A place where stories, thoughts and ideas come together

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I love my social networks!

After having a wonderful time in my home town (class reunion, my father's 86th birthday, a week-end with my kids, nice weather), I'm on my way to reboot.

I got to Budapest airport 4h before my flight's departure (but at least I had a very comfortable trip by car, with pick-up on my parents' door steps) and thought of doing a bit more reading on reboot before leaving. First thing I've noticed was that my Wizzair flight to Malmoe was already delayed with 3h:-( Terminal 1 is by far less functional than Terminal 2A, but I guessed there should be a hot spot somewhere. Not on the ground floor - or is there anything wrong with my wi fi card?!

No escalators here, you have to carry your suitcase up and down the stairs...
The words of my former school mate came to my mind: "Fly cheap, fall deep!" Hmm... right now,
I'm inclined to think he was right. My 6th sense brings me to the Internet-Cafe upstairs- shiny machines with coins, but none wants to talk to me - or my Hungarian is not good enough?! After finding a nice armchair in the Visitors' Gallery upstairs, I discovered the wi fi was working!!! Hurray!

Read my mail, then went to Jaiku. Found Lilia's feed, went to her blog, jumped to Nicole's interviews, then to Stowe Boyd's podcasts on Blogtalk - when my battery dies, I'll have plenty of stuff to listen to!! Thanks, Nicole, thanks, Stowe, looking forward to meeting you tomorrow!

My friend in Malmoe told me SAS has been on strike - this could explain the delay!
Had a chat with my best friend who lives in Germany about our class reunion last week. Found out about the PhD seminar in the IDC yesterday. Talked to another old friend in Montreal...
People saw my status - "stuck in Budapest airport" and they all wanted to entertain me;-)

It's not boring at all anymore...


|| Gabriela 2:14:00 PM
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Digesting Blogwalk eleven Amsterdam...

I'm on my own in the house of my friends in Amstelveen, it's a sunny Sunday morning and I am torn apart between spending more time down by the canal my friends have in the back of their garden admiring the wild ducks(and ducklings!) - or blogging about what happened at Blogwalk...

I guess I'll take my laptop down in the garden and have spoiled I am this less than five wi-fi networks around...all open! I love this country!

The theme of this Blogwalk was Digital Bohemians...
I'm kind of hesitating what to talk about first...for me, it was a great experience, as always when I managed to attend! But this experience includes a lot more than spending a day together with like-minded people and meeting old friends again... It includes all what happened around it, it's like a web weaving itself, involving people, tools, content and events...

I won't have time to write about everything, I'll have to leave for the airport in an hour or so, but I need to start somewhere...

As said in the previous post, I did a bit of reading around the list of Blogwalk participants and I signed up for Gerrit Visser's twitterings few days before. I got to discover Frank Meeuwsen's
What's the next action (great resource if you're struggling like me with GTD!) because he left a comment on my Breda post...unfortunately I missed him at Blogwalk - which shows I didn't manage to talk to everyone...

I couldn't go to the Thursday evening dinner in the end, but after dinner I found out from Geert's twitterings that Ana-Despina and Riina sat next to him, and that they had Irish stew...

I got lost on Vijzenstraat(couldn't find the 51-55 building!), and seeing me struggling with my map, a nice lady got off her bike to help me. I was actually looking for Vijzengraacht, which was a bit further. I spent 2 min in the lobby with Thomas Madsen-Mygdal without knowing who he was...otherwise I would have expressed my enthusiasm about reboot...

I was happy to see Lilia, Ton, Elmine, Carla and Sebastian again. I finally got to meet Robert and Alexander Slagter in person;-) I was able to recognise a few people I knew from their web presence - Johnnie Moore, Gerrit Visser.

This Blogwalk was more unstructured and informal than any other I attended. No expectation post-its, no introductions, no topic groups. It started with socializing and networking, at some point Ton gave a few explanations for the people who were not familiar with the OpenSpace paradigm, and then we
started posting to the "wiki windows".
Elmine and myself in search for triggers(foto Sebastian)

I had several meaningful conversations, getting to meet people as I went around the room, listening to conversations and to my own intuition, trying to contribute wherever I could.

