mm405: Boston, Day 1

June 9, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Whew!

Just finished a very long day, the first day attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

I don’t go to so many conferences. In fact, in the nearly four years of employment at the Heart of Corporate America (not its real name), as well as the three years of contractor status that it, this is only the second conference that I have attended under the HCA aegis. How ironic that it is also located in Boston, the site of the event that I attended last summer. Of all the towns in the world…

But, I do like Boston, even though, as alluded to last post, I feel stranded in the middle of a desert, located as we are in a concrete jungle of a redeveloped industrial district. Boston is a wonderful town in which to be a pedestrian — but not in this corner, not that I could pedestre very well anyway. [Looks like I may have coined another word — the ‘r’ is silent; but it does sort of look like pederast, doesn’t it. Oh, well, back to the drawing board.]

Although I title this Day 1, the event’s organizers, as is often done apparently, treated today as Day 0, Monday being the more popular business travel day than Sunday. The sessions today were lengthy tutorials. A choice of two each, morning and afternoon. 9am to 12:30pm; then 1:30pm to 4:45pm. Then a further two hour panel discussion that finally ended at 7:30pm. The real action starts tomorrow. I’m already worn out.

I do take copious notes. Now, many of my fellow attendees today, perhaps most of them, brought their laptops to the sessions. There were even power strips scattered along the floor, for the first half-dozen lucky people each who got to them.

Now, yr (justifiably) humble svt would have been happy enough to note take via laptop, but as there were no tables, just rows of chairs, and as I, uh, don’t have a lap for said laptop, just a short slippery slope as it were, that might result in a potentially lethal slide for same, I took my notes the old fashioned way, pen on notebook page, six tightly printed pages to be exact. I have a lot to show for 8-3/4 hours of conference. But it all has to be transcribed.

I wanted to keep up with this daily; perhaps even transfer some of this post into the event’s blog that I’ve heard exists although I haven’t found it. But, as I type this it’s already 10pm; had too much to eat at the hotel’s surprisingly good restaurant (surprising mainly because they have no competition for at least the half-mile radius until another hotel appears in this wasteland called the Seaport neighborhood); and I was up early. Never sleep well in anyone else’s bed except my own, and the hotel is justifiably proud of its comfortable bed. I’m just a crotchety old curmudgeon.

Anyway, there are six pages. Let’s see if I can summarize, while it’s all still fresh.

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm361: Gin, television, Web 2.0

April 27, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Ever have one of those moments? You know, the ones where you read or see something that just simply closes a loop in your mind that you didn’t know was open? Where you (one hopes, figuratively) slap yourself on the face and say (one fervently hopes, subvocally): Wow, I wish I thought of that?

Had one of those today.

I’m a history of technology guy; I even alluded very briefly to that a couple of posts ago (featuring one of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite headlines, if I may be so unhumble to say so!).

So, I enjoy taking a global, macro view of technology, and how it shaped the story of civilization (technology = civilization — can’t have the latter without the former). And I also enjoy making connections.

So, my attention was captured today by the first paragraph of this post, found during typical stream-of-consciousness blogging today.

So, I read on, and the connections and insights about technology and where it’s taking us, and why it’s taking us there, were jaw-dropping.

See, I’ve often said (once, here) that one of the things I really like about this blogging mania obsession habit of mine is that after more than 15 years of consuming the Internet, now, in my infinitesimal, nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© way, I’m now contributing.

And, that’s the point:

herecomeseverybody

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

By Clay Shirky on April 26, 2008 10:48 AM

I was recently reminded of some reading I did in college, way back in the last century, by a British historian arguing that the critical technology, for the early phase of the industrial revolution, was gin.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm222: Social networks — Encyclopedic, Careeric, Blogic

December 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s all about making connections, here at Left-Handed Complement. Once again, several threads have appeared from different directions, just in time to create the fabric of post no. 222.

