Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Gnomedex 6 Day Two Impressions


Okay, so I'm a tad bit delayed getting my Gnomedex6 day two summary up. Some other interesting things were going on worth blogging about first.

Basically, it was a very different day from the first, mainly due to the absence of an attraction like Senator John Edwards. And no proclamations, welcomes, etc etc. Or TechMeme hacks. Just hitting the ground running, with Dave Winer first up. Snippet of his intentions:

The two ideas are outlined in two DaveNet pieces:

  1. How to Make Money on the Internet, v2.0 and
  2. Monoculture, An artifact of the 20th century?

Dave started by noting that it's easier for the user to become a manufacturer than a manufacturer to become a user. What's wrong with the manufacturers of the world? They come down from the mountain with their product for you to buy and worship, and then maybe two years later they return with the next product for you to buy and worship. Dave then asked the audience to think about how things have changed over the past ten, fifteen, twenty years, especially around travel and dealing with travel agents.

When it comes to making money, Dave dismissed ads on websites. Instead, the websites should be ads for ourselves and we should learn who shares common interests. An example he provided is Engadget: how long until Engadget is providing feedback to manufacturers around exactly what they & gadget lovers want? This would make manufacturers fulfillment houses for visionary users.

(Note: it was an interesting theme of the conference that most people were dismissing advertising as anything special.)

As part of the discussion, someone recommended the book All Rise and noted its website all Breaking Ranks » All Rise

Second was "Pud" Kaplan ( Interesting personality and all and great potential for insights (how to build buzz) but a lot of the personal stories weren't relevant to 95% of the people in the room, let alone on the internet. He did share a couple of interesting stories:

  1. To build buzz, he created a phony persona and went online to complain against something he was actually supporting. While this did result in people agreeing with the anti-sentiment, it also aroused offended fans he was trying to reach to dig in and defend on Pud's behalf.
  2. Be very careful with the press. The press is out to write a story that will sell and the press will write this story no matter what you say or how you say it.

Third was Chris Messina and Tara Hunt presenting think small. It's an interesting perspective to relate: look for your niche and grow from there. It also brought up for discussion "non-zero-sum game" meaning look for the win-win-win situations. It was a mini-inspirational reflection point and a nice-balance to the other presentations.

An interesting point, I think made by Marc Canter: rather than the BigCo's investing $1 million in a big bet, how about spreading that around on smaller bets?

Ethan Kaplan from Warner Brothers Records was next. It was interesting to hear his experience along with how he's interacting with bands now a days to build digital communities and try to do so making sense of the geeky stuff that has been built (tagging). I also liked his story of Michael Stipe reading negative comments and throwing his laptop into the river (personal nightmare: having to interview Michael Stipe. That would be just one step worse than having to interview Jon Stewart).

Right before lunch, Kaliya Young Hamlin was called up from the audience for an impromptu discussion. Most of it was centered on how the people in the room could to a better job of helping communities easily connect to one another. She got some static back wondering if everything needed to be connected through the computer or not. She put out a small call to arms to the open source community to do something, because the Microsoft's of the world are going to do something.

Interest bit picked up from the discussion: What does the world look like when there are lots of micro-apps?

Halley Suitt was after lunch and probably ran what I thought the most relevant discussion: how to manage and lead creative people. Now, I didn't hear a whole lot of break-out ideas, but there was general recognition that creative people require a different level of management than most; ideally, let them decide how they want to work and let them go at it (e.g., customize their environment).

Recommendations for Tom DeMarco's The Deadline came up (along with for his book Peopleware).

Interesting remark during the discussion: "When creative people have started to whine, they've lost interest."

Blake Ross was next to discuss the user-focused design of Firefox and the philosophy behind Spread Firefox. I've already posted about this, given that the main memorable moment around this was Blake and Dave Winer tangling horns. At this moment, all seems resolved between them and folks can keep on doing what they're doing. It was interesting that I think Blake got the biggest amount of applause and "whoo-whoo!" of any techie-presenter.

Jeremy Zawodny was next (flashing his "I <3 RSS" undershirt.) Start off: "Bloggers love to bitch about things." How can things be better?

I read Jeremy's blog but this was the first time I've seen him talk. He gets my reward for the absolute best discussion leader. He kept things flowing, on-topic, and he turned it into a dialogue. I didn't have many notes on his discussion, except for when Marc Canter had his moment to poke Jeremy about Yahoo! being a closed system.

Phil Torrone of MakeZine got a happy welcome, too. He's an enthusiastic happy presenter and I'm sure I had a smile on my face the entire time he was presenting. He covered some historical, scary days of do-it-yourselfers, how there was a dark period, and how how there is a happy resurgence in people wanting to do-it-themselves again, especially given that more and more things are programmable.

Answers he collected about why to like Open Source software. Free. Mess with it. Better quality. Charge for fixing it. Open standards. Migration & movement. No lock in.

The last discussion was an interesting exercise driven by Chris and I thanked him for it later as we ran into each other walking across the pedestrian bridge (I had just returned from Starbucks, saddened to see they had closed fifteen minutes earlier). Chris set-up his evolution of into a project looking for VC funding, with two VCs on the stage for critical input, coordinated by Rick Segal. It wasn't 100% VC-meeting given that at least Jeff Clavier admitted that he would have interrupted and asked some questions. But for anyone in the audience thinking of getting VC / angel funding for the first time, it was a great work-out.

And that was it. Some folks then got up on stage, quickly, to discuss their projects and what kind of people they were looking for hiring. The biggest laugh came when Susan Mernit told people to Google her if they were interested in discussing the positions available in her Yahoo! group. I then spent a good amount of time talking with Eric Rice and others about Second Life. Eric Rice a-love-ahs the Second Life. I'll write about that later. I went to the Second Life lunch-time presentation ran by Beth Goza and got to see it some more and my interest in Second Life has gone from doubtful to skeptical. Until they fix all their bugs, though, it's not ready to be suffered by more than enthusiasts.


Michael is actually an easy interview if you trusts you. Hard interview if he doesn't. He is probably the nicest rock star I have ever met.

As an aside: John Stewart interviewing Michael Stipe was fantastic television.

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