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ACM Hypertext conference in Toronto this June; paper deadline Feb 14

| conference, event, research

My research supervisor is chairing the ACM Hypertext conference that will be held in Toronto from June 13 to 16, 2010. The conference focuses on linking and interconnectivity, and will have sessions on Web 2.0, social computing, and the semantic web. Tracks:

  • Social computing
  • Adaptive hypermedia and applications
  • Hypertext in education and communications

The deadline for paper submissions is February 14.

ACM Hypertext2010

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Behind the scenes: Livin’ la Vida Emacs

| democamp, emacs, geek, presentation, speaking

In October 2006, I gave a short presentation on Livin’ la Vida Emacs (or the Emacs editor as a way of life). It was well-received—in fact, so well-received that folks in the audience anticipated my punchlines and I ended up shifting parts of my talk around. ;)

People said:

Last, and certainly not least was Sacha Chua. If we could harness it I’m pretty sure we could power a few small cities of the energy that’s contained in this one, tiny person – especially when you get her talking about Emacs. Sacha’s demo, entitled, “Livin’ la vida Emacs” was hands down the most entertaining of the evening. Sacha has basically taken this simple, extendable text editor and pushed it about as far as it can go – at DemoCamp10 she pulled back the curtain and showed us all her little systems and apps she’s created in it. I like my GUI/Windows so the whole text-based thing isn’t for me but it certainly was interesting to see just how strung out she’s got that machine.

Ryan Coleman

Sacha Chua showed off what can be done in the scriptable environment, in this case emacs, as she went from Text editor, to a.i. doctor, to game engine to task / email organizer and beyond. Sacha was six feet tall on that stage, even though she did not actual levitate at anytime (although she came close, as always). A Tour de force of the Emacs, a text editing tool built in a interpreted lisp language environment, bascially a personalized productivity platform which allows for massive customization. Sacha had the crowd entertained and enthralled. (Sacha blogged her own impressions and mentions that Emacs was speaking to her!)

Ian Irving

Within Toronto’s Web community, Sacha Chua has become one of the leading “personalities”. Armed with infectious enthusiasm, charm and smarts, she would be an excellent person to hire once she graduates from UoT. The key question is how best to use her talents. It would probably be as a customer service rep, who can come into a bad situation and get everyone happy by the time she leaves. If I was an HR person from Microsoft, IBM, etc. I’d be knocking on Sacha’s door ASAP.

Mark Evans, consultant

Why? Probably because in addition to my natural sugar high, I was also presenting something that was awesomely, arcanely geeky. =)

I hadn’t figured out how to make a screencast on Linux, so the actual display on my screen is lost to time. I do, however, have the source code that I used to step through my speech–including speaking cues, as I didn’t want to mess up the presentation in front of Toronto’s technorati! So here’s the source code, for your amusement. I set up two of my function keys to go forward and backward, executing the parenthesized expressions. I also set up a hidden window that could handle my speaking cues so that Emacs could remind me what the next “slide” was before I transitioned to it, for smoother flow. emacspeak-speak-buffer is a function that reads the current window’s text using the Emacspeak speech interface with the Festival synthesizer I’d configured. At some point, I switched to a more interactive demo, but I still had the speaking cues remind me of the sequence. So yes, Emacs really was telling me what to say. ;)

;; Emacs as a text editor

(progn ;; Setup
  (defvar democamp/presentation-file "~/democamp.el")
  (defvar democamp/cue-buffer "*DemoCamp*")
  (defun democamp/next ()
    (interactive)
    (let (start sexp)
      (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect democamp/presentation-file)
        (setq start (point))
        (forward-sexp)
        (setq sexp (buffer-substring-no-properties start (point))))
      (eval (read sexp))))
  
  (defun democamp/previous ()
    (interactive)
    (let (start sexp)
      (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect democamp/presentation-file)
        (setq start (point))
        (backward-sexp)
        (setq sexp (buffer-substring-no-properties (point) start)))
      (eval (read sexp))))

  (defun democamp/repeat ()
    (interactive)
    (let (start sexp)
      (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect democamp/presentation-file)
        (setq start (point))
        (backward-sexp)
        (setq sexp (buffer-substring (point) start))
        (forward-sexp))
      (eval (read sexp))))
  
  (defun democamp/say (text)
    (with-current-buffer (get-buffer-create democamp/cue-buffer)
      (erase-buffer)
      (insert text)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (call-interactively 'emacspeak-speak-buffer)))
  (global-set-key (kbd "<f12>") 'democamp/next)
  (global-set-key (kbd "S-<f12>") 'democamp/previous)
  (global-set-key (kbd "C-<f12>") 'democamp/repeat)  
)

