A place where stories, thoughts and ideas come together

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My "interesting day" and a trip on Live Search Maps

I had a tough day. Had a medical appointment and wanted to get my bike checked at the same time. And was expecting guests from Denmark who were landing in Shannon at 12:15. My mom would have said this is my usual way of cramming things into my schedule until it blows up in my face:(

I left my bike at the bike shop and they promised it will be ready in an hour. Then I enjoyed the sun in the bus station for 35min: went through my to-do list, reorganised my priorities, made a few phone calls, and finally I had to catch a taxi to get to the hospital on time. But I've made it! Standing in front of the reception desk, I worried a bit when I noticed the appointment letter the guy in front of me was showing to the receptionist was white, and not pink like mine. Just to find out two minutes later that my appointment was for the other hospital, 5 min walking distance from my place. Apologies. Phone call to the other hospital. They promised they'll call me back. Bus to the bike shop. Bike was not ready. Phone rings: "Come here as soon as you can, the doctor accepted to see you later." Getting more and more worried. Another cyclist waiting started a conversation about the beautiful day outside. She took a day off to enjoy cycling. Did I notice how splendid the weather was? No. I had my worries. Forgot to breathe. Bike finally ready.

Cycling through the city centre. What's the best way to get to the hospital? Never mind. Any way, just to get there. Their parking has a bike rack! Now this is nice! Hurrying in. Trying to convince the receptionist to reschedule my appointment. "We'll get you in in a minute, and you'll be out shortly!" Yes - in my dreams! The door opened, the nurse brought a patient in a wheelchair out, and took me in. She was nice. Said the doctor will be in shortly. I was ready to explode! What if my guests arrived?! And then suddenly I decided there's nothing I could do about it. It was actually a beautiful spring day and it was all my fault I wanted to do too much. And I relaxed. And breathed.
The doctor came in and I got my ultrasound. He was nice too. Amazing he was not mad at me! Out. And home. 5 min after that, my guests arrived. Everything was back on track!

And in the evening, after sending my guest to bed, I got to check my mail. Someone on a mailing list pointed to a blog post: navan, carlow, wexford and limerick are available now in bird's eye view on Live Search Maps! I took a virtual trip following my daily cycling route to work. I showed my kids in Romania the shabby houses behind my apartment block. I started my first collection. I read about it. Impressed. Imagining tons of new opportunities. Ooops! midnight! Tough day tomorrow as well - must go to bed now.

ER Building on Live search maps
This is the building I work in UL - the Engineering Research Building. It's very close to the Living Bridge. It's also the place where the next BarCamp Ireland - 3DCamp - will happen on May 24. More on this in the following days!
|| Gabriela 11:25:00 PM
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Time off in Dublin

On my way out from the IBM press conference at the Merrion hotel, I noticed another butler stopping a taxi in front of the next entrance. I looked around to find out who was the VIP the taxi was meant for, to discover Gabriel Byrne! OMG!

My next stop was the William Buttler Yeats exhibition at the National Library of Ireland. Ever since Mark Leslie presented at the iHCI event in Limerick last year, I wanted to go there. Unfortunately, every time I went to Dublin it was for work, and there was no way to get to the city centre during the opening hours. Except now!

I had lunch with friends at NCI , discussing usability issues and the possible impact of virtual worlds on education.

And in the evening, I went to the Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene concert at the National Concert Hall. It was an amazing experience. Playing electronic music on a stage is probably much more complicated than recording in a studio, and pushing buttons and switches less spectacular than playing a guitar. The performance was absolutely stunning - even if the original album is 30 years old and everybody knows the pieces - the lights, the instruments, the projections and a sort of mirror hanging from the ceiling and showing an image of the scene seen from above(as in this recording) - all contributed to it!

Recordings of any kind were absolutely forbidden, and I've seen the concert hall staff invigilating this request of the artist, but of course the next morning short videos were available on YouTube! (1,2)
I was particularly impressed by the sound of the theremin and the choreography involved in playing it. And already thought of next year's Introduction to Digital Media course!

Today, I also had the nice surprise to discover a video made in Dublin by Jean Michel Jarre on YouTube!


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The first IBM Cloud Computing Centre in Europe

Just like any other of the many academic collaborators IBM has across Ireland, a while ago I was invited to attend an IBM event in Dublin yesterday, March 19. The invitation email didn't give many details - an important announcement was going to be made, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, was going to attend.

After two years of observing "life at the code face" and reading a lot about IBM's corporate culture, this was a chance to meet people at the top of the organisation and observe IBM's public (inter)face I couldn't miss.

The venue for the event was the Merrion Hotel and I was lucky to see the open door and the IBM logo inside, because the building didn't bear any sign. A registration desk, a welcoming butler who took my coat and backpack, and I landed in a luxurious reception room while I was still untangling my headphones and wiping my nose. A few people I knew introduced me to others - and as usually in such circumstances, I barely retained one or two names. Plenty of formal suits, and a few more casual ones - people from the "code face". I was there early, so after having a cup of tea, I went into the conference room and flicked through the materials offered to us, trying to figure out what the announcement was about.

I witnessed the arrival of breathless journalists, and the efforts of an IBMer to offer them all the explanations in a layman's language again and again, for each newcomer.
I couldn't avoid noticing that the female/male ratio was probably 1 to 10, including registration staff, personal assistants and journalists.

The IBM country general manager for Ireland, Michael Daly, opened the meeting - actually a press conference. The Minister Micheál Martin made the actual announcement: IBM is ready to open its first European Cloud Computing Centre which will be located in Mulhuddart - Dublin. IBM Vice President Willy Chiu followed, presenting the bigger picture: the concept of "cloud computing", the existing IBM cloud computing centres and the ones to be be created in the future, and how this trend fits into the general IBM strategy.

According to Mr.Chiu, the "cloud computing" concept combines grid computing, on demand services and Web 2.o technologies (the IBM Idea Factory) to provide a new type of Enterprise Data Centre.
Cloud computing is an information technology (IT) infrastructure in which dynamically shared computing resources are virtualized and accessed as a service. Cloud computing replaces the traditional data center model in which companies own and manage their own stand alone hardware and software systems. Cloud computing is an attractive proposition for small to large-sized companies. It also is a green technology model that reduces energy consumption by improving IT resource utilization, therefore requiring fewer servers to handle equivalent workloads.

