Monthly Archives: January 2009

Twitter is way better than anything else

I love you Twitter. You are the new hotness. I don’t care what other people say about you. I don’t even care if my business partner thinks that time apart from you is beneficial. This is your time, your moment.

Heck, even US News loves you. You recently made the list of “50 ways to improve your life”. And, in so doing you were called: “increasingly popular and addictive”. (yep, found via twitter thru @tigerninety and written by @papertrailblog).

Now even the celebrities love you. Your newest friends are @jimmyfallon, @tinafey, @mchammer, @greggrunberg, @al_gore, @the_real_shaq, @lancearmstrong, @breagrant, @johncleese, and my personal favorite @hodgman.

If that wasn’t enough, all of your competitors are just not cutting it. Each one goes for your jugular only to settle for some small piece of the pie. You are even rumored to be on your second round of funding in a deep recession. That is because you are way better than anything else.

This is partly due to being the first on the block (which I am not even sure you were). It’s also partly due to your simplicity. But, and I mean but, I attribute your success to a little discussed fact.

You are the first great success of the mobile web. Your predecessor is the Blackberry. The mobile device that brought mobile email to painstaking heights of popularity and necessity (/wave prez obama). Your successor may come around, but until it does, you are king of the mobile web hill.

Now that you are in that moment, all of your detractors are singing death and destruction mightily. Clinging to anything that will allow them to avoid your wiles. You are not the fad, silly tool they think you are. You are not just a mobile facebook or a place for “extraverts to lord over the intraverts”. Nor are you just a place for “social media experts” to bask in their own glory.

What you really are is harder to say. As the first true child of the mobile web you are changing the game as you play it. Your question of “what are you doing right now?” is not even important anymore. None of your strongest users even answer that question anymore. They have moved onto taking the richness of their lives and posting that instead. They post photos, links, jokes, pithy thoughts, dinner plans, current events, conversations, and they create accounts for their animals (<3 @fuzzles).

That would be impressive all by its lonesome. It would be extremely impressive for a “website”. But one cannot talk about your glory without talking about your inextricable connection with mobility. As @stoweboyd once told me, mobility is the future of the web. We are no longer sitting at our “command center” with our clunky desktop. We are on the go and joining that “world consciousness” that my roommate surmises is the next evolution in our spirituality.

This mobility is really the hardest to explain. It is, well, umm, just amazing. It is incredible. Ok, I’m obvsiously struggling to define this, so instead let me tell you a story. A weird story, really, but it resonates with me and stirs up fondness for you:

There I was walking down the street and right as I took a step into the street, a car comes flying by. It was going fast, I mean real fast for the city, like 60-70mph. Which is death defying speeds in Washington DC, where blocks are tiny and going 40 feels like ur flying. In an instant I step back before 3 cop cars come flying down after this perp. What an amazing moment. Witness a car chase. Nearly die. Contemplate life and being lucky. What do I do with this moment?

In the “old world” I would call a close friend and bore them with this simple story. Or, I could go home and write a journal entry exploring my life and how lucky I am to be alive. Yeah, been there done that.

In the world of Twitter, I share the moment. I instantly share the moment with hundreds of friends. I feel relieved, I feel a community, and I don’t feel alone in a panicked moment. I get multiple replies instantly too.

Strange, I know. But, in that moment I realized what the mobile web meant to me. It was an instant connection. A tie with the world at large that never existed before. An ability to stay connected anytime with everyone important in my life.

Let’s utilize some academia for this point. Have you heard of the “aggregate phenomenon”?

The Japanese sociologist Mizuko Ito first noticed it with mobile phones: lovers who were working in different cities would send text messages back and forth all night — tiny updates like “enjoying a glass of wine now” or “watching TV while lying on the couch.” They were doing it partly because talking for hours on mobile phones isn’t very comfortable (or affordable). But they also discovered that the little Ping-Ponging messages felt even more intimate than a phone call. [1]
That’s right: “felt even more intimate”. These silly little messages bring me closer to my friends/family.
“It’s an aggregate phenomenon,” Marc Davis, a chief scientist at Yahoo and former professor of information science at the University of California at Berkeley, told me. “No message is the single-most-important message. It’s sort of like when you’re sitting with someone and you look over and they smile at you. You’re sitting here reading the paper, and you’re doing your side-by-side thing, and you just sort of let people know you’re aware of them.” [1]

Let’s just break the space/time continuum and let me connect with my family back in California and my friends in cities all over the world.