;; Window register a
(progn
  (menu-bar-mode 1)
  (tool-bar-mode 1)
  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height 200)
  (find-file "~/hello.txt")
  (democamp/say "I don't know why people are so intimidated by Emacs. It's a text editor. It has menus and toolbars and everything.")
  (frame-configuration-to-register ?a)) 

(progn
  (democamp/say "Spell-check, too.")
  (load-library "flyspell")
  (load-library "emacspeak-flyspell")
  (setq emacspeak-flyspell-highlight-personality nil)
  (flyspell-mode 1))


;; Emacs learning curve
;; Frame configuration b
(progn
  (find-file "~/tmp/learningcurves.jpg")
  (democamp/say "So why are people terrified of Emacs?"))

(progn
  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height 700)
  (delete-other-windows)
  (sit-for 1)
  (animate-sequence (list "Livin' la Vida Emacs" "DemoCamp10" "Sacha Chua" "Oct 23, 2006") 1))

(progn
  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height 200)
  (democamp/say "Emacs comes with a psychotherapist.")
  (doctor))
(progn
  (democamp/say "an adventure game")
  (dunnet))
(progn
  (democamp/say "random geek stuff")
  (hanoi 3))
(progn
  (democamp/say "even Snake")
  (delete-other-windows)
  (snake))
(progn
  (democamp/say "And of course, my favorite game, Nethack.")
  (load-library "nethack-config")
  (nethack))
(democamp/say "Some of it is useful")
;; Flashcard
(progn
  (democamp/say "Flashcards")
  (load-library "flashcard-config")
  (find-file "~/notebook/japan/japanese.deck")
  (goto-char (point-max)))
;; With fortunes
(progn
  (democamp/say "And you can mash things together")
  (load-library "fortune")
  (setq fortune-file "/usr/share/games/fortunes/computers")
  (fortune)
  (delete-other-windows))
(progn
  (find-file-other-window "~/notebook/japan/japanese.deck")
  (goto-char (point-max)))

;; Planner
(democamp/say "Now the wild stuff starts.")
(progn
  (planner-goto-today)
  (delete-other-windows)
  (democamp/say "Emacs: more than just an editor. It's a way of life."))

;; - Show tasks
(democamp/say "I use Emacs to manage my tasks with Planner.")
(democamp/say "I can even keep detailed time logs!")
(progn
  (load-library "/usr/src/planner-el/planner-timeclock-summary.el")
  (planner-timeclock-summary-show (planner-today)))

;; - Show notes
(democamp/say "... blog...")
;; - Jump to URL in w3m
(democamp/say "... surf the Web (with tabbed browsing and a custom keymap!)")
33;; - Jump to URL in Firefox
(democamp/say "Although sometimes you really want Firefox.")
;; - Jump to task from mail message
(democamp/say "I can hyperlink to pretty much anything.")
(democamp/say "People's contact information")
(democamp/say "E-mail, etc.")
(democamp/say "Which comes in handy when I need to create tasks from mail messages.")
;; Add note to BBDB from mail message
(progn
  (democamp/say "Keeping track of the number of recipients")
  (planner-visit-link "pos://~/.gnus#19820"))
(democamp/say "BBDB indicators")

;; Reply to message with nickname,
(progn
  (democamp/say "CRM in e-mail: Nicknames...")
  (planner-visit-link "pos://~/.gnus#16025"))

;; and show how it shows up in BBDB record and ping code
(progn
  (democamp/say "... notes...")
  (planner-visit-link "pos://~/.gnus#18804"))

(progn
  (democamp/say "... pings...")
  (planner-visit-link "pos://~/.gnus#16932"))

(democamp/say "... filters...")
(democamp/say "So those are just a few examples of the crazy stuff you can do if you have an infinitely tweakable environment.")
(democamp/say "Sacha, remember to plug in the speakers.")
(democamp/say "Demo Campers, welcome to Emacs. What else do you want it to do?")

I love pushing the envelope. I love getting to know my tools inside and out (I enjoy reading source code!) and then making them do things other people can’t imagine. I love tweaking processes in real life, too, making them better and better every time. That’s just part of the way I work have fun. =)

How can you rock your next technical demo?

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Visual notes – Gary Vaynerchuk and Democamp Toronto 24

| democamp, entrepreneurship, notetaking, passion, sketches, web2.0

Funny aside: When Jay Goldman handed Gary Vaynerchuk a bottle of water, Gary offered it for sale. Little things like that reinforce story.

