SXSW09 Panels: New Technology / Next Generation

Panel_picker_pickme_3This post is one of a series of recommendations arrived at by going through the entire list of South by Southwest panels that are up for consideration for 2009.

Important: Would love your support for "FlashMarkets: From the Roman Agora to the Mobile Web." Click here to vote or learn more.

SXSW 2009 Panel Recs: New Technology / Next Generation

Rebuilding the World with Free Everything
Doc Searls, Linux Journal, Harvard Berkman Center
"’Free’ is the future of business. Steve Larsen says the world has more
than 500,000 open source code bases now — all free. That’s a tall
challenge for a huge pile of building material. Linux Journal presents
a panel of creative hackers and business crafters to discuss
constructing the future." (Related: "The Six Kinds of Free" -ed.)

State of the Microformat
Tantek Çelik,
Since launched in 2005 and empowered every web author to easily add semantics to their HTML, adoption has skyrocketed. This panel will present the state of the microformats ecosystem, including popular sites, browsers, search engines and other tools enabling and building upon microformats. 

Can Social Networks Thrive Beyond the Walled Garden?
Trent Adams, Matchmine LLC
"Social media sites pop up daily, offering new forms of communication. Signing up requires adding redundant profile data, and “friending” people all over again. OpenID, Higgins & other Data Portability techniques aim to ease the burden, but how will the social networks thrive without being ‘walled gardens?’"

Interest Networking, or: Death to the Super Poke
Nova Spivack,
"Social networking is all about the connections between people. What we’re really moving towards are interest networks — a paradigm whereby people inform each other, gain insight, and interact with information. Connecting with other people is only the first step to collectively organizing, sharing and discovering content. From to Twitter to FriendFeed to Twine, we’re seeing many examples of this new category of software, which are founded on social connections, but are centered around the topics we care about most."

Digital Nomads

Back in 2006, Greg Olsen wrote a post called "Going Bedouin" that made the internet rounds more than a few times.  It was a well thought-out and well-crafted piece that received the attention it deserved.  Flash forward to 2008, and now we see that Dell has taken the idea and run with it, by way of a new initiative called Digital Nomads.

From the Dell side, the main human face behind Digital Nomads is Bruce Eric Anderson (@bruceericatdell).  Anderson is a strong complement to both Richard Binhammer (@richardatdell) and Lionel Menchaca (@lionelatdell), who have, in my opinion, done a really solid job of putting a human face and human voice to Dell through their conversations on Twitter over the last year or so. 

The Digital Nomads effort is an interesting one, and is a step in the right direction.  Right now, the site is set up as a community where said nomads can interact with each other and learn more about the tips and tricks of the bedouin lifestyle.  It’s currently a little heavy on the Dell propaganda, but there are assurances that this will lessen over time.  When called on the carpet over the Dell-centricity of the site, Anderson replied:

"I take your comments as healthy dialogue on the whole concept of
what makes one a digital nomad. I absolutely consider myself a digital
nomad, even though today I don’t fly frequently across the country or
around the world. I’ve had more than my fill of traveling in the past
and now with a family at home am glad to be more office-bound but still
have the flexibility to do what I do from wherever. Perhaps you could
call me today more of a ‘corridor nomad’.

My role and presence on will become less over time
as more of you come on as guest bloggers, add to the whitepaper,
contribute thoughts and comments (the latter being a great point made
by @MktMan).

@LionelatDell and I, or any other Dell employee, are the only ones
who are paid to contribute to this site — though our intent is to make
this less about Dell and more about the concept of digital nomads.
Thanks for your comments."

So far, the conversation on Twitter is trending in a positive direction as well.

Is Digital Nomads a success?  It’s too early to tell.  The site’s been up for only a week or so, and it’s still certainly got a few rough edges (for example, the "Crowdsource this Whitepaper" section of the site feels a bit half-baked). However, the initiative does seem to indicate an honest commitment on Dell’s part to not only try something new, but to do it in a way that brings together its customers and others outside the organization in order to achieve that goal.  From that aspect, they’re definitely on the right track.

Asymmetric Forces at Work

Seth says that "bringing symmetry to asymmetrical relationships is a huge opportunity for a technology company."  I don’t think this statement goes far enough, not by a long shot.

It’s not just about technology companies.

When there are significant asymmetries, there are systemic issues, not just technical ones.