One of the first IBM customers who will make use of the services of the new cloud computing centre is Sogeti (the IT services firm owned by consulting firm Cap Gemini) - Michiel Boreel CTO of Sogeti had an intervention as well, showing that this initiative "jumpstarts a new innovation culture" and they are planning to "make innovation everybody's job".

More details can be found in this IBM press release.

The press conference was followed by a demo session and more networking.
I didn't bother taking pictures with my mediocre camera, thinking there will be plenty available - the press cameras were flashing at every new slide on the screen. But none of them was actually published! Here's a list of mentions of the event I could find in the media today:

- ENN- IBM to open Dublin cloud computing centre
- Information Week - IBM opens 'cloud computing' centre in Dublin
- ITPro - IBM moves into clouds and social networks
- RTE - IBM Cloud Centre brings Dublin jobs (including some audio recordings and a very low quality picture taken on the Mulhuddart campus probably with a phone camera from a car!)
- The Industry Standard via IDG - IBM opens cloud computing center in Dublin.

Without any possible doubt, IBM has a great innovation culture and the proper tools to support it. But will simply providing the same infrastructure (and consulting) to its clients lead to the same results?! From what we saw, people develop local, situated practices around the tools they appropriate. There are cases in the literature where software development teams making use of the same tool had built completely different local practices around that tool.

Right now I'm reading a book on corporate culture and the author makes it very clear that changing the culture of an organisation is a very difficult and delicate process, with no guarantees of success whatsoever. Not exactly the kind of things business people love hearing, I know.
But I'm afraid I find most of the approaches to innovation and knowledge management rigid and mechanical as opposed to the richness and beauty of what can be observed in practice!

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

At the CreativeCamp in Kilkenny

I can't remember exactly when did I find out about the Kilkenny CreativeCamp. All I can remember was that my immediate reaction was: I want to go there!
I guess it was from Ken McGuire's blog.
There is a dedicated webpage, and the #podcamp jaiku channel was used for the day.
Ken also posted a couple of pictures of the venue - the Parade Tower of he Kilkenny Castle on Flickr. Hope to see more posted on the following days (my own camera decided to break after the first picture).
These were the organisers: Ken McGuire, Tom Corcoran, Keith Bohanna, and this the venue: Kilkenny Castle.

The audience was very mixed: artists, geeks, start-up people, bloggers, and so forth. 120 people have registered, but probably there were up to 80 attendees.

And these are my (slightly edited) notes from the event:
Ina O'Murchu - Personalisation and The Social Web
The Square Room is too small - many people want to listen to Ina's talk.
Ina: are you using iGoogle? iLike? - Ali interviewed on Intruders.TV - he confessed he didn't expect that viral spread through Facebook- had to get more servers.
Nike + iPod-nice combination - power song for the last mile. Personal as well as social!

Mashups - one of the best last year - Snow Patrol+Police.
(I just noticed the online program keeps on changing - bernie and walter are now down for 11am!)
Consumers are not listening anymore.
Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV - cutting out all the middlemen - sold everything and made a lot of money.
It is much easier to do for established artists - money are not being made on music anymore - but on the add-ons.
Our lives are exposed - We're constantly connected.
Nova Spivack presented this week at DERI Twine - a knowledge networking application -there's a Twine Preview on YouTube.
It is a bit like Wikipedia - but based on the Semantic Web.
(time for me to discover Nova's talk in DERI)
There are many others out there:
TripIt - for organising trips
Hakia - search for meaning
Ina promises the audience to upload the slides on her blog.

Comments from the audience - daughter on Bebo and Facebook - but still using texting a lot.
Someone working with O2 - works on mobile portals - Bebo and Facebook took off on mobile phones. There are 2000 iPhones on Vodaphone in Ireland!!!

Damien Beresford on Outsourcing Your Personal Workload(11am Ormond Room)
He gave this presentation at the Open Coffee in Waterford yesterday. He was formerly with Iona. Now with

What do they outsource: graphic design, search engine optimisation, testing, java scripts, small chunks of

Some of their negotiated tariffs: tester 13$ per day; graphic designer 8$ per icon;Java PHP $18 per day; Search Engine Optimisation $500 ongoing (one-off fee) Phillippines
Value compared to your time (~2/15split); it is 1/26 in manufacturing.
You still need to spend time - defining the requirements - selecting a person, checking the work.
You're the only one responsible for what you get back!
How: via conduit,,,,
They're all electronic market places - being the biggest.

You also need to solve the IP problem- signing an NDA with a person abroad might not be very effective. Resources to follow up are also needed.

New project - requirements, tests, questions in the specifications, definitive outputs, engage & check profile; repeat work is easier.

Damien explains how these sites work: the intermediary keeps the money until the work gets done; an arbitration system is also provided.
Once he tried to avoid rent-a-coder - they take out 15% of the price. But because Paypal is not accepted in some countries, the hassle of having to go to the bank made him give up.

On the Jaiku channel, Ken McGuirre shares a link to a pic of the day's programme.
Here's how it looks like:
Finally, Damien makes some reading recommendations:
Discussions followed the presentation and being so eager to share what I found out during my studies on this topic I almost forgot taking notes.

Siasy Collins and Qamir Hussain contributed to the discussion, sharing insights from their own experience.

Someone expressed concerns about handling IPR - outsourcing chunks of work to different people seems to work well.

Working with Sri Lanka and India proved to create complications when a company is on the point of getting bought out - you have to prove you have the IPRs, and this is acknowledged as well by the other side, and accepted by the laws

of their country.

