May 15, 2006

At mesh conference; Om Malik keynote

May 15, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

I survived the morning rush of registrants at mesh conference in Toronto, and
I’m now listening to the keynote conversation between Mark Evans and Om Malik. I missed the main part, but fortunately Scott Karp liveblogged it.

Here are fragments of what I’ve heard:

85% market share. That demographic hasn’t figured out how to block
ads. This is a highly skewed argument. Mainstream users don’t bother
with these things. They can download software to block ads, but nobody
does that. People actually click on ads. I’m surprised by the number
of people who click on my Google ads.

What do you write for the National Post audience? What do you write about for the Net?
Newspapers – facts. Blogs does spin, opinion. That’s where the value is added.
We can’t just look at blogs or podcasts as just a digital version of news. We need to build loyalty.
build a different voice online.

When you write a story for a magazine, in reality, once it’s inside a
magazine, the story is over. But the story never ends. The story never
dies. You have to follow it. … Whenever we write a story inside a
magazine, we can’t use follow-up information in a month’s time. If they don’t care from me, then maybe I haven’t engaged their mind. That’s very critical. This community aspect.

Three years from now, I see something like the Wall Street Journal
saying, “These bloggers are pretty good.” … give them the
credibility. ZDnet is already doing that. They’re bringing in a lot of
bloggers, figuring out a game plan. You will see all the big media, or
at least the bigger media, actually experimenting and creating their
own blog.

Every user comes with their finger poised on the Back button. As long as you’re worried about that, you have to do great stuff. Bloggers – contextual reading. You will never capture the big story in 800 words. Don’t think of it as traditional reading. It’s almost like a

Mark: What do you see yourself doing three years from now? Om: As long
as they keep paying me well… It’s fairly simple. (more discussion)

Boris Mann: I probably wouldn’t know about either of you if you didn’t
have blogs. I don’t ever go to these websites. I don’t click through.
Everyone who has fulltext RSS feeds, I read directly in my reader.
Blogs are conversations. I can’t have a discussion with the National
Post. Om: Good to finally meet you in person, and thank you for
sending all those comments. You are as important to me as any other
person. … It creats patrons, and patrons are good for advertising,
but we don’t have a good advertising model. All these questions are in
front of us. That’s a challenge, and that’s an opportunity for anyone
who can figure this out. Anyone who can think of a good advertising
model right now can make a lot of money.

Putting my e-mail address at the bottom of the story isn’t having a
conversation. Whether you’re a newspaper online or .., you need to
create a conversation. You need to use the Web and different tools to
draw people in. It’s a nice little phrase: “Let’s have a
conversation”, but the truth is that’s going to drive your business.

Web 2.0. It’s not a technology. It’s not some cool Javascript. It’s a new way of thinking.
Robert Scoble – he helped humanize Microsoft, for goodness’ sake. Just one guy, and he did such an effective job.

Argh. Where’s the mesh conference backchannel? IRC?

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Mashing the Vote: Web 2.0 for Social Change

May 15, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Phillip Smith, Mark Greenspan.

Introductions:

What are the principles and tools of Web 2.0?

What are the tools?

If we were to think about how to take some of this and put it into action… I thought I’d do a really quick tour of some of the applications I’ve seen over the years. How we can leverage the 2.0 to change the world.

WWF example: “Donate now and put your name in our sky.” The general idea is that if someone donates, they can put their name in the sky. How is it the long tail? There are hundreds and thousands of people who care about issues like arctic wildlife refuge, but it’s difficult to aggregate all of these people into one solid voice. Just to bring these voices together.

This is something that Chris Nolan made for the 2006 elections.

TheyWorkForYou.com. Data is the next Intel Inside. The traditional explanation of this is ISBN and Amazon’s extension, the Amazon book number, which has more information about it. This group in the UK has done the same thing for public data, what’s being said in the House of Commons. They’ve really extended it and included voting history, etc. They’ve even made it free.

Peter Tabuns. Provincial election. People in this person’s riding expressing support and plotting that on the map.

Mark: One thing about the last example (theyworkforyou) is that it’s open source, so if you want, you can set it up.

They also do hearfromyourmp and pledgebank. All of these tools are
open source and can be adapted for Canada’s system easily.

sinceslicedbread.com. The best ideas bubble up to the top. One of the ideas that got bubbled up has been taken by Hillary Clinton and she’s going to introduce a bill that ties Congressional pay increases to federal minimum wage.

Network effects by default. Tom Mauser is one of those people who lost a child in Columbine. Forward Track. 6 degrees of separation. Tracking six degrees of separation on a map. When Mark signs up to send the petition, the map centers around him. The network effect by default.!

pledgebank. “I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help me do it.” Some of these pledges are tiny, but others are pretty big. Powerful tools. There’s RSS. You can get pledges in your town. Inexpensive way for NGOs to provide their communities with a way to organize.

Some rights reserved.

Crown copyright. Most documents are released under that, so the Queen owns the data. This makes it very difficult to get what you think should be public data. For example, geocoding data. So some people built their own. Free service, free data. geocoder.ca.

civicaccess.ca. Just launched last month. To hel make sure public data stays public. Taxpayer-funded data, we should have access to it.