This is why efforts like ProjectVRM need to exist.  This is why I’m starting to talk about buyer-driven marketplaces.

The statement above needs to be reiterated: it’s not just about technology companies.  It’s not even "just" about business.  It’s about equilibrium, which just seems to be one of those states that things usually trend toward.  Here are over 50 other examples.

N.B. I recognize the inherent conflict between the statement above vis-à-vis W. Brian Arthur’s work on increasing returns (cite).  But there are currently a lot more examples of equilibria versus increasing returns.

Free Association

  San Diego 
  Originally uploaded by Peter Hutchins.

This week kicks off the annual meeting for ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership in San Diego.  ASAE is doing some really killer stuff in the collaboration / Web 2.0 space, including:

You can even follow along by tracking posts tagged with #ASAE on Twitter.

If you’re interested in understanding what folks on the front lines of bringing Web 2.0 into associations are doing, here are three people to start with, today:


Maddie Grant from Diary of a Reluctant Blogger


Jeff De Cagna from Principled Innovation


Jamie Notter from Get Me Jamie Notter!

(Other great association bloggers who should be on this list?  Please list them in the comments!)

Additionally, there are a few resources out there that can get you started, such as this Executive Briefing on Social Networking for Businesses and Associations, which has (wow!) been viewed almost 9,000 times.

You can get the presentation here, or download it as a free e-Book here.

Looking forward to seeing some great things out of San Diego this week.

Related:  The Top 10 Ways Businesses, Associations and Organizations can use Social Networking

Are “Projects” Conversations, Too?

  Web 2.0 for Good – alcove conversation 
  Originally uploaded by rob.purdie.

There is great risk of shark-jumping on the whole "…are conversations" concept, but there just might be something here worth exploring. 

I have been thinking a lot about how projects get done (and a "project" could be a software development project, or a product launch, or an office move, or an org-wide deployment of Vista, or what have you.  Ok, maybe not an org-wide deployment of Vista, but you get my drift.)  The context might also not just span a single project, but perhaps an entire portfolio of projects that are competing for an organization’s (or individual’s) scarce resources.

One thing that struck me during a conversation I had recently…the whole buzz around Cluetrain’s first thesis,"markets are conversations," is really, really relevant in this context.  Because, when you get down to it, projects are conversations as well.  The tasks, and milestones, and artifacts are all part of the infrastructure, but can one posit that the thing that really matters (and is currently completely, 100% ephemeral) is the conversations and collaboration between the project team members? 

Perhaps the traditional project management trappings are really simply low-level artifacts and surrogates that management twiddles in order to try to get to some sort of measurement…but perhaps the real value is in the conversation.

I bounced this idea off Demian Entrekin (disclosure: Innotas, where Demian is CTO, is a Cerado customer), and he pointed me to a piece he’d written back in 2006(!) that touched on this as well.  Demian:

"Is the WBS [Work Breakdown Structure, a tool that shows all the tasks related to a project – ed.]  a decomposition tool for understanding the ideal structure for a project, or is it a communication vehicle for teams to work together toward common goals? Sure, it can be both, but the question should not be too quickly answered and dispensed with. If it becomes more of a communication tool, as I would argue it is, then how must its behavior change?" (emphasis added)

Here’s Demian’s more exhaustive thinking on the subject.

So, what do you think?  Are projects where stuff gets done a collection of artifacts?  Or, perhaps, instead, are they instead a collection of collaborative acts based in conversation, out of which artifacts are produced?

Man goes in the cage. Cage goes in the water.  Shark’s in the water.

Steal This Slide: The Six Kinds of “Free”

In Wired 16.03, Chris Anderson penned an insightful article entitled "Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business."  In it, Anderson outlined six different ways that things can be "free" yet still create a viable business model.


Download this slide from Slideshare.

These six kinds of free are:

Freemium – Offer a limited-functionality free version of a product to encourage trial, and have a purchasable premium version available for power users, a term coined by Fred Wilson

Advertising – Offer a free service to end users, and sell advertising to advertisers

Cross subsidies – Give the razor away free, and charge for the razor blades

Zero marginal cost – Products such as podcasts and digital music effectively incur a zero marginal cost to "ship" each unit

Labor exchange – Access to the information on a site is free as long as individuals contribute to the content of the site, like Yahoo Answers or Digg

Gift economy – Items are given away at zero cost, Freecycle is a good example

Related:  Doc Searls is putting together a panel on free at SXSW09 entitled "Rebuilding the World with Free Everything."  Check it out.

