Category Archives: cascon

Notes from CASCON2006: Passion is the key to Web 2.0

What do you as an individual need to do to make the most of Web 2.0? In the middle of answering this question as part of the Enterprise 2.0 panel at IBM CASCON 2006, I realized that nothing else is as important as passion. Passion leads to Web 2.0 success.

Passion > skill

I had started off thinking that communication skills were essential to making the most of blogging and other Web 2.0 opportunities. But I only learned how to write because I stumbled across something I wanted to write about.

Web 2.0 can help you find out what matters to you, and you can share that with the world. The most valuable thing you can do to make the most of Web 2.0, to make the most of *life*, is to find out what makes you uniquely you. That's how you get visibility. That's how you get audience. And that's how you'll rock your world.

Passion is more important than skill. You can learn anything you want to - if you want to. Passion will drive you to learn how to write, to blog, to link, to embed pictures and widgets. You can develop technical and communication skills along the way, but you *have* to give yourself permission to be bad before you can be better.

Write for an audience of one

A lot of people give up after posting a few entries on their blogs, discouraged by the lack of response. REALITY CHECK: You are not going to win any prizes for your first few blog posts. You are going to be BORING. Your coworkers might visit your blog out of curiosity, but they probably won't come back.

Writers don't win accolades for their first drafts. Scientists don't do their best work as undergrads. They all had to practice. They all had to develop their skills.

Write. Write for an audience of one. Write and write and write until you know what you're talking about. You'll feel some topics click with you. When you've written something you can't help but tell other people about, you've got yourself a blog.

So what's Web 2.0 about this? Can't you do this with a paper diary, too? Sure. But with Web 2.0, you can share your thoughts with thousands and thousands of other people who can give you suggestions and encouragement. You can be searchable. You can become an expert in your area.

But it all starts by writing for an audience of one. If you have other readers, great. Listen to them, but don't be afraid to lose them in order to follow your voice.

You're either visible or you're dead

Where can you find the time to do all of this? You make time for it. You have to. Stephen Perelgut pointed out that in the coming age, you're either visible or you're dead.

The cost of *not* getting into blogging will be really high. Traditional networking methods such as face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and e-mail will still be effective. However, blogs give bloggers so much of an edge when it comes to finding their passions, discovering common interests and building collaborative relationships. Can you afford to be outside this conversation?

Start today

Find your passion and learn how to share it with others. That's how you can make the most of Web 2.0. Browse through bookmarks at and see what strikes you. Bookmark websites and see how your tag cloud evolves. Read blogs and find out what you resonate with. Blog. Comment. Link. Share. Blog some more.

Web 2.0 can help you find Life 2.0. Have fun!

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OMG. Girls have the geek gene, too?! NO WAY!

Girls have the geek gene, too, reports Jen Gerson of The Toronto Star. Read it and weep. Goodness gracious, someone *please* tell me that this is a satire article appearing in The Onion, not a serious article appearing in the I.D. section of a major newspaper.

The opening sentence starts the same way as most articles about women in technology, making us feel like an endangered species. (Crikey!) But then it gets worse, and worse, and worse. I feel like printing and framing it.

I.D. chatted with one of the key speakers, Dr. Telle Whitney, president of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, about why young women are frightened by the prospect of joining a field dominated by intelligent men who have no idea how to please them.

The things I could say about this...

So, women and technology. Why do they need their own symposium?

Because we're afraid of cooties. Snark snark snark.

Do you think fewer women are getting involved in technology because they're not as interested in it, or are they just not smart enough?

Could you possibly have a more provoking question if you tried?

But tech companies, they paint their electronics pink. Shouldn't that draw women in?

Apparently you *can* have a more provoking question.

So pink is not the way to go, for attracting women?

I like frilly interfaces and flowers myself. NOT.

Should we bring more women in? Aren't there few enough jobs in technology that we need to bring women too, into it?

Completely missing the point!

But how is it that women can juggle making computers with making babies?


But are the babies disruptive to the computers? How do you trust babies around all that sensitive equipment?

More than I'd trust a certain reporter, apparently.

The following segment is just... horrible.

  • Q Is Anita Borg a real name?
  • A Anita Borg was the founder of the Institute.
  • Q Was that before Star Trek: The Next Generation, or after?
  • A It was really her name.
  • Q Bad luck.
  • A She passed away a few years ago from brain cancer. She was a very dear friend of mine and I took over here a few years ago.
  • Q Oh. I'm a terrible human being. Is that what you're saying?
  • A No no, she used to have these big pictures of Borg all over her house. She was a Star Trek fan.




There are no words to explain how terrible the article is. It is downright irresponsible of the Toronto Star to publish something this insensitive and disrespectful, considering the pressures that are already on women in technology.

Should we cut Jen some slack just because she's a fourth-year Ryerson University journalism student, or the Toronto Star for giving its columnists free rein? At what point are journalism students supposed to gain common sense? Jen asked those questions, typed up the interview, and the Toronto Star published it. At what point was someone supposed to go, "Wait a minute, what is this article saying?"

ARGH! Read, blog, link, whatever: clueless journalist. Her e-mail address is [email protected] . Help her learn not to do that again.

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CAS Dublin

The CAS Dublin team linked up through videoconferencing. The speaker highlighted four key fields: high performance computing, software engineering, visualization, and computational analytics and language. He presented awards for best paper and best student paper.

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Technical co-chairs

Eleni and Hakan joked a bit about their ethnic origins (Greek and Turkish), gave a few statistics for paper submissions, and announced the best papers. Ooh, Ian Bull gets a Lenovo Thinkpad for having the best Student Paper!

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Address from Christian Couturier, NRC

Christian Couturier spoke about the importance of ICT and rattled off a number of areas that would not be possible without ICT. He also thanked those who helped make the conference a reality.

Introduced technical program co-chairs:

  • Eleni Stroulia, University of Alberta
  • Hakan Erdogmus, National Research Council, Canada

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Address from Martin Wildberger

Martin Wildberger opened by reexamining IBM's motto, "Innovation that matters". One of the key things we struggle with is making sure that what we do matters, and one of the ways to do that is through collaboration. CAS is about meeting of minds of industry and academe to germinate ideas.

Wildberger also commended Kelly Lyons, who heads the CAS program for the Toronto Lab. Last night in Winnipeg, the CAS program received a very prestigious award: the NSERC Leo Derikx Award for Synergy.

He showed a video clip from last night's awarding ceremony. (Hey! That was my desk! Kelly and Luanne borrowed my desk! <laugh> You can tell - my e-mail address is actually readable for a second...)

He then went on to thank NRC and introduce Christian Couturier, Director General of the Institute for Information Technology, National Research Council Canada.

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