Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts from the Web 2.0 Expo Category

Leisa Reichelt – Drupal.org redesign

How do you design for a large Open Source Community? That was the problem Leisa Reichelt
faced when commissioned to do the redesign of the Drupal.org site. 
“You can’t do it behind closed doors,” she said, “and you need to give
the community a say in what they consider their home.”

They
built a form in Google Apps, to solicit community members who would
give feedback during the design process. Wireframes were crowd-sourced
on Flickr. They monitor Twitter for the “drupal” keyword.

In the end, they have something like 12,000 opinions, but Leisa suggested that you don’t need to respond to them all.

“You look at the themes,” she said “and you give feedback generally, to show that they are being listened to. “

Rafi Haladjian of Violet

Violet is the company behind the Nabaztag – the infamous internet connected rabbit. The comapny has a two-stage plan:

  • Step 1: Connect rabbits
  • Step 2: Connect everything else.

They
believe that currently we keep data in a “fishbowl”, concentrated in a
single space in our homes, usually the PC. The remaining stuff is dumb
and unconnected.

Mirror

They’re
going to push forwards with connected objects by launching the mir:ror
– an RFID-reading mirror that can talk to your computer. For example,
waving your Oyster card overit  will make your commputer immediatly
show you travel conditions. You’ll be able to buy RFID tags and add
them to your own objects and choose what they do.

He
wasn’t  very good at giving compelling examples of why things should be
connected to the internet – but boy, he believes they should be.

Steph the tried to steer the discussion towards career aspects.
Nancy raised the issue of women being unwilling to put themselves in the line of comment fire on blogs. Suw pointed to the Kathy Sierra situation. “I can’t think of a single man who has been exposed to that sort of attention,” she said. 
Lloyd, with some support from the audience, argued that men are worried about negative comments and hostility as well, but Steph pointed out that when women are attacked it is almost always of a sexual nature. And that’s a whole different complexion of attack.
Janet pointed to the Tuttle Club in London, which has much more of an even gender balance. Is this because it’s a new invention, as the web moves away from the harder-core techies?

Maria Sipka

Women are actively taking on community management roles – it’s different from blogging in that it’s a many-to-many relationship. Something that yu can do from home, fits into the family thing.
Is community management a motherly role? Yes, seemed to be the consensus.
Are women less prone to the confrontational part of the web? And do they need to have good connections with IT people to know their stuff? Or should they know it themselves.
Steph pointed out that it was annoying that people assumed she can’t install WordPress of hack php just because she’s a woman. 
Perception of gender roles. Strong woman = bitch. Strong man = good leader.
Alan: small companies are run in a more female way (research shows)
Upcoming event: Finding Ada – a conference about bring women forward in technology
(Apologies to the contributors from the floor whose names I didn’t get)

The Social Enterprise

For those of you who are following my Web 2.0 Expo posts, they’re not all on this blog. Yesterday, I kicked off a new blog for one of our titles, Computer Weekly, which looks at the implications of using social software in modern enterprises – or Enterprise 2.0, as many call it.
There are two posts up so far, a quick intro post, and one on Suw Charman-Anderson’s talk on dealing with the productivity problems around e-mail.
Given that one of the big themes of the conference has been the need for Web 2.0 start-ups to look to enterprise for revenue, so expect plenty of other posts to follow…

Martin Varsavsky, a serial entrepreneur most recently with Fon, was challenged by Tim O’reilly to elaborate on a recent blog post when he criticised some of the doom and gloom coming out of silicon valley. His point, he reitereated, was not that people were wrong to declare doom, just that they are rather late to the party…

Martin Varsavsky“There are times when markets are prepared to give entrepreneurs ridiculous money and times when their refusals are ridiculous,” he said.

“Right now we wouldn’t get the capital to start Fon,” he said. The company had needed investment to make the hardware that was part of the initial offering. “When we realised money wasn’t going to be available any more, I started to make the cuts,” he continued.
Other highlights:
  • There are distinct differences in national character which you need to take into account as you spread. The Germans use Fon to save money, the Japanese see it as an altruistic act.
  • It’s essential to have a great team supporting him. He has an inability to do just one thing. 
  • Sometimes, though, he just burns out and takes two year vacations – particularly after downturns. I believe the phrase “lucky git” applies.  
  • The concept of a salesman is really bad in Europe, but we all need to be one. Product design is the other part. 
His cousin was killed by Argentine Government, his family got refugee status in the States. Moved to Europe for a year 13 years ago. He is very happy here now. Europe is more fair and less brutal to certain citizens, especially the ones who don’t have medical care. Spain feels like a civilised version of Argentine.

