Category Archives: events

Le Web now with more social richness

09122008681The smallest conversations bring great insight.

I was just talking to Alex (ledretch) about the conference, the sessions, the people etc and he made a remark about all the tools we use to connect.

And it hit me that 3 years ago when I was here at Les Blogs the *only* thing we had that we could connect through was our blogs, and flickr I suppose, but mostly the blogs, and there was this feeling of tension of social unease that we didn’t know each other very well and that that mattered (apart from among the old-timers of course who regularly met at conferences) – and now we have so many other ways of getting together and in fact the communities that have formed around twitter and seesmic and facebook et al *as well as* our blogs are now just way, way richer and when we come together offline, it’s just that we’re operating in a different mode, it’s not so awkward or anything.

And anyway lots of people just come and sit down here and chat and crack open their laptops.

Of course I could just be an old social media tart or something.

LeWeb commences

The Seesmic Clique

This morning at LeWeb:
We are on the western side of this time zone, so it was still dark at 8am.
Early birds include Dean Whitbread who marched past me as I exited the metro & @whitscott & @ledretch etc.
W00t! blogger tables at the front with wired internet and power (but no power)
Heartwarming smoochycoochy welcome from the Le Meurs
Spotted @fred2baro in the crowd.
Steve Gillmor straight into Silly Valley insider gossip fest with some MS dude
More of the same from Google fella
DAVID WEINBERGER!! FUCK YEAH!
MySpace drone drove me downstairs to the comfy sofas, the better wifi
On the way caught JP to muse on internet fame and self-organisation viz Stansted invaders, but more scarily for us all with teenage children, organized crime around facebook parties.
Sophie Cox dropped by, no doubt hoping to try and straighten my badges, but ended up modelling the giveaway beanie from the goodiebag.
Hugh McLeod sauntered in, shared some off the record bits of his evil plan, which had be giggling and ready for anything at which point he pulled out some hot wet pussy.
Out into the hall for lunch – not quite attack of the microlunches, but close run, given that as Stephanie noted there seemed to be lunch for 150 whereas we have about 1500 people.
Realised that Hermione Way really hadn’t thought through the name of her new startup techfluff.tv when I called her techfluffer in chief – seems she didn’t know till recently what a fluffer was. I nearly ended up drenched in red wine.
Nipped out and got some turkey kabanos from the jewish mom & pop store down the road and met Hugh again in the snow, so we had a bitch about London, Paris and the like.
Came in and chatted with David Langer about social media consulting, me, tuttle, self-organising and other interesting stuff about err… me

It’s the people, people. We come for the people. Think I’ll go sample Paulo Coelho in the main hall.

Passing notes in school

Ugh I’ve had a kind of emotional hangover since about lunchtime yesterday. I feel rotten about getting stuck in a cynical snarky frame of mind. To blame twitter would be like blaming my exercise books for having blank sheets at the back that were perfect for writing notes to pass in class. To blame anyone at NESTA would be like blaming Mr Liberal for not being able to control his pupils. And to blame any of my fellow participants would be saying “they made me do it, sir”. Oh bugger, now I’ve got the Grange Hill theme running round in my head.

But anyway that’s what I did yesterday, I regressed into can’t-be-bothered schoolboy (the one who ended up with average O-levels and piss-poor A-levels), a role I reprised at university as smart-arse know-it-all (who had to pull far too many all-nighters to get a 2:1). People found some of my twittering amusing but it wasn’t really a productive use of my time to sit there snarking, steadily becoming more frustrated and in the end getting, well, a bit depressed really. In fact I felt just the same as when we had that backchannel hoo-ha at LesBlogs2.0. Stuck in a room with far too many smart people not able to say anything while some other smart people sat on the stage and weren’t able to say enough. But I have to recognise that that’s just how I see it, it doesn’t mean that everyone else had the same reaction.

The thing I can take responsibility for is that I went into it entirely unconsciously – I didn’t really look at the programme, as was evidenced by my shock on arrival at the scale of the whole thing. If I had thought about it, I would have known that I was likely to rebel against the keynoting and panelling and would have planned to do something entirely different and positive with the opportunity instead of sitting there and trying to disrupt it. The only bit I behaved in was Bob Geldof’s bit – he’s a great performer and I’ve loved him ever since he tore up that picture of John Travolta on Top of the Pops.

So I’m sorry NESTA for poking you with a stick. I’m sorry Jonathan Freedland for calling you names on twitter. And I’m sorry to myself for using up a valuable day so miserably.

