On this page:
  • Mesh magic: At the registration desk
  • Mesh magic: Volunteering
  • Catching up; mesh post coming soon
  • Mashing the Vote: Web 2.0 for Social Change
  • At mesh conference; Om Malik keynote

Mesh magic: At the registration desk

I’m a paid registrant at Mesh today, but I’m volunteering at the registration desk because it’s fun greeting people and making them feel welcome. Late registrants trickle in. Most of them are speakers or sponsors, but occasionally we get people I can actually help. =)

Not too many people are here yet. The combination of a riotous
afterparty at The Drake and the dull gray of a rainy morning must’ve
convinced most people to stay in bed. Note to self: if I’m ever going
to give a keynote address (hah!), I should make sure it’s not on the
second day, or at least make sure it’s the second keynote of the
day… <laugh>

I really, really want to attend the keynote conversation on venture
capital and Web 2.0. I’m interested in how venture capital can help
tiny little Web 2.0 companies, and—also important—what we can do
without venture capital. This is important to me because the
Philippines doesn’t have a strong venture capital base yet, so any
ideas on how to bootstrap cool Web 2.0 companies would be totally
cool.

So I’m going to go find someone to cover for me… =) Whee!

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Random Japanese sentence: 雨が土砂降りに振りはじめた。 It began to rain cats and dogs.

Mesh magic: Volunteering

Volunteering was absolutely the best thing I could’ve done. Here’s most of the story:

I had ignored my Web 2.0 blog feeds for so long that by the time I finally heard about mesh (and I think even that was through Quinn, who learned about it from Richard, who lives in Vancouver); anyway, by the time I heard about it, all of the student-priced tickets were sold out. Considering that student rate was $25 and full conference price was $350… well…

I sent a message to the first e-mail address I could find – Stuart’s -
essentially volunteering to mop the floor or do other chores in order
to get into mesh. I heard no response. So much for Plan A. S’okay, I
had plenty of backup plans.

Plan B: Convince the company I’m an intern for that it would be
totally in line with their business and it would create value for
them. They were convinced of the merit, but didn’t want to set
precedent.

Plan C: Try to get sponsor passes. We eventually tracked down the
person in charge of the Mesh sponsorship, but unfortunately she was
all out of passes.

Plan D: Convince my research lab to spring for it. Mark Chignell
agreed, mock-groaning about the weight on his pocket.

Right after I registered, I got e-mail from Mark Evans asking if I
wanted to volunteer. I had a feeling that volunteering was a very good
idea. So I did, and I loved every minute of it. =)

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zzz…

Catching up; mesh post coming soon

Day 1 of the mesh conference, and
day 3 of my conference sprint. (Barcamp was last weekend.) I’m running on a sustained sugar high and very little sleep, but it’s been _so_ totally worth it.

I promise more detailed stories soon, but just in case you’re a mesh
participant dropping by… Hi! You can check out my bookmarks to get an idea of what I’m interested in. =)

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Mashing the Vote: Web 2.0 for Social Change

Phillip Smith, Mark Greenspan.

Introductions:

  • Sacha Chua. Social computing in the enterprise, U of Toronto and IBM. Also interested in grassroots because of the Philippines
  • Julian Scarfe. Free Agent Communications. News oriented for parents and children. Because that sort of demographic has high ideal aspirations in that mental space, something here might apply. Technical director, communications strategist.
  • Robb Creary, Bell Canada. CRM. Pull everything together and kinda see how everything fits in. Better to be prepared.
  • Patrick Gilbert. Word of mouth marketing company called Matchstick. Heading up online marketing and fundraising for Mayor David Miller campaign.
  • Andrew Berthoff. Environics Communications, a PR agency in Toronto and three other cities. Primarily interested in not-for-profit organizations.
  • Madelaine Hamilton. Taking IT Global. Connects people internationally so that they can get involved in the community. 110k members, most based in developing countries.
  • Lars Hansen. C2E Consulting. Learning and thinking about the application of these things, work on a community basis.
  • Rhonda Burke. Organizer. Fundraising. 150+ events that are volunteer-driven.
  • Alexei White. Vancouver company, eBusiness Applications. AJAX components for developers. Very much on the technical side, also very interested in dotversity and the kind of conversation that’s happening.
  • Andrew Heaton. Creative strategist for Trilogy. I’m inthe preliminary stages of starting a non-profit company to raise money for charities.
  • Ryan Ginsberg. Fuel Industries?, marketing, advergaming. Lately, grassroots adverts has been a huge, huge component of it. Fox. There are so many cool things you can do to tap into blogs and message boards etc. At the end of the day, it’s all about the ROI.
  • Patrick Dinnen. Hogtown Consulting, Web2.0. Wireless Toronto.
  • Jen Nolan. IBM. The big newspapers have such a power over our society, our culture. I really love the power of the people.
  • Mark Greenspan. Canadian Film Center’s Habitat New Media Lab. Training new media content producers.
  • Phillip Smith. Not-for-much profit company, Community Bandwidth. Help non-profits to push their missions forward, advocate on the behalf of others, etc. Social Tech Brewing.

What are the principles and tools of Web 2.0?

  • Two-way communication. Read/write Web.
  • User-generated content
  • Wisdom of crowds
  • Participation. Everyone has a voice
  • Collaborative content, harnessing collective intelligence
  • Mashup
  • Web as Platform
  • Long tail, etc.
  • Data is the next Intel Inside
  • Users add value
  • Network effect by default
  • Some rights reserved
  • The perpetual beta
  • Cooperate, don’t control
  • Above the level of a single device

What are the tools?

  • Blogs
  • Social networks
  • Open source
  • Browser
  • Wiki
  • Folksonomy, tagging
  • Blogging, participation
  • Google Maps, AJAX
  • Identity, trust, personal brands
  • Standards/services: APIs, RSs, etc.
  • Group-editable pages, wikis, comments
  • Exposing user data, emergence
  • Creative Commons, GPL, F/LOSS

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:

  • Not a topical wiki, but a scenario wiki, where we can extrapolate from a bill or if this candidate is elected, this is probably what’s going to happen, etc. Putting things in a language that people can understand. Approach in engangig people.
  • Issues that are important to you, access to all the data around it. Absolute transparency. Asterisk to get into people’s homes.
  • Comments on a public blog. An online petition that you could translate into… make candidates for public office understand that to stand in favor of this would mean death, etc.

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

At mesh conference; Om Malik keynote

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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