Software\’s whipping boy

June 25, 2006

forward2business conference

Filed under: Meeting — rslomkow @ 11:02 pm

Last week I was a speaker, here in Germany,  at a conference about the future of Media
 called forward2business in Halle.

It was pretty fun conference, even if was not generally the sort of conference I attend.  Most of the participants come from R&D, music/video producers, and marketing.  I was a little bit out of place as the Techy Geek on show, and as an American.  It was held in a Giebichenstein Castle/art school in Halle.  To make it more informal and more interactive it is held the castle yard, the speakers sit scattered in the audience with microphones, there is 1 video screen, and power point presentations were forbidden.  The format is 3 speakers per group, with 3 different but related topics.  Time for questions, comments, and discussion between the speakers.  It works very well at keeping people engaged in the presentations and able to encourage creative discussion.

The evening started with some unusual speakers to talk about the future and Media.  A Science-Fiction author to talk about the power of myths in media, a priest to talk about organizing people in communities, and marketer from Siemens to introduce a new computer game for mobile-phones.

My group was a future researcher (Willi Schroll) who thinks about future of Internet industry, a founder of Internet media companies (Andreas Sallam), and myself as a developer of a Web 2.0 client.  Despite the conference being in German, I gave my presentation in English.  My hearing understanding is good enough that I could understand all the other presenters, but my spoken is not yet good enough to give a full presentation with audience interaction in German.  Fortunately most of the audience had excellent English understanding (and many of them excellent spoken English).

My theme was about what the web 2.0 was all about, those people who have been following already get it.  But

  1. Web 2.0 is an artificial term for a conference created by Tim O’Reilly
  2. It does reflect some new things that are going on in companies.
  1. Make open application
  1. applications live on the web rather than your computer
  2. applications can be linked to by other applications ie google maps, the trick to doing this is to link back to your site so you don’t just become a backend for other people.
  • open companies
    1. It is hard for small companies to build trust, one new way that companies are trying is by being more public, open, and honest.  Flock may be open-source but that is not required.  We are still open with our planning, our lives on our website (everybody is there)
  • user generated content
    1. letting your community drive your business.  Weather that is Flickr being driven by the photos and connections that people build, or Flock taking the input from our user via bugs and forums t design our product.

    I also talked about why the browser is the wrong word.  Browsing means you only skim, or you look through the records at the store and you don’t buy.  The way we use the Internet is far richer than that:  We shop, we write about our lives, we share photos, we enjoy ourselves; and that is all a lot more than just browsing.

    Which gets back to some of what is that Flock is trying to solve.

    1. You feel alone on the Internet
    2. When you are social it is only via one site, and all your friends are never on just 1 site.
    3. Good content is hard to find
    4. Sharing with your friends, getting advice from them, or giving advice is harder than it should be

    One of my points at this conference was that the Media that is most important to our lives is not the big media.  If you ask people what the most valuable media is your likely to get answer like “Wedding Photo”, “Old love letter”, and “travelogue of a trip with a friend”.  This data is far more important to people’s lives than the “Lord of the Rings” DVD or even their favorite music album.  Two sub points:  1) there is money to be made today organizing, storing, and transferring people private media; 2) this is the type of media that only our friends can bring to us.

    What we really wan to do with Flock is let your friends define your online experience, so the Internet is more personal and Interesting.  We are only getting started.  We have been trying to categorize how flock is helping you in a few ways:

    1. creating content
    1. blog editor
    2. photo uploader
  • sorting content
    1. tags in blogs
    2. tags in photos
    3. power search (tags, full content of history, auto complete search)
    4. sort feeds
  • discovering new content
    1. photo top bar
    2. rss reader, try getting the feeds for your friends shared bookmarks
  • share stuff
    1. shared bookmarks (del.icio.us, shadows)
    2. photos again
    3. bloggin again
  • appreciate
    1. well we are a web browser you get to see stuff 😉

    What about the future of Flock?  Something people always ask.

    I said that one of the big things that is a problem for Internet users and for Flock is keeping track of online identities, Flock will take some stabs at this, a lot of people are trying right now and centralized approaches have been failing.

    The other is increased Out of Band communication.  This is a technical term for keeping track of servers, in band is the normal way you connect via the web page, and out of band is the secret network that lets you get administrative access.  But this make sense for us in our daily lives as well.  The main way we deal with the Internet is via  little square on the screen that represents the web.  The out of band communications is some other channel to talk about what you are seeing, that is related but not through the website.  This could be IM, or a topbar with blogposts, or the even the little photo indicator in flock.  Expect more of this type of stuff moving forward.

    It seemed like people enjoyed and understood the presentation.  I met 3 Flock users at the conference!  I am still surprised to meet Flock users.

    Thanks to Sven Gábor Jánszky for inviting me, and thanks to Heiko Hebig for the pictures.

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