On Blogging
The On Blogging category of Ross Mayfield's Weblog

Subscribe to "On Blogging" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Legacy Blog

A thought occured to me, perhaps I shouldn't transition my Radio archives.  Its a good part of my past that I'm proud of, an artifact perhaps best left intact.

When I started on Radio it was the best tool available.  I still like its intergrated news aggregator.  For whatever the present brew ha ha is, I respect Dave for what he did and Userland for what they have done for the industry.  I also think his recent moves have been more reasonable, allowing him to get the historical credit he deserves while letting him and others move on.

Its just time to move on.

I guess a reason for transition would be to avoid loosing Googlejuice and Technoratisweat, but Im not an attention junkie.  Haven't written for mass appeal, something actually easier to do, but for the relationships the tool supports.  Many people know me through this blog, most will find the new one, I'll keep posting, link back to it, a social re-direct while renewing myself.

And I just dont have the time to muck around with transition.  Switching costs have been raised purposely, and Im a victim.  At least with TypePad I don't have to concern myself with what's next while getting a hosted service that meets my needs with simplicity.

Pardon for burdening you with my indecision.  But is this a cop out, or a real notion of avoiding revisionism?

5:19:14 PM    comment []

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I have my pad of type

Okay, Im moving to http://ross.typepad.com/

But before I do, I need some help.  Anil shared a great resource for Radio users to "make the move" if they are not hosted at weblogs.com.  Unfortunately I am.  Can anyone help me import my Radio archive?

1:04:47 PM    comment []

Monday, August 04, 2003

Brains, Brains, Brains and more Brains

The smartest blogging is going on at Zack Lynch's Corante: Brain Waves, by the brainiacs of guestblogging.  Pat Kane brilliantly redefined play for us last week.  Steven Johnson is up next, asking "What happens to our layperson brains now that we're able to talk about our mental events in a much more direct, non-metaphoric language?"

July 28-Aug 1: The Future of Work is Play

  • Pat Kane, author of the forthcoming book, The Play Ethic: Living Creatively in the New Century (MacMillan 2004). "Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the last 300 years of industrial society - our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value."   See Brain Waves Post:  Harry Potter and the Rise of Kidults

Aug 4-8: Personal Experiences with Neurotechnology

Aug 11-15: Neuroeconomics, Trust and Neurosociology

11:47:17 PM    comment []

Almost Typepad Time
Counting down the minutes until I can get my hands on my Typepad.  Planning a little blog transition. 
11:33:21 PM    comment []

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Blog for Governor

Peter Kaminski:

In case you've not heard, the Democratic Governor in California sucks. Well, that's what a rich Republican spoiler and a million Californians think. Personally, I'm not sure he sucks more than a lot of other politicians in the country, but that's another story.

Anyway, the petition to have a recall vote for Governor has succeeded, and we're to have a recall election October 7th. The first question will be whether or not to fire the current Governor, and then there will be list of candidates to replace him if is fired.

The interesting thing is that it's pretty easy to qualify to be a candidate. You need to be a US citizen and have 100 voters from your party sign a nomination form. There's a $3,500.00 filing fee, but you can submit 10,000 signatures from voters in lieu of the filing fee. Those are the high points; for details, see the recall docs at the California Secretary of State site.

Should blogspace field a candidate or two?

Should blogspace field a thousand candidates, in a civil protest about the process?

There is only a vanishingly small chance such a blogspace candidate would be elected, but just fielding a candidate and getting a couple hundred thousand votes would say, "We are here." It's an interesting opportunity. Paperwork is due August 9th.

If we did field a candidate, part of the message should be how silly this is.  Its an abomination that 5% of the population can force a recall.  If only the requirements were so low to initiate a public referrendum to amend Article 2 of the California constitution.

11:39:37 AM    comment []

Friday, July 25, 2003

Digital Polity

Attended a networking luncheon this week where Reed Hundt gave a speech quite different than two weeks prior at Supernova.  Perhaps he drank the superjuice -- it was very emergent democratic and second superpowery.

The first speech centered on his proposal to provide Universal Broadband Access to over 90% of US homes by 2013.  Americans take the Net for granted more than anyone, while other enlightened countries (Korea being the poster child) make it a mission.  This year's Supernova had a greater focus on policy and Reed's was the one specific policy proposal I heared -- invest an amount less than the subsidy to analog TV for digital ($75b) to maintain economic competitiveness.  Unless there is a plausible path for ILEC demise, this is the best proposal on the table.  Reed also gets open spectrum, so sing a hallelujah and hope something happens.

