Not new

At Lift 07 there was a panel on technological overload. The video of the panel is available here.

Update: Since Google Video is no more, the video can be viewed on Vimeo

Panel Discussion:Dealing with technological overload (Lift07 EN) from Lift Conference on Vimeo.

Fellow blogger Mlle. A. pointed out that this kind of discussion isn’t new.

A couple of days ago she sent in an article by Ann Blair on “Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload ca. 1550-1700” published in 2003 in the Journal of the History of Ideas.

As more and more books were published, academics worried about keeping up: they discussed the effects of reading manuals and encyclopedias or reading “only in parts”. And discussed strategies to classify information, added indexes and used cut and paste to arrange the information they received.

Blogging isn’t new either:

“Reading is useless, vain and silly when no writing is involved, unless you are reading (devotionally) Thomas a Kempis or some such. Although I would not want even that kind of reading to be devoid of all note taking.”

Interesting stuff.

Google Street Views

With all of the FOG posts regarding Google Maps street views, I decided to have a closer look. It’s a cool tool. I like it very much and can easily imagine using a Wifi-enabled smart phone and this to navigate thru cities unknown.

e.g. Whole Foods on 4th near Moscone – an essential alternative to conference food during my recent visit.

whole foods.

I remember there was a North German company that had similar visions back in dotcom times (I faintly remember a presentation at the Conti Technology Park in Hannover, but I forget the company name). And at LIFT 07 there was a workshop where people headed out onto the streets of Geneva with their GPS.

Side comment: negative news and criticism often raises awareness for a new service or product just as much as good news. Maybe even more. In a TV interview I heard recently, a Phonak official claimed that the company profited immensely from last year’s “Tour de France” sponsorship despite the Floyd Landis doping scandal.

Buon weekend,
nchenga

Lift 07: Fragments of Captured Attention

Back from Geneva. Here are a couple of short, offline notes I took during the various sessions.

I don’t want to provide a write-up of the sessions I attended. See Stephanie’s or Bruno’s excellent write-ups instead. And in addition, the LIFT 07 videos and presentations will be available online some time soon.

So here’s a list of concepts / ideas / websites I heard about in my usual bullet-list style, i.e. my “fragments of captured attention”:

Lee Bryant: Collective Intelligence
The next development: joined-up social tools.

DSCN6741

Social Funneling – social reading, writing, filtering and eventually information will find me.

Adoption of social tools in corporations: IT is an issue, there are various perceptions of dangers and risks. The default position should be “open”. Practical advise how to introduce social tools: set up pilot projects with small groups.

Users will generally fall into 3 categories:

  • 1% – heavy users
  • 10% – synthesizers
  • The rest – readers (*not* lurkers)

It’s not easy to “create” shared content on a company or corporate level.

Stowe Boyd: Social = Me First
The individual is the new group

There’s a lot of Web 2.0 companies dying off, because their mindset is exactly inverse. Stowe refers to himself as a software psychiatrist.

Discovery is the primary driver. Things like music, places, people, self. If you’re building an app, you need to keep this in mind. In many apps this is often an after-thought.

Paola Ghillani: What kind of Humanity do we want?
She challenged us to think about the technology of our soul, who we are and what is our purpose.

Profit maximisation vs profit optimisation

Apparently even Swiss producers would like to enter fair trade agreements with Max Havelaar.

Favorite quote:

quote i liked

Daniela Cerqui: Towards a Society of Cyborgs?
Daniela, anthropologist, interviewed Kevin Warwick and presented her views and findings on RFID tags, etc.

In 2004, night clubs in Rotterdam and Barcelona introduced membership implants instead of membership cards.

In our society, technology is considered a value. It is an ideology. We need to step back and question developments. We’re part of a social context and we’re on the same path. The line between therapeutic use and social convention is easily crossed.

Julian Bleecker: When 1st Life Meets 2nd Life
Julian mapped 1st life to 2nd life games:

  • Motion: Nintendo Wii
  • Time: Animal Crossing for Nintendo DS
  • Distance: Teku Teku Angel, virtual pet pedometer


Ben Cerveney: The luminous bath: our new volumetric medium

Like Tom, I’ll need some time to reflect and read more on this. Essentially we’re living in a huge bath of data. Media objects or artifacts get meta-tags. Within the bath of data more complex data structures form. There’s some kind of a low-level ability to organise itself. Compare to memotaxis in chemistry.