Finally, the capstone for this love story. Time. It’s so valuable. I just don’t have enough of it for everyone in my life. Twitter, without you there would be no way for me to maintain my Dunbar number (a theory that humans can only maintain a max of 150 social relationships) let alone the 500+ people I connect with regularly.

But, with you I can and do. I develop bonds with over 500+ people on a consistent basis. I do it with little or no effort. I even save time. Which allows me to turn around and spend that time on more quality things in my life. Like pretty girls or writing inane posts on this site.

Written by the @robotchampion

Apple Keynotes Are Inspirational and You Should Watch Them

Seriously, you should watch the Apple Keynotes. Each video demonstrates the amazing engineering capabilities of one of America’s most innovative companies.

I get a lot of crap for getting excited about these keynotes. I really think its kind of silly too. It’s easy to get caught up in the vogue of marketing. Where the PC vs. Mac commercials tell you to choose sides. Then there are the fanatics (yes I am one) who absolutely gush about Apple products. It is similarly silly to fall back on our typical American skepticism.

If you can avoid the pop culture magnetism you can easily see why I like Apple. Every 6 months they sit down and have a conversation with their customers. Yes you can say they are locked down and controlling, but you could also say they are constantly upgrading their products to meet customer needs. Every keynote they address our needs and they do it innovative futuristic fashion. They bring together the best technology, best minds, and best engineering to make it so.

Beyond that they make it a big deal. Every day folks are doing innovative things but rarely do they stop and share with the world. In the keynotes, Apple brings in musicians, top company engineers, state-of-the-art presentation tools, and more.

So, do me a favor take off your gloomy shades and watch one. Then come back and tell me if you were’nt inspired and you couldn’t see American ingenuity at its best.

While you’re at it the TED videos & Google Talks are also absolutely inspirational to watch too.

One Human’s Minutiae is Another’s Munificence

For thirty years, Albert Einstein struggled to produce a unified theory that would provide an explanation for everything in the physical universe. This quest for a single blueprint for life would accompany him to his grave and in his last years he admitted, “It is so difficult to employ mathematically that I have not been able to verify it somehow, in spite of all my efforts.” He finally conceded, “Someone else is going to have to it.”

For several decades in the 1500s Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe diligently recorded the positions of the planet Mars. Every day at the same time  he observed its position and noted it, and while this might have seemed like a trivial acquisition, qualifying it as minutia even, he eventually observed that Mars drifted from west to east, “but every two years roughly the planet would take a brief diversion, slowing down, going backward and doing a loop, before regaining its senses and continuing its normal motion.” (The Social Atom)

After Brahe’s death, Johannes Kepler studied Brahe’s notebooks, and eight years later he concluded that Mars and Earth were rotating on elliptical tracks around the sun, with Earth on the inside track. This served as the foundation for Issac Newton’s laws of gravity and motion.

The scientific method for gathering data, identifying patterns and finding a mechanism to explain them is the same one that social scientists today are using to find solutions to problems such as global warming and the spread of infectious diseases.  People, like the physical world, fall into very explainable patterns and these patterns reveal regularities that the seemingly complicated just isn’t so.

There are some patterns that are not so common, not so regular, not so obvious in their occurrence and therefore are more difficult to understand. Acts like the “random” campus shooting that took place at Virginia Tech could be considered one of these anomalies, not easy to predict given the paucity of data about the shooter and lack of similar events to which to compare it. I’m curious what a stream of this shooter’s life would have looked like in Twitter, what it would have revealed and what we could have learned from it. Given a large dynamic system like Twitter, where small variations of a initial condition can be captured, would a butterfly effect emerged? Clive Thompson compared Twitter to “proprioception, your body’s ability to know where your limbs are.” I consider Twitter a tool for social omniscience, in which the identification of natural laws of patterns can lead to the possibility of prediction.

