My Montreal meetup week
I was in Montreal last week, and last Tuesday was a hoot. (Click the pictures to see my annotations.)
First off I had lunch with Ed Bilodeau and Karl Dubost. Among other
things we debated whether and how the Semantic Web can be expected to
grow. Karl thinks it can happen without the ideas or philosophy seeping
into general awareness, but I'm not so sure.
Following an invitation by Michael Lenczner, in the afternoon I attended the Île sans Fil brainstorming session at Café Utopik,
a sunny and interesting place opposite carré Berri. Île sans Fil is an
über-cool nonprofit project that aims to unwire cafés and parks in
Montreal at no cost to users. They want to take advantage of the
inherent geo and presence information to foster community, plug local
artists and such. A fertile social software playground -- I think there could be tremendous synergy with services such as Flickr.
I've put rough notes
on my page on their wiki following the meeting. Obviously, if
this takes off, the model can be applied in other cities. Watch these
guys and girls, I think they're off to a great start. (As a sidenote, Daniel Lemay, one of the volunteers who I believe wasn't there for that particular meeting, has a promising new blog.)
Then it was off to the largest RSS meetup in the world. Sylvain Carle has an impressionistic report, and Robin Millette's got one
as well. I think everyone had a great time. A loose agenda might be
interesting to have for next time, now that people know one another a
And on Wednesday I nearly missed former NRC colleague and new Téluq professor Daniel Lemire. But we managed to catch up and had a very interesting
conversation about the academic worldview, the nature of academic
work, and the relationship of academia to the job market.
Along with Sean McGrath and Harold Boley,
Daniel has been
working on collaborative filtering as applied in particular to music.
I've been digging along similar lines too, so it makes sense to explore
potential collaboration. In particular mining into Webjay's
database could be very interesting, and Lucas told me he was very open
to researchers getting their inquiring noses in it. I'm meeting Sean
By the way, Daniel has just started a blog, and I like to think I deserve some credit for helping him tip over. His latest post
makes the bold assertion that traditional universities will be obsolete
within 20 years. If that happens (and I'm sure there are some who argue
it has already happened), I wonder how long it will take for the people
inside and around them to become aware of the fact. My guess is another
20 years. At least.