It’s already the week *after* DemoCampVictoria01!

April 8, 2008 at 12:09 am | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, victoria, web | 2 Comments

Good grief, how time flies — I promised another update, didn’t I?

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t come across more blog posts, other than those by Mark Lise, Tris Hussey (great photos, Tris!), and Boris Mann (and the earlier posts from those same folks, see my April 4 entry for details) that discussed last Thursday’s first-ever Victoria DemoCamp, considering the sheer number of people there. But I guess most of us are consumers in the first instance, which means there’s always a reason not to produce stuff that someone else might consume.

I know that the web wants to be fed, too, however — promiscuity rules here, and it’s the way of all evolution, after all. So let me provide some cross-fertilization…!

So… I’ll start with the two people who decided to present somewhat at the last moment, which was great. Gels (one of the very few women at the event) decided to present on the spot. She spoke about a project she’s working on at UVic’s ETCL: Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, which is currently under development. It immediately reminded me of what Diigo does, except that Diigo of course works with web pages, whereas Gels’s project involves taking archival text documents held in university (and private?) collections, hitherto inaccessible (unless you visit that institution’s archives or print room), digitizing them, and then making them available for scholars to work on collaboratively (or not).

For anyone who has ever worked in archives (ahem) or print rooms (ahem), this is fantastic. Forget about the white cloth gloves, the “no pens!” rule (pencils only), and the letters of introduction before any archivist will unearth some archival-regulation container from the bowels of double-locked storage for you perusal …during opening hours (typically, for European institutions, from 9-12 and from 2-4 or some ridiculous schedule like that!)…. Forget the airplane tickets. No, this way you can access the material online, and scribble all over it (digitally, of course) to your heart’s content. Cool. (That said, it is fun going to the archives in the flesh — like so many other things that are fun to do in the flesh! But it’s good to know that we’re moving toward online access, and collaboration, too.)

The other person who decided at the last moment to present was Dylan Leblanc, founder of (Here’s a nice photo of Dylan, courtesy of Tris Hussey.) I know Dylan through VibrantVictoria, and made sure those guys were aware of DemoCamp. Well, I think Dylan really blew some people in the audience away when they realized that big old SSP was Dylan’s Victoria-based brainchild ten years ago, and that it now commands what must be one of the biggest databases or information storehouses concerning all things “skyscraper.” Globally. And they sell posters.

Some presenters were too technical for my limited understanding, but I’m willing to bet their work is interesting. Admittedly, Darren Duncan, who will be speaking at OSCon this July, made me feel like I was once again an undergraduate at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich, participating in a pro-seminar about Alfred North Whitehead. Darren develops database software through his company, Muldis Data Systems: A Multiverse of Discourse — and that’s all I’ll say before I embarrass myself. To learn more, click through to his site!

The guys from Flock presented a totally freshly-tweaked (or “turbo’d”) version of their browser — I didn’t make a note of the main guy’s name (sorry!), but when he said he would demo this beta-beta-secret/brand-new version, mock groans of agonized anguish arose from his development team sitting at the back. I gather they felt it really wasn’t ready to go public, but I thought it looked pretty nifty: there was something about dragging and dropping your contacts and friends from various applications and feeds right into the browser environment, so that you don’t need to use tabs to switch between, say, Facebook and Gmail and Flickr and Twitter and what have you. That looked pretty cool.

[Update (4/8/08): Business Week just published a really great article about Flock.  See In Browsers, Flock May Lead the Flock, by Arik Hesseldahl.  Check it out!]

What else? Steven (“Stevo”) Bengston presented Songbird, which he billed as a kind of open source iTunes. This looks like an interesting application, too, although I tend not to have any music playing when I’m working on the computer. That probably shows my age, but it’s my personal barrier to embracing music sites. They make me feel that I need to pay attention, if only to “discover” new music. Hmm, it occurs to me that this speaks volumes (pun) about my driving habits — everyone’s driving habits, I guess: I don’t mind the distraction when I’m in the car. Eeks.