One thing is for sure.  When Dean showed he could raise money on the Net, politics changed forever.

Previously the Net had demonstrated its ability to influence decision makers through individualize pluralism, beginning when Kevin Werbach set up the first citizen feedback email address.  Over 2 million emails were sent by citizens on the issue of media ownership, at last count according to Reed.  Blogs have also demonstrated the ability of an influential deliberative network to force the media to play their role as the 4th estate, Lott being the poster child.

But now the Net has become a constituency.  Decision makers like to say they are accountable even the poorest residents of their districts, but money is the source of their power and the group they serve is the group that elects them with it.  Dean has shown the Net as means to money.  And now every politician is finally paying attention.

Reed's talk last week was on the digital polity vs. the analog polity.  He spoke eloquently about the rising constituency and how its "not just that things reoccur, its that they get better."  There are core ideals, parties are means towards those ideals, but are largely ineffective.  A new party of a digital polity is emerging that holds certain core beliefs:

  • We know more than our leaders
  • We pay nobody to say what we want to hear
  • Information is percipient and wants to be free
  • We are build on systems and networks, not organizations
  • We synthesize the whole instead of constructing barriers and silos
  • We believe in truth and civil debate

Now I may not have everything word for word (thumbed it into my Palm).  He also stated digital polity principles of privacy, representation, honesty and equity.   He implies that leaders still have utility and a role to play, but they need to engage the digital constituency and build trust.  We don't depend upon the media because we are skeptics and experts, we are global and can engage in collective action without government.  That said, digital needs to negotiate with analog.  But these are powerful and re-occuring themes.

What is encouraging, if not remarkable, is that Reed is a civil servant, nay, politician, who undertands his new constituency and its reasonable demands.

At the end he did casually remark that we should abolish the US Senate, as they are a distortion of representation, serving only 15% of citizens.  The point he is making, though, is that leaders fall behind their citizens (especially in times like these).  Perhaps because they are not engaged with their constituents.  Perhaps because their interests are conflicted.  But the difference is our representatives need to recognize our new found powers to deliberate and represent ourselves at a pace they need to understand.

Which brings me back to Dean.  If a candidate and causes can raise money on the Net, they can engage in institutional pluralism.  Direct participation within the social network of decision makers.  This scares most policy makers, as the game has changed. 

Its a grass roots game ripe for changing minds and policy.  Valdis forwarded a paper, Encouraging Political Defections: The Role of Personal Discussion Networks in Partisan Desertions to the Opposition Party and Perot Votes by Paul Beck, that I found absolutely stunning.  We are bi-polar in our political views by nature, tend to filter out news we can identify is from the opposition and are comfortable in the absence of change.  But when an issue is socialized we have a greater chance of changing our minds.  When our social network provides new ideas and affirmations, we are more likely to take new positions. 

Perhaps that's the power of Dean's use of Meetup.  Meetup collapses time and space for deliberative groups to get together.  Inevitably, some participants are strong ties for affirmation and weak ties for new ideas.  What Dean is doing is opening up discussion at the social level to enact political change. How neofunctional of him.  What Dean needs to do, however, is get more of us to debate -- instead of the candidates.

4:40:43 PM    comment []

Resistance is Futile

Liz Lawley made a great post on in-class and in-conference back-channels over at Many-to-Many.

A key takeaway is that the back-channel will always exist.  You can resist or incorporate it into your activities to focus the channel.

3:52:06 PM    comment []

The Other Buzz

Buzz narrowly escapes his 15 minutes of fame. Today's NY Times story on back channels at conferences has provoked lots of interesting commentary around the web today. One tidbit to pass along. The story includes the archetypal conference blogging story of the impact of Doc Searls and Dan Gillmor sharing a link from Both "forwarded by a reader in Florida." If you want the story behind the story, go check out Buzz Bruggeman's blog buzzmodo. Buzz was that "reader in Florida" and he describes his near 15 minutes of fame. [via McGee's Musings]

Im posting this to help Buzz get a little more fame, as he deserves.  The role of a remote participant has grown because of his role. 

With all the attention on heckling, good to note remote participation can also be a positive contributor to an event.  Arguably in a position to provide greater focus, they can cull revelvant resources and affirm points made by a speaker.

3:44:52 PM    comment []

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Article in the NY Times on back-channels of IM and Chat in universities, meetings and conferences. 