Key take-aways: Passion and patience are everything. Hustle. Out-care others. Offer good stuff. Pay attention to everything. How do you scale? By trying.

image

Notes from the demos and the pub, before I broke my fountain pen:

image

Explanations for scribbles upon request, or when I can make time for it! =)

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Thinking about conferences

Posted: - Modified: | conference, life, reflection, speaking

I might feel anxious about starting a conversation with a stranger, but I love inspiring a room through public speaking. As a result, I’ve spoken at numerous conferences, and I’m often invited to speak at more.

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out when and how to say no. I’ve been very good at saying yes in the past, and I’ve come across all sorts of great opportunities and met all sorts of great people that way. But presentations take time. I get three weeks of vacation each year. Visiting the Philippines or enjoying a staycation with W- and J- takes a two-week chunk. I sprinkle the days from the remaining week throughout my year to give myself short mental breaks or to take care of things I can’t easily reschedule. Conferences are great, but they take time too.

Planning a presentation is hard work. I almost always customize or re-create presentations extensively. I typically spend more than four hours preparing a presentation, much of it in the impossible-to-outsource task of organizing my thoughts and clarifying the key message. Some presentations take over my mind for a few days, using even my dream-time to sort out the content and the flow.

Then there’s the time it takes to actually give the presentation. There’s travel and the arrangements that need to be made. There’s delivering the presentation. If I want to make the most of a conference experience, I’d probably want to attend the other sessions and go to the evening events. Too many events close together, and the edges unravel. I misplace little things, I feel rushed, I stress out. I get myself through it with introvert breaks, but it’s still tough. And then there’s the time I need to catch up with work and life.

I’ve not been very good at saying no. The last time I tried to say no, I wasn’t very clear about it. I had offered to help find someone else—so I was still on the hook. That experience taught me a number of valuable lessons:

  • It’s easier to change a no to a yes than to change a yes into a no. Say no if there’s the least bit of doubt.
  • I can still create and deliver inspiring talk even if I’m annoyed with myself and the situation.
  • There are some opportunities that aren’t worth it for me to take.

The numbers are pretty crazy, too. Yes, I can speak to ninety, a hundred, two hundred people in a room—but I can share the same presentation online and reach more than 10,000 viewers. I want to reach much more people than those who pay the conference registration fee. With online presentations and blog posts, I can make things whenever I want to, without giving myself deadlines to worry about. My online work is a lot more searchable than most conferences’ archives. My estimated ROI is an order of magnitude larger, even discounting the value created in purely online presentations.

The key thing I like about conferences is the serendipity of learning from other people, of meeting interesting co-panelists and speakers and participants, of bumping into people over Twitter and in hallways. The Net is giving me more and more ways to do that on my own. It may be slower, but it still works.

So I’m beginning to understand why many speakers charge fees, and why authors have form letters that express their regrets. They’re making conscious decisions about how to spend their time and energy, and what to trade those for. I haven’t completely figured out how to handle speaking fees that with IBM. I love what I’m doing, so I’m not about to go off and become an independent speaker/consultant/writer/geek. (At least not yet!)

Some conferences I may still accept: the ones that are directly related to my work, perhaps, and from which I and my manager can see a clear benefit. Then they’re counted as work time, and there’s no confusion about whether something is IBM or not IBM. I’d be happy to let people explore other opportunities.

Over time, I may learn how to say no gracefully—and that will free me up to say yes to opportunities to deepen my understanding.

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Notes from the Social Recruiting Summit

Posted: - Modified: | conference, web2.0

I love being part of industry conferences outside my field. I learn so much from the sessions and the conversations, and I meet all sorts of amazing people I might not otherwise have come across.

Yesterday, I participated in the first Social Recruiting Summit, where recruiters shared questions, ideas and tips on how to use social media to connect companies and candidates. I gave a presentation on The Awesomest Job Search Ever.

Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) gave the keynote address, demonstrating LinkedIn Recruiter. Listening to the conversations afterwards, I got the feeling that people had hoped to have more exciting news about where Reid saw the industry going in the next five years, or some other insights and information not available on LinkedIn’s website. Note to self: When you keynote a conference, focus on the big picture and give people something special.

