to the Seattle Supersonics; it seats 18,000 and it wasn’t nearly big enough. People were sitting on the stairs, in the aisles. Seasoned reporters were smiling and nodding softly as he spoke. Some people had tears in their eyes when he came on stage. There’s all kinds of spin out there, but you simply can’t spin those numbers. Or the stark contrast to the others in the race.”

Domke adds, further down: “It seems that the take-home point here is this: The Clinton campaign has made the case that Obama is nothing but rhetoric; he’s supposedly all words, while she’s all action. Our experiences showed us that their campaigns — at least in Seattle — were exactly the opposite. In their treatment of my students, Clinton’s campaign was all talk, while Obama’s was all walk.”

Obama for President!

FREE LOVE Annotated

tags: free, marketing, trends, trendwatch

Available as a 15-page printable PDF, too, this is the website version. From the intro:
“FREE LOVE: the ongoing rise of free, valuable stuff that’s available to consumers online and offline. From AirAsia tickets to Wikipedia, and from diapers to music.
FREE LOVE thrives on an all-out war for consumers’ ever-scarcer attention and the resulting new business models and marketing techniques, but also benefits from the ever-decreasing costs of producing physical goods, the post-scarcity dynamics of the online world (and the related avalanche of free content created by attention-hungry members of GENERATION C), the many C2C marketplaces enabling consumers to swap instead of spend, and an emerging recycling culture.
Expect FREE LOVE to become an integral if not essential part of doing business.”

Logic+Emotion: Thinking Through The “3 U’s”… Annotated

tags: apps, economy, marketing, socialnetworks, web2.0

The 3 Us — damn that apostrophe, it’s all wrong as used in the article’s title. But if you leave it out, it reads as “the 3 us,” as in *us* or *them*… Regardless, an interesting summing up of what might make applications interesting for users. See notes.

The Shipyard Returns – O’Reilly Radar Annotated

tags: adaptability, container_housing, creative_spaces, o’reilly, shipyard

In Vancouver, Wendy Waters just posted something about using shipping containers for housing (not unknown here in Victoria, with Zigloo right here in the Fernwood neighbourhood), and presto-bingo, here’s a post about using containers to create (one presumes and one hopes affordable) artists’ workspaces! Yes, that would be welcome: someplace for the low-cash-flow creatives to live & work…

The Many Facets Of Tomoko Sawada – PingMag

tags: art, avant_garde, japan, performance_art, ping_mag, tomoko_sawada

This is beautiful, and incredible. Tomoko Sawada works, I guess, at the interstices of art and acting, a whole new calibre of performance art perhaps? It’s incredible stuff, at any rate. “Who is she?” asks the article. Obviously so talented that it’s easy enough to want to look, but tricky enough to make you think.

Is “balance” enough?

February 26, 2008 at 11:48 am | In crime, ideas, scenes_victoria, social_critique | 2 Comments

Just a quick post, as I’m still in catch-up mode. This morning I read an article in the local paper about a man who has 250 charges against him for public drunkenness, causing disturbances, aggressive panhandling, harassing people, and so on. “Red,” as he’s called in the article, is not homeless, according to police, and they do not believe that he has a mental health problem (although that’s debatable, given his behavior). See Persistent panhandler gets summons under a section of community charter.

Now the city will use a new community charter bylaw to haul this individual before court, where they hope the judge will sentence him to stay away from the downtown core. The intent is to ban Red from panhandling and from “socializing” downtown.

One city council member, quoted in the article, says, “There’s always got to be a balanced approach in dealing with all the issues.”

This bothers me, maybe because we hear too much about “balance” these days. The councilor is concerned that Red’s rights to be downtown on the street to panhandle (which isn’t illegal as such) aren’t infringed upon, and that the way to address the problems caused by the behaviors of people like Red is to seek balance. It somehow makes me think that balance is starting to become a sort of mantra which doesn’t allow valuation. And if that’s the case, you have to ask: Is “balance” stasis? If so, it’s death.