Ger Hartnett - coclarity - Managing Any Kind Of Project With Scrum (Square Room, 11:45)
SCRUM - American named it so- looks like they had no clue about rugby;)
Description of SCRUMS - all projects have chickens and pigs. Ger mentions an old joke in which a chicken and a pig are talking and the chicken says, "Let's start a restaurant." The pig replies, "Good idea, but what should we call it?" "How about 'Ham and Eggs'" says the chicken. "No thanks," says the pig, "I would be committed to the project, but you would be nearly involved."
Ger used to work for Intel, converting caffeine into code.

The audience seems to come half from a creative background and half from the software industry (not that one excludes the other!).
Working in SCRUMs means frequent samples and small adjustments.
It is more about adaptability than about predictability.
Ideally for small teams - max 6 people. On a 35 people project - they split in 6 teams.
The people are ideally collocated, but there are ways to cope with distribution.

Every big project gets broken down into sprints; each sprint takes max 1 month; they keep a list of work items called backlog; at the start of each sprint - the team pick items from the backlog.
SCRUMs are about balancing the team's ability to focus with adaptability and ability to change.
Daily short meetings are hold; it is easier to focus on something that's a month away;
the daily meeting is 15 min max same time same place standing. 3 questions for everyone:
  • what did you do in the last day (binar answer- done or not done)
  • what roadblocks you encountered? how can others help?
  • what will you do by tomorrow?
People are managing their own tasks.
They use a highly advanced technology: loads of post-its stuck to a big sheet of paper:)
On the big sheet of paper:
- upper part - people
- lower part - current backlog, backlog, done

People are occasionally walking to the room to see where they are - for distributed projects you need a different solution. (3M make loads of money because people use so many post-its!!!-joke)
Managers still want a Microsoft Project document. Dealing with this is relatively simple - plan is a series of sprints; dependencies only at a sprint level.

Tracing a task list with a spreadsheet - in Ger's paper with Brian Fitzgerald- an example.
After the big chickens get to trust the team - they can do with less reporting;
everyone gets involved in planning and tracking, team "gells"
Further readings: The Wikipedia article on SCRUM.

Joe Drumgoole - people at PutPlace use TRACK. Other available tools: Lighthouse,mingle.
You can put tickets in if you take some out - otherwise you can't get all the tasks done and a sense of guilt develops.
White band Delphi - code reviews for estimates - Eurovision mashed up with code reviews:)

Q: how can you deal with roadblocks in 15 min? you don't solve the problem - you just state it - but you take it offline to solve it.
There is a person in SCRUMs who's half chicken -half pig. He reports to the chickens.
Every success is celebrated with roast chicken - Joe Drumgoole:)
Slides will be up on slideshare - promises Ger Hartnett.

-Jason Roe
He used to be a freelancer - web developer - he was working from home - and it was quite difficult. After a while, home seems a very lonely place and you can't do it anymore.
It was very expensive to get an office - he didn't need 3-5 people.
What he needed was to add some structure to his work. A lot of the customers were not based in Ireland - so meeting with the customers wasn't feasible.
Working from home - your days start to go into each other -they seem to run over and over and over. He looked at what was going on in different places in the US. - was set up about 18m ago
He wanted to see if there was a demand out there for cafe like collaboration spaces.
In other countries, freelancers would meet up in cafes/bars to work. What people need is flexibility on costs and flexibility on committments. 15 bloggers support the site currently.
It is not an office share!
There are a few places for co-working right now:
  • Space 28 set up by Paul Cable Jul 07 dublin
  • Broombridge in assoc with Jason Feb 2008 Dub
  • Waterford Institute - co-working ethos

A need to show how co-working differs in Ireland - to date. It's a matter of finding the other people who are interested.
In Waterford - the coworking location is part of the business incubator - 7 people who wanted to work together. Each person has an individual licence agreement - they can be in /out in 30 days.

There is scope for other institutes to do it. A lot of cross working going on - people mingle.
What is needed is a building or a landlord with a building; there are pros and cons of taking a lease - advantages of partnering; benefits for the landlord
Spaces can be a slow process to get off the ground; you need to find other interested people in your area.

Personally, I don't like this idea - where's the freedom? the fluidity? the serendipity?
The same people are meeting every day - that's not what the digital bohemians concept is all about.
They did a survey on The results are here.

A long lunch break followed - while the others were watching the rugby match on the big screen, I went out for a stroll - the castle has beautiful grounds and the weather was absolutely glorious!

I got back on time for the last 20 min of the Vultures screening ( episode 1"Kris Kringle Konundrum"). More about its history and context here.

The Women in Technology panel is next. Krishna De is facilitating it - she mentions the International Women's Day. The ladies on the panel:

Krishna De: question for Sabrina - What is the impact of blogging on your reputation as a freelancer?
Sabrina: She wrote a lot about travelling - then she was hired as professional blogger for a start-up that eventually failed - but her reputation as a blogger brought her a lot of work as web designer.

for Martha - How is it to blog from inside a big organisation?
She started blogging as a channel for interacting with people she needed to reach out to - getting useful feedback via the blog.
Sabrina: blogging also brings more transparency to her work.
Elly : putting a face to a name.
Ina: She is planning a change for marking a transition from the semantic web niche to internet marketing (her new job).

for Elly: How did micro-blogging affect your blogging?
Elly: Twitter is a sort of permanent Irish backchannel - Ireland being small enough, you can follow a lot of the people. She tracks about 150 people - this is how she's finding out about events. For example the GGD - Martha, can you tell more about it?

Martha: The Girl Geek dinner started in London 2y ago. Girl geeks usually don't want to go to events, because they don't know anyone. The purpose was creating a network of women.
The first one in Ireland happened in Dublin last week, the next will be in Cork in April.

"We need one big bloody circle to see everything that's going on in Ireland!" (Elly)
Someone from the audience: there is a sort of snobbery amongst women - the term "geek" needs to be disspelled. They think these events will look like the "Revenge of the nerds".

Krishna De finds the opportunity to thank Ken, Tom and Keith - the organisers.

What about privacy? What do you think of exposing your personal details?

Sabrina: people are paranoid; she has chosen to expose her personal details; she's getting a lot of hate email- but people are not serious about it - they don't knock on her door!
Trying to hide doesn't make sense; people can trace you even if you try to keep your identity secret.

for Ina: What can you say to convince me I should expose my identity?

