June 20, 2003
Reboot report

UPDATE II: Hans 'Rytme' Hurvig (Not the guy you can see at rytme.dk) asked that I correct his nickname from 'Silk' to 'Rytme'.

UPDATE: Seemed to forget my Jason Fried notes in the first run (thanks for the reminder Benjamin).

We'll do this faux bloggish, with entries in chronological not reverse chronological order. I'll highlight key themes of the day (key point: Who did Mygdal trash in his intro or outro to talk)
Also - inspired by Jason Fried I'll try to relate my impressions to easily understood standard references.

Cory Doctorow

Slammed by Mygdal in intro: Microsoft. (It slipped out and he then regretted it and half apologized saying they have a lot of nice people...)

Interesting talk on personal freedom, copyright legislation and the crippling of society by said legislation. Some scary examples of rights related decisionmaking are given. Best one: As reported by Doctorow, Nokia cell-phone batteries are built with strong crypto so Nokia can detect that the battery is true Nokia. If not, the phone is programmed to drain it as fast as possible. Is this true? The story didn't pop out on Google.

Aside from a call to action against new insane copyright legislation (more on this later, because the legislation is truly outrageous) the key pitch is to shift the rights management to something similar to the licensing format used for radio: You pay a standard license fee regardless of the content you put out. Fees are then colleced by a copyright agency and distributed to rights owners according to distributions either reported or statistically measured.
The current mess is either unmanageable (at best) or allows rights holders to curb invention in internet use of copyrighted material (at worst)
Outrageousness of copyright legislation: 100% Franz Kafka
Unasked question: Are we talking milk-quotas (EU-style) for music on the internet?
Slammed by Mygdal in outro:Audiences at past Reboots. Heavy sermonising on doing good things.

Ben Hammersley

A pedestrian partially amusing, partially annoying, at no point eye opening intro to RDF. Maybe to cover the intense boredom of his material, Hammersley piles on plenty of antics (pictures of dog, wild hairdo). Overstates immediate benefits of RDF. Says "There are already lots of vocabularies". That is not a good thing (as I discussed with Hans 'Rytme' Hurvig) If everybody's doing RDF vocabularies they will not mean anything. Furthermore - the value of producing the RDF can be hard to see. If it is not produced accidentally by tools we use anyway, it will not be produced. This touches on Shirky's Listening to Napster that Tim O'Reilly will later mention. Superficiality: 80% Jellyfish.

Scott Heiferman

Slammed by Mygdal during intro: Heiferman himself (!!! What a great way to make a speaker feel comfortable and welcome. Incidentally Heiferman tells us that he was attacked yesterday while walking around Copenhagen, so he's used to unprovoked aggresion at this point.) Heiferman has built the company meetup.com and this is basically a product plug. But it is a nice non-aggresive product. Basically meatspace newsgroups - or as one of the arrangers later said: An openspaces web platform. Unasked question: How many of meetup's 350000 subscribers are Pakistanis looking to hook up with Sarah Jessica Parker. Slammed by Mygdal during outro:Danish companies on the web.

Meg Hourihan

A "Wouldn't it be nice" talk on blogs and blog collaboration tools and blog universe tools. Wants to build a Firefly for blogs. Current version does not beat Technorati or Blogstreet. Ingenuity of product pitch: 80% alltheweb Slammed by Mygdal during outro:: Content Management Systems.

Dan Gillmor

Really professional presentation on newsmedia vs blogs. The talk is a collection of anecdotes, but with points made for each of them. Stories as varied as blogs covering 911, the gulf war (incidentally, what the hell is wrong with these people - 'the camera choice for the embedded journalist'), the shuttle crash, and koreas most recent election. Grandfatherliness Maybe 80% Ian Holm, but no more than 10%-20% Richard Attenborough. Unasked question:Is the network sufficiently public a space for accountability. Don't we need a center for that?