Aggregate morphologies = mashups

Decanting – take some part of the meta-data
Crstallize – form crystal of data flow which melts away when no longer required
Acculturate – simulate and iterate various paths of evolution applied to different social context.

The data already has an existence of its own. Previous AI models were too abstract…

Adam Greenfield, Everyware: Further down the rabbit hole
The downsides and upsides of pervasive computing, which Adam calls everyware.
Huge new possibilities of surveillance and control,
e.g.

  • Identifying approaching person by their characteristic foot steps and blocking access to building, or
  • Identifying a dangerous area (e.g. high murder rate) in the city will influence our behaviour.

There’s an internet toilet in Japan that analyses body wastes. Developed for medical use but the information could very easily be posted to the net.

Inadvertent: Regarding geospatial data, there are times we don’t want everybody to know where we are. If we click the wrong button (by our own mistake), everybody who asks will know.

Unwilling: Buying a sweater with an RFID tag.

DSCN6805

Who do we turn to to get the settings changed and corrected?

Sessions which I didn’t go to, but I wish I had:
Nathan Eagle
Fabien Giradin

Conclusion:
Working in an IT-centered company, I’d like to point out that there’s an important development going on: the rest of the world is using technology and they’re shaping it. Coders and engineers need to adapt and consider the needs of users. It’s no longer their sole domain.

Unlike typical developer conferences with their usual implicit Windows vs Mac, or Sun vs Microsoft/Eclipse/* religion wars, LIFT has a much wider scope and a diverse audience. I met very different people from diverse backgrounds. There was no talk of which blogging tool or platform to use, etc. Instead, it was more about the ways we’re using technology and the impact it will have on society and on us. It was good to get out and reflect on the big picture, the overview.

Other websites to check out:
Digg Swarm
Joost TV / The Venice Project
Magnatunes

Disclaimer: this is my interpretation and view. If I get something completely wrong, please leave a comment 😉

LIFT conf ( Day 1 )

It’s pouring outside and I’m taking a quick moment to publish my unreflected notes that I took in today’s sessions, pêle-mêle, off the top of my head, in shorthand:

Morning session:

The slides are available here.

Evaluating and monitoring projects doesn’t need to be costly, esp. with free web survey and website statistics tools.

Goal is “to prove and improve” website and communication projects.

I liked the way Glenn emphasized the ending of words: “outputt

Another point I found important: in many projects the emphasis lies on the activities, the processes and the output, instead of the outcome and the impact or goal.

Afternoon session:

In the afternoon I went to Clark Eliott’s workshop on Collaboration and Innovation in Workspace.

Teamwork needs to be reflected in the workspace, but should also offer focus areas if you need to concentrate on a single activity (like writing, coding) and phone booth areas.

People are resistant to change and will come up with thousands of “Yes, but…” Go ahead with the change plans and offer to be on location and change things when disaster strikes.

“Ideas come from everywhere. Share everything you can”

Knowledge workers work on average 9.1 hrs a day.

Knowledge sharing should be rewarded. But often the reverse happens instead, people who withhold or retain knowledge are promoted.

Some ideas how to offer virtual collaboration areas:

  • offer a mashup between online calendars and online map to show where people in distributed teams are currently located
  • offer some kind of a company Twitter
  • one guy reported that they’re announcing successful or failed software builds using a toy jingle, has become some kind of a team ritual
  • identify location of distributed teams using RFID tags
  • greet knowledge worker in their personal workspace using RFID tags. RFID tags are cheap and can be used to personalize various settings.

Source of stress: arbitrary decisions without communication of the reasons behind them.

Most people go dry and run out of ideas when asked how they would like to improve their workspace.

Discover your work day and then start changing it.

LIFT conf ( Day 0.5 )

My first workshop at LIFT 07 was great. Enjoyed it. I attended Glenn O’Neil’s D.I.Y. Monitoring and Evaluation….

I’m feeling kind of feverish and I’ve got a bad headache, which is ignoring the Aspirin I’ve already taken.