Ina:she got an interesting job because of her blog; every now and then, she does get nasty comments - but that's all!

Elly: digital footprint - young people today don't care what they put out there.
Dooce, Petite anglaise are famous cases of bloggers that were brought to court because of things they wrote in their blogs. (thanks to Elly for correcting me here!) If you're not sure about posting - better keep it as a draft.
Older people seem to be more terrified by the repercussions of blogging then the young ones.

There was a recent case of a tax inspector going after an Irish blogger with printouts of his Linkedin, Facebook and Xing details.
78% of the employers google the names of job candidates.

for Martha - Is there a company code for blogging?
Microsoft is encouraging people to blog and there are guidelines available. There's no guideline for what you can put in a technology blog - you have to use your common sense.

Krishna De: Women who are moving into technology careers - 27%
What should we be doing to encourage more women to move into technology?
Ina: we need to do more at the secondary level education - show them what technology is able to do, how to set up a business.
Sabrina: a lot of women are involved in technology - but don't see themselves as such; she has a friend selling nappies online only who doesn't consider herself involved with technology.

Krishna De: A lot of women worked for companies like Microsoft had kids, and later became consultants. They don't consider themselves as "into technology" anymore.
At the first Barcamp in Dublin, there were very few women in the audience.
What can we all do to encourage more women to get involved?

Martha: what doesn't help is bitching about percentages. If you're the only woman - make the point, show other people it's possible, don't be shy, go out and network.

Elly: less geeky panels; more general talks; more break-out rooms.
Ina: encourage women who work from home to come.
Sabrina: for any event - dump the damn wikis, they suck! People don't know how to sign up; also offer tshirts that can't get over tits; organise half days for women with kids.
The "everybody who comes- presents" rule can be intimidating, especially for women.
Change the language you use to communicate; appoint more women on panels; have a place for kids; and dear sponsors, thank you for the wine!

Breaking news: Elly and Sabrina are preparing the launch of a new website: for Irish women who love the web; the plan is to build an online community; women can submit a max of 2 posts a month- using tags.
There will be a place for discussion, a calendar covering every event in Ireland in the future, articles to help people to start blogging.
The Ladies Tea Party will become an annual event.

(There were a lot of men in the audience, and they got involved in the conversation. I was afraid it could take a purely feminist turn, but the tone was just right, and the general mood was positive!)

Will Knott: could we organise a kids camp?
reboot in Copenhagen had a kindergarten.
There are insurance implication - we need to check this! BarCamps are informal.
Maybe there are existing creches nearby who could cover a Saturday.
There will be a discussion on

Sabrina Dent - Miss Sabrina's Guide to Blogging Like a Boy-for proper ladies & sensitive gentlemen
Positioning your blog - a key to getting yourself readers and work, can make you an authority in your topic area
test: write down all the big companies with logos using blue green black purple or red
test: write down every logo including Pink: T Mobile Cadburry Barbie
Design is branding: death to flowers, faeries, sunsets and Webkins;Death to TicketFactory
Be ruthless with your sidebar. Really ruthless.

What about a mention of speaking at a conference? it is ok to mention this.
Manage your blogroll - no friends lists - link to the people you want to align yourself with
(you'll get good judgment marks).

- dress the part
- own your brand - no free blogging service - the mark of a naive beginner
- filter for high value in your niche- no flickr on your finance blog - with dogs and flowers
- voice- Holmes, Coates (slides will be on her blog)
- no passive voice - it's just my opinion - straight is good
- "I really feel that" - uncovers feeling rather than thinking
- I'm just X and not Y, but..." - diminishing the value of our own opinions before stating them
Abuse the elipse:
"I have no real idea here..."- sounds like you can't finish your thoughts
"Don't get mad at me!" - sounds like you're apologising
makes people not take what you say seriously.

- blog your opinions
- make yourself uncomfortable if necessary
- watch your language
- take part in conversation
- leverage trackbacks and comments

- has nothing to do with formal education or credentials
- self assignment as an authority - uncomfortable, but necessary - nobody else is going to do it
- speak about yourself in a way that increases your relevance
- mention your kids and life last - if you want to
- grant yourself authority
- go to things - events like this
- maintain the contact - twitter, jaiku, linkedin
Conclusion: "Nice girls finish last".

Martha: What can you do if you know you write an ugly blog ?
Try a decent use of colour and layout - call a friend and ask her opinion.
Elly: there are a lot of templates out there - Wordpress - ready made widgets
Ina: What blogging software do you recommend?
Sabrina: I am able to guide people via email in Wordpress - but anything is ok. Movable Type for example.
Sabrina: I used to blog by hand - using an Access database and hand coded HTML code - before you were born
Elly: Grannymar and Grandad- are using Windows Live Writer to post to Wordpress. (again, thanks to Elly for the correction!)

What are the big crimes in blogging?
- don't change the content after you published something
- check your facts

I must say Sabrina's talk was for me one of the highlights of CreativeCamp. What she said rang a big bell to me - a lot of things need to be changed here! Sabrina's slides are available for download.

The Beyond OpenCoffee panel was chaired by Bernie Goldbach.
We had an introductions round. The audience was mixed: from regulars and organisers of OpenCoffee meetings in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Dublin and Waterford, to people who heard of OC, but never made it to one, and people who had no clue what was all about and just wanted to find out.

A few questions were suggested:
Bernie (co-organiser of the Limerick OC, together with James Corbett):
- What is the best format for OpenCoffee?
- Would you consider a 20 min online presence, if your job makes it difficult to attend?
- Would there be content you would take with you from these meetings?
Tom Corcoran (organiser Waterford OC):
- How do you attract an audience?
Ina O'Murchu (organiser Galway OC):
- How do we advertise? we need to set goals and use them for attracting people!

Anton Mannering, the organiser of TechLudd (hold on the 3rd Thursday every month in different cities): TechLudd is meant to give people the opportunity to meet up. It is an evening time meeting, while OpenCoffee is traditionally a day time meeting. TechLudd is more about startups and the entrepreneurial mindset- not specifically orientated toward web2.0.