The summit had an unconference portion. I like unconferences because they let people bring out fresh perspectives, late-breaking news, and more conversation. I proposed a session for sharing success stories and war stories, which I removed when I saw that other sessions could fulfill that quite nicely. Ryan Caldwell and Dion Lim had proposed separate sessions around social media and ROI. When I saw what Dion had written, I called Ryan over, introduced the two of them, and convinced them to merge their sessions. Ryan said he thought I should be in mergers and acquisitions instead. ;) It became a four-person panel with some interesting points, although I think they were counting on a more experienced audience with success stories and war stories of their own. In the future, providing unconference sessions with whiteboards or easels would be a great idea because the facilitators can then capture and express more complex ideas.

There were lots of other interesting sessions and conversations at the summit. During my presentation on “Awesomest Job Search Ever”, I encountered some difficulties hooking my laptop up to the projector, so I just went slide-free. I told people the story about how I got to know IBM, how IBM got to know me, and how that led to just the right position being created for me. We took almost 40 minutes for questions and answers, I think. I learned a lot and I had tons of fun. Others did too! The key messages that emerged were:

  • Social media allows employers to learn about candidates and candidates to learn about employers to an unprecedented extent, and this can help form strong personal connections.
  • Those connections make it easier for new employees to hit the ground running.
  • Recruiters can be ambassadors who help their companies and candidates learn more about making the most of social media.

Lots of good stuff, but I better get these notes out before they become stale!

Dinner

It was difficult to extract one of our companions for dinner, so I suggested that we all go. There were about 16 of us. Chandra Bodapati took us to a terrific Indian restaurant. (Yay local guides!)

I had a terrific conversation with John Sumser, who opened by saying, “You must have amazing mentors.” He explained his company name (Two Color Hat) by telling me the African teaching tale about a man with a two-color hat who walked down a street and asked people what they saw. He likes bringing together different perspectives. He’s also very interested in the demographic shapes of companies and labour markets.

John gave me tips on storytelling and emotional modulation. He encouraged me to find ways to develop my technical skills in parallel with softer skills like presentation and influence. He suggested checking out things like The Quantified Self, The Technium, Kevin Kelly (kk.org), cybernetics, and other complex things. This reminds of what Michael Nielsen told be about Lion Kimbro, who found that the practice of writing down his every thought made him think much more clearly. Must see if John knows about him.

On the way to the airport

I hitched a ride with Eric Jaquith and Geoff Peterson in a SuperShuttle, which worked out to be a very cost-effective and hassle-free way to get from Embassy Suites to the SFO airport. Along the way, they shared even more insights about recruiting, technology companies, leadership, life, and other good things. I’m really so lucky that people are so generous with their insights!

Debriefing

I arrived at 11:00 at the San Francisco International Airport. Since I had a few hours to spare before my 3:05 flight, I connected to the wireless network and started working. Jennifer Okimoto (enterprise adaptability consultant) sent me an instant message asking me about the summit. She said,

so… I’ve received a request to respond to a media relations request ABOUT SOCIAL RECRUITING and you appear to be the current IBM expert!

Jen had been reading my tweets, and she wanted to pick my brain about emerging trends in social recruiting. I spent 20 minutes braindumping the ideas and stories I’d picked up from the one-day summit. Here are some bits:

  • Applicant tracking systems are starting to incorporate data from social networks so that they can track that someone came in from Twitter, Facebook, or somewhere else.
  • Progressive companies are interested in using social networks to find out who their employees know, so that when candidates come in, they can figure out who knows that person in the company (or who has some affiliation).
  • Social recruiting right now tends to be ad-hoc, based on people’s individual social networks. This is a problem when a recruiter leaves a company. People are looking at using groups on LinkedIn and other services so that they can keep the networks even if individual recruiters leave. Contact relationship managements are useful, too.
  • Everyone’s interested in how to approach and build relationships with passive candidates. Blogs and social networks seem to be a good way to reach out, get people interested in you or following you, and build the relationship from there.
  • Some companies are turning to rich media (video, podcasts, etc) to give the companies or recruiters faces, a personal connection. Recruiters who have public video interviews get more job leads and resumes at job fairs.
  • People are still trying to figure out social media. Many people still think about it like a job board, broadcasting information. Some people are starting to get into it as a conversation: reading, commenting, posting stuff about their company or useful things that might help people, and only posting the occasional job-related update.
  • Mobile is really interesting. The recording for the session on mobile recruiting should be on the socialrecruitingsummit.com site shortly.
  • The economic climate mean that people aren’t hopping about like crazy trying to fill slates, because hiring has slowed down. But companies like Microsoft are starting to bring in new metrics– not just time-to-hire but also how quickly they can put a slate of candidates together when they get a request (which encourages them to develop a pool of interesting people).
  • LinkedIn Recruiter has lots of interesting faceted search features. (I liked how they walked through that scenario from the IBM ad.)
  • Very few people do real metrics. They try all these things, but they don’t know if they work, or how well. There are some companies working on this space.
  • About 20% of the summit participants have a blog. Most of them have commented on a blog.
  • They think community managers and social media marketers are going to be hot positions in a short while.
  • Many of their companies frown on social networks or blogging, but some are taking the opposite tack and trying to get everyone in the company on LinkedIn.
  • Some companies are building employee job ads / referral widgets on Facebook.
  • V Australia (energy drink) set up a site to help Gen Yers find jobs at other companies. They got great ROI in terms of marketing and exposure.
  • You know that Southwest rapper flight attendant video? Turns out he had been working as a ramp agent for 6 months before that, and he was unhappy with his work. He took one of their personal development courses to figure out if his values lined up with his job’s, and realized that being a flight attendant was a much better fit. He gave it a shot and really enjoyed it. A customer captured his rap on video and uploaded it to YouTube after asking. The video went viral, and the guy has made the rounds of the usual talk shows. Good story about people development and about social media.