Pahlka: “The degree of serendipity driven something like Twitter actually creates more events.”

Relationship Between Books and Web 2.0
Twitter-sourced: “Nick in Horsham – how have your books contributed to Web 2.0?”
We sometimes use our publishing to say: “Hey, pay attention to this technology.” I try to guide things a little bit. That revolution is passed. Now we’re working on things like Make magazine and the DIY movement.
Andrew Keen & The Cult of the Amateur

Nancy Williams

Nancy asked O’Reilly’s opinion of Andrew Keen. “I think Andrew Keen is a self-serving idiot. And I also think he’s flat-out wrong. When you search on Google you tend to find the most authoritative response.”
He gives the example of just using Stephen Hawking as an expert on physics, where in some instances he has proved to be wrong. You need the community debate in all subjects. 
Nancy: “Companies use this as an argument not to get involved.”
O’Reilly: “I suggest they read some history, all these things were said about computers and the web.” If you’re on the right side of history, you get the competitive advantage.
Community Management
“Not every big company is going to have their CEO as the community manager. Look at the role Scoble played at Microsoft. There’s a challenge for startups – as a CEO, should you be focusing on writing code, or on spreading the word.”
“A lot of PR companies have not read the Cluetrain Manifesto. They don’t realise it’s a conversation.”
Brady: “We see the same in conferece pitches. If it comes from a PR, it will suck.”
Jennifer: “Community manager. In the 90s everyone needed a web master, now they want a community manager. No-one has a degree in this. You need to find someone who is inclined that way, give them the tools and empower them.”
O’Reilly: “There will be plenty of opportunities in this downturn for bloggers and community managers.” Sessions they run on community management are packed.
Credit Crunch
Jennifer: “It’s about how you define Web 2.0. It’s  a bigger world, making the connection between enterprise and startups. Web 2.0 can be the recession diet for corporates.”
O’Reilly: “Advertising bloom will die back. Cloud computing is a great way for corporates to cut costs. Microsoft has admitted that Google apps has started to bite into their sales. Not enough startups are going after corporates. the ones that do work will get more of the money.”
We might see a switch back to both ecommerce and subscription models.
Politics

Bloggers Blogging

If Obama wins, we’re going to see a big focus on technology. O’Reilly has had some involvement with the Obama team, and their thinking is very sophisticated. The financial situation might make the more ambitious ideas more difficult, but there is an opportunity to reinvent government. And the good moves will hopefully spread to other parts of the world. 
Previous crises, like the Great Depression, lead to the birth of great new industries.
Poor Quality Startups
The real opportunities may come from side-projects. People aren’t going to get their startups funded, so they end up taking jobs and working on their passion in their spare time. The suggestion here is that the startup / VC relationship has been here too easy for too long, and we might actually see better stuff as a result of more… Darwinian times. 
Data Portability
O’Reilly thinks it will be a grassroots movement that will deal with data silos. Someone will figure out an architecture that will depend on free data, and it will take over the world because it works. We keep trying to legislate a lot of these things, but a way of life is more powerful. Free software worked be cause it just works better than propriety. 

Flow apps:
  • Snackr – flow app for Google Reader
  • Twhirl – flow app for Twitter, FriendFeed and others
  • FriendFeed and Flickr have just added flow feeds.
Net result: huge fragmentation of existing blog communities into small communities. Medium term, Disqus et al will start to bring this commentary back to the blog. That’s just plugging a broken house.
This changes working practices – you don’t “do” these flow sites/apps – they’re just there all the time. Cognitively, we’re being changed by the tools we use.

Questions for Stowe

The Web of Flow
Static pages become, essentially, an archive. The URL is less interesting as a static location on the web, and more as a unique identifier in the flow. Everything starts to merge, a comment looks like a recommendation looks like a bookmark…
Ads – affiliate link in a comment, I get the money. Flow my content anywhere, but carry this text ad. If you don’t, I won’t let my content flow into that app.
We need to move to an environment like the internet – which doesn’t care about the kind of content, it just moves packets around. The social web isn’t like that yet. But it needs to be.