Bernie: there is an energy here - people are interested in creating something; ee have a movement - it will die if we don't find a way to foster it.
There were several ideas for making the existing information widely available:
- - a group blog; people are already writing about OCs, it might be better to aggregate these posts;
- using PageFlakes to create a page cast - James Corbett added all the feeds from the different groups and displayed them on one page;
- best of OpenCoffee - inviting the most successful presentations to other OC locations;

Current participants expressed their option for an "off the record" slot, with information exchanges meant for the people attending only.

That aggregate can then be distributed through other channels. There should be a possibility to subscribe to one city's OC only; but there are definitely people who would be interested in seeing what's going on around the country.

Anton Mannering said he's working with Microsoft on a unified events calendar for Ireland.

Other issues discussed referred to dealing with new comers:
- How do you help new people to come in? A contact person/facilitator could be mentioned on the website for each city.
- How do you get in? We should have a presentation that would attract people - showing that new people are always welcome and OCs are not closed circles.
Regular attendees should set on a mission to bring someone else with them.
The Techludd idea could be re-used here: "At OpenCoffee, you can talk to me about:"
Social artifacts are also very successful: for example, a guy in an orange t-shirt is going to introduce you to the others; Anton had great success with his hat.

For sponsoring the event, several solutions can be explored: in Cork, there's a queue of people who want to give demos and are ready to sponsor the event; Entreprise Ireland could be interested as well.

There was a discussion about the best time for OpenCoffee meetings- 9am? 11am?
Shouldn't it be in the afternoon?
TechLudd is for evenings and beers. OpenCoffees are connected to coffee time; usually at 1-2pm people go back to work. In Limerick, we also had Blogger Coffees on Saturdays - different events have different functions.

Related to the best ways of announcing people about the next event, people could be given an option for one of the many possible channels:, email, Bebo, Facebook, phone calls via VoiceSage.

Update Tuesday,12 March:
Pictures from the event here (actually the location before the event) and here.
I know my post sounds more like meeting minutes than a blog post, but this is all I could do before I was knocked down by something that looks like a bug, but could be sheer exhaustion.
Maybe I'll find the time to revisit it. Or maybe not.


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

BlogTalk Day 2 - afternoon session

Thomas Burg is chairing the afternoon session.

Keynote talk: Michael Breidenbrücker (Lovely Systems,
Let's face it: Web 2.0 is all about advertising

The Germans copy everything; StudiVZ is probably a localised version of Facebook.
Another company bought them because they had a lot of traffic.
How do we send this traffic to other sites? They put on ads, but they looked like old 1.0 banners-
"extraterrestrial beings that happened to be on that site".
In Facebook, you have newsfeeds. The same kind of feeds are produced by - what are your friends listening to - actually ads;-)
If you want to push the right data to the right person, collaborative filtering doesn't work - you can't do it in real time.
Connect any user to any data - instantly. But we can't do it right now. Hope the semantic technologies will help!
Q&A - when you buy a book - last click recommendation; - you recommend in real time while you're listening.

Andera Gadeib (Dialego)
MindVoyager: an interactive journey through the collective thoughts of a selected target group
People who take the elevator to go to the fitness centre; who knows what's on their minds?

100-200 people as target group - they are including the long tail. Have a pool of 100,000 people in different countries they screen for each study.

The Mindvoyager online tool: test design, survey design.
People are selected from a panel - choose an identity- an avatar. They join different rooms where they choose tags. Later on, they can see how other people tagged the same product/service. Allegedly it is fun for the participants and gives the clients an idea about what people in their target group think.

Sponsored demonstration: Martha Rotter (Microsoft)
Building blogs and mashing them up with Windows Live Services and Popfly

Martha is talking about the Windows Live platform.

- maps for Harley-Davidson owners - with photos and videos
- a website built for inspiration - Contoso bicycle club
- Contoso University -
- not many fans of Spaces in the audience...

Tafiti - a new search application

Robert Mao (Microsoft)
Social blog: turning a blog into a decentralised social network
Pet project, but occupying 100% of Robert's time; he knows of several avenues he could take, but unfortunately he doesn't have more resources.

Brian O'Donovan* (IBM), Gabriela Avram*, Liam Bannon (University of Limerick)
What is happening behind the firewall? The emerging role of social software in IBM
I have the feeling our presentation went well, but there were 100 things we didn't manage to say. I hope to blog about it in detail later.

Hak-Lae Kim*, John G. Breslin (DERI, National University of Ireland, Galway) SCOT-based tag sharing services
He did the same mistake Martha Rotter mentioned earlier: once he showed us the toy, we all jumped on it, ruining his demo. Bad, bad audience :)


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BlogTalk Day 2 - morning session

John Breslin, after being a perfect host at the conference dinner last night, is introducing the first speaker of the morning:

Keynote talk: Nova Spivack
Semantic social software: the Semantic Web for consumers
- the 3rd decade of the web - is a period in time, not a technology - a higher resolution web
- the web IS the database!
- web 3G - the Giant Global Graph instead web 3.0 (2010-2020)
OWL SPARQL OpenID Ajax - semantic search, semantic databases, widgets
- web 4.0 (2020-2030)
(2030's the human body as platform??! time of the borg? I don't wanna go there...)
  • the tagging approach
  • the statistical approach(Google doesn't work very well when there are no hyperlinks; Autonome does a better job parsing texts)
  • the linguistic approach - Powerset Hakia
  • the semantic web approach
  • the AI approach

- some approaches make the software smarter, other make the data smarter
- relational databases - relationships between columns
- RDF - only needs 3 columns and the relationship is given (subject, object, predicate)
Next, Nova gave a demo of their product Twine creating a new twine: Blogtalk2008.
Twine adds semantic tags to people, organisations, places and can be used as a blog, as a wiki and in several other ways. "Google says it's trying to organise the world's information, Twine is trying to organise your information."
- he invites the audience to try it - it is still in closed beta - but we can get invited.
Q: why would I put my content in? To get it semantically annotated - you can pull the feeds of your blog in - get its content annotated
Q: How can you get your data out? RSS, SPARQL

David Cushman (Bauer Consumer Media)
Reed's law and the demand curve
(initially announced as The long tail, and why multiple identities make it just a little bit longer)

I got distracted reading David's blog and forgot to take any notes...

