June 12, 2005
Reboot Day 2

(day 1 covered here)
So Reboot day 2 rolls around and brings
Cory Doctorow on the broadcast flag. Doctorow has a problem with his pitch in that it's basically the same "free is better" pitch regardless of the specific issue he's currently concerned about. It's not that these issues aren't important, but it weakens the message that it has the shape "We found another problem!".
Christer Lindholm does an overlong talk on the mobile future. Sounds a bit dated. The best moment in the talk comes when Lindholm talks about the fierce competion among objects for getting put into your pockets. Pocketspace is cramped and electronic devices are competing with some nonelectronic essentials, so size is at a premium.
I then hang around Chris Heathcote's tangible computing talk, the first talk today that will mention the visual computer interface from Minority Report (here in the negative)
I catch a bit of Tor Nørretranders - it's quite an old piece of his from the "we're only in it for the sex" book he published in 2002 and also surf by Nicolai Peitersen's talk on Kesera (danish). I had forgotten that I actually knew about Kesera already, and suddenly remembered finding the combination of shameless self promotion (count the number of times the name Nicolai Peitersen is mentioned on the Kesera website) and offbeat, simplistic ideas on creativity off putting.
Ben Hammersley thinks we have a fundamental problem with our technology in that it challenges our ideas on good manners and that we can't keep up, which means we're slowly disenfranchized from modern society.
I think you need to broaden 'manners' to something like 'social situation and behavioural patterns' for this to be true and saying that on the other hand makes the point kind of obvious. Thats almost what technology is for - to change the way we interact with each other and the world. But it's an OK talk - much, much better than the one Hammersley gave at the last Reboot. Also, Hammersley looks a little less like Sideshow Bob this year, even if the likeness is still quite scary.
I think it's about this time I catch part of a talk about why some social software services fail and why some succeed. The argument it pretty clear: The ones that bring to focus objects that we have an independently sustainable interest in (e.g. photos, links) work. The ones that bring to focus objects that we latch onto as part of the game of using the service, fail. I'm quite happy to buy that argument, and it's nice to see it made.

Next good talk I attend is Lee Bryant's talk on applying some of notions from social tagging to some concrete public sector community projects. The discussion revolves around some of the notions about the metaphors we use to describe things and how explicit and implicit tagging can be used to alleviate some of the disconnect between the government sector and the public.
David Weinbergers talk is good. As much as I manage to hear of it can be found in the issue of Release 1.0 about tagging Weinberger recently edited (intro here)
We try to have a debate about patents with Kim Østrup from IBM, Morten Helveg-Petersen, David Axmark and Cory Doctorow but the time we have for the debate is just too short. Basically we're not able to get beyond initial statements of position. Østrup has a nice perspective on the debate, even if am still completely unconvinced that software patents are a good idea (for these reasons among others). I am also slightly underwhelmed by the "we want patents, but in a sane manner" pitch. If you're saying yes, you're not putting up enough of a fight to get a decent system and then the "patents with moderation" stance just like like a convenient position that is affordable because it will never matter.
Bonus feature of the debate is the presence of "The Luke Skywalker of the Copywars", Jon Lech Johansen aka DVD-Jon who is later interviewed about DRM.
It's around this time that Matt Webb is the second speaker to bring up the visual computer interface from Minority Report. Amusingly, Webb thinks the interface is great and the shape of his argument is almost the same as the one Heathcote gave that the interface was bad (namely, answering the question: "How does the interface match the way we absorb visual information?").
It's getting late and sessions are winding down to "blogs, blogs, blogs, blogs, blogs, blogs, blogs". We make money not art does a presentation which is essentially "a blog archive read out loud". If you follow the blog, it's not that interesting.
Finally, the A-list blogger love in between Hugh 'Gapingvoid' Macleod, Robert Scoble and Doc Searls turns out to be intensely boring and not very interesting. What a disappointment.

Summing up, what was good and what wasn't so good.about Reboot?
There was a little too much looking back at "what we've already accomplished", too many topics that could have just as well been at a conference a year ago. On the other hand, the huge extension of the program and the focus on technology culture was a definite plus. I think this was the best reboot I have attended, but I'm missing that clear new idea that the very best speech gave me at previous Reboots I've attended. At Reboot 2001 there was Douglas Rushkoff impressive talk on the importance of the web's 2-way nature. At Reboot 2003 there was Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 characterization and Dan Gillmor's citizen journalism talk. I wouldn't say any of the talks I saw this year had that quality, but on the other hand the pervasive "let's bootstrap our way to something new" message in almost all talks, almost make up for that. Maybe that is the big new thing this year.

Posted by Claus at June 12, 2005 06:32 AM | TrackBack (0)
Comments (post your own)
Help the campaign to stomp out Warnock's Dilemma. Post a comment.

Email Address:


Type the characters you see in the picture above.

(note to spammers: Comments are audited as well. Your spam will never make it onto my weblog, no need to automate against this form)


Remember info?