ETech 2006 thoughts

I'm back from ETech. The theme this year was The Attention Economy, and I have to agree with Matt's Thoughts on etech that I didn't walk away with much new information about attention. But ETech is always about more than the theme, and a 2nd emerging theme from the conference was ubiquitous computing. In fact, Bruce Sterling's opening talk was called The Internet of Things where he discussed his concept of Spime—a virtual object that manifests itself physically for a time while retaining the trackability of a virtual object. (As I understood it.) For example, shoes could be digitally designed, fabricated, and made location-aware. That way you could simply Google them if you can't find them in the morning. (His extended thoughts on Spimes are in Shaping Things.) Many sessions touched on ubiquitous computing and controlling the physical world in a more fluid, digital way.

Another emerging topic was Yahoo!, with three or four sessions devoted entirely to Yahoo! products. Of course I'm very interested in Yahoo! after working on Yahoo! Hacks, but their presence felt heavy-handed. (Granted, many members of the ETech selection committee were acquired by Yahoo! over the past year.) But the sessions I saw were straight product-pitches with little or no bearing on the conference theme of Attention Economy. I don't mind seeing demos or product pitches if they're within the context of larger ideas. Yahoo! wasn't the only offender there. Just to compare: Google was absent from the conference, and I only saw one pitch from Microsoft.

My favorite sessions were about big ideas: Maribeth Back's reading rooms, danah boyd's G/localization, Derek's distributed communities, and Clay Shirky's patterns for social software. I think what I'm personally looking for is a more academic, less commercial conference devoted entirely to social interaction mediated by technology. That's a convoluted way of saying Social Software Conference, but I'd also like to hear about trends in ubiquitous computing and networked devices as well.

Once again, I came away from ETech with notes full of ideas to digest and play with. And even though I might not have a better handle on attention, it's often the unexpected threads that emerge from the conference that turn out to be the most valuable.

ETech 2006

eTech Tomorrow I'm heading out early for the Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego. I can't think of a better place to spend a few days inside under fluorescent lights learning about new technology. Only kidding—maybe they'll have a few sessions outside on the lawn this year. ;) I'm really looking forward to the conference, there's always way too much to take in. (In a good way.) If you'll be at ETech and want to meet up at some point, drop me a note.

Online Northwest talk

Two days before I left for New Zealand, I spoke at Online Northwest—a one day library technology conference here in Corvallis. The talk was called Hacking Web 2.0 and I stumbled across a summary by Will Stuivenga at the Library and Information Technology Association blog: Online NW: Keynote. I definitely felt like an outsider, but my guess is that's the perspective they were looking for. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of a different world, and having the chance to chat with several people there. I think there should be more brainstorms between librarians and webheads. We have many big issues in common—even though our day to day problems seem very different.

Webvisions and ORblogs lunch 2

Webvisions was fun, and the ORblogs lunch was great too. I don't mean to blog-drop, but how often do you get to dine with folks like Alan, Cat, JD, Matt, and Michael? It was great to hear what everyone's up to, and I'm hoping we can all get together in person more often. We agreed that it would be fun to have an official Oregon weblogs event sometime.

Today a truck dumped seven cubic yards of bark in our driveway. We did ask for it. But you don't know how much seven cubic yards is until you see it. Sitting in your driveway. Ahh well, lots of landscaping to do. The garden is going to look great. (I keep forgetting to take before pictures.)

Webvisions and ORblogs lunch

I'm going to be heading to Portland on Friday for the Webvisions conference. If you're in the area, and interested in where web design is heading, this one-day event is a great way to stay in the loop. There's also talk of an ORblogs get-together during the lunch break, and I'm hoping to meet some of the folks behind the sites I read regularly.

Making ETech

The good news is that I'll be heading to San Diego next week for the Emerging Technology Conference. I was looking at the conference schedule yesterday and I'm really looking forward to it. In fact, I can't find a time to skip out on the conference to visit the San Diego Zoo. That will have to wait for another trip sometime. If you're going to ETech, and want to talk at some point—drop me a line. Or just say hi at the conference. I'll be the introverted computer geek staring at my laptop. (That joke never gets old.)

Missing sxsw

This will be the first year since 1999 that I won't be making the annual trek to Austin, TX for South by Southwest. (And I started going to sxsw music in 1996.) I'm going to miss seeing friends that I only see in person at sxsw. Not to mention the shiners, margaritas, barbecue, and good salsa. (The salsa in Oregon is pretty watered-down, and barbecue is non-existent.) The conference is always great too, and just hearing about the projects people are working on is inspirational. Many of my project ideas can be traced back to a week of conversations at sxsw. Unfortunately, the timing didn't work out this year. So I'll just have to tune into sxswBaby!, the Flickr sxsw tag, and any public backchannels I can find. If you're going to sxsw, have an extra shiner for me.
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