Friday, October 21, 2005

OpenSource Ad-Hoc Collaboration Metholdogies

After our planning meeting last week, I have been thinking a bit about the best uses for the wiki, the blog and the other key services of the Open Web. On Monday I spoke with Rachel Murray about the potential uses/users of the site and how to best configure the knowledge/community system. One overriding theme kept coming back to me over and over - use your own tagspace and create a published key. Almost like an API for knowledge objects as it relates to us. We would use Basecamp for our pre-planning discussions, documents, flyer versions etc... (the behind the scenes stuff being treated more like pieces of art in progress rather than private)

In reviewing the future spread of this usage within the commons, it becomes apparent that we must self-regulate the space so as to not have it interfered with, while at the same time establishing laws against those who will utilize it for blog spam and other unwarranted activities that would impede upon the good purposes within the commons. Like keeping graffiti off the city streets and buildings. Rachel has put the beginnings of this idea in place on our wiki, and we would love you to contribute as well.

But I digress, and I am out of time, so let me get to the point of the post - how we will be experimenting with our own tagspace and key, integrating dynamic, tag based feeds easily available from the key itself.

Our TagSpace will be based on the domain name in a sense - brainjams:

Some keys will be
  • brainjams:planning
  • brainjams:tour
  • brainjams:bayarea
  • brainjams:miami
  • brainjams:sandiego
  • brainjams:patrons
  • brainjams:resources4u
Eventually from the site, you will be able to quickly and easily access all related items, learn how to easily tag your posts and join us in figuring out how we can best use these tools together, and how we can make it easier for toher to lean how, to contribute their experience and constantly work to improve with deeper understanding of what works best.

As it stands now, there are really 4 spaces we will be playing within (though this will likely grow as more cool tools are developed):
  1. Blogs Blogs are to be used for places to present new ideas - the posts themselves get tagged so as to be included in the appropriate tagspace and easily findable by all through our interface or on their own RSS subscritions to the tagspaces. Conversations about the ideas should hopefully take place around that blog posts, through the comment system - perhaps with another tagspace applied to help make sense of the comments (based on my Insytes models perhaps)

  2. Flickr - Flickr is a place for presenting models, frameworks, diagrams and the like - or photos from the events themselves to be connected to all the other media about the event from the tagspace. Again here we can use Flickr's comment system to connect the dots to other pieces of information that support the model/ideas or perhaps even leap from one version to the next

  3. - Delicious allows us to tag important resources for the projects so that other people on the project teams and working towards the same goals within the same tagspace can all keep up to date. When one is very urgent, someone can email it, IM it, or tag it FOR:username. The Flock browser as it gets more stable will be perfect for these things.

  4. WIKI - The Wiki will become the primary resource locater pointing to codified, accepted wisdom on the things we are discovering and working through the other methods. Not only pointing out best practices, directory information, and other relevant knwoledge, but being constantly improved as our experience grows and we develop new insytes. The best practices and resources and models will point back to the source materials and thoughts that are throughout the commons.

And it is all possible because of tags. We need to work to ensure that this critical interface element is used properly - don't know what or how yet, but I am putting it out there for inclusion in this conversation so that we dont miss something big here. At present, it is an open system that any group can just create and hold on to. Perhaps we need a registry of some source, a commons registry, an extension if OPENIdentity. Maybe we can talk about this at IIW2005.

For now, though I need to run to the TechCrunch event - running late - want to talk about this with the good folks there...

One more thing I wrote earlier, but needed to pull out of the main text - I am done with Web 2.0, Web 2.1. Web2point1, Web 3.0, Web37.0 - From here on out, I am going to call it "Open Web" now instead of Web 2.0 I know there is a company with that name, but in the context of "the OpenWeb" we might be ok - won't you join me on stomping out Web versioning for good? After all, that is what we are really talking about right? A commons open to all, based on standards (as lessig says "Network Neutral")

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

BarCamp Amsterdam Underway

Just a quick note to let you know that BarCamp is officially underway. The backchannel on IRC is moving pretty swiftly if you want to join in, should be fun and informative. Also, the gang just have let go of a limited release of the Flock Browser. Am just about to fire it up... will let you know more later after tooling around with it for a day or so. Joins us on IRC at and join channel #barcamp

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Next BrainJam?

