Saturday, November 05, 2005

My 100th post! Live from PlayConference

I love meeting/hearing from people who get it. Clearly Shantanu Narayen, COO of Adobe , is one of those people. They are working on 2 things I had not really thought they were into yet, but obviously are. First is thinking about autotagging vis a vis PDF publishing. He even mentioned the example of camera's being GPS enabled in order to tag a photo with the location. I always thought how cool it would be if this could be further correlated on the meta layer with an event database by looking up a date/time stamp. Where the photos I am taking not only get automatically tagged here with Berekeley, CA, but also with PlayConference and also with PlayConference:openingKeynote.

This is another aspect of what I call synaptivity, which I need to explain better in light of the Office Live announcement - which is the best example I have seen of this yet. Richard McManus has a great post on this with Bill's slides included.

Back to the point - the other aspect that Shantanu spoke about which I had not heard of that is also in the realm of what I call synaptivity is the Intelligent Document Format - where it sounds like the workflow intelligence gets embedded in the document rather than around it.

Not only was Shantanu smart and informative, but congenial and able to deftly handle pointed questions (presented ever so politely)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Meeting Agenda for BrainJams Planning Tonight

6pm - Discuss the current situation with regards to the many types of BrainJams out there, where it is going and where we see BrainJams fitting into the picture. Figuring out what can we do to serve as a catalyst furthering this understanding with a wider part of the population.

630 - Discuss next BrainJam Event - Overview of situation

640 - Discuss logistical needs and responsibilities

700 - Blogging to promote the event, blogging to capture best practices form other events (interview via skype or AudioBlog perhaps?)

7ish - Pizzas

730 - Content for next event - what is it we really want to change in the world?

8 - wrap - another brainjam sort of event is going on down the street

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Anger is a better emotion than worry...

I said that about a week ago when a friend's sister had not shown up for a party she was expected at and then was not heard from again (despite numerous calls) for several days. She was starting to worry about her, and where she might be and if everything was ok or if she has been in an accident or something terrible happened. Once she finally got her on the phone after some prodding from me, her sister was pretty nochalant about the whole thing - it was then that I realized - anger is a better emotion than worry...

It is an interesting question I think - what are you mad about? when you look out at the world around you, is it the environment, your industry, the government, your neighborhood, or an issue of great personal importance? What systems do you feel are broken that could be made right through the use of Web 2.1/Open Web/Social Media technologies? There is a huge opportunity to work together with the open source community to help non-profits and people with ideas cross their traditional organizational boundaries and connect their knowledge to make things right.

Chris Messina is working on a big part of this with a project called CivicForge that will be a big step forward towards connecting those Noble Pursuits with people who have the technology skills to make it happen. Since we are moving towards collaboration with BarCamp in this regards, I thought it might be best if we spend the first half of the next event BrainJamming in small groups figuring out what is really making us angry. Then we can spend the second part of the day talking about available technologies and open source approaches that can be key contributors towards making it right. When we leave the next BrainJam, we can all blog about what makes us angry (start that now), what is needed, the insytes we developed together and how we would like to go about solving that problem. By doing this we are communicating to the open source community our ideas for projects that need their support. Closing the loop from problem to solution.

It doesn't always have to be this way - we will make a difference.

I am still thinking about doing 1on1 BrainJamming around passions - perhaps these emotions can be used the same way in this regards - being passionate about solving the problem because you are mad as hell may be an even more powerful way to think about this.

This approach does more than support our broader goals of making the emerging media and community tools more accessible to a wider array of people. It is almost like demand aggregation for CivicForge - a call to arms across the communities of poeple who care as well as the organizations. A way to bring them together across all boundaries except the one that unites us all.

This approach will also support what Jeff Jarvis is doing with Recovery2 and what TechSoup is doing with so many important projects like NetSquared (which you should all attend on Tue8nov2005:6-8pm). It is quite amazing because we are all working towards the same goal, and are able to do so in the commons that is tagging, blogs, wikis and issue focused communities.