And skipped the next two presentations because I started to feel nervous and needed to go through my presentation again... While in the lobby, I had a "dealing with procrastination" chat with Niall Larkin and Geoff Hartnett - nice occasion for procrastinating again;-)

Panel discussion: Stephanie Booth, Bernard Goldbach, Donnacha O'Caoimh, Jan Schmidt
From blog-style commentary to conversational social media

Steph - 3 tags that express your interest in SM, and one things people do not know about you
Jan: academic, sociology, practice - football fan
Bernie: academic,syndication, watchlist - blogged from prison
Donnacha: conversation sharing photographer - interested in soccer

Steph - the idea of this topic - on a panel with 4 teenagers
Do you blog? No, we're using Facebook now

How are the new tools influencing the reasons of why people blog?
Jan - people's perception that think blogs are irrelevant is aggravated by Facebook and micro-blogging
Bernie - transition year students introduced to blogging after being introduced to Twitter - "cool! like Bebo text!" the lack of opening for thoughtful writing, open to commentary
Donnacha - Wordpress developers worked on a tool named Prologue - takes a text message and puts it in a blog post format

Steph: different things people use blogs for - a tool and a publishing format - no limitations about the content - how did your own use of blogs changed since you started? is it because the new tools?

Jan - started in 2004; researched older blogs- diaries and photo blogs;
Bernie - I'm using different tools for blogging now; you can touch different people.
Donnacha - several blogs: In Photos, I quit Facebook; the format imposed by the tool definitely influence the practice
Steph: easy to publish feature first; adding a lot of other tools made it a lot more complicated and reduced the amount of posts. Now she uses Twitter and facebook to communicate short and simple messages.

Steph: survey - who blogs? a lot of people; who tweets? a lot of people; did Twitter change the way you blog? less

Joe Lamantia - Twitter - more like IM than blogging

Tom Raftery: Twitter made my blog posts sink - before 3-4 a day, now 3-4 a week.
Donnacha: feels like cheating the blog subscribers if he talks about personal stuff; refrains from doing it now. Twitter provides RSS feeds and making tweets public and taking them out of context is dangerous.

Twitter supports conversations, but so do blogs. Are tweets googlable?
IM and IRC - the Wordpress community communicates via IRC;
Bernie : Twitter better for average users than IRC.

Steph: your blogging habits changed because you evolved, or what this influenced by the existing tools?
Jan : it would be interesting to study people who start blogging now, in the current environment; more influenced by the tools.
Bernie: IRC, tweets are not publicly visible; the current tools are taking you away from things that need to be done; people consuming his RSS feeds are giving him feedback about things they don't want to see there.
Donnacha: the content influenced by the people who joined the blogosphere; he prefers to write long in-depth articles.

Steph: Social networking sites are not the death of blogs, but they influenced what we blog about. What do you think?

Jan: doesn't see any change from blogs to Twitter;
Bernie: we're using new technology to enhance the way we speak about things; buying options are influenced by what bloggers share; teaching about watchlists for taking informed decisions;
Donnacha: a lot of my friends don't use Twitter. Blogging about personal life - he knew he could reach his old friends - through Twitter, he knew it wasn't possible.
Bernie: a lot of people in their 50s have no clue about social networking, but they're brought in by their kids; that start using them without knowing what they are.

Steph: are blogs social networks?
Bernie: if you tag your blog posts properly.

Salim: the whole concept: self-publishing; why do we choose to fragment this discourse? putting fragments on different sites does not help. Jan- how do we bring this data back together?


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Monday, March 03, 2008

Blogtalk 08 Day 1 afternoon session

Jan Schmidt is chairing the afternoon session.

Keynote talk: Matt Colebourne (coComment)
Conversation tracking technologies: how to improve communication in a UGC world
- not everything people say is true and fair - but you have to take them into account

HD DVD hack - put on digg how to stop people from commenting?
people are passionate and emotional in their opinions - if you argue with them, their argument becomes stronger
52% of people are occasional players - they don't comment on blogs or write blogs

Paul Miller (Talis)
Realising potential in the web of relationships
Too tired to blog about... Interesting talk although!

Note to myself: Do I like slides with beautiful nature pictures and a few words on them? are they better than plain ppt? Internet waves on a background of sea waves...
The number of laptops patched with stickers around me is impressive. I perceive it as a fashion crime...

Sponsored demonstration: Jeremy Ruston (Osmosoft, BT)
The further adventures of TiddlyWiki
- innovative interface, possible to download the page

mojo, SpeedConnect used to connect - random dating
different way of building mashups
collaborative notes taking for conferences
I feel a bit frustrated because my phone didn't ring during the demo; left out of the game?!

One of the TiddlyWiki users: Garrett Lisi - Deferential Geometry
Support for users :

Hugo Pardo Kuklinski
* (University of Vic), Joel Brandt (Stanford University)
Campus Móvil: designing a mobile Web 2.0 startup for higher education uses

- applications for mobile devices used in Spanish-speaking universities

Jon Hoem (The Media Centre, Bergen University College)
Memoz: spatial webpublishing
- memoz - tribute to Vannevar Bush's memex - memory organizer
- using weblogs for learning...
- the concept of ship logging - combining geographical position and information
- selection by association - trail blazers
- - text driven -
- wists -images
- clipmarks - text&images
- Facebook - info org in time, but not in space
- geotagging of blogs, twitter - still not very helpful

- images are different - have a look at how information is conveyed by this painting: Pieter Bruegel - Fight between Carnival and Lent
- weblogs organise information temporarily
- how does temporality support mental maps?

Wim Wenders - In Defense of Places
- poster about video-editing
- had a look at how 15yo girls represent themselves - Piczo

- collaborating on annotating a map - but is this blogging?!
- Jorn Barger - collection of links on the web
- yes, spatial weblogging makes sense
My note: a pity he didn't close the circle - how does this apply to teaching and learning?
- Tinderbox - an example on how info can be displayed in different ways
Q: would a combination between the spatial and temporal perspectives be possible?