What about judgement? Are we (especially in Canada) so afraid of judging (as my daughter pointed out to me a couple of years ago, in Canada judges need to take workshops to learn how to be non-judgemental…) that we opt for balance (stasis), versus embracing quick, nimble, intellectually aware and alert change? And besides, isn’t our supposed balance often enough just an appearance of balance? All sorts of stuff is still out of whack beneath the surface and in other domains, and the fervent wish for balance is …well, just a wish. Perhaps a wish to get out of making judgements and decisions?

It’s ironic that the US should be full of religious evangelists, whose mantra on the Christian side of the register is not to judge, lest ye be judged, and yet it’s we in Canada, supposedly secular, who are holier than thou in being non-judgemental.

So here’s the deal: I have a problem with being non-judgemental, especially since I’m not a Christian or religious. Being non-judgemental might work fine in your spiritual life, but it sucks when it comes to ethics and politics and economics and policy. You know, it’s like that old shibboleth about rendering unto Caesar what’s Caesar’s and onto god what’s god’s.

Which finally makes me wonder if politicians, when they talk about “seeking balance,” are refusing to judge, …which makes me wonder whether focusing on “balance” is replacing decision-making. I also wonder whether balance in the spiritual sense was ever intended to be a sort of placeholder for anything, whether painful or pleasurable.

As an atheist, I object to any strategy or philosophy that introduces religion into politics. When people talk about “balance,” they usually mean something quasi-religious (or at least “spiritual,” whatever that horse of a different color means to all the riders out there).  Whether the councilor in question is religious or not is moot for me at this point.  I’m concerned with the discourse of “balance,” which is starting to sound like religion.  I object to religion whenever and wherever it worms its way into places where it doesn’t belong.

Daily Diigo Public Link 02/26/2008

February 25, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In architecture, links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 02/26/2008

» Entwurf für das Stadtcasino in Basel – Zaha Hadid Architects – architekturvideo.de – Das Video-Blog für Architektur, Stadtplanung und Immobilien

tags: architecture, architekturvideo.de, basel, casino, video, zaha_hadid

This is a really useful video from Zaha Hadid Architects, which models the effect and appearance of a new casino & concert hall in the middle of Basel’s old town centre. In particular, I love how it shows the pedestrian and motorized traffic flows, and how the new building will work with these. Also of interest is the integration of new architecture into old urban fabric. And finally, I like what Hadid has done with opening the ground level up for pedestrian through-fare. That last aspect in particular can be very tricky, sometimes leading to ugly, sterile plazas, but here the architecture seems to give the right sort of enclosures and parameters to make the space attractive, so that it will continue to be used rather than avoided.

Northern Voice 2008 — what a blast!

February 24, 2008 at 10:26 pm | In conference, northernvoice, nv08, social_networking, vancouver | Comments Off on Northern Voice 2008 — what a blast!

This afternoon I returned home from Northern Voice 2008, the 4th annual incarnation of this event. It was the first time I attended, and I had a great time. Learned a lot, met some terrific people, and experienced a really positive geek vibe — if that makes sense. I’ll post more later — probably tomorrow? — but right now I’m too exhausted. As soon as we (spouse & I) got off the ferry, we phoned the kids at home, ascertained that most of the food was gone, stopped at the supermarket on the way home to ransom a cow’s worth of milk and the millions of pounds of additional food required by growing teenagers, continued on our way, fixed lunch, walked the dog, made dinner, and now it’s time to clean up the kitchen and then collapse into bed. This is what we domestic professionals call being “back in harness.” Ha.ha. The drill continues tomorrow, and so on until …well, just watch birds trying to fledge their young. It gives a whole new meaning to going ragged at the edges.

Except I don’t see the birds in actual harness, but then I guess mine is invisible, too.

I did do a stupid thing after getting home — I spent over two hours going through over 60 pages of photos posted to Flickr that were tagged with nv08 and northernvoice. My god, people get busy with their cameras! My eyeballs hurt.

More later, on the actual conference and the great people. But now it’s off to the scullery…

Daily Diigo Public Link 02/23/2008

February 22, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 02/23/2008

Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain – New York Times Annotated

tags: blogging, cyber_culture, gender_studies, girls, socialcomputing, socialtheory

“Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are (…) digitally effusive teenage girls.” This article profiles a couple of amazingly self-possessed young women.

