eTech, Day One Keynotes

Lots of stimulating discussion today. If I can boil it down to themes I would say that the both the tutorials that I went to earlier and the keynotes I attended tonight asked us to center back on the individual. Flashy applications and rounded corners are all well & good if they contribute to the community you wish to create but one must never lose sight of the community that is central to the success of your service and the people that make up that community. This includes both the user and the people that run the service.

The other major theme is Attention which is the theme of the conference. How to manage it and the challenges and technical challenges and social implications of the explosion of information and data that is available to us today.

Rael Dornfest talked about the next evolution. People will pay for a service that can properly "attenuate" or filter information down to the core of what’s necessary. 

Tim O’Reilly had an interesting point about the dangers of the desire to simplify. Pointing to the past, he talked about the flurry of memory resident applications that were written to take up the computer’s extended memory and how this jumble of competing applications drove the need for an operating system that could manage, unify, and simplify all these services. We essentially gave up our freedom to sample this variety in the pursuit of conveniences and order. He warned that history may repeat itself in the web services world.

Bruce Sterling elevated the limitations of language as a construct. Labels such as "web 2.0" are powerful in their organizing framework but also dangerous because they limit the imagination. How can we classify current web development as Web 2.0 when we’re still in the middle of developing it? Don’t wallpaper the wall when it’s still under construction. He had an intersesting point in that the universal rollout of barcodes as an information tracking device for objects in the physical world took over 30 years so it is premature to think we’ll get to a world where this is the case for the virtual world any time soon.

The nirvana of an architecture of participation is still a long way off. All the mashups (he calls them "lashups") that are available today are not really "open" in the sense that my mother is not participating in this mashup culture in any meaningful way. The open web is disintermediated by the developer elite, the high priest hacker class.

Bruce riffed on something he calls, "spime," objects that are trackable in space & time, manufactured objects that are so rich in metadata that they are virtual objects first, physical objects second. He then went meta and called the concept of "spime" as a "theory object" which, when you search on it, is a rough collection of associated ideas that he has thrown together and get added to each time he speaks or writes about it and others (like this post) expand upon it. 

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