May 17, 2006

Bulk view

The world is changing

Another thought from that conversation: Andrew pointed out that we’re
now less afraid of tangible threats such as lions charging us and more
afraid of intangible threats such as bacteria and viruses. I work less
with physical things than I do with virtual ideas. At the same time,
though, I feel strongly about bringing relationships from virtual to
real-world, and I like making intangible things tangible… =)

Random Japanese sentence: 私たちの子供は犬が好きだが私は猫の方が好きだ。 Our children like dogs, but I prefer cats.

Genetic engineering and individuality

Andrew Hessel, Tara Hunt, Chris Messina and I were chatting about biotechnology and open source. Andrew mentioned DNA vaccines, which can stimulate the production of antibodies – so some cells do pick up new genetic material and do something with them, and scientists haven’t quite figured out how that works yet. He went on to say that if biotech really took off, we probably wouldn’t see the creation of a homogenous master race, but rather an explosion of biodiversity. Imagine all the people who want to have horns or blue skin or whatever else… =)

I thought that was an interesting idea. <grin> Along the lines of self-modification: I probably wouldn’t hack anything externally, but a better memory would be really cool.

Random Japanese sentence: 大まかに言って、犬は猫より忠実だ。 Broadly speaking, dogs are more faithful than cats.

Tagging places, and the power of stories

When I looked at tag-based applications that didn’t work, I thought geotagging sites like Platial missed the tagging boat. What was the use of tagging Toronto as Canada, for example? But then Chris Messina showed me how he uses Wayfaring, Flickr, and videoblogging to coordinate the search for a good space for coworking. He and a bunch of friends keep track of possible places. They take pictures of addresses and places, and they also take videos for reconnaissance.

Good stuff! That totally makes sense now. I needed his story to figure out how the pieces fit together.

Random Japanese sentence: ウサギの耳は猫の耳よりも長い。 The ears of a rabbit are longer than those of a cat.

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mesh was the best conference that I’ve ever been to. I got so much
value out of it! I would have happily paid for it from my
starving-grad-student budget(*) had my research supervisor not caved
in and handed me his credit card.

What did I learn from mesh? I loved the keynotes by Dr. Michael Geist
and Tara Hunt for both content and presentation style. I enjoyed
Phillip Smith’s whirlwind discussion of grassroots movements and the
Web 2.0. I was fascinated by the not-quite-successful social
experiment of a projected backchannel chat in Michael O’Connor
Clarke’s session on engaging the blogosphere.

But all of those things paled in comparison to corridor chats and
afterparties. Those were totally, totally cool, and I’ll tell their
story after I wake up.

Here are, I think, a few of the reasons why this conference was a spectacular experience for me:

  • Barcamp and other tech gatherings meant that I already knew a few
    people there, which made it much easier to meet others.
  • Volunteering at the registration desk meant that I could say hi to
    all the people I knew and make an impression (positive, I hope!) to
    the organizaton.
  • Smiling certainly helped.
  • Oh, and of course writing down notes in my little black Moleskne
    notebook. =) That way, I can remember a little bit.

Mentors? Everywhere I turned, I found someone who was not only doing
exactly what I want to do but was also happy to help me learn more
about it.

I’ll blog more some other time, as my eyes are closing of their own
will. Maybe when I wake up tomorrow…

(*) Well, not so starving thanks to the fellowship…

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Random Japanese sentence: 犬は猫を追いかけようと木に登ろうとしたが、うまくいかなかった。 The dog’s attempts to climb the tree after the cat came to nothing.