Archive for December, 2006

STIRR Winter Wonderland tonight

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

I’ll be at the STIRR Winter Wonderland party in San Francisco tonight.

At 450 people from 100+ companies, they are sold out.

Should be a lot of fun, especially since I get to bring my significant other. Time to dress up, baby!

Web 2.0

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Tim O’Reilly’s attempt at a compact definition of Web 2.0 (as opposed to his original article):

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”)

I also like Bob Stumpel’s checklist:

This is a stupid simple link bank, referring to everything that just might be a symptom of Web 2.0. I’m not dogmatic. Any sign of:

  • Collective intelligence / wisdom of crowds
  • Collaboration / sharing
  • Reviewing / ranking / rating
  • Community / social software
  • Enabling / empowering users

is good enough for a listing.

Though I’m certain some people will still not be convinced that Web 2.0 is anything other than a marketing buzzword (and completely meaningless). Oh well…

As for me, I’m about ready to join the revolution. Let’s see what 2007 has in store.

confab.yahoo — Prediction Markets: Tapping the Wisdom of Crowds

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

I’ll be at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale tonight for their first ever confab.yahoo event: “Prediction Markets: Tapping the Wisdom of Crowds” (Upcoming).

confab.yahoo is a free open microconference series. Join academic and industry experts from across the valley and the country as we discuss the latest technologies and their applications and see for yourself what’s next on the web. Attendance is free and open to the public.

James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds, will be moderating a panel of prominent prediction market experts.

Ah, collective wisdom…

Looks like it will be packed.

Biothursday Munich to launch January 18, 2007

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Another ad hoc event is forming in Germany: Biothursday

Biothursday is a non-commercial, self-organized and public meeting for people who are interested in bio sciences (life sciences) — be it for professional, academic or private reasons — and who would like to share presentations on current research and developments in this sector.

Biothursday takes place every one or two months on a Thursday night at a neutral location in an informal atmosphere — currently still exclusively in Munich. Other cities are invited to put on events, too. The platform www.biothursday.net is open to anyone who’s interested.

Suggested topics for the inaugural Janary 18, 2007 event include:

  • Paul König: Mouse tatoos
  • Bianca Künnecke: BioTech patent law
  • Martin Szugat: Life sciences & web 2.0

The event is organized by Martin Szugat, a frequent attendee and contributor to Web Monday Munich.

The ugly face of war

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

CNN: Combat Hospital.

Reminder: Barcamp Nuremberg, December 16/17

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Barcamp Nuremberg is fast approaching. So far, 60+ people have signed up for the December 16/17 event, so a few more seats are still available. If you live anywhere near (hint: Munich, Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Leipzig or Dresden are all pretty close-by in my book), why not grab a few friends (geek or no geek) and join the fun.

Read what people have to say about Barcamp Berlin and Barcamp Cologne. Bottom line: they really, really liked it. And they can’t all be wrong, can they?

The wiki is open: present your project, demo your prototype, organize a panel, talk about whatever you want to talk about, or just ask a bunch of questions — the possibilities are sheer endless.

There’s also a plethora of podcasts and videos out there from both the Berlin and the Cologne event, should you still not be convinced that this is the single most awesome event you will attend in 2006!

There is already talk of doing more barcamps in Germany in 2007 (Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt are likely candidates) but those might not happen until summer! Summer! That’s like… ages away! So, do the right thing and don’t let this opportunity slip.

Go camping, everybody!

Web Monday Ruhr Valley, December 11

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Web Monday Ruhr Valley will launch this coming Monday, December 11 at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) in Bochum.

About 5+ million people live in this part of Germany, who up until now didn’t have access to a Web Monday close-by. Can you imagine? Anyway, I’m very happy to see that this white spot on the map is finally being filled.

Apparently, 50+ people have signed up (some of whom aren’t on the wiki yet). The three brief (10 minute) talks will circle around social networks, community frameworks and web 2.0 — oh, an there’s drinks and pretzels, too!

In case you’re wondering, here’s a little more information about the region in the heart of Germany: Ruhr Valley. And for those of you who read German: here’s the lyrics to a classic German pop song from ‘84 that is about, well, Bochum (or check out the English translation).