Data credit: Wired Magazine
Razor:  derek
Gift: grobleto

SXSW09: FlashMarkets Panel – Please Vote!

Picture_39 Short version:  I’ve proposed a panel for South by Southwest on the topic of how customers are creating new types of markets.  Panels are chosen in part by votes from YOU.  I’d love your vote.  Three steps to voting:

  1. Sign in to the SXSW Panel Picker
  2. Go to this link to select "Flashmarkets: From the Roman Agora to the Mobile Web
  3. Click the stars

    to vote.


Only Slightly Longer Version:

South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of my two favorite conferences.  (This one is the other fave.)  Part of the reason that I really dig SXSW is the collaborative and participative nature of, well, every aspect of the event.

In particular, this is evidenced by how the event chooses its speakers, which is by way of a combination of the SXSW Advisory Board, SXSW Staff, and YOU!  See below for the graphic of how the percentages shake out.

The panel I’ve proposed to SXSW is focused on how markets are changing as vendors cede control to customers.  (That’s us.)  The full description is as follows:

"From the Greek Agora to the Dutch flower market at Aalsmeer to eBay and
the iTunes App Store, markets have always been a key element of social
civilization. But what are "markets" really, and how is technology
changing their complexion? From GPS and location-based services to
concepts such as VRM (Vendor Relationship Management), this session
will examine the seven types of markets that technology has enabled,
and how those markets are affecting our business relationships."

I’d like to request your assistance in helping this conversation get onto the agenda.  It will take less than one minute. (I promise.)

  1. Sign in to the SXSW Panel Picker
  2. Go to this link to select "Flashmarkets: From the Roman Agora to the Mobile Web
  3. Click the stars

    to vote.

That’s it.

I really appreciate your help, and am looking forward to seeing you in Austin.


Let’s Be Careful Out There

Just got off the phone with CRM übermensch Paul Greenberg, who is well on the mend after last week’s scary, scary incident.  All is well and things are tracking by the numbers, so he’ll be back up and at ’em soon.

He’s currently working on the 4th Edition of CRM at the Speed of Light.  Here are a couple of excerpts:

You can also follow Paul on Twitter at @pgreenbe.

Hey Paulie…glad you’re feeling better.  You scared me, bud.

DNS Made Skeevy

Sean looks for a little help from DNS Made Easy after he (admittedly) screwed up, and gets clubbed about the head and shoulders with one of the worst bits of customer (ahem) service I’ve heard of.  The note is from "Kate" at DNSMadeEasy to Sean.  An excerpt:

"Wow…. Spent hours trying to help you today. Offered you
a refund even though we have a zero refund policy and this is the
attitude you give me?!?!?!

> 1. an active email account was shut down without trying an alternative
> method of contact. you do have my physical address. for what reason, i’ve no
> idea.

Are you joking me? You expect us to send you personal letters by
mail? For an account of your size? Should we fly to your house also and
knock on your door? Should I call your whole family also and let them
know you are late paying your bill?
Please….  this obviously is not a business for you.

> 2. in this day and age, with moore’s law creating storage
> business models left and right, i’m shocked that you didn’t
> simply put a freeze on the account. my client called me today. if you simply
> froze the account, we would’ve been back in business this afternoon.

It was frozen for 4 days then removed. Not our fault that your
client noticed after it was removed. Not our fault if you give us your
free yahoo account to check your emails. Not our fault you do not check
your free email’s spam box.

Since you made a list for me, here is a list for you.

  1. Don’t use your free yahoo email account for hobby / business. Did
    you tell your friend / client that is why you lost all of their email?
  2. Learn to write down when your services expire. You are lucky we
    gave you over 2 weeks. Most providers shut you down much sooner.
  3. Always pay your bills on time.
  4. Don’t be rude to people that have tried to help you for free…. Eventually no one will try to help you.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions, concerns, or comments regarding this ticket.

DNS Made Easy Sales / Support

Please let us know if our response did not answer your question. To
reply to this ticket you can do so by email (just reply) or by the
support site."

Read the whole thing here.  Unreal.  (N.B.  Please don’t feed the troll in his comments.)

Things I Wonder About:  Did I spell "skeevy" right?  Not sure I’ve every seen it in print before.