July 27, 2006

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Creative Thursday: Conference commando!

On the way to jazz choir practice, I thought about what I like
creating and when people have called me creative. One of the things
people have complimented me on is the way I hack conferences, from
modding conference T-shirts to posting people’s tag clouds along the
wall in order to spark conversations.

I _love_ going above and beyond the usual ideas of what a conference
should be like. That’s one of the reasons why I’m really excited about
CASCON 2006: as part of the organizing team, I can try out many cool
ideas!

I’d love to start a bigger conversation around that, and I’d love to
share my thoughts with more people! I think it would make a great
blog. I want to share tips and ideas with participants, speakers, and
organizers. It’ll also be a great place to post my conference reports
and pictures of hacked T-shirts! ;)

I already have a name for the blog: Conference Commando. I came
across the term “conference commando” in Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never
Eat Alone. Good stuff, and I think I’ve got a lot to contribute to
this space.

So I’m going to make it happen! Here’s what I need to do:

  • Make a logo so that it’s not just a boring WordPress install. ;)
  • Set up a blog and JUST START BLOGGING! I can probably install
    Wordpress or something like that on some computer somewhere. Maybe
    Richi will let me virtualhost conferencecommando.sachachua.com on
    his computer. I need a MySQL database. Alternatively, I could host
    it on adphoto.com.ph, which is currently underutilized anyway. Yup,
    that’s also a possibility…
  • Extract some of the relevant blog posts from my main blog. For
    example, my notes about the social computing workshop might be of
    interest to organizers. A review of the relevant section in Never
    Eat Alone would be handy for participants, and my blog entry about
    keynote styles would be good for speakers.

Fun! Hooray for Creative Thursday!

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Planning my week with zones

I think IBM’s Think!Fridays are a great idea. It’s like zoning a day
for a particular purpose. I tend to treat my Think!Fridays as
mini-Hack Days, using the time to sit down and code something I’d been
meaning to write for a while. It’s a lot of fun, and it makes me look
forward to Fridays. I’m tempted to make it Think!Monday instead so
that I have a great way to start the week.

Choosing a theme for the day reminds me to schedule things that help
me grow. It’s too easy to fall into the rhythm of doing the same old
thing. So here’s how I want to shape my week:

New Monday The start of the week should fill me with energy and excitement and give me something to look forward to. I’ll use Mondays to connect with new people I’ve met.
Growth Tuesday Toastmasters is about personal development. I can pass by the Chapters bookstore on the way back in order to read a book or two.
Midweek Meditation I might need time to catch my breath midway through the week. Wednesday is a great day for quiet reflection and catching up.
Creative Thursday Jazz choir practice engages my creative side. I’ll take advantage of the right-braininess by making Thursday my creative think-out-of-the-box develop-new-facets day.
Friday with Friends Getting together with friends is a great way to close the week and get ready for the weekend. I’ll use Friday to reconnect with people I know.
Saturday Explorations Saturday is a great time to explore the city and step outside of my usual interests and activities.
Sunday Serenity Time to reflect on the past week and plan the next one.

These zones are flexible, but I’ll try to proactively schedule things for each day. Fun!

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I heart ultraportables!

The power adapter for my Fujitsu Lifebook P1110 gave up two days ago.
With the funny way my life works, an inconvenience like that turned
into a great opportunity to try out the Sony Vaio U1.

My dad used the Vaio as a wearable computer, strapping it into a
customized belt bag during his aerial photo shoots so that he could
preview pictures on an 8″ screen. When he bought a camera with a
better built-in preview, the Vaio languished on a bookshelf. The
Japanese version of Microsoft Windows didn’t make it easier to use,
either. I installed Ubuntu on half of the disk and for a short while
toyed with the idea of making it my main computer, but I found the
Lifebook’s size made it better to typing. Still, my parents felt I’d
probably find some interesting way to use the Vaio, so I packed it in
my carry-on when I moved to Canada last July.

With the Lifebook out of commission, I needed some other way to
compute, and I thought I’d dust it off and try it again. Besides, I’d
been meaning to use it as the VPN machine for IBM anyway, as it’s the
only gadget I have that still runs Microsoft Windows. ;) I spent all
of yesterday just getting back up to speed and setting everything up
the way I liked it.

The Sony Vaio U1 turns out to be a totally sweet ultraportable that’s
just perfect for reading blogs in transit and even writing a few
entries along the way. My thumbs are just a little bit too short to
use the keyboard as a thumbboard, but I can type with one or both
hands even while walking around. The scroll wheel is well-placed, too.