So that’s the braindump from the conference. I’ve asked an assistant to transcribe my talk, and I’ll post that after I clean it up. =)

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Social Recruiting Summit: Awesomest Job Search Ever

Posted: - Modified: | conference, presentation, speaking, web2.0

UPDATE: Here’s the recording! =)

pre-session notes

This is a placeholder for “Awesomest Job Search Ever”, the talk I’m giving at the Social Recruiting Summit today at the Googleplex. It’ll eventually hold notes from the session, and if we’re lucky, a recording and a transcript as well. =)

I plan to tell the story about how I got to do what I do at IBM. The three points I want to make are:

  • Because the company learned more about me through my blog, they got a great sense of who I was, what I was good at, and what mattered to me.
  • Because I met so many interesting employees through their blogs and social networks, I really wanted to join the company. Relational onboarding was awesome, too.
  • Because we both knew more about each other than in a normal job search, we could create new opportunities.

I want to convince recruiters to take the following actions:

  • Help their companies and candidates learn how to use social media to tell stories and to connect.
  • Help people connect before, during, and after their job search process.
  • Look for ways to create opportunities that go beyond the typical job search.

Please feel free to leave comments with questions or further thoughts. You can also e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!


UPDATE: Susan mentioned that she found one of my presentations. That’s probably this one:

Another thing that you might like:

More presentations on Slideshare

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LifeCampTO: April 5 (Sun), 10:30am – 1:00pm, LinuxCaffe

Posted: - Modified: | connecting, event, life

The next (quarterly?) LifeCampTO will be on April 5, Sunday, from 10:30am to 1:00pm at the LinuxCaffe (326 Harbord St, Toronto – south of the Christie subway station)! =)

Sign up now!

Agenda:

Intros: (10:30 – 11:00, 30 minutes) – 2 minutes per person, strict.
Come prepared with the ONE THING you _most_ want help with and the ONE THING you’re really good at and want to offer help with. We’ll keep the number system and use that to track who wants to contact whom after the meeting. Some people missed connections because neither person wrote down numbers, so we’ll keep a running tally on a whiteboard or a projected spreadsheet. If you don’t want your e-mail address to be included in the automatic matchmaking list, tell me during the event and I can make a note of that. Numbers might be pre-assigned before the event, and you can post your intros then, too. Come early and eat brunch. =)
Small Conversations (11:00-11:40, 40 minutes):
5 rounds of 6 minutes each, with a few minutes between for a mad scramble to find the next person you wanted to talk to. A timer will announce the halfway mark so that people can switch to offer help to the other, if they require this prompting. If people feel up to paying a small fee, we can arrange for appetizers to appear.
Large Conversations (11:40-12:30, 50 minutes):
2 rounds of 20 minutes each, for large topics that bubble out of the introductions. People can self-organize into whatever-size groups they want to talk about stuff. Ideal time to grab a quick snack.
Think Tank (12:30-12:45, 15 minutes):
Someone wins the think tank lottery! The lucky winner shares his or her goal/challenge/topic of interest and we collectively brainstorm how to help.
Wrap-up (12:45-12:50, 5 minutes):
Thanks, follow-ups, etc. People are invited to stay and chat over lunch with new-found connections. If you have any additional connections you want me to make, give me the numbers and I’ll update my spreadsheet.

Feel free to pre-introduce yourself on Twitter, too – #lifecampto and whatever introduction you can squeeze into the 140-character limit.

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