Online music sites often have lots of interesting visual aspects in their UIs, as does Songbird, which has a clean, elegant look to it. But because the visuals are so information-rich, I really do feel that they demand my attention, and like all these new apps, there’s a blog to keep up with, too. Just yesterday and today, I went back to playing around on Fairtilizer, which I joined last Fall, and realized that for me the biggest barrier to engaging fully with online music sites is the time they demand. Well, d’oh, you’re probably thinking. Of course music takes time, d’oh, d’oh, and d’oh again. But there you go: time is the stuff of the attention economy…

Now, on the topic of online music sites, it’s a good idea to read Fred Wilson’s recent post, Something Important Is On The Horizon In The Music Business. On music streaming, Fred (with his VC hat on?) writes:

These services are coming to mobile phones, probably in the next year we’ll all be listening to pandora or in the gym on our phone instead of our limited library on our iPod. That’s when this new form of listening is going to explode. And that’s when Apple is going to wish it had thought more about streaming and less about file based music. But you can’t feel too badly about Apple because a good number of people will be listening to pandora or on their iPhones.

Two things happened this past week that may be important to this emerging market. First, MySpace got in the game. They cut deals with most of the major labels to allow them to offer their own streaming service. It’s MySpace, and as Bob Lefsetz points out, they have their own set of challenges with technology and user experience. But music is a HUGE part of the MySpace experience and they have over 100 million people a month coming to MySpace, often for music, and that’s a much bigger audience than anyone else has for a streaming service. And they’ve been in the business of streaming for a long time, not in a particularly easy to use way, but they play a lot of music to a lot of people every day. So I think MySpace will be a meaningful player in the emerging streaming music business.

The other thing that happened is Ian Rogers left Yahoo Music where he had been leading the charge for the past couple years and joined a small startup in LA that has some ideas about this emerging market. Ian is a super smart guy, one of the few people I’ve met in the web music business who really gets where this is all going.

What Ian knows is that the fans are the most powerful distribution points for music. He gets the power of mp3 blogging. He understands that the Hype Machine has built a terrific new age radio station by aggregating all the music that is being posted onto mp3 blogs and he understands that further enabling that kind of behavior, where the fans are the ultimate arbiters of what gets played and what gets popular, is the end game for all of this.


Here’s what we need. We need someone to create an easy to search streamable library of all the recorded music in the world. We need to be able to grab a track and embed it on our blog. We need to be able to see how many people played it. We need others to be able to crawl these user pages with the embedded music and create algorithms based on who posted it, how often it was played, and how often it was reblogged and linked to. The services that do all of that need to be able to play the music that flows out of these social algorithms in the same way. This all has to be licensed and legal and it has to result in money flowing to the artists. If you put the music on your blog, you should have two choices. Allow the ads to be served into your music or your page or both by the service you got the music from. Or deal with the monetization yourself and pay the royalties you owe. Most people will do the former but some will do that latter.

When this platform is built and served up, a million flowers will bloom. Everyone who wants to be a radio station will be one. And it will be simple to do it. And it will be legal. And we’ll be able to listen in our homes on our home stereos, at the gym, at work, at the library, and some day in the car.

That’s the future of the music business. And we’ve made a lot of progress in the past year getting there. I am excited as a fan, a listener, a technogeek, and an investor.

It’s a long quote, but worth keeping in mind. Whoa. The other thing that I find intriguing is how this can be morphed and mashed into local flavors — mixed and matched, “indie” music and your city, your street. To whit, consider Digital Urban’s post from April 1, ipod City: Audio Bubbles & Journeys. Along with a pointer to Here are our journeys, they post their own YouTube video, introduced like this:

A while ago we put up a couple of posts examining the impact of the ipod/walkman revolution on how we perceive and experience the cityscape. Audio devices are standard wear in the city and with them the user is immersed in a ‘MTV World’ where the city is the video and the traditional experience of urbanity is lost to a dub beat or a guitar riff.

To illustrate this point is our walk this afternoon down Tottenham Court Road while listening to Utah Saints…

Ok, back to DemoCampVictoria01…

Need money? But dislike banks? Jay (hope I got that name right — presented a fascinating application called Fortuno, where you can (if you’re in Canada anyway) engage in P2P lending and borrowing. Yup. It’s sort of like Kiva and other forms of microlending, except in this case the lender and borrower find each other, sort like people do on other social networking sites. Keep an eye on Fortuno — it’s just crazy enough to work. As their site explains:

Earn Money as a Lender

For people looking for an innovative way to invest their hard-earned money, Fortuno will give you an extremely safe alternative to more traditional investments such as Canada Savings Bonds, GIC’s, and high-interest savings accounts. The return on your investment will be significantly higher than these traditional products. Plus, your investment will make a meaningful difference and help improve the quality of life for fellow Canadians!