It’s just transformed the way I think of transit time. Now, transit
time is blogging time—and I can even be more productive doing that in
transit than sitting at a desk.

Now there’s technology for you. =)

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IBM CASCON 2006: Social discovery and conferences

Another thing I want to build for IBM CASCON 2006 is an easy way to
create an OPML file for conference registrants and session attendees.
Imagine if you could associate your registration with a blog URL and
then be able to:

  • import an OPML file of all the conference registrants so far
  • read an aggregation of all the conference registrants
  • do the same for all the people who have registered for a particular session

Certainly, speakers with blogs should have them all listed. Tomorrow I’ll ask for permission to get in touch with all of the speakers and ask them for blog URLs. We’ll put together a page, export some OPML, throw up an aggregator (maybe even just a public Bloglines), and boom! Happy happy happy.

Even more advanced stuff: imagine a small-scale tech.memeorandum running against the speakers, the conference registrants, or session attendees… Imagine doing that with bookmarks, too! Maybe I can convince Pranam Kolari to do something like that.

In the future, people might even want to associate multiple blog URLs
with their profile. For example, if they write topic-focused blogs,
they might want their business blog to be aggregated with all the
other blogs for a marketing session, while their technical blog might
be better for the programming sessions. I don’t think we’re quite at
this point yet, but it should be easy enough to build.

Sounds like a terrific tool. I have one month to build this and all
the other nifty things I want to make for IBM CASCON 2006! I wonder if
my developer sponsor and my research supervisor mind if I do this…

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E-Mail from Aaron Kim

IBM CASCON 2006 and conference backchannels

I got so carried away making lunch that I nearly missed the planning conference call for IBM CASCON 2006′s social computing workshops. I dropped in just in time to hear Stephen Perelgut and Steve Easterbrook talk about real-time collaborative note-taking, and I chimed in with my two cents about how wonderful it is to have backchannels during the conference.

A backchannel is an informal way for participants to talk to each
other in the background while the speakers are talking. Backchannel
chat is a great way to find out about other interesting sessions and
meet other people who are into similar things. We’ve also used the
backchannel to coordinate our attendance at sessions. (“I’m heading
over to session A.” “If you’re blogging that, then I can go to session
B…”)

If the backchannels are logged, they can be the start of collaborative
notetaking. We tried backchannel transcription at one session during
Mesh. People were distracted because the backchannel was projected
onto the main screen behind the panelists. Most people have a hard
time keeping track of two or more streams of information, particularly
as they were both verbal. In addition, the IRC channel used for the
backchannel chat also included people in other sessions, which made it
hard for many people to separate the messages that were related to the
current session. Still, it was a good experiment, and that resulted in
a number of side-conversations during the session.

I think one of the things that would be great to have for IBM CASCON
2006 is a backchannel that people can get to through IRC and the Web.
I’d love to set up one of those, but it needs to be promoted somewhere
so that everyone with wireless can hear about it.

An alternative would be to encourage everyone to liveblog it and to use Technorati or a similar web service to aggregate all the posts tagged, say, cascon2006 and the session’s tag.

HEY! There’s an idea! If we suggest tags for each session and a tag
for the entire conference, then we make it easy for external bloggers
to make their posts discoverable. And I can so totally modify the CASCON blog to make it easier for people to “BLOG THIS SESSION” – they can post their content on the session blog and then retrieve it for crossposting onto their blog… That _would_ be totally sweet.

Think!Friday’s tomorrow. Let’s make it happen!

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E-Mail from Aaron Kim

Enterprise 2.0 definition from Andrew McAfee

Via Ross Mayfield comes Andrew McAfee’s description of Enterprise 2.0:
/

  • Optional
  • Free of up-front workflow
  • Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities
  • Accepting of many types of data

    Check out the rest of the post for more insights into Enterprise 2.0.

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Secret knocks

Now that’s a cool application of technology. Seen on Slashdot: “Knock” Some Sense Into Your Linux Laptop describes how to set up Lenovo Thinkpads to respond to a series of knocks on the computer case. I’m sure someone will turn that into a totally small-scale authentication system (“What’s the secret knock?”) or maybe a totally hacked up drumming system… ;)

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Speaking of costumes…

I have no problems turning up at a high-tech geek get-together about Enterprise 2.0 wearing a ruffled blouse and a flowing skirt.

And I got there on a skateboard, too. ;)


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I like someone

I like someone. There, I’ve said it. I probably shouldn’t go into much
detail over here, but you can check out my flickr photos.