So the perpetual beta is one of the neatest ideas applied to grassroots advocacy. There can be an iterative, experimental, evolutionary process around campaigns. The three things I’m going to show here are not Web campaigns, but I believe they embody the spirit.

publicspace committee. Lightning rod for many communities. In Toronto, we have a really strong group. Fantastic experimental projects trying to win back public space. Billboard battalion. Once a week I get e-mail from the “general”. Billboards are illegal in Toronto, and companies have to apply for variances. So what the battalion does is keep track of people who are applying, etc. Guerilla gardening, etc. This is not a large NGO, but just a bunch of people having lots of interesting ideas.

Dave Meslin. How can you bring this idea to city council. whorunsthistown.ca. What can you do if you’re interested in making Toronto a better place to live?

City Idol. We all know and love Canadian Idol. There are a lot of people in Toronto, and important decisions are made by the 45 people on the slide before. We had a contest where people signed up to participate in City Idol. Over 200 people signed up for the first event. Second round of finals. For every ward in the city, they have people competing to help out.

Mark: American Idol. 60 million text messages.

Jen: Wikipedia has history for all the municipalities in Toronto. Phillip: And it’s really good information too.

bbc.co.uk – Action Network. !! This is cool! Change the world around you. What are the issues that are important to you, and how can you connect with your neighbors?

backfence.com? Mark: Again, local organization.

Moport.org. Software above the level of the single device. As much as Canada is behind in the mobile space, we’re certainly seeing more interesting work to be done. Mobile phone reporting. Large mobilizations from their phones. Used around the Republican National Convention.

Murmur. Out of the Canadian Film Center. Using Asterix and a lot of ingenuity, two students (Shaun and Gabe) created this audio tourist experience for Toronto. You can find these little signposts where all these red dots are that have a phone number that you can call to get a spoken history for that location. Local participants. Fantastic. They’ve expanded this idea around Canada, and now they have an Airstream bus. Mark: One of the things that really worked for Murmur was keeping it very very simple. Accessible. All you need is a cellphone and the ability to make a local call on your cellphone. Appeal to the lowest common denominator. One thing very important about that project.

Phillip: It’s stunning how many people are not from Toronto and they get a murmur postcard and they walk around. “I want to hear from the woman who’s an expert on this on her blog.” … People are really starting to understand that that kind of integral, honest communication is important. Right now, they pick people. Mark: Interview techniques, narrative-based project. Airstream bus.

Another local specific above the level of the single device is Wireless Toronto. It sounds like another municipal wireless network thing until you get into the idea of location-specific content. If you log on to the network like at St. Lawrence Market, you’ll come to a local portal that aggregates a number of feeds to give you the context for that place. You can see who else is online and you can communicate with them or meet their blogs. Flickr images are being pulled from the tags. The classified ads section is taken from craigslist. Craigslist – continuous live search. If you’re an NGO working on employment, aggregating jobs that are specific to youth, for example… RSS to voice through RSS. (!! Hey, that’s a cool idea and we can do that at home, because phone is free!) (Kagigi – volunteers wanted!! oooh.)

Apartment rental mashup, etc.

One Free Minute. Mobile sculpture for anonymous public speech. Sao
Pauo, Brazil. Warsaw, Poland. London, UK. Canada and USA.

We have a municipal election coming up within the next six months, and we’re not seeing a lot happening in terms of civic participation. What does civic participation look like with Web 2.0?

Two-way street. If you don’t get the eyeballs there and the interest there in the first place… It’s easy to capture the converted. What about the people who couldn’t care less? How do you start the engagemet process? If you can find out how they’re connected online…

In this case, there’s a particular issue: municipal election. How do you connect people to the municipal election?

It’s the candidates and the municipal election itself. People wring their hands and ask why people aren’t interested, but you have a bunch of stuffed shirts and… So how do you get new people?

What kind of offline event drives people to something, and how do you leverage that with Web 2.0?

For example, smart mobs. Street car tours and the pillow fight in Dundas Square. Database of people. Pillow fight announcement, publicity, etc.

How do you market to or engage this population and how do you bring them into the online world and what do you do? Once you’ve got them in the online world, then you’ve got all sorts of tools.

Odd-ball activist. How do we get normal folks in?

When I think of real events around a political campaign… listen to a politician give pre-packaged, overly-analyzed speech… or town meeting kind of thing, where you end up with the same issue, where you get verbose people who end up hijacking the thing… Speed at which you can scan and filter on Web 2.0. Somewhere I can go and find discussions about my local councilor. These issues I don’t care about, these issues I do, etc. A customizable search tool which allows you to scan through the issues… The other thing that would be interesting would be at the municipal election, we don’t have strong political affiliations. Niche interest (Sam Bulte), but other people can affect a really local thing. If there was a site that made it easy for us to keep track of whatever they were saying about different issues… that would help me. And I want to specify my interests. Customizable search thing. All decisions and all issues that stand, etc. Report card. How they voted, absolute transparency and accessibility. Hard data plus softer stuff. Might get filtered too much, though, too compartmentalized. Digg-style popularity.

SUMMARY:

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Update: Phillip’s posted slides at http://communitybandwidth.ca/phillipadsmith/mashing-the-vote-at-mesh