Ho hum. On to better things. I’ve sat in similar events and said “We can do better than this” I don’t think that’s true – it was a great event, but the programmed content was not for me. What I will say is “We can do something other than this – in fact we already are” That’s where my effort’s going today rather than in trying to pull somebody else down.

Bonus Link: The bit that Geldof quoted from WH Murray

Cognitive Surplus at Conferences

It struck me that Clay Shirky’s lovely notion of cognitive surplus has another expression in these panel and single speaker conferences. Where sitcoms mask cognitive surplus, occasions like this NESTA Innovation conference amplify and magnify it. We have 3,000 smart people (ok not smart enough to not come, but pretty smart nonetheless) sitting in a room listening to 4 other smart people on stage. The weight of ideas, thoughts, inspiration and excitement is enormous, and for me anyway painful – we all rush out to grab food and talk rapidly before coming back in to listen to the prime minister. Gaaaah! Cue Desperate Housewives.

Tim Berners-Lee on web science.

Just a snippet. Cross not to have power supply.

Sir Tim says something to the effect of:

People doing interesting things fall between stools. The web has to be thought of as humanity connected, rather than an interconnection of computer systems. And you have to remember it’s big, very big and it’s complex. It’s not apparent yet what all of its characteristics are. We don’t know yet for example what the blogosphere is and how it will behave. We just don’t know – we can’t show that it’s stable. So we have to study it, we have to understand it better so that we can take care of it.

The Innovation Edge

Live blogging a bit from the Royal Festival Hall as and when today. No power in the hall at all, so currently on 53 minutes 😛

We’ve got a whole bunch of big names talking to us this morning, TB-L & Bob Geldof with a rumoured appearance by the PM. First impression – it’s bloody huge! We’ve heard talk of 3-4,000 people. The hall is full and I think we’re just about to be moved out of the front-row seats we’d grabbed by being the first in. It was too good to be true.

Or maybe not. No, we’re sitting still Ha Ha!

What’s the web for?

A slow project this one. Ask as many people as I can remember to do when I’ve got my camera with me to answer a “simple” question – “What is the web for?”

I tried it out at the Tuttle Club a few weeks ago. This is what came out of the mouths of some of the Smartest People in Social Media (TM)





So there are two ways I want to take this forward. I want to do it with a more diverse group of people, and I want to edit a bunch of them together in a watchable way. Your thoughts on how to do this are welcome.

I have more. I will release them. Soon.

Dynamic Compartmentalisation

Breakfast and conversation again yesterday, courtesy of OneAlfredPlace and Steve Moore I love the way that Steve keeps playing with different formats. This one involved three cool people (coincidentally all members of my twitterstream) Jeremy, Kevin & Matt from Penguin, The Guardian and Channel 4 respectively, all talking about what happens next in their worlds, ably steered by Rebecca Caroe. As Matt disarmingly pointed out, when you ask people in the vanguard of change what the future will be like, it’s not surprising that they describe a scenario in which there are really cool jobs for people like them. But as I feel part of the same vanguard, I’m not going to disagree with what they were saying. The common thread for me was that they all see their jobs as doing away with technology dependent descriptions of what they do (sell books, paper, TV programmes) towards being in the market for ideas and stories. I wanted to ask to what extent they saw themselves as competition for each other, or more properly for our attention.

Mark has captured the nugget in what Matt said about some current C4 research on teenage net use.

“Seems one girl the researchers were following was hanging out online doing amongst other things a spot of the hi-speed Instant Messaging that only the young can really manage for any length of time.

She had sorted all her contacts into 6-7 or seven groups – schoolfriends, family etc but also “bitches” “wankers” and so on. What was striking though was the way in which she switched contacts between the groups in real time. Even if the members of her different social networks remained mostly consistent over the short term, their roles were in constant flux. And those are just the small set of folk she is in regular contact with regularly…”

Read the whole thing for Mark’s point on this (as well as some bonus Tommy Cooper) but what struck me was how it fits with what I’ve been saying about compartmentalisation – that the way we dealt with having larger numbers of acquaintances than 150 was to split them up (at least in our heads) and make sure they never came into contact with each other (except when we wanted them all to share something with us – weddings – or where we were no longer in control – funerals – both of which, especially with the addition of alcohol can become explosive situations). I see a lot of people struggling with the problem that online social networks make compartmentalism more difficult. It seems to me that the solution here though is a creative third way – keep the idea of compartments, but treat them much more dynamically.

As usual, I feel I’ve taken hundreds of words to say something very simple and obvious. Sorry.