Marc Canter

A madman. Sings Handel, and goes overboard in so many other ways. Has a new concept for open standards and web based communityware. Sounds like:
  • Standardized open document formats. Documents reside on the net.
  • A consistent set of browser based editors for this material.
  • Services driven off the data created.
Demos an outliner - but Winer is already the web outline king, so why bother? Loudness: 70% Orson Welles Unasked question:Why simple webapps? Why no rich clients? Has Microsoft really shafted us all to such a degree that new rich clients are no longer an option? Data can easily reside on the web while being edited with good responsive rich clients. Slammed by Mygdal during outro. No one. Canter slams Macromedia during talk.

Jason Fried

Nice enough presentation on sensible (web)interface design. Mostly standard fare, and most of the material available in print on the website. Top moment a particularly bad Terms of Service blurb which seems to be missing from the official contingency design 'hall of shame'. It was fortunately picked up by Cory Doctorow for you to see. Slammed by Mygdal during outro: No one, but Fried found time to slam programmers. I hate it when they do that, it is such an easy excuse. Arguments of the type "If only my kind of people were doing the real work everything would be better" are almost always wrong and show ignorance and disrespect of skillsets other than one's own. That goes for programmers blaming designers, designers blaming programmers, and either of the above blaming the business people buying the systems.

Tim O'Reilly

Talks on the open source paradigm shift. Calls it something else, but basic analysis is that the post PC revolution is moving to open source and that the move is taking place in server space: The Amazon, Google, etc. dataenriched services are all built on the LAMP platform. Lots of interesting stories, like the creation of UUNet from open source roots. But the talk is good enough that I listend and didn't take any notes. A lot of what he says resonates with an awful lot of blog posts I've read lately and I think I'll put down a summary of that instead over the weekend. The real deal:100%

Summary: Very stimulating, even with the sermonizing. Most important thing remains Doctorows assertion that the copyright wars are just getting started, and that Europe - in contrast to what I believed - have every intention of matching (even exceeding) the insane American legislation. It seems like it is time to do something.

Posted by Claus at June 20, 2003 11:44 PM
Comments (post your own)

Mostly agree with you.
Mygdal didn't have his best day yet.
I'm making my own account of the day on my site.
O'Reilly and Doctorow were the best of the day.
Did you notice how Corys license talk was grimly exemplified by the drug pusher license deal that Canter later proposed for his new project?

Posted by: Gunnar Langemark on June 21, 2003 3:53 PM

"...but Fried found time to slam programmers. Arguments of the type "If only my kind of people were doing the real work everything would be better" are almost always wrong and show ignorance and disrespect of skillsets other than one's own."

If that's what it sounded like (solely blaming programmers), then my apologies. I think everyone is at fault -- designers (especially designers), programmers, business decision makers, and everyone else in between. Like I said, usability is not the domain of designers alone -- it's the responsibility of everyone in the chain. Everyone in the chain needs to play an active part, an integral role, in order for usability and the customer experience to drastically improve.

If just left to the designers or the programmers alone, "usability" doesn't have much of a chance.

Posted by: Jason Fried on June 22, 2003 2:01 AM

The point is well made, Jason - I'm just quoting what you said.
The real problem is that there is no proper 'intersection' between the different skills required, so that invariably some of the required qualities are missing on one side of the table. An efficient process requires people to be a least conversant in the kind of reasoning that drives the people they are talking to. It sounds like such a simple thing, but if fails a lot.

Posted by: Classy on June 22, 2003 6:02 PM

Urs H?lzle, Google, agrees:

Metadata. He thought meta data was fairly useless. Users don't enter it. He thought the semantic web project would fail. He said users around the globe will not work to enter descriptive data of any kind when there is no user benefit.

Posted by: M on July 1, 2003 2:09 PM

Thanks Morten,

I strip tags in comments. The Urs URl is http://google.blogspace.com/archives/000927

Posted by: Dee on July 1, 2003 3:27 PM
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