Was looking at the calendar and realized that we needed to get on with the planning for the next local Bay Area BrainJam. Based on discussions we had last week, I would like to propose that we hold the event on Saturday November 5, 2005. This should give us plenty of time to get things organized and make the second one even better than the first. Anyone have any thoughts? Any spaces available?

After the BrainJam on Saturday, we will definitely be hosting a BrainOff event, and then I am planning on heading off to the next installment of SuperHappyDevHouse Unfortunately, the rest of November is already booked for me, so it does not present much opportunity - if necessary, we can always push it back to early December, but I think the holiday season should be a time off for everyone.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Only in San Francisco...

This past Saturday, the San Francisco arts community threw a party, and practically everyone came. I am speaking about the DeYoung Museum opening day, which went from noon on Saturday through 6PM on Sunday. 30 Hours of artsy madness that seems to have brought the whole city out. Many of the photos you will see on Flickr now are of the opening night/day's festivities. Quite a few people also wrote about the event, but I think I had a somewhat unique experience...

For starters, I almost forgot about it, but at around 930pm on Saturday night, with Kristie out of town and nothing to do, I ran across the event on Upcoming and decided to go for it. I knew of some other people who were going from looking around the web and figured I would try to reach them once I got there, or just run into them. A little while after 11pm I arrived, thinking how cool it would be to hang out in the museum and listen to DJ Cheb I Sabbah who happens to be one of my favorite world music based DJ's - and one I have never seen spin live.

As I got closer and closer to the doors, I realized there might be quite a wait to get in. I almost bagged it, but decided to go to the end of the line and see how long it might be. After walking literally 3 blocks away and not seeing the end of the line, I took a few photos with my Treo and started to head back, disappointed to say the least. I saw some people by a different entrance, but soon realized it was an exit and no one else was being let in (it seems it was a VIP entrance earlier in the evening). Some people said they were being lead to the main gate to be let back in with their green wristbands, so I followed hoping to sneak in with them - didnt work. So then I went over to the window over looking the part of the gallery where DJ Cheb Sabbah was playing, and saw all of those people down there dancing and having fun. I felt like the little kid on the other side of the fence again, but quickly moved past that feeling, realizing there was little I could do.

As I started leaving, I went past some 'temporary art' that was being created and then for shits and giggles decided to hang out by the exit to see if maybe I could see someone I knew or perhaps 'borrow' a green wristband from someone who was leaving. Then I noticed that the security guy was kinda sorta letting people in who were members. Given that I had every intention of filling out the membership and paying the $70 membership so Kristie and I could go to the museum and Golden Gate Park on weekends, I told him I was going to join right there tonight and he let me in. (turned out I could not do it that night)

Wow, the agony and disappointment turned into joy so quickly. I felt like a kid being unleashed in a candy store. Once inside, I realized everyone was here. The philanthropists, the suits, the artists, the nomads with backpacks bigger then they were, the club kids, the college students, the underground and just about every other cross section of society you can imagine. It was truly wonderful and I have never felt so much a part of San Francisco as I did while walking through those halls on Saturday night.

So I was taking photos with my Treo 650 when all of a sudden, it crashed, going into an endless reset loop. I tried to do a soft reset, but it didn't work. If I did a hard reset, I would lose all my data and perhaps not even be able to use the phone. Here I am in the middle of the night, with no phone to contact the other people I was hoping to meet at the museum. This made me think more of what happens when the tools we rely on simply fail. Here I am screwed, because my Treo has this problem with the code used to manage the non-volatile flash memory - which was supposed to be the biggest improvement in the 650 from the 600. Turns out they issued an update to the system this past summer, but no one from Cingular let us know about it, no one from Palm let us know about it. But each of them had my contact information, knew I had this crappy phone with a serious flaw in it (I have done a lot of research on this and it would seem this is an often cited problem) and no one bothered to tell me I needed to do this update. They sure did not miss the chance to try to sell me more stuff via email though. Anyways, I digress, so lets ignore the part of my night that went terribly wrong due to my reliance on a product I previously respected (am now looking for a new phone to replace the Treo 650).

So I managed to catch Dj Cheb Sabbah's last 2 songs and later saw some great reggae, just dancing with myself and the other 100+ people up near the speakers. In between sets I went for a walk through some of the galleries, when I noticed a distinctive San Francisco/Amsterdam sort of aroma wafting through the hall. How cool - only in San Francisco would you run into something like this. This happened several times throughout the night actually, in different crowded galleries and near the stage area. Later on, I actually saw a couple sneaking out of a somewhat hidden door, with that 'just fucked look' on their faces - people sneaking off to do the nasty during a public museum opening in the middle of the night!