There is no more time to worry - it is time to get angry and time to do something about it to make it right.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Progress on next BrainJam...

I am down here in Las Vegas this week helping a friend with his new startup, seeing how we might work together more regularly. The meat of our work will start popping out today, but in the meantime, I have finally made some progress with the next BrainJams event.

The first piece to get out the door is a new home page for the Web2point1 site - the remainder of those pages will be done tonight. Tomorrow, hopefully just in time for our FR night planning meeting for the next BrainJam on 3Dec2005, I will have a new BrainJams site together. Please do visit the Web2point1 site though for some important updates on the next event, along with photos of the SRI facility in Menlo Park where we will be holding the next event, thanks to the efforts of BrainJam1 alum David Gutelius.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Forbes Stirs Blogosphere into Frenzy to Increase Relevance

You can't miss the headline walking through the airport - "Attack of the Bloggers" - having read Eran's notes on the matter from Super.C.illio.us, I had to buy it. I had started reading it online thanks to the account sharing site BugMeNot which Steve Wrubel shared. But actually feeling it in my hands was quite a different experience. It was much worse than I had thought it could be.

So much so, that when I started reading it, I could not help but thinking - they did this piece, with this tone, with the intention of stirring the hoornet's nest of hard core bloggers and increasing their reputation before blogging crosses the chasm. So far, it seems to have worked. I hate linking to it here, but you need to read the story yourself for context (go to BugMeNot for a password). I feel even more terrible about playing into their hands by buying the issue, but when you plan on doing a ceremonial burning, you need to have something to burn. just kidding - but that is the sort of vitriol that increases readership, profits and relevance - despite being mostly irrelevant.

Another thought on the matter is that this could be considered a defense of the traditional publishing model - a way to taint the idea of blogging, and the identity one may associate with being cool by blogging, so that more of our fellow citizens don't become bloggers and compete for the attention that traditional publishing is now losing so rapidly. Whether or not that is the intention, that is the affect - and it is irresponsible of them. I expected better from such a well-regarded source.

I have met some great smart people who work there over the years, and my opinion of them as a decent business magazine does not change, though I have never read them regularly. One bad piece of journalism after this many years does not a downfall make - though perhaps there are other similar stories of which I am unaware where they were equally unbalanced and unfair. I will be more skeptical of their reporting now and don't plan on picking up a subscription anytime soon. I don't want to protest it either, as that will just have the opposite effect - playing into the 'any press is good press' model, but will probably need to at least address it as we move forward with plans our BrainJams national tour. (More information on that will be forthcoming after this weekends SuperHappyDevHouse when I meet with some other key supporters)

A word of caution for anyone upset by this terrible piece of journalism - however you feel about it, don't call them names, (especially the author, editor and Forbes himself). Don't use silly arguments to demean them personally, or go on the attack or anything else like that other than talking about the positives. If you attack, you would just be proving their point, which is perhaps another piece of their strategy - to show they are speaking the truth to the rest of the world that does not yet understand the potential for great advancement that can come from more truthtellers joining the conversation.

We need to lead by example - please remember that.

While their reporting completely missed the mark, they do bring up an issue I have been thinking about a lot lately - how does a person's bad reputation spread in an appropriate manner? LinkedIn only allows 'endorsements' and everyone is afraid of being sued for libel etc... It would have been interesting if they took the perspective of how the people attacking unfairly might have a bad reputation established and be proven wrong. I would really like to hear more discussion on this matter. David Brin has some interesting thoughts on dispute resolution that may be of note here, especially when thinking of how it might be applied in the commons to deal with the sort of matters they discussed in the article - to really get at the truth, which is what most people I know really care about.