What’s so intriguing and exciting about social patterns is the ability to change them – social behaviors are often dictated by mutable and constructed norms. However, because social patterns are influenced by norms, social etiquette “black holes” can present great barriers to revealing true patterns and ultimately presenting solutions. When I hear how I should conduct myself, what I should and should not say, by entities as imposing as the United States government and as intrusive as the “family order” – I immediately object. These formal and informal gag rules are exactly what will prevent us from solving the most complicated of issues – the ones that keep me from saying I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes this weekend, or I think the industry I work in is inherently doomed for failure and virtually no one understands this, or I do look at porn on occasion, or I like illegal aliens because they work jobs that “Americans” don’t want but I get annoyed when they don’t learn/speak English.

I laugh at the notion that technology alone will ever solve a problem; even if we lived in a world in which every person could contribute to one global database, these invisible barriers would still exist. The fact is I am regularly surprised by what I say has meaning to whom and while I myself don’t want to read every single thing a person does or thinks, I’d be willing to bet the farm that the compilation of this minutiae, coupled with other sources of data, would reveal patterns never obvious to us before and present answers to questions that have eluded humankind for ages. To do this however would require a lot of data, a lot of minutiae, all the minutiae you don’t want to hear. And yet the more information we make available, the greater our ability to understand our world and change it.

I believe with enough data, we can discover the truth in everything – and we will unveil an artisan’s masterfully ordered structure and achieve what Einstein simply did not have enough minutiae to achieve.

One Human's Minutiae is Another's Munificence

For thirty years, Albert Einstein struggled to produce a unified theory that would provide an explanation for everything in the physical universe. This quest for a single blueprint for life would accompany him to his grave and in his last years he admitted, “It is so difficult to employ mathematically that I have not been able to verify it somehow, in spite of all my efforts.” He finally conceded, “Someone else is going to have to it.”

For several decades in the 1500s Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe diligently recorded the positions of the planet Mars. Every day at the same time  he observed its position and noted it, and while this might have seemed like a trivial acquisition, qualifying it as minutia even, he eventually observed that Mars drifted from west to east, “but every two years roughly the planet would take a brief diversion, slowing down, going backward and doing a loop, before regaining its senses and continuing its normal motion.” (The Social Atom)

After Brahe’s death, Johannes Kepler studied Brahe’s notebooks, and eight years later he concluded that Mars and Earth were rotating on elliptical tracks around the sun, with Earth on the inside track. This served as the foundation for Issac Newton’s laws of gravity and motion.

The scientific method for gathering data, identifying patterns and finding a mechanism to explain them is the same one that social scientists today are using to find solutions to problems such as global warming and the spread of infectious diseases.  People, like the physical world, fall into very explainable patterns and these patterns reveal regularities that the seemingly complicated just isn’t so.

There are some patterns that are not so common, not so regular, not so obvious in their occurrence and therefore are more difficult to understand. Acts like the “random” campus shooting that took place at Virginia Tech could be considered one of these anomalies, not easy to predict given the paucity of data about the shooter and lack of similar events to which to compare it. I’m curious what a stream of this shooter’s life would have looked like in Twitter, what it would have revealed and what we could have learned from it. Given a large dynamic system like Twitter, where small variations of a initial condition can be captured, would a butterfly effect emerged? Clive Thompson compared Twitter to “proprioception, your body’s ability to know where your limbs are.” I consider Twitter a tool for social omniscience, in which the identification of natural laws of patterns can lead to the possibility of prediction.

What’s so intriguing and exciting about social patterns is the ability to change them – social behaviors are often dictated by mutable and constructed norms. However, because social patterns are influenced by norms, social etiquette “black holes” can present great barriers to revealing true patterns and ultimately presenting solutions. When I hear how I should conduct myself, what I should and should not say, by entities as imposing as the United States government and as intrusive as the “family order” – I immediately object. These formal and informal gag rules are exactly what will prevent us from solving the most complicated of issues – the ones that keep me from saying I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes this weekend, or I think the industry I work in is inherently doomed for failure and virtually no one understands this, or I do look at porn on occasion, or I like illegal aliens because they work jobs that “Americans” don’t want but I get annoyed when they don’t learn/speak English.

I laugh at the notion that technology alone will ever solve a problem; even if we lived in a world in which every person could contribute to one global database, these invisible barriers would still exist. The fact is I am regularly surprised by what I say has meaning to whom and while I myself don’t want to read every single thing a person does or thinks, I’d be willing to bet the farm that the compilation of this minutiae, coupled with other sources of data, would reveal patterns never obvious to us before and present answers to questions that have eluded humankind for ages. To do this however would require a lot of data, a lot of minutiae, all the minutiae you don’t want to hear. And yet the more information we make available, the greater our ability to understand our world and change it.