Encyclopedic

First, two entries noted Google’s new contender for encyclopedia of choice, Knol, challenging Wikipedia. The straight story from, where else, NYTimes:

google

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival

By JEREMY KIRK, IDG News Service\London Bureau, IDG

Google is developing an online publishing platform where people can write entries on subjects they know, an idea that’s close to Wikipedia’s user-contributed encyclopedia but with key differences.

The project, which is in an invitation-only beta stage, lets users create clean-looking Web pages with their photo and write entries on, for example, insomnia. Those entries are called “knols” for “unit of knowledge,” Google said.

Google wants the knols to develop into a deep repository of knowledge, covering topics such as geography, history and entertainment.

The target of this new community is not only Wikipedia, but also Yahoo “Answers.” And they’ve coined new nomenclature (don’t you just love the English language?), “knols.”

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival – New York Times

Poking around some of our usual suspects, i.e., our blogroll2 , Machinist blog at Salon.com weighed in on Google’s new adventure with some useful analysis. Does the world need another encyclopedia? The folks behind Squidoo and Mahalo think so in their own unique ways (if less scholarly, in this observer’s opinion), and now so does the web’s 8,000,000-lb. gorilla.

Truthiness showdown: Google’s “Knol” vs. Wikipedia

Having just written a book about how digital technology is changing cultural ideas about truth — shameless plug: to be released mid-March from Wiley; pre-order here — I’m fascinated by Google’s announcement, late yesterday, of a Wikipedia-like application called Knol.

Knol’s goal, writes Udi Manber, Google’s engineering chief, in a blog post, is “to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” The system, which is currently running in an invitation-only beta, offers free Web hosting space and editing tools to allow anyone to write up a page about whatever they like. Google is calling each article a “knol,” which it says stands for a “unit of knowledge.”

Experts contributing knols will not be anonymous, or aggregated, says Machinist’s Farhad Manjoo, but rather will contribute separately and openly to create what Google hopes will become collective knowledge, and perhaps, maybe, wisdom, the pinnacle of the knowledge pyramid (anyone still care about knowledge management? data, information, knowledge, wisdom).

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

And of course, Google will sell and place advertising, to be shared with the article authors.

Imagine advertising in the margins of the 30 printed volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Well that’s why Larry Page and Sergey Brin are $zillionaires, and yr (justifiably) humble svt is so humble…

Careeric*

(*New coinage!) Several posts ago, while noting Facebook’s stumble over its intrusive Beacon privacy-blasting tool, we mentioned LinkedIn in passing, as a site we (still very much in the world of Web 0.79, much less 2.0!) participate in rather desultorily.

I’ve got 41 people in my network, which LinkedIn tells me expands to “41,700+” (their friends — astounding!) and “2,563,400+” for their friends (science fiction).

MUDGE doesn’t know if he wants to know that many people.

But, besides accreting millions of supposed contacts, what is one supposed to do at LinkedIn. David Kirkpatrick, senior editor at Fortune magazine, tells us he was in precisely the same boat (of course, MUDGE likes to think of himself as extraordinarily unusual, so for senior editors to have had similar feelings makes one uneasy!):

linkedin

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn

The buttoned-down social network has a new CEO, a growing membership, and an increasingly-useful set of features.

By David Kirkpatrick, senior editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) — For years, I’ve been befuddled by LinkedIn. I knew it was supposed to be the social network for work, but to me it was like war. “What is it good for?” I asked myself repeatedly, even as I occasionally poked around and accepted requests to link with people. I belonged to it, but I really didn’t know why.

The other day I had a chance to sit down with LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye, who’s been on the job since February. He told me about a few changes that Linkedin subsequently announced (VentureBeat has a good description of them.). And his PR person upgraded me to what would otherwise be a paid account. (It can be $20 to $200 per month.)