These were the topic clusters we could see emerging (probably Ton will manage to publish that content later on- update- see here):
- spaces - where do Digital Bohemians actually work?
- presence - how do DB signal their presence to the others?
- what kind of business model is this? are DB free or actually cyberslackers?
- what are the tools supporting DB's life style?
- how do they achieve a work-life balance? do they?!

We had a sort of identity problem: we couldn't figure out if we, as a group, belonged to that Digital Bohemians category. In the original book that inspired this title, digital bohemians are living in a metropolis(Berlin) and are freelancers. Part of us have permanent jobs (actually most of us!) - don't we qualify?! I guess this bohemianship is more a state of mind than anything else: flocking together at such unconferences on our own expense seems to be one of the features; having a digital lifestyle, trying to keep in touch with what's going on, being open to try new things are some of the others. Someone tried to define digital bohemians on a post-it:
"DB have:
- mad social skills
- a lot of gadgets
- even more RSS feeds to read
- more blog(posts) than time."

The morning passed very quickly, and we all took the tram to go to the Post building next to the Central Station, where we had lunch together. Riina complained that we couldn't move around during the lunch, but I must say I believe that whoever sits next to you or in front of you is the right person, and there's something interesting to find out from them.

The walk was interesting because of our guide Mark( I have to confess that it took me a while to figure out he was BicycleMark himself!) - he showed us secret corners I wouldn't have discovered as a regular tourist. I got the chance to speak to a few people I wanted to meet but didn't manage in the morning; among others, I had a very interesting walking conversation with a lady who will be working with the Games Programme of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, but can't remember her name(update: Carla Hoekendijk- thanks Ton!).
It's strange how stories bring a place closer to your heart...this is how I will probably remember the Zoo or Magere Bruecke later on...

The afternoon was dedicated to a plenary group debate - we struggled a lot to discover what actually characterizes a digital bohemian - and I don't have the feeling we succeeded. Anyhow, the conversation is still open, and - as after every Blogwalk- it takes a lot to digest and undersand what actually happened there...

As opposed to regular conferences, in such events the end is open and a lot happens after the event... and I'm talking again about relationships, idea, content...

Afternoon discussion( photo Sebastian)
Peter Kaptein from Instant Interfaces was our lovely host. Not only that he did his best to make us feel at home, but he also contributed a lot to the discussion.

More later, I have a plane to catch!

(Quite a struggle to speak Dutch with Blogger!)


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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Twitter, Jaiku and so on...

Although I got a Twitter account back in March (after the Webcamp at DERI), none of my contacts tweets regularly. I couldn’t make much sense of what would be my use of Twitter without any examples. People around me were talking and blogging about it, but none had a direct experience with it yet.

So, about two weeks ago, while visiting the reboot website and looking for interesting talks to attend, I was reading leisa reichalt’s proposal and I saw a link to her Twitter. I signed up to follow her tweets, and found out she was coming to Dublin for a talk. The next few days, Leisa was my Ulysses: I could follow her throughout her trip, learning how to make Guinness, getting excited at the sight of an Irish breakfast, leaving Dublin for London, planning trips, taxis, facilitating workshops, having fun, getting guests, admiring her new Mac… Leisa was a complete stranger for me before that: a person who’s talk I intend to attend. Not anymore! When I’ll finally meet her, she won’t know me, but I will know a few things about her last month…

