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Notes from CASCON2006: Passion is the key to Web 2.0

| cascon

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!

| cascon, women

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 . Help her learn not to do that again.

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CAS Dublin

| cascon

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

| cascon

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

| cascon

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

| cascon

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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How to get to CASCON

| 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.