Jan Blanchard*, Conor Wade (Tourist Republic), John G. Breslin, Conor Hayes (DERI)
A proposed semantic recommender network for trip planning
- building a semantic trip planner together with DERI (John Breslin and Conor Hayes)
- explore, share and plan trips online
- cut and paste trip planners - ask you to have a travel blog
- a semi-intelligent trip planner - Yahoo trip planner, Kango
- so, what is missing? 3 areas: recommendation, booking, collaboration
(my note: could Dopplr, Twitter, Plazes content help? nowadays we use them to get suggestions from friends...)


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BlogTalk 2008 Day 1 - morning session

Tom Raftery opened the morning session and introduced Salim Ismail (ex Yahoo! Brickhouse)
He's back to "start-up land" now - just left Yahoo; he shows us the picture of an old "Guiness by night" t-shirt; when Damien Mulley, planning Paddy's Valley, asked him what could he bring from Ireland, Salim asked Damien for a new similar t-shirt!

Entrepreneurship and social media
- blogging being overtaken
- 4 major drivers: XML, syndication, low latency, great UX
- publish and subscribe - 00s - watching is today's pattern of information exchange
- we went from email (80s) web browser (90's) to RSS aggregators (00's)
- Internet 3.0 - is the nervous system, where search is the memory
- the hidden web - databases that are not visible to search machines
- ephemeral pages - plane tickets, eBay offers
- not easily available to search engines - 95% publicly available
- user fills form - data is syndicated - user receives feeds
- blog - only one facet
- Who do I know?(social networks), What am I doing? Where am I?
- social networks - closed syndication - you have to go there to get the info
- 3 ways of making money: users/advertising, subscriptions, data mining
Rapleaf - scrap info from several SN sites - aggregate it - sell it back
Internet Entrepreneurship:
- you have to do everything right AND get very lucky
- market timing
- team, team, team
- focus, then execute
- never give up - stick around long enough...
Dynamics of starting a company today:
- low barrier to entry, virality is key, lots of competition, focus on service rather than data
- you have to break some rules to get traction - afterwards, you can become a good citizen again
Flickr started as instant messaging for gamers - enabled photo posting accidentally

Thoughts on Social Media: social networks are going to fail - because of the numerous ways you can relate to someone. Computers are binary!
Advice for entrepreneurs:
- pick up a domain you're passionate about
- choose one of the drivers
- think about the risk
- jump in with both feet

If it doesn't work - get yourself a new t-shirt and start again!

the big problem - no of searches and no of new data published - matching data and searches
publish&subscribe - it is actually request/response
Twitter goes down - people publish - they have to match the queries (got a new tweet - who cares?)
- companies opening their databases to the public - they're guarding it
- big companies - forced to open their databases and position themselves as platforms
- Yahoo service to come out - danger - people can figure out where other people are - implications

The next speaker: Joe Lamantia (Keane)
The DIY future: what happens when everyone designs social media? Practical suggestions for handling new ethical dilemmas

- Joe's achievements - sorting cards - framework for portal design
A few sites to look at:
  • BoxesandArrows
  • UXMatters

Ethics & conflict in social media:
- - similar story with my Shelfari one
- asked his contact about his experience
- deliberate design decision "It's a highly viral, albeit controversial marketing strategy"- TechCrunch
- social software building blocks
- design becomes conflict mediator
- 3 shifts - permeation, integration, conflict
- for young people - technology seamlessly integrated in life
- more people are integrated in design
- - defence mechanism
- social networks anti-patterns
spam your contacts, enter your other site login

- rise of SPIME(Bruce Sterling) - world where the boundaries between information, physical objects and spaces blurr
- DIY shift - shadow IT, open source, mashups
- experiences are c0-created - more people involved in design - not only designers
- Joe suggest the term "eco-system of design"
Integrated experiences - integration actually amplifies the experience
- the role of designers changes - Kevin Kelly - The Bottom is not Enough
Craig Newmark - I created the platform, and then I got out of the way

"The Ethical design kit"
strategy, simple goals,...
Conflict resolution process - in 4 steps
- you need a framework - bows and arrows, bill of right
- conflict aware design artefacts - to make you aware what is ethical and what unethical
- last slide - questions? in gaelic as well
augmented experience - blogtalk IRC channel, jaiku, blog, flickr

Mark Bernstein (Eastgate Systems Inc.)
Neovictorian, nobitic, and narrative: ancient anticipations and the meaning of weblogs
(recording of the talk)
- weblogs do have ideas
- they are not C2C
- pro weblogs - The romantic critic
- enemies - weblogs - no ideas, no ideals
- neoVictorian computing OOPSLA 08- software factory - artisan software
- neoVictorian internet
- weblogs write with links; links the first significant punctuation
- weblogs want to be right, to be first
- weblogs want to be independent - who is the master? and who the slave?
- blogging teaching us about how we ought to feel
- mutual improvement societies - the public lecture - Scoble lecturing the world every day
- nobitic = writing to ourselves
we're only allowed one person on stage - blogflaneur
- our objects send each other messages behind our back Tinderbox

Anna Rogozinska (Institute of Polish Culture, Warsaw University)
Everyday body regimes: the construction of self in weblogs about dieting
- academic and user - PhD student
- identity as reflective practice - Giddens
- virtual identity - facilitating identity play (Turkle 1996, Wakeford 2000)
- methodological concerns - context
- writing the self as cultural practice has 3 main aspects: technology, means of identity construction, social context
- participatory observation - researcher as user - being a fellow user as participation (ethic aspects- you actually hide there pretending to be a user!)
- - a portal - Miladka - her own blog

Panel discussion: Sean McGrath, Bill de hÓra, Conor O'Neill, Ben Ward
Mashups, microformats and the mobile web
Questions already on the website:
* Is the phrase "reliable mashup application" an oxymoron?
* Will we ever see one syndication format emerge to dominate or is babelisation inevitable? Desirable?
* Do microformats need governance in order to work?
* Is the mobile web a technological superset subset or mutation of the "original" web?
* Can MMS be equated with WAP. Would that be a category error?
* Has blogging run its course as a phenomenon?
* Are microformats running out of steam or gathering steam?
* How many forms of digital identity will I need to use the Web in 2010?