And next, I went to the Twitter homepage and among the Blogger: CONIECTO - Edit Post "Twitter, Jaiku and so on..."most recent twitters, I saw Luis Suarez, who’s an IBMer, writes a blog (or more?), and has an active interest in Knowledge Management, communities of practice and collaboration in general. I knew Luis from the IBM intranet, and I was an infrequent reader of his blog. He was attending the APQC conference, so I thought I’d sign up to his twits as well… Great experience, he’s a much more frequent twitterer, he was commenting a lot on the course, on the networking and so on. He also pointed his readers to interesting resources, helped me find out what an n95 was, let us know he has a dog and even that he’s watching TV (I couldn’t have guessed this, judging by the number of activities he’s succeeding to cover, I would have bet he’s a workaholic just like me and he’s typing and staring at a screen 24/7!!!) This morning, struggling to access the net from Dublin airport, I got my Gurteen Knowledge Letter, and 2 min later I found out via Twitter that Luis got it as well! And that he knows David…Couldn’t stand anymore: had to twitter about this myself!

The third person I started following three days ago is Gerrit Visser, whom I’m going to meet tomorrow at Blogwalk. He’s just ordered a Dell, so I might ask for some advice tomorrow. And tonight, when I got back to my friends’ house, I got Gerrit's impressions from the dinner via Twitter – sorry I missed it, but I had to spend a bit of time with my friends, who are flying out tomorrow!

And I also signed up for Jaiku

I’m sure I’m going to enter this game very soon . But will it last? On the long run, will it make sense to follow more and more people and to broadcast my own thoughts? Will I follow 2-3 people at one time, projecting my own cine-verite with heroes I can simply dump when I find them boring, negative or simply too talkative??!!

With mailing lists, I had to unsubscribe when I realized I’m just deleting daily digests without even opening them. The number of unread feeds in my Bloglines got absolutely scary, and I don’t find the time and energy to clean up my subscriptions…Twittering is even more personal then blogging, more ephemeral…

Going to bed now, don’t want to be yawning the whole day tomorrow! Will add the links when I'll find time, I'm writing this offline...somehow there's no wi fi in my room under the roof...


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Thursday, May 03, 2007

The first Irish HCI Conference hosted by the IDC


My department organised a great event yesterday - the first Irish Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. About 50 people from different universities, companies and public institutions attended the event, which turned out to be a success! Several research groups from Cork, Dublin, Galway , Limerick and Maynooth presented their current research and projects, and I must say it was very interesting to find what was going on - not only in the other universities, but also in our own!

I found a lot of interesting connections in the presentations of Tim Hall (EMRC), Mark Magennis(NCBI) , Aphra Kerr(NUIM - NIRSA).

Mark Leslie(Martello Media) presented three of their projects, and the "fun palace" designed for the Visitor Centre at the Cliffs of Moher really caught my attention. I'm as mad as everyone else for the horrible impact that building had on the environment, but I'd still like to see what came out!

The ScanCam one of the participants was wearing at his neck raised privacy concerns (taking shots at every change detected in the environment- 5000-7000 pics/day). Our colleague introduced an interesting application that was actually trying to make sense of these images by selecting the less frequent situations out of the huge pile.

I was fascinated by the story around the design of a digital piece of jewelry presented by John Mc'Carthy from UCC. Different interactive artefacts made me think of the wide spectrum of opportunities for augmenting human intelligence made possible by technology: the topographic torch, the touch table, the search of digital archives, or artistic events such as the re-creation of the 1831 riot in the Queen Square in Bristol.

I also had the chance to discover that one of our colleagues in TCD is actually studying meetings and the electronic support for meetings (unlike us, who are focusing on software engineering, he's looking at the medical domain).

The breaks allowed for a lot of networking, and the gorgeous weather brought us outside, in the nice ambiance of the Kilmurry village.

In the afternoon, we had a group discussion on possible future actions for keeping in touch, creating awareness mechanisms on each other's work, and becoming more visible in Ireland as a community. The ideas kept buzzing, and we put together a wiki page to keep track of what was said and remains to be put into practice.

A few other people blogged the event: Mike Bennett, Eoin Brazil.
And of course we had a short note (and some comments!) on the IDC blog as well!

Although several people were involved in the organization, my colleague Luigina Ciolfi was the heart and the force behind this event. Kudos, Lui, for all the hard work! I enjoyed every minute, and judging by what I've heard, so did most of the participants!

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