Phil Gyford


Thursday 24 April 2003

PreviousIndexNext The first day of EtCon sessions

The conference proper kicked off first thing Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, so did the worst migraine I’ve had in several years, resulting in me spending much of the day half-comatose, throwing up or sleeping in a kindly donated hotel room. I emerged in time to catch Brewster Kahle talk about the Internet Archive’s Bookmobile, the bad effects of lengthy copyright periods, and other wonderful text-related projects. It shouldn’t be amazing that this much good stuff is happening in the world, but it is. Matt Webb took some notes.

Next up, Jo was talking about mapping the real world onto virtual places in a nice semantic web kind of way (here’s the proposal for her paper). This was great stuff, as the enthusiasm of Matt’s notes make clear. It was all a bit in-at-the-deep-end, and I’m not sure how much would have made sense to those who weren’t already familiar with Jo’s mapping work. But there was plenty to chew on and it left me itching to get stuck into playing with this stuff more (or at all). I hope she puts the text of the presentation online soon…

Laziness ensured I stayed in the same room for a talk on Apple’s Rendezvous which kind of lost me in the technical details, and the Rich Internet Applications talk may have been more fun.

After some dodgy pizza in the hotel bar I returned for the Social Software BOF. Aside from the cringeworthy and all-too-common “BOF” tag I thought it might be an interesting chat. But no, really, very, very bad. You’d think that a room full of people interested in social software wouldn’t have to spend an hour discussing how to communicate, but that’s all it was. Much of it was a random list of things that should be discussed in the future. I wanted to go round and patiently bang heads together shouting “STOP PLANNING AND START PLAYING!” Just get on and do things, rather than wondering how to talk about doing them. Perhaps the head-slappingly best/worst moment was a guy exclaiming that “we’ve only got one chance to get this stuff right,” as though no one has been working on the collection of ideas now saddled with the “social software” branding for the past ten (or whatever) years. And don’t get me started on my hatred of “official” organisations, let alone for fields that are all about bottom-up innovation and creativity.

And relax. Off to the bar to eat and chat and swap stories about the day. Even with my shortened day I’ve had fun, and there’s plenty to think about. It’s been lovely (if still odd) to hang out with even more familiar London friends and catch up with people I haven’t seen in three years since I went to SXSW and started writing occasionally.

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