I have to take a break from blogging and just listen to the conversation...

Own reflection: this conference as a playground - participants taking different roles - connecting through back channels: IRC, Twitter, Jaiku; parallel conversations contributing to the flow; how it changed from the first Blogtalk; How I changed over the last 5 years :)


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Sunday, March 02, 2008

SNP Webcamp - afternoon session

First session:
* I went to [2] How Does Opening the Social Web Affect Society, Culture and Business; What Are the Rights of Users on the Social Web?

- Portable identities - do we want them? What's the benefit for businesses?
- The permanence/immanence of information
- different facets - not different identities
- who is going to decide what and when to disclose?
- data referring to relationships - who decides on them?- a relationship has two ends!
- there's no such things as one single central core identity - identity negotiated continuously
- Niall Larkin: our identity is socially assigned - socially negotiated
- any identity tag could do - passport assigned to you by the government.

For the second session, I have chosen:

* [3] Patternizing the "Teaching people to phish" anti-pattern.

- Aral Balkan exposed a possible solution - a service with the code in open source and checked daily by a trusted authority
- an explanation on what actually phishing meant - originally
- teaching people to let themselves phished - leisa reichelt's blog post

- you have to be aware that giving access to your email - you're giving access to your root account- "I trust you to behave as me" - I told my story about Shelfari.
- Stephanie:new service- oAuth - you can define the level of access - "you're allowed to do this this and that - and I don't trust you to be me!"

- "are you me? are you another entity"
- Google owning our data - should we be afraid?

Back in the big room.
Aral Balkan introducing the panel discussion:
Stephanie Booth, Dan Brickley, Ben Ward, Paddy Holahan

Summarising the breakout sessions:

Breakout Session 1

* [1] Adoption challenges (for social network portability) and ways for solving them
John Breslin

* [2] How Does Opening the Social Web Affect Society, Culture and Business
- What Are the Rights of Users on the Social Web?
Jan Schmidt - Notes from Session

* [3] Technologies for Social Network Portability and Lessons Learned from Them
o FOAF, Microformats, OpenSocial, SocialGraph API, XMPP, Be Techy and proud
Morten Høybye Frederiksen

Breakout Session 2

* [1] Digesting the Data - What can we do once the data are out there? John Breslin summarising.

* [2] Trust, Identity and Privacy for the Portable Web. Anders Conbers reports back from that one.

* [3] Patternizing the "Teaching people to phish" anti-pattern. Will Knott summarizes discussions in our group - well done!

Tom Morris - on the backchannel IRC asks: who's going to solve the problem? the hackers or the philosophers?
Niall Larkin - you need the different perspectives to find a solution; relationships are even more complicated online.


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At Social Networks Portability Webcamp

Missed the first speaker - Ajit Jaokar - my 6am Aircoach from Dublin made it into Cork at 9:45.
Dan Brickley is talking now, after a bit of fiddling around with the projector connection.
Already spotted Nial Larkin, Steph Booth, Jan Schmidt, Will Knott and Flemming Funch in the audience.

Weird how I had to look around to discover who was twittering from what corner of the room...
Dan showing a cool diagram. The latest fancy name: social graph when we talk about social networks.
SPARQL - a system for querying RDF databases - it is claim-based "who says John is 30?" instead of "How old is John?"

Nice break - time to finally talk face to face with Will Knott and Niall Larkin! It is scary, the taxman actually checks on Linkedin, Facebook and so on...

Stephanie's talk: no pics. No acronyms either ;-)
How do you take with you your profile and your "friends" from one social network to another?

My social network is not flat, it is lumpy! We need to organise our friends in different ways, both explicit and implicit.
Steph mentions "responsible design" as explained in a Leisa Reichelt post. All these services seem to teach us phishing... And the old problem - who owns my data?

What about interpolating friends?
Friendfeed shows recommended people - not enough. Would like to see all the friends of my friends, so that I could pick up the ones I'd like to add!

John Breslin aka Cloud shows funny drawings
instead off PPT slides. So refreshing!

1. What does Data Portability means to me?
2. Data Portability Changing the way you look at the web
3 Value of DP for Vendors?
4. The value of DP for users
5. Next steps for DP

Ben Ward web developer at !Yahoo Europe
admin at
In the beginning, there was the URL...
Then came you...then your SN sites ...and your friends...and your claims...

Talk on the backchannel if we should have a standard set of cliparts for things like HCard, XFN:)
Google Social Graph API - I should try that!

Q&A - versioning profiles - should time enter into discussion?
Are we friends forever?
HCards - consolidated identity. Thanks, guys, just created mine here :-)
How do you feel about keeping a history of all your relationships? Hmm...

Uldis Bojar - FOAF for Social Network Portability
Dan Brickley already said everything that was to be said..
Just a few words about FOAF and SIOC

Note: decided to publish this draft "as-it-is" before I mess something up! It happened too frequently lately - maybe I'm just too tired!

Anders Conbere - crash course on XMPP
Twitter, Jabber, GTalk use this...
The presentation is here says @johnbreslin on Twitter.
Presentations coming soon here!
Very interesting talk on what you could do with XMPP...


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Irish Blog Awards 2008

This year, I made it! After only 3-4h of sleep per night in the last two weeks, a bit of extra sleep over the week-end would have been highly appreciated. But I decided to stretch myself a bit more, jumped on the Dublin bus at 12:30 on Saturday (the price of a one way train ticket is prohibitive!) and made it to both events:
- the Ladies' Tea Party at the Market Bar
- the Irish Blog Awards 2008 at the Alexander Hotel.

I had to go to bed around 11, because my crazy plans didn't end here. This morning I took the Aircoach to Cork at 6am, and here I am.

More on the Dublin events later!
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