Saturday, October 29, 2005

Use Cases for Evangelizing Tags, Social Media and other cool, useful stuff

This has been a constant theme for me over the past week or so. In this emerging era of Internet innovation, more people than ever are concerned with promoting the value of our new tools into the minds, hearts and hands of real people - to cross the chasm and digital divide to increase participation, collaboration, connectedness and ultimately the value of the web. Phil Wolf even spoke of forming a "PR Working Group" - which is what we have proposed out of BrainJams - so this is a really cool trend that is emerging.

I think the real solution though is relatively simple, we need to develop the use cases, the user stories, the anecdotes for how regular, non-technical people use and benefit from these technologies. To leverage my other new meme, all we need to do is claim a TagSpace and start blogging and tagging all the stories we have. A planetblog aggregator could manage the feeds and everyone can start to read them. On top of this, we can use a Wiki to collect the "use cases for teaching others". We can set this up at or any place else. The tagspace I suggest for the stories is:


An interesting, and seemingly unrelated, but totally relevant book I read a while back was the Pentagon's New Map - it spoke of global conflicts as being byproducts of the "non-integrating gap" - essentially those countries in the middle who are not participating in the global economy via trade or cultural exchange not understanding or gaining value from getting along with everyone else. It may be a stretch, but I see this as analgous to what we are talking about here. It might be an interesting read if you have an interest in spreading the word. Think of it as a similar pattern rather than getting focused on the defense/war aspects of the content.

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Thinking about attribution and accrediting origins of ideas...

As someone who is terrible at citing research in my posts I am acutely aware of this problem (mostly because I don't index what I read well and because linking is still hard for most tools, though I am migrating to Ecto and perhaps Flock once stable). This is why I am often very careful in giving out props to people who have inspired the things I think about. I find the more people I talk to, the less this is happening - some people believe all ideas have been invented before - I believe that the perspective going into the sharing of the idea from a unique perspective can often be an original detivitive work.

But I dont want to get that technical with it - I just want to encourage people to give props out to others when they are inspired to a new idea... I will certainly be doing my best to do so as my blogging evolves. For instance, I still need to build a list of thanks to all the people who are helping organize the next BrainJam, which will be coming tomorrow after . comes to life...

No let's see if anyone else over at rel="tag">TagCamp is actually interested in this. It will involve a lot of people letting go of the illusion of control over user experiences and other fascinating things.

What it means to me is the beginning of truly people powered search - one of the catalytic elements required to solve the search problem and so much more...

Join me in talking about it over at

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Insytes, TagSpaces and Identity

Tagspaces is an open variant on the original idea I had for Insytes. While I pitched Insytes as the Web 2,0 replacement for comment systems, it was always much more. Another description I often used was as a personal organizer of knowledge with group capabilities as well as public sharing/publishing. But it also was for building reputation and claiming subject matter expertise that would be validated by a conversational community around topic tags with some conversational agreement by users rather than creators. After all isn’t that why we have found that folksonomy works and taxonomies often fail? .

But even that is not enough. As I was reminded the past 2 days at the - Internet Identity Workshop, you must consider the matter of verifiable Identity – which then must be considered in “context”. What the industry refers to as context (a view of a builder talking about you) I consider it the “situation” because that is where I see people looking out – from their unique situation. Others might want to call it a scenario, or perhaps a use case, though that is too specific I feel, but as some very smart people have said, (Was that Doc Searls?) it does not matter what you call it, just as long as other people understand what you are referencing.

The situation/context of identity for Insytes is what I consider the Open Commons of Knowledge, Information and Wisdom– in this context, people would be opting into the system because they want to be known for who they are. The social and economic capital derived from being ones self is invaluable. Speakers, bloggers, writers, video journalists, vloggers, podcasters, photographers, designers – everyone who creates something for more than just themselves. Of course I know of the exceptions where anonymity is a necessity (whistleblowers, oppressed citizenry etc...) but if someone has a legitimate reason to be playing in the commons and creating stuff, they more often than not want to be identified with the work - or at least a claimed pseudonym as authors have often used in the past.

This is why I still think that Creative Commons needs to be the identity provider – people would be willing to trust them, the license is in wide use and gaining wider adoption and it would make validating a work that much easier for the legal system. Of course, I also think there needs to be Commons Licensing Bureau that manages the sale/licensing of the works to others, but we can talk about that later….

Ok moving past the IIW2005 influences, later today I will be posting the initial draft to serve as a starting point for .

(PS – need to adds more links to this article in next rev)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

BrainJams Mission Statement - Simple is Hard

I have received some good private feedback, but not much in terms of public contributions. So onward I press. And press onward I must.

Was just reaching out to someone I met online over the summer to see if they might be able to help in some way with BrainJams. Phil has a great blog called GeekyInfo and works with the Northern Community Church of Christ down in Austrailia. He lokes gadgets, games, knowledge, helping people and mindmapping - a lot like me.

Anyways the point is that I think I have finally simplified the mission statement and really, really need to hear back from you on this one. For me, it is a one liner that has the right focus, attitude, intention, description and everything else.

BrainJams are events that connect people, resources and ideas to make the world a better place.

Ok, so the last bit could be more directed perhaps, but it feels a lot better to me than the other ones, though there is more to take from those still so please do consider those statements as well.

The struggle with the mission statement stems from the seemingly still to be decided question of Web2.1 vs. BrainJams. Web 2.1 focused on Web 2.0 technologies and the need to really put people at the center of the design/development process – going even beyond user centered design. I think it is important to include the idea of having the “bllinking 12’s” and the “technogeeks” learn to speak the same language, trust one another and collaborate, but that is not the core idea. The core idea is embodied in that statement for me. "Connecting the dots", helping each other solve problems, gathering new Insyts and sharing our experiences. The core idea for me is positive intention towards contribution from everyone and cross-boundary, ad-hoc collaboration.