I believe with enough data, we can discover the truth in everything – and we will unveil an artisan’s masterfully ordered structure and achieve what Einstein simply did not have enough minutiae to achieve.

I Just Don’t Understand an Open Mind

I woke up this morning with only two thoughts in my brain. First, I must listen to Electric Feel by MGMT (am listening to it now). The second thought is that I just don’t understand an “open mind”.

Curiosity ensues…

I mean on one level, an open mind is simply being able to see. I found a writing about photography where the author explores what she natively sees. Most of the time she goes in search of something directly in her mind. When she finds the beautiful shot she then ignores the possible ugliness around. Often, though, a dramatic and sad experience will force us to see the ugliness or difference, sometimes even search for it. For most the native state is baised and requires a force to see.

On another level, our city planners long ago realized that citizens need to be broken out of their workday lives. But rather than force them to go for a walk in the park, they would build them into ideal locations and just watch it happen. For example, an “open campus” in Sapporo, Japan is so open that it not only serves as campus and park, but has grown to become a vital water source for the city. Examples such as this and even New York City’s Central Park, show that parks and public places have easily become an insitutional part of any city. Strangely enough this structural addition is very easily accepted, no force required. Just place a park next to an office building and people will want to break out of their office and walk in them. For all, the need for a change in environment is inherent, institutional, and no force need apply.

A while ago I was browsing through Agust Jackson’s blog and found a TED Talk video he liked on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives (embedded below, highly worth watching). In it, Jonathan Haidt talks about openness. How liberals are not really liberals at all, they are just a group of being with a higher value of openness. Those conservatives are really folks with a lower value (theortically replaced by tradition, “the way it is”). I generally agreed with the points he is making that that some people are just going to be more open to change than others. For those that are open, change is inevitable, for those that are not open, it is worth it to fight against it.

Finally, Jeff Nolan in his post on the value of being open and honest talks about corporate values being resistant to change. In a sense this can be extrapolated beyond a business culture in into our broader society. The innate culture of almost any country on earth is very resistant to change. For some change takes the form of revolution or coup. Others like the USA have found a peaceful way to enact change (elections, term limits). Either way it shows that stasis is the ideal state of a culture or corporation because it allows folks to understand, make rules, and easily traverse the waters. For society and corporations, change is natural but dangerous.

All of this research still leaves me not understanding what an “open mind” is. What it needs. How it functions. More importantly to me, how it will act. Arggh!

The need to understand is undying.

I Just dont Understand an Open Mind

I woke up this morning with only two thoughts in my brain. First, I must listen to Electric Feel by MGMT (am listening to it now). The second thought is that I just don’t understand an “open mind”.

Curiosity ensues…

I mean on one level, an open mind is simply being able to see. I found a writing about photography where the author explores what she natively sees. Most of the time she goes in search of something directly in her mind. When she finds the beautiful shot she then ignores the possible ugliness around. Often, though, a dramatic and sad experience will force us to see the ugliness or difference, sometimes even search for it. For most the native state is baised and requires a force to see.

On another level, our city planners long ago realized that citizens need to be broken out of their workday lives. But rather than force them to go for a walk in the park, they would build them into ideal locations and just watch it happen. For example, an “open campus” in Sapporo, Japan is so open that it not only serves as campus and park, but has grown to become a vital water source for the city. Examples such as this and even New York City’s Central Park, show that parks and public places have easily become an insitutional part of any city. Strangely enough this structural addition is very easily accepted, no force required. Just place a park next to an office building and people will want to break out of their office and walk in them. For all, the need for a change in environment is inherent, institutional, and no force need apply.

A while ago I was browsing through Agust Jackson’s blog and found a TED Talk video he liked on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives (embedded below, highly worth watching). In it, Jonathan Haidt talks about openness. How liberals are not really liberals at all, they are just a group of being with a higher value of openness. Those conservatives are really folks with a lower value (theortically replaced by tradition, “the way it is”). I generally agreed with the points he is making that that some people are just going to be more open to change than others. For those that are open, change is inevitable, for those that are not open, it is worth it to fight against it.