Stereotyping people because of a few assholes who share some common interests/characteristics is just plain wrong, no matter who does it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

More thoughts on TagSpaces after the presentation at TagCamp

For the past several weeks I have been thinking a lot about tagspaces and have organized these thoughts at TagSpaces.org as an open proposal as a new way to think about tagging that does not require the rel tag, new technologies or drastic changes in human behaviour (though it still requires us to evangelize tagging of course). In my view, tagspaces are the glue between people identifying something and those seeking it out - the tag agreed upon by a particular community of users for how to desribe something, provide it context and perhaps even include the ID/reputation of the tagger.

In a sense, it is a human powered, open subsidy for search technology as well as tagging technology - but that is not important, what is important is that we can collectively improve search with a very minor modification to our current behaviour. I actually first blogged about this last week in regards to how I was going to use tagspaces for BrainJams so people with different levels of interest regarding the event, the planning and the content could follow what was important to them more easily (i.e. BrainJams:Planning, BrainJams:BayArea)

Some other examples of tagspaces might be:

PHOTOOF:chrispirillo@starbucks=chrisheuer
of:tagcamplunch
Photo:bestburrito#john@brainjams
at:starbucks:in:seattle=chrisheuer
FOR:brantrustlist*chris@conversal.com

The beauty of this is people can use it now without any code deployment on the part of anyone and existing search technologies can understand it to produce better results today. All people need to do is start using the format and try to figure out what works best for them. All I am asking of you my dear friend, is to consider the idea, contribute your thoughts to the process via our Wiki and if it feels good to you, start using this loose format for tagging posts, photos, podcasts or whatever else - then share with us which tags you are using and under what conditions and we will probably figure this out together pretty easily. After all the tags are simple, readable, understandable AND parseable by machine.

Or we could form a steering committee, talk about it for a few months, argue with each other, fight over our egos, hold on to the old way of things and do nothing that advances our cause while investing our energy in mental gymnastics. As the world of Web 2.0 has shown us - get it out there in the hands of the users and see what they do with it - engage with real people to understand their needs and adjust your solution to meet them. But we, the creators, need to let go of the idea of total control over users in an open wooly environment created by folksonomies rather than top down taxonomies.

Another benefit to this approach is that it need not exist as a rel link on the page so people need not give Google Juice to technorati or anyone else - it can just be a string of text inside of your post, or in the keyword field, or in the rel tag area - almost like SMS shorthand (CUL8R), but for tags. The pattern reads as seemingly normal text so I think a lot of people will get it, but that is what I want to find out. It need not work, it need not be called TagSpaces in the end, what is important is that we started the conversation with people who use tags to figure it out together.

Identity could be a part of it, but it does not have to be. It also does not need to rely on people to have an iName. While they wont get the persistent identity benefits of a registered digital ID which I do think they would benefit from, an email address is plenty of identity for many people in the world and has been for over a decade. For some people their email address is the equivalent of a URL pointing to them so why not accept it and stop trying to force change on people who don't want, or need to change. We should just embrace the chaos and accept that some people will tag things properly, some won't, some will make typos, others will simply have another way of referencing the same thing.

So let's not only teach people how to tag, let's teach them how to search - this is the power of TagSpaces as I envision it.

If we plant a seed of intention, in the form of examples spread across the entire 'tagging universe' other people (even our grandparents) will be able to understand it and perhaps, start using it. What I want to do with tagspaces.org is create a place where people can talk about which tagspaces they use, how they use them, identify synonyms and create relationships between tags. A sort of wiktionary for tagging based around some commonly agreed upon principles. But, please do understand this is not about me, it is about doing it right and coming together to refine it as we conduct an open alpha release to better understand how to do it best.

In conclusion, the approach I am suggesting requires no technical changes to any of the current technologies. There are problems with it, but they do not make this idea any less useful considering the current tagging landscape. But in all actuality, this is just the recognition of an emergent pattern within tags and a desire to help seed the idea towards a better solution - the downside is no worse than where we are today...

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