Who knew that LinkedIn charged anything? I’ve been a member for more than five years, and have never been solicited, until tonight when I poked around a bit after reading Kirkpatrick’s story, and the link to VentureBeat clipped above. LinkedIn is getting more ambitious about its available tools, as you’ll see.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn – Dec. 14, 2007

Most intriguing. But here’s a concern:

(Nye recited the depressing figure that only 30 percent of LinkedIn’s members have read any business magazine in the last 30 days.)

Hey, LinkedIn, I’m picking up the slack on that one, with my subscriptions and devotional readership of Business Week and the best magazine on the planet, The Economist!

But if only 30% of those 2,563,400+ third degrees in MUDGE‘s network read business magazines, one has to be concerned about how useful the 70% business illiterates of them might be when the day comes that I am expelled from HCA (the Heart of Corporate America, not its real name, as constant reader will recall) and I have to network for real. Down to a mere 769,020 viable networkers. Not nearly enough to find viable employment for this overaged supernumerary.

Sigh.

Blogic**

(**More new coinage, from the fertile tidal pool of MUDGEdom.) This third leg of today’s tripod has to do with the social network of bloggers, who gather under that extraordinary circus tent called WordPress.

I can’t be complimentary enough about WordPress. The first-ranked member of MUDGE‘s Blogging Process Hall of Fame©, as unveiled here, and anointed here, WordPress has been a resourceful and supportive, and most breathtakingly cost effective blogging host.

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been hosted there from absolute day one; in fact, it was mention of its free site (where? at Lifehacker?) that provided the spark that, several months later, burst into this vigorous flame of daily commentary.

This week Anne Zelenka, writing in the always useful GigaOm, presented her observation that WordPress is not merely a host for nearly 2,000,000 blogs (!), but a social network in and of itself.

wordpress1

The Next Social Network: WordPress

Anne Zelenka, Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 3:45 PM PT

Could open-source blogging platform WordPress serve as your next social networking profile? Chris Messina, co-founder of Citizen Agency, thinks so. He’s started a project called DiSo, for distributed social networking, that aims to “build a social network with its skin inside out.” DiSo will first look to WordPress as its foundation.

This could be the next step towards the unified social graph that some technologists wish for. WordPress suits the purpose because it provides a person-centric way of coming online, offers an extensible architecture, and already has some features — such as an OpenID and a blogroll plugin — that can be pressed into social networking service. And its users represent exactly the sort of audience that might appreciate the permanent, relatively public identity that DiSo aims to offer.

The contrast is with the MySpace and Facebook paradigm. Zelenka argues that those sites provide a space for one online, but it’s not one’s own space. Not “person-centric.”

Clark was responding to an ongoing conversation launched by blogger and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, who proposed that blogging is far more important to him than social networking. Bloggers including Stowe Boyd and Darren Rowse seconded the idea. This growing disenchantment with social networking and return to blogging suggests that in the future we could see a migration, at least among tech bloggers, towards more distributed social networking — along the lines of what Messina envisions.

This is all rather esoteric, but interesting all the same.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Next Social Network: WordPress – GigaOM

As we’ve discussed above, and before, this writer came to the creative end of the web quite late. While for many years a consumer, only in the past seven months have I been a content creator. Never was tempted by MySpace (we’ll let MUDGElet No. 3 enjoy his age appropriate time there); only a bit tempted by Facebook (as discussed previously); and the jury is still out on the value to me of LinkedIn; but I feel I’ve found a home (lonely as it is, but she always has told me that it’s quality not quantity that matters) here at WordPress, among 2,000,000 fellow bloggers.

Maybe Chris Messina of DiSo is on to something.

So, there’s our tripod of social networking. Encyclopedic, careeric, blogic. An icky stretch, right?

Google’s Knol, LinkedIn and WordPress. Hope it came together for you, the way it did for me.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm213: Facebook — facing the music

December 5, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

I’m probably the very final person in the ‘Sphere to write about the Web 2.0 phenomenon, Facebook.

It’s simple: I don’t go there. I’m not a college student (wasn’t ever one for long, and that was two score plus years ago), and I don’t need another on-line locale to waste away the hours.