Finally, Jeff Nolan in his post on the value of being open and honest talks about corporate values being resistant to change. In a sense this can be extrapolated beyond a business culture in into our broader society. The innate culture of almost any country on earth is very resistant to change. For some change takes the form of revolution or coup. Others like the USA have found a peaceful way to enact change (elections, term limits). Either way it shows that stasis is the ideal state of a culture or corporation because it allows folks to understand, make rules, and easily traverse the waters. For society and corporations, change is natural but dangerous.

All of this research still leaves me not understanding what an “open mind” is. What it needs. How it functions. More importantly to me, how it will act. Arggh!

The need to understand is undying.

I Just Don't Understand an Open Mind

I woke up this morning with only two thoughts in my brain. First, I must listen to Electric Feel by MGMT (am listening to it now). The second thought is that I just don’t understand an “open mind”.

Curiosity ensues…

I mean on one level, an open mind is simply being able to see. I found a writing about photography where the author explores what she natively sees. Most of the time she goes in search of something directly in her mind. When she finds the beautiful shot she then ignores the possible ugliness around. Often, though, a dramatic and sad experience will force us to see the ugliness or difference, sometimes even search for it. For most the native state is baised and requires a force to see.

On another level, our city planners long ago realized that citizens need to be broken out of their workday lives. But rather than force them to go for a walk in the park, they would build them into ideal locations and just watch it happen. For example, an “open campus” in Sapporo, Japan is so open that it not only serves as campus and park, but has grown to become a vital water source for the city. Examples such as this and even New York City’s Central Park, show that parks and public places have easily become an insitutional part of any city. Strangely enough this structural addition is very easily accepted, no force required. Just place a park next to an office building and people will want to break out of their office and walk in them. For all, the need for a change in environment is inherent, institutional, and no force need apply.

A while ago I was browsing through Agust Jackson’s blog and found a TED Talk video he liked on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives (embedded below, highly worth watching). In it, Jonathan Haidt talks about openness. How liberals are not really liberals at all, they are just a group of being with a higher value of openness. Those conservatives are really folks with a lower value (theortically replaced by tradition, “the way it is”). I generally agreed with the points he is making that that some people are just going to be more open to change than others. For those that are open, change is inevitable, for those that are not open, it is worth it to fight against it.

Finally, Jeff Nolan in his post on the value of being open and honest talks about corporate values being resistant to change. In a sense this can be extrapolated beyond a business culture in into our broader society. The innate culture of almost any country on earth is very resistant to change. For some change takes the form of revolution or coup. Others like the USA have found a peaceful way to enact change (elections, term limits). Either way it shows that stasis is the ideal state of a culture or corporation because it allows folks to understand, make rules, and easily traverse the waters. For society and corporations, change is natural but dangerous.

All of this research still leaves me not understanding what an “open mind” is. What it needs. How it functions. More importantly to me, how it will act. Arggh!

The need to understand is undying.

Two Conferences Worth Attending – SXSW & ETech

It’s another year and another round of conferences to attend. Personally, I love conferences but can only stand one or two each year. I learn so much and make so many contacts from each one that I prefer to learn/digest/build rather than continue on the roadshow.

As such, here are two for 2009 that Amy and I are most interested in. They are the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactice and the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. What you will find below is a write-up about the conferences that I create for my customer and bosses. I really hope to get one of them to come with us this year.

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

SXSW Interactive

The Brightest Minds in Emerging Technology

Summary:

SXSW Interactive Festival covers a full range topics, from blogging trends and CMS techniques to tech-related social issues and wireless innovation. There will be more than 180 panel sessions on the following topics:

  • Advertising / Marketing
  • Business / Entrepreneurial
  • Community / Social Networks
  • Content
  • Digital Filmmaking
  • Human / Social Issues
  • Mobile / Wireless
  • New Technology / Next Generation
  • Programming
  • Web / Interface Design

Keynotes:

  • Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com)
  • Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, author of the “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,”
  • Guy Kawasaki (of Apple and several VC companies)

Date/Location:

  • Friday afternoon, March 13 through Tuesday afternoon, March 17
  • Austin, TX

Website:

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

Summary:

The event gathers together the world’s most interesting people to bring to light the important and disruptive innovations that we see on the horizon, rather than the ones that have already arrived. ETech hones in on what’s going to be making a difference not this year, or maybe even next year, but around the corner as the market digests the next wave of hacker-led surprises.

Since 2002, ETech has put onstage the blue sky innovation, from thought leaders finding ways to solve the world’s ills to hackers modding, breaking, and building for the fun of it, from P2P and swarm intelligence to social software and collective intelligence. Radical and unknown at the time, today many of the ideas first seen at ETech are on the tongues of investors and business pundits–and in the hands of consumers, fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and play.

Topics:

  • Mobile & the Web
  • City Tech – Can technology create a livable, prosperous, sustainable city? Which emerging technologies are poised to deliver a brighter, greener future?
  • Health – What are the breakthroughs in technology, genomics, medicine, anti-aging, drug development, and delivery that will make a difference in extending our lives and enhancing our quality of life?
  • Materials – We’ll examine the latest in mechanics and the materials that enable new developments. What mechanisms will be possible? How will the coming age of materials change our clothes, our products, and our everyday lives?
  • Life – What are the emerging technologies that promise to infuse themselves into our cultural and social fabric to help us work smarter, more efficiently, and create greater connectivity?

Keynotes:

  • Mary Lou Jepsen, dubbed one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008
  • Joi Ito (Creative Commons), Creative Commons – Creating Legal and Technical Interoperability
  • Drew Endy, David Grewal (BioBricks Foundation)
  • Jason Schultz (UC Berkeley School of Law), Building a New Biology
  • Eric Paulos (Carnegie Mellon University), Enabling Citizen Science
  • Jane McGonigal (Avant Game), Superstruct: How to Invent the Future by Playing a Game
  • Aaron Koblin of Google, Making Art with Lasers, Sensors and the Net
  • Tony Jebara (Columbia University), Mobile phones reveal the behavior of places and people

Date/Location:

  • March 9-12
  • San Jose, CA

Website:

Two Conferences Worth Attending – SXSW & ETech

It’s another year and another round of conferences to attend. Personally, I love conferences but can only stand one or two each year. I learn so much and make so many contacts from each one that I prefer to learn/digest/build rather than continue on the roadshow.

As such, here are two for 2009 that Amy and I are most interested in. They are the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactice and the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. What you will find below is a write-up about the conferences that I create for my customer and bosses. I really hope to get one of them to come with us this year.

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

SXSW Interactive

The Brightest Minds in Emerging Technology

Summary:

SXSW Interactive Festival covers a full range topics, from blogging trends and CMS techniques to tech-related social issues and wireless innovation. There will be more than 180 panel sessions on the following topics:

  • Advertising / Marketing
  • Business / Entrepreneurial
  • Community / Social Networks
  • Content
  • Digital Filmmaking
  • Human / Social Issues
  • Mobile / Wireless
  • New Technology / Next Generation
  • Programming
  • Web / Interface Design

Keynotes:

  • Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com)
  • Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, author of the “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,”
  • Guy Kawasaki (of Apple and several VC companies)

Date/Location:

  • Friday afternoon, March 13 through Tuesday afternoon, March 17
  • Austin, TX

Website:

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

Summary:

The event gathers together the world’s most interesting people to bring to light the important and disruptive innovations that we see on the horizon, rather than the ones that have already arrived. ETech hones in on what’s going to be making a difference not this year, or maybe even next year, but around the corner as the market digests the next wave of hacker-led surprises.

Since 2002, ETech has put onstage the blue sky innovation, from thought leaders finding ways to solve the world’s ills to hackers modding, breaking, and building for the fun of it, from P2P and swarm intelligence to social software and collective intelligence. Radical and unknown at the time, today many of the ideas first seen at ETech are on the tongues of investors and business pundits–and in the hands of consumers, fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and play.

Topics:

  • Mobile & the Web
  • City Tech – Can technology create a livable, prosperous, sustainable city? Which emerging technologies are poised to deliver a brighter, greener future?
  • Health – What are the breakthroughs in technology, genomics, medicine, anti-aging, drug development, and delivery that will make a difference in extending our lives and enhancing our quality of life?
  • Materials – We’ll examine the latest in mechanics and the materials that enable new developments. What mechanisms will be possible? How will the coming age of materials change our clothes, our products, and our everyday lives?
  • Life – What are the emerging technologies that promise to infuse themselves into our cultural and social fabric to help us work smarter, more efficiently, and create greater connectivity?

