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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

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

How to get to CASCON

If you’re coming from downtown, you can take the subway to Finch and
the Viva bus from there. Three choices:

Viva Pink Get off at South Town Centre
#300 Express Get off at South Town Centre
#1 YRT Get off at Warden

Check out York Region Transit
for schedules.

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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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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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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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