A Cheap New Way to Borrow Money

For people looking for an innovative way to borrow funds, Fortuno truly is the winning alternative to high-interest credit cards, personal loans, and lines of credit. Fortuno helps you put money back into your own pocket with lower interest rates oBuyLatern loans as lenders compete with each other to drive your interest rate downwards.

The Fortuno Alternative

We don’t like making the “big” banks even bigger by contributing to their bottom line, and we’re here to change all that by providing real value to all of our lenders and borrowers. If this sounds too good to be true, let us show you otherwise!

I wish I had more information for Matt’s presentation, which was about a wearable device that measures movement and transmits the data to an application on a computer. Who is this for? Athletic coaches, in the first instance. If I find out more about this, I’ll post later…

Ok, and last but decidedly not least, the most lickety-split fast and force-of-nature frenetic presentation was probably Joshua McKenty‘s description of how, over a 4-hour or so period of coding, he came up with BuyLater. As the site says, almost laconically:

Adds a button to webpages, sending you email or tweets when items come back “In Stock”, or the price changes…
Great for Wiis, Kindles, or watching for unannounced “sales” on big-ticket purchases.
Save money and time, while shopping online…

Everyone loved his story, which he started by describing how he practically went broke pursuing what he thought was his best idea (see BountyUp), then building the BuyLater application almost as a lark, and finding that LifeHacker and others thought it was great — and now he’s actually making some money with it. Meanwhile, the brilliant idea of a lifetime continues to languish, but there you go: that’s how the cookie crumbles (sic transit crustulum, or something like that!)

DemoCamp Victoria 01

April 4, 2008 at 9:03 am | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, victoria, web | 10 Comments

I’ll post more later when I have time, but Boris Mann and Tris Hussey are first past the post getting info about last night’s DemoCamp Victoria on to the web.

This first-ever session was organized by Mark Lise, and hosted at the Juliet Presentation Centre (834 Johnson St.) by Dave Chard (Chard Development), Wendy Pryde, and Jessica Pryde (Juliet Living).

Tris was really fast with flickr photos and a liveblogged session and Boris posted an interview with Wendy last night to, which you can find on his page (right sidebar). [Edit: Boris just posted a direct link to his interview with Wendy Pryde, here.]


There must have been well over 60 people there — 48 chairs, all filled, plus a whole bunch of people standing room only, and 7 people presented (which is a lot).

I’ll write some more (with links) about those demos, but for now, check out Tris’s liveblog transcript — which ends thus:

Wow this space is being offered for free for future events! Â Talk about great support for the Victoria tech community! Â Props to them!

Yikes, Kudos to Dave Chard!

Here’s a photo from Tris’s flickr photo stream. That’s Jessica pouring libations in the first photo …ah! Check out the rest, too…

It’s starting to get all buzzy: DemoCampVictoria coming up soon

March 17, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, innovation, victoria, web | 2 Comments

I’ve let quite a few days go by without posting anything — let’s just say I got myself into a bit of mess around yet another local issue (memo to self: stop it with the letters to the editor!) and stuff demanded attention.

But I need to jump back into my blog today: I’m psyched that Better Web Posse blogged the upcoming April 3 DemoCampVictoria, from whence I followed several other links, including Tris Hussey’s post today, and also Aidan Henry’s post, Local Victoria Tech Scene Heating Up, from March 13. I’m really looking forward to this, and appreciate that Mark Lise and Brij Charan are pulling it together!

DemoCamp should be a lot of fun, and I’m thrilled that David Chard, the developer of several downtown Victoria condominium projects, was willing to help make it happen. He is providing the space at his 834 Johnson showroom and sales centre for the Juliet condominium currently under construction at the corner of Johnson and Blanshard. I think it’s a nice bit of synergy to see a developer of buildings hosting a group of developers of ideas. …Of course, there was that initial comical moment where we had to explain that the “demo” in DemoCamp refers to demonstration, and not to what might ominously spring to mind if you’re in the business of building things up, namely, demolition… 🙂

Last year, while the Gaining Ground summit was in session, David offered his showroom at 834 Johnson to host Vancouver-based urban planner, writer, and blogger Gordon Price, who gave a presentation on urban development. Gordon grew up in Victoria and provided a really thoughtful assessment of where we’ve been, with some sage advice on where we’re going.