But, one can’t avoid encountering it in the (old and new) media, and I will admit to an occasional bout of Facebook-envy, as I read about the increasing average age (“we’re not just for students anymore”) — what am I missing?

So far, I’m confining my Web 2.0 activities to my LinkedIn participation, sparse as that is (and I joined that circle about five years ago, before anyone knew there was such a thing as social computing — just networking for job seekers and seekers-to-be), and of course, this daily habit I fondly call nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

So constant reader is probably way ahead of me encountering the story of Beacon, Facebook’s program that is tracking ‘Booker’s habits, especially buying habits, both within and (wait for it) outside of Facebook.

A (new and old) media firestorm. You’re always hurt most by the one you love, and a lot of people love Facebook. So, Facebook backtracked on Beacon, as this NYTimes Bits blog reports:

Zuckerberg Apologizes, Allows Facebook Users to Evade Beacon | By Saul Hansell

Mark Zuckerberg has produced a symphony of contrition in a blog post today about Facebook’s Beacon feature, which initially sent information on users’ Web purchases to their friends unless they specifically blocked the disclosure of each purchase.

facebookoptout

Hansell asks, “what took them so long to fix this?”

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Zuckerberg Apologizes, Allows Facebook Users to Evade Beacon – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog

Here at WordPress.com’s site today, they were highlighting a post on the Techland blog from Fortune regarding this Beacon fracas. It stopped me cold.

Techland

RIP Facebook? | By Josh Quittner

A lot of people say that Facebook has jumped the shark. That’s flat out wrong. In fact, Facebook is now being devoured by the shark. There’s so much blood in the water, it’s attracting other sharks. And if Facebook’s not careful, one of them is bound to come along and finish it off. I’ve never seen anything like it in the annals of fast-rising tech companies that fail.

The really weird part of this story is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Facebook. It works as well as it ever has, and many of the people who use it (my kids for instance) are unaware of the worsening situation about its privacy-invading Beacon social ads scheme that tracks people’s web-surfing habits even when they’re not on the site. That’s bound to change. The market is fickle, something better is in the wings, and as soon as it arrives, the alienated and angry mob will race to it. Delphi’s errors begat Prodigy and its errors begat AOL, which was crushed by the Web.

Quittner paints quite a dire portrait.

What’s surprising here is the speed with which this thing is coming undone — and the ease with which it could have been avoided. What’s harming Facebook – perhaps to a terminal degree – is enormously bad PR. For a social media company, these folks don’t understand the first thing about communication…

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

FORTUNE: Techland RIP Facebook? «

Facebook, as so many of today’s tech meteors, was begun by kids in college, and its leadership is still quite young. Quittner points out that many such companies earn their maturity by hiring on a senior level guy or gal with some seasoning, in order to avoid fiascoes of the kind currently whipsawing Facebook.

MUDGE can be quite objective about this, in a way I suspect neither of today’s bloggers are able to. One suspects that certainly Quittner, and possibly Hansell (let’s face it — right now I feel like the only guy on the planet who is/was not a member), enjoyed their Facebook membership, and the sense of betrayal is palpable.

The true lesson of Beacon, in my opinion, is that there is great danger lurking in all of the social media/Web 2.0 space: Unpleasant consequences are possible when the urge to monetize becomes irresistible.

Facebook, with its zillions of prime age consumers was a rich prize, too ripe to leave alone.

Greed in moderation: it’s the capitalist way, after all.

Greed with technological amplification (i.e., Beacon): excessive, even in our world of institutional excess.

Okay, so here’s the L-HC warranty: no ads will ever appear here at Left-Handed Complement. No pay-for-post (as if!). Whatever links you find in the sidebar will never result in an outcome that includes dollars, euros, shekels or kopecks.

This is a hobby, folks. I spend only my time here; no more is expected of you, and thank you most sincerely for that!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE