ETech Day 3

ETech Day 3 (for me) was yesterday, so I'm a bit late with the GIPs (generic info-packets).
  • Lawrence Lessig started the day with a talk called Re:MixMe. He made the case that the ordinary way culture has been built has been through remixing—recombining pieces of the culture in different ways—and recent changes in technology have meant less freedom to remix. New "ordinary ways" to communicate mean laws need to change to protect rather than limit freedom to communicate.
  • JC Herz talked about some emerging military technology. There was an impressive demo of cheap and fast photorealistic 3-D rendering. And a look at some "scene understanding" technology that allows a computer to find targets in a video stream and move the camera to follow their movement. I had the creeps throughout. (It's an important reminder to me to think through the potential application of any technology I work on.)
  • In a very surprising session, Paula Le Dieu from the BBC announced that they would be encouraging their users to rip, mix, and burn their content. Instead of sending lawyers after people who use BBC material in ways they may not have envisioned, they'll be encouraging use of their "creative archive". Unfortunately, their creative commons-inspired licenses will only apply in the UK, but she said they're working internally to make it an international effort. She left with the question: Could big media companies enable massive creativity?
  • Chris Anderson from Wired explained his Long Tail concept in detail. One point: recommendation engines push people into the long tail of non-hit (or past-hit) products. And we have an abundance of recommendation engines these days.
  • I heard Marc Hedlund talk about getting venture capital funding for a project. It was interesting to hear his stories—like hearing travel notes from some exotic locale I'll probably never visit. A point: get your company to the point where you don't need VC funding to be in a position to get VC funding.
  • Danny O'Brien and Merlin Mann talked about Life Hacks, which are productivity tips & tricks that alpha geeks implement for themselves, but don't often share with others. One point: change your work habits to make failure difficult. If you think about your system of working as if it was a software system, you can think about "hacking" it to improve efficiency and get more stuff done.
  • I saw Ev's demo of his new application: Odeo. This whole podcasting thing could be big. The app is surprisingly polished for something still in alpha testing. One impressive bit is a Flash interface for recording and mixing audio.
  • Ben Trott talked about making web services personal. He announced Six Apart Power Tools, and showed how you could grab existing data and turn it into some compelling applications. One point: there is a lot of metadata out there (FOAF, Exif tags) just waiting for the connections to be exposed.
  • And finally, Mark Fletcher of Bloglines fame talked about his "rules of thumb" for birthing web startups. Lots of practical advice about funding, servers, and system administration.
And that brings my emerging technology adventure to an end. It was a great conference and now I'm tired.