› Ma Qingyun asked us to answer 10 questions on cities of expiration and regeneration Annotated

tags: cities, joshua_kauffman, ma_qingyun, urban_renewal, urbanism

– fascinating question & response (Qs by Ma Qingyun) re. cities and what they mean today. “Head Curator of the biennale Ma Qingyun (who’s also Dean of the USC school of Architecture and planning consultant to the Beijing Olympics) asked all participants and exhibitors to answer 10 questions on the theme of urban expiration and regeneration. The results were published in a 32 page newspaper distributed to all visitors. I can’t find this gem of aggregated thoughts on the future of our cities, but here are our answers posted on the blog documenting our design creations and research www.regional-office.com.”

Daily Diigo Public Link 02/22/2008

February 21, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In cities, links | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 02/22/2008

Ground-up City by Liane LeFaivre and Doll Annotated

tags: cities, liane_lefaivre, playgrounds, urbanism

010 (publisher) description of Ground-up City: Play as a Design Tool, by LeFaivre and the architecture firm Döll – Atelier voor Bouwkunst.

› Notes from the ‘Global Place’ conference Annotated

tags: conference, ecology, liane_lefaivre, place_making, playgrounds, reference, urbanism

Still to read through this blog post, which I bookmarked because it includes such a great photo of Liane LeFaivre, friend from way back when at MIT days! Liane has a new book out on playgrounds, also bookmarked today, and has (judging by Kauffman’s blog entry) been up to interesting things elsewhere, too. Re. the conference itself, Kauffman writes, “The conference was a resounding call for pragmatic utopianism and an integration of urbanism and ecology. It had an emphasis on getting things done rather than living to an ideal. Yet there was some agreement that there is gap between academic discussion and the cultural and material realities. Enough talk. There is a greater need for implementation.” This makes me think that my interest in the local isn’t so marginal, perhaps, insofar as *theory* happens …what’s the word?, across time & space? = unlocalized?, while *implementation* is local. So, if you understand the local very well — and it’s really NOT easy — you get a better sense of how theory can work or be useful. K. adds a very useful observation re. the difference btw. space & place. The latter is made over time.

The Next Slum? by Christopher B. Leinberger – The Atlantic, March 2008 |

tags: atlantic_monthly, chris_leinberger, planning, redevelopment, slums, sprawl, suburbs

Found via Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” blog, Leinberger’s article builds in part on a story that was reported in The Charlotte Observer a while back. With foreclosures on the rise and houses being abandoned, the absence of any sort of on-site amenities acts like an accelerant toward slum-hood.

Daily Diigo Public Link 02/21/2008

February 20, 2008 at 5:39 pm | In links, urbanism | Comments Off on Daily Diigo Public Link 02/21/2008

Tear down a viaduct, and then the wars really begin – Crosscut Seattle – Annotated

tags: crosscut, redevelopment, san_francisco, seattle, urban_renewal, viaduct

LOL, this sounds like Victoria, BC, too…

» The Hidden Jewel of Hull • Spacing Toronto • understanding the urban landscape Annotated

tags: spacing.ca, surface_parking_lots, toronto, urban_design, urban_renewal

Interview with Marc Dube, “owner of most of the parking lots in downtown Hull.” Parking lots are lucrative, as Dube’s start in the business illustrates: “In the mid 1980s, Dubé and two others planned to open a restaurant in downtown Hull. The financing fell through after they had already signed the lease on a building. Dubé realized an alternate source of income: he could demolish the building and put in a parking lot. Since his partners weren’t interested, he began the business on his own.” Read on from there.

Hitting close to home on affordability – Crosscut Seattle – Annotated

tags: affordability, affordable_housing, crosscut, knute_berger, seattle

Great article by Crosscut’s Knute Berger on affordability/ housing costs in Seattle, with much to be gleaned for us (BC, Southern Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland), too. “You can blame many factors for the high cost of housing in Seattle, from growth management to infrastructure expansion. But we often overlook another reason: personal taste.”

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