Keynotes:

  • Mary Lou Jepsen, dubbed one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008
  • Joi Ito (Creative Commons), Creative Commons – Creating Legal and Technical Interoperability
  • Drew Endy, David Grewal (BioBricks Foundation)
  • Jason Schultz (UC Berkeley School of Law), Building a New Biology
  • Eric Paulos (Carnegie Mellon University), Enabling Citizen Science
  • Jane McGonigal (Avant Game), Superstruct: How to Invent the Future by Playing a Game
  • Aaron Koblin of Google, Making Art with Lasers, Sensors and the Net
  • Tony Jebara (Columbia University), Mobile phones reveal the behavior of places and people

Date/Location:

  • March 9-12
  • San Jose, CA

Website:

The Value (and Price) of Twitter: Part II

Lots has been written about the value of Twitter, why people should use it, how people should use it and I don’t really feel like regurgitating the arguments (Chris Brogan wrote a good piece on “Twitter as Presence“, Marcia Conner highlighted the micro-learning aspect of it, and even the pedantic Andrew McAfee mentioned the social benefits of the application). Last month I made a bet that I could go an entire week without using Twitter, Facebook and my favorite social music-sharing site, Blip.FM.  And I was successful.

This is what I learned:

  1. I have a relationship with Twitter: it provides me with the social interaction that I as a social being need. On the flip side, I wonder if my Twitter habit precludes me from picking up the phone or meeting in person to have a robust conversation that is more substantive and fulfilling.
  2. Facebook and Twitter are my social network relationship managers: I keep up-to-date and make social plans using these two tools. I have a horrible memory and am a fairly social person so seeing what other folks are doing in Facebook and Twitter reminds me of what events I want to attend. And I regularly use Twitter or Facebook to find folks to attend these events.
  3. The “noise” of Twitter is addictive. Information addiction is becoming more prevalent as we have access to more sources. Our brains are pattern recognizers and it loves new information because it’s trained to seek it out. Twitter offers many things, including fictive learning (the exploration of could-have-been-experienced) and could be just as powerful as experiential learning.
  4. Twitter lets me see everything that’s going on. Since birth, I have displayed an active curiosity in everything. A few months ago, I asked my mom to describe me as a young child and what I was interested in and she replied, “You were constantly moving. You could never sit still, you could never stay put. You were interested in EVERYTHING. And got into EVERYTHING.” Since i don’t have a cable/internet connection at home, I rely on twitter via my iPhone as my main source of news and communication (for world, family, friend and work updates).
  5. Anyone can listen and jump into the conversation (but since I couldn’t participant, I had little interest in what was going on). This is a critical aspect of social change. Groups or individuals who are neglected, overlooked or dismissed will not exhibit a need or desire to participate or contribute and will therefore be apathetic.
  6. The bar is very LOW to participate. Anyone can throw in 140 characters worth of information. This is great for actions like making mental notes, expressing a feeling, asking a question and sharing links or event headlines. However, many things in life cannot be captured in 140 characters and other formats and forums must be used or suffer the consequences of gross misunderstandings and inefficiencies.
  7. I was very productive during this period. It was refreshing not to share, to focus on me and be primarily self-focused. When I wasn’t consuming information, I was able to process and create it. Since Twitter and social applications are noisy and addictive, I must train myself to limit my usage and exposure to them and I now make a conscious effort to “turn off the noise” and schedule planned periods of time to use them, either as a break to checkout what’s going on or share thoughts.
  8. I don’t know who I don’t know and I can share with these people. A great learning experience was when I needed to disseminate information for an event to which I didn’t have an attendee list. Not having Twitter at my disposal hurt potential recipients.
  9. Twitter is not the value..I am. There’s been much discussion over the value of Twitter and the most obvious aspect is the user and customer data. Twitter owns a very lucrative repository of its customers (aka Tweeters) buying, thinking, and behavioral cues and patterns . Companies, government agencies, even potential dating partners are interested in learning about “me” and social applications like Twitter provide a very convenient platform to execute against the resume and influence others.

One of the keys to my 1-week social software sabbatical was creating an incentive to break my habit since I didn’t know all the opportunity costs of my participation. So I, the competitive being that I am, contrived a wager with Andrew McAfee that is available for public viewing here:

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddz85z7r_13gpj74bd4

Since I was ruled successful in completing the terms of my part of the agreement, it’s Andy’s turn to complete his end of the bargain.