Eventually, I saw the entire museum, which had some really great art in it, but in the end, the people and the experience is what really made it for me - uniquely San Francisco. What a great place to be, and what a great city to call home.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mysterious World of PC Repair

My PC hard drive failed a couple weeks ago, some boot error with a bad sector. Since I work on my Mac most of the time, it was not much of an inconvenience, until I realized I needed to create an invoice for some of the work we did recently. So today I turned to Craigslist after checking with some friends for a reccomendation and coming up with nothing because almost everyone cool I trust uses a Mac. (kind of like that issue that came up with "24" I suppose)

The first guy I spoke with sounded sketchy, so I called the next one. He seemed knowledgeable enough, so I called his references who both said they have used him for a year or more. Turns out he had time this afternoon, so he came over to do the work after quoting me a flat rate of $75 (why he doesnt have an hourly I dont know). While more than I expected since it just needed a boot disk (I dont have one, my bad I know) to scan and repair the system, I agreed because I just want it over with.

So he comes in with his own mini-desktop and starts hooking it up to the hard drive directly. He never tried to boot the machine to see what the error really said, but I figure he has some utility on his system that would do it quicker then just hitting it with a boot disk. After about 20+ minutes of fussing around he informs me he can not even get it to show up properly (just attached a USB jumper to the SCSI on the back of the physical drive) which meant it was bad - he kept trying to point out the 'red light' on the jumper which meant this was not good at all. So now he wants to do a little backup on the data before trying to repair the drive. We try to figure out where to put the data, since it was less than a gig of data at the most since my last backup, I figure we will jsut use the 2nd drive. So he gets it all set up, wires everywhere, ready to scan the drive and he says he is going to go out for a while and take care of another client while this runs against the 60GB drive. OK, I say, I will be here.

Then he says (45 minutes after he arrives and 20+ minutes after establishing the plan of action) that it is going to be at least $150 now because this is data recovery project. What? You have not even tried to look at the drive through the system itself, not even performed a surface scan to see if it might be fixed easily. So I told him no, I wont pay that, you should have told me that before you started all this stuff - it felt like a mechanic taking your engine out and then telling you you need a new engine. He kept telling me how expensive data recovery was and how reasonable this rate was (which is actually true, but this was not a data recovery problem yet, it was a bad boot sector as far as I can tell). Had he actually told me this beforehand, we could have taken a different approach, but as it was I felt he was trying to pull one on me by upselling me and preying on fear of lost data.

Thing is, he seemed like a nice enough guy, not too personable, but definitely did not seem like a shark who would try to pull something like this. It may have just been bad communications skills and a lack of service oriented business accumen, but whatever the real deal, he started to disconnect everything and I waited patiently. When everything was disconnected, he said, well I guess I can just move the data over here for the original $75 he quoted. I thought for a few seconds and quickly realized he was not the right person for the job and after a few minutes more of packing his stuff, he left here with an hour less of his time and no money for the trouble.

And I am still sitting here without my PC, without the ability to create an invoice and mad as hell that I did not get the right person to do the job. Anyone else know of someone reliable who can solve simple hard drive related boot problems for a reasonable fee?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

BrainJams: Mission Statement Addendum

In reading through the tomes I posted over the weekend, I noticed a key element - in fact THE key element behind what I think BrainJamming should be:
To facilitate ad-hoc collaboartion and interpersonal connections across traditional social, political, technical, economic and organizational boundaries.

One of the first issues we will address is the facilitation of BrainJamming between open source developers and those people/organizations who can most benefit from their knowledge, skills and experience. Ultimately, this should result in the creation of solutions for some of our most difficult socio-economic problems This will also help to fix existing systems that are not operating as they should be, such as disaster relief and recovery efforts.

Additionally, we hope to establish BrainJams as a community of practice for people who are organizing other forms of open source inspired, ad-hoc collaboration within their local Commons. To this end, we will work with other leaders of similarly inspired events to organize their experiences, ideas, Insytes and even their events if they need a place to organize their own events

That feels like better language, more along the lines of what I am hoping for, but still in need of being rewritten end simplified. Tell me what you think, I have posted this and a group editable version over on the BrainJams Wiki