Think how powerful this can be if we seed the world with local BrainJams, bringing people together from the Government, the Community (NGO), the Business world and the world of technology (open source software in particular) - ad-hoc collaboration focused around the conversations that lead to right action in the world. An organizing principle of the event, and an implicit focus for the conversations of that day can certainly be centered around using technology systems to enable these connections, but it is not necessary to receive the benefits of getting together and jamming.

This is why I specifically thought of doing BrainJams rather than just joining BarCamp and helping them out. For me it is about spreading this deep belief in the power of sharing knowledge and collaborating in the commons beyond the open source community. It is about the fact that I believe the knowledge you need at this very second to do whatever work you are doing even better is out there somewhere - it is simply a matter of making the connection. It is what I have been doing since kindergarten, sharing what I have with others.

What I hope we get from BrainJams is a community of people experimenting and sharing what they learn from bringing people together for local, cross boundary, unconference, open demo, knowledge networking sort of events. Whether it is called SeattleMinds, BarCamp, TagCamp, TechCamp or a Meet-Up BBQ is not the point - it is not about being the be all, end all in this emerging event space, it is about making sure the intentions of the original idea stays true, helping facilitate the connections between people, resources and ideas by getting people together and talking.

Whether it is specifically focused on making technology more accessible, establishing systems for disaster preparedness/recovery or coming up with new ways to combat global warming, BrainJams are valuable for all those purposes. It could even be used as a format for a community of practice like a Macintosh User Group (MUG) though the intention is cross boundary collaboration. So perhaps it might be more interesting if the MUG got together with a PCUG...

They are also valuable with no purpose at all, but the types of BrainJams I will be personally involved with are ones that address how we can increase technology accessibility, awareness and usefulness - particularly in regards to what people call "Web 2.0" and what I call "The Open Web". For me, it is particularly important to get the right strategic and technical knowledge in the hands of people who can benefit from a deeper understanding of what's possible. The people who 'get it' and can go back to their office on Monday and use the new knowledge to make an immediate and lasting impact on their organizations and the world around them.

So while the verbiage around the idea increases, the idea simplifies - now more than ever, it is clear that this is merely one aspect for the vision i had for The Noble Pursuit.

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Keeping up with the idea engine...

When the ideas keep coming, my thought is to at least capture it if I can not really act on it. Many of them are quite complicated however, and require not only stream of conscious writing, but also research, conversations and some collaboration. So those usually have to wait and often end up getting overtaken by other events, which means they end up in a drawer with a pile of other notes. Insytes was one method I developed for bringing some sanity to the madness - there are others we will be talking about more soon.

As a result of this crazy period of time, I am a little behind, but working hard to catch up. Now that RGB-T's is up and going, my project with Buzzlogic/Persuadio has started and I have actually started to develop working project plans for everything, I am feeling a bit better, but still frustrated that I can not get more accomplished in each 24 hour period.

Then, there are the important conferences where a lot of this stuff manifests in real human relationships and the convergence of resources behind the ideas. Tomorrow and Thursday is the Internet Identity Workshop and then this weekend we have TagCamp. Next week is DUX (which I can't afford and is sold out now anyway) and then a SuperHappyDevHouse which I really want to attend this time.

To top it all off, we are hosting a close friend in town who is now a self described "refugee" from Hurricane Wilma.

So the next thing for me to do is to work on the next BrainJam - more to come later today... really.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

How to launch a T-Shirt Design Company in 3 hours or less

RGB-T. Close-Up
Truth is, it is a rather silly idea I had back in late 1997, but if RGB-T's can make just a c-note this year, it was worth acting on it and should be a fun part of each day over the next year. One of my client's boyfriends was the son of the family that manufactured Kenneth Cole leather in Mexico. I was pitching him on the next new trend in computer bags, trying to co-design a backpack with him to pitch to Kenneth Cole. I think that train left the station without me...

Anyways, I was trying to think of something I could do within a field I knew something about. So one day while sitting around by the pool, my hot lesbian supermodel roommate Krista suggested I design some t-shirts since that should be a quick way to make money. A few drinks later, the seed of RGB-T's was born. A simple "T" on a t-shirt in an RGB color, including the RGB color code in the design. The other method was more American Apparel like, with the shirt itself being the RGB color and only the color code on the shirt.

I attempted to launch it with my fraternity brother, roommate and business partner, Rick from, but we were just struggling with too many daily headaches together on other things, so it kind of went dormant for a while.

But after being introduced to CafePress and then having Zazzle sponsor Web 2.1, I realized how easy this could be finally. So the other night at the TechCrunch BBQ I was speaking with Josh Ellman from Zazzle when I remembered the idea and decided it was so easy to do that I had to act on it. So here we are, a few design attempts later, with a commerce engine by Zazzle, manufacturing by Zazzle, idea by Chris Heuer and a simple web site (soon to be a WordPress blog).

I would love to promise a new product every day, but honestly, they are more likely to trickle out in the beginning. So, check out RGB-T's and tell me what you think about this silly little idea, from the mind of a wannabe designer geek...

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Next BrainJam Set for Saturday 12/3/2005

After much discussion last week, we have realized that the only workable date at present is Saturday December 3, 2005. We still need a location, sponsors and volunteers to help put this together. We are expecting around 100+ people from all indications, so do let me know if you plan on attending. Details will be on the event WIKI by the end of the day and I will be reaching out to those of you I know of directly ASAP.

Next planning meeting will be scheduled for the end of this week, most likely THUR night.

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