In that same spirit of community participation, David has agreed to host Victoria’s first-ever DemoCamp. I hope it’s a trend in terms of participatory relations between all the local sectors that have an interest in seeing Victoria thrive as a vibrant, creative (artistic and technological/ entrepreneurial) city (and that’s a hint to others in downtown Victoria who might be able to offer space for subsequent DemoCamps!). It doesn’t matter if we’re developers, technologists, educators, artists in various fields, business people, or academics: we’re in this together (literally), on this little peninsula, which in turn is part of a larger regional network.

For more info, see the wiki page, DemoCampVictoria, and the Facebook page.

A DemoCamp for Victoria?

March 1, 2008 at 10:33 am | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, urbanism, victoria, writing | 2 Comments

Mark Lise wants Victoria to have its own DemoCamp, and he has been busy trying to find a downtown locale that can accommodate it. See his blog entry from Feb.26/08, DemoCampVictoria Chapter for more details.

From my urbanist perspective, it’s really important that this event is held downtown, in the city, instead of moving into the fields of suburban Saanich. To that end, I’ve been busy the last couple of days writing emails to a few people about possibly donating space for, oh, say two hours? Unfortunately I haven’t heard back from anyone, but it’s still early days and hence I’m optimistic.

In other news, I’m now officially behind in getting my April FOCUS Magazine article written, which is why posting to the blog has slowed down and will be slow until I’ve figured out how I can hone in (with 800 words) on a topic that could easily expand much further.

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.

Victoria: turning into everywhere else? It’s creativity unleashed

February 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm | In creativity, DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, local_not_global, northernvoice, scenes_victoria, victoria | 8 Comments

Perhaps Victoria is “turning into everywhere else,” and that’s a good thing? It is when it means that modern creativity is unleashed, on the streets, and in our coffee houses.

This morning I was cataloging my books on LibraryThing while my husband went out for breakfast to meet Rod O. from Magic Kite at the Cook Street Village Starbucks, which is just one of 4 coffee shops (soon to be 5) in this 2-block area.

As they’re drinking their lattes, they’re surrounded by scads of folks from the neighbourhood, who have come in to check out the people or read books or have business meetings or work wirelessly on their laptops. The crowd includes a man working on a Ruby on Rails application, using the Flock browser. Since the husband and Rod had just been talking about building a little business app on Rails, they chat with the other chap for a while. When the spouse returns home (where I’m still busily cataloging away, trying not to sneeze from all the dust), he tells me about the Flockstar fellow on Rails.

Hmm, I think, Can’t be, can it? The world’s not that small?

Was he quite distinctly hairless as regards the scalp?, I ask. Yes, came the answer. Was his name Rick?, I inquired. Yes, again.

Coincidence? Or an element of localized spikiness? I’ve never met Rick, but it so happened that I used a photo of “Rick on Rails” pulled from Flickr (and uploaded by quaelin on Jan.22/07) next to a photo of a Roland Brener work, “Sculpture” (also posted to Flickr, by striatic), for two talks I presented to local Victoria business / community groups this winter.

The slide I made, which juxtaposed “Sculpture” (above) and “Rick on Rails” (below) includes this bit of text:

The Creative City

“…creativity is revolutionizing the global economy…”

Richard Florida

The juxtaposition was part of my larger point — that creativity needs to be unleashed: it can’t be restricted to areas of fine art, it also has to permeate technology and entrepreneurship. Brener’s Sculpture represented a multi-faceted aspect of “traditional” creativity (and is located where one conventionally expects to find it – in a gallery setting). Rick represents the creativity of technology and entrepreneurship, which you can casually stumble upon at your neighbourhood coffee shop.

(With thanks to “Rick on Rails” for having his picture on Flickr and being a “shining beacon” of technological creativity in Victoria! I hope he doesn’t mind that I’ve reposted this likeness here to make a point!)

And so, let’s hope that Victoria gets spikier and more creative all the time — unleashing creativity is the best way to ensure that it will be “like everywhere else” (that is, one of those places that’s buzzing with goodness & spikiness), while also developing a distinctive, spiky edge of its own. “Becoming like everywhere else” sometimes just means that a place changes for the better and finds its creative groove.

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

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