Phil Nobel on online politics in Europe

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Nicole just did a nice pre-conference interview with Phil Noble, founder of Politics Online. He has some pretty interesting things to say about citizens, politics, and the internet in Europe and elsewhere:

Nicole: When you look at Europe (and from your experience), what is most astonishing to you that politicians don’t do because it would be so easy to do today. What would you give as advice to somebody who wants to use the internet today?

Phil: Well, it’s really not too surprising to me that the politicians haven’t adopted the internet as aggressively as they could have. What has surprised me is that there hasn’t been more independent citizen organizations, more independent online organizations.

And again, I think that goes back to the political culture and tradition. In this country, politics is very entrepreneurial in the sense that if I decide I wanna run for governor of South Carolina I walked out my front door, call five reporters and say “I’m running for governor of South Carolina.” And if I can raise enough money and run an effective campaign, I win! And I don’t even have to — you know, other than paying my $5,000 to put my name on the ballot — I don’t even have to talk to the Democratic party establishment. And so we are very entrepreneurial.

And France and Europe in general you’re much more bureaucratic, your party structure is much more rigid. And what surprises me is that there’re not more online organizations and structures and campaigns created by individuals totally outside of that party structure. That’s what surprises me most about Europe.

Nicole: Loïc said he could imagine that for the next European election there might actually be a party of bloggers or internet-savvy people who could run as a party and try to change things. And the more I look at how Europe is structured or the European government is structured, I actually believe there could be a chance for it.

For the moment, I think most people don’t really see European government as something which is important (the national elections are much more important than that). But more and more, Europe is taking over, you have government decisions from Europe which have to be transported into national law and everything.

So it would actually be a good idea to have somebody running as independent and writing in English about what’s happening in the European Union itself to get more information, to get more unbiased information as well. But so far, I don’t see that coming.

Phil: I think that’s right. I used to do some work for the party of European Socialists in the European Parliament back in the late ’90s. And it has been something that has surprised me as to why some of the European parties have not moved aggressively to use the internet to really reach out to individual citizens.

And again, I think it goes back to the European tradition. The party of European Socialists or the EPP, or whatever, all these things, they are a creation of national parties. And so, you know, they are most concerned about being responsive to and trying to be directed by the parties — but not the individuals, not individual citizens.

And so I think that’s what’s really missing is that we haven’t had in Europe political organizations that have been interested in bypassing their party structures and empowering and linking and creating a real citizen movement. And I think it could happen. I think it’s more likely to happen on the extremes, you know, some of the, um, on the far right or the far left — I think they are more likely to use it effectively in the short term.

Although I must admit, for example, David Cameron in the UK: I’m very impressed with what he’s trying to do online. You know, I think in Germany, what Angela Merkel… I think she shows that she has some understanding of it, you know. And I think obviously the most intersting one right now is Ségolène Royal. I mean, what is she gonna do with it? I think she has the potential to be a real breakthrough in Europe because she has used her blog and internet in a way that nobody else has. And I think she may be the first real online European politician.

Citizen-centric politics? Citzen-centric parties, even? Smart use of online tools? Empowering citizens? Sounds like a recipe for success for whomever wants to get in (or stay in) the game.

I’ve been on the Politics Online newsletter for almost a decade now (Electofix, one little project of mine, even scored a mention as HotSite of the week last August). If things work out as planned, I hope to get to go to Washington D.C. next March for the Politics Online Conference 2007 (Upcoming).

Christmas Oratorio

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

I went to hear Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachtsoratorium) at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto last night. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorale under Nicholas McGegan gave an outstanding performance.

I was totally unaware of this ensemble until now, and pleasantly surprised to find something as good here in the US (as opposed to Europe where there is a much larger scene for this type of music it seems).

Plus, they did all six cantatas — a real treat!

If you enjoy early music on period instruments (or Bach in particular), you still have a chance to catch one of their upcoming performances in Berkeley (tonight and tomorrow night), San Francisco (December 8) or Contra Costa (December 9).

The Prestige

Friday, December 1st, 2006

The Prestige passes, except for that sci-fi machine. Good reviews. Can you spot David Bowie, though?