Misses recent events

Attention-shifting for early social software experiences will be meme for a while because its also a frame of reference shift.

Cory Doctorow, a science fiction writer and blogger who has experienced this back-channeling at several international technology meetings, likens the chatter to what happens in the corridor just after people leave a conference session.

"We're just moving the corridor into the room and time-shifting it by 30 minutes," said Mr. Doctorow, who takes notes and posts them to his Weblog, or blog, during conferences, enabling people to follow the speaker and Mr. Doctorow's take on the speaker at the same time.

Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in New York University's interactive telecommunications program, has run experiments using messaging software to supplement face-to-face meetings of 30 people. Many participants find the experience highly stimulating, he said, explaining, "The intellectual quality of a two-track meeting is extraordinarily high, if it is run right and you have smart people involved."

But many speakers at the front of room are less enamored of the practice.

"To me, it's a little irritating, frankly," said Stewart Butterfield, chief executive of Ludicorp, a company that is developing Neverending, a multiplayer online game [and happens to provide Confab, what gives Stu?]. In April, Mr. Butterfield addressed a conference on emerging technologies as listeners experimented with messaging software, including a program called Confab offered by his own company. The next week, when he spoke at a conference without any Internet access, "people were a lot more attentive," he said. (He added, however, that many of them kept opening their laptops during the speeches in the vain hope that somehow the Internet might have magically become available.)

Good account of the PC Forum 2002/Gillmor story I referenced yesterday:

Some people who have experienced the phenomenon cite a speech given last year at a computer industry conference by Joe Nacchio, former chief executive of the telecommunications company Qwest. As he gave his presentation, two bloggers - Dan Gillmor, a columnist for The San Jose Mercury News, and Doc Searls, senior editor for The Linux Journal - were posting notes about him to their Weblogs, which were simultaneously being read by many people in the audience.

Both included a link forwarded by a reader in Florida to a stock filing report indicating that Mr. Nacchio had recently made millions of dollars from selling his company's stock, although he complained in his speech about the tough economy. "No sympathy here," Mr. Gillmor wrote.

"When Dan blogged that, the tenor of the room changed," Mr. Doctorow said. Mr. Nacchio, he said, "stopped getting softball questions and he started getting hardball questions."

Clay on meetings and conferences

Some people are hoping that conferences will evolve to allow the undercurrent of conversation to be projected on a big screen in the front of the room. They say that such public disclosure will enable speakers and unconnected audience members to feel less isolated.

Mr. Shirky, the adjunct N.Y.U. professor, considers openness to be critical to productive discussions and conducts his messaging-software experiments so that all speakers can see what is being posted. At the University of Maryland, where the use of IM became a matter of a heated debate, several students said they were perturbed by the back channeling not because it seemed rude (although some argued that point, too), but because they felt left out.

The split focus of two-track meetings and back-channeled conversations have other drawbacks, not the least of which is that they can be utterly distracting. "There were times when I'd follow a thread and come back to the lecture and feel a little disoriented," Mr. Aral acknowledged.


Joichi Ito, a venture capitalist and former chief executive for the Japanese branch of the Internet service provider PSINet, opened a chat room for back-channeling during Supernova, a communications conference held this month in Crystal City, Va., just outside Washington. But Mr. Ito readily acknowledges the downside. "There is definitely a lot less focus in the room," he said, "but I think we were already starting to suffer from that."

At high-tech conferences where everyone is already wired to the gills with BlackBerry pagers and cellphones and can cope easily with constant connectedness and streaming information, the concept of multitrack communication channels almost seems matter-of-course. "This is not something that is going to go away," Mr. Ito said. As many technology experts point out, if laptops were banned, people would use cellphones. If wireless Internet access were not officially available, networking gurus would find a way to create ad hoc connections.

Some observers say that the multitrack channels will simply be considered a given by a young generation that has honed multitasking to a fine art and grew up on VH1's "pop-up" videos, in which commentary about the artists pops up on the screen during the song.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ito is already creating a new riff on the concept. He said he was working with a group on designing a "hecklebot," a light-emitting diode screen that displays heckling messages that are typed during online chats at conferences. "I want to make something that I can put in a suitcase and take to conferences," he said. He describes it as a subversive device that will get people thinking about the significance of the back channel. From the chat room, he said, "you could send something like, 'Stop pontificating.' "

If the speakers were logged on, they could play the game, too. Maybe some would type, "Pay attention."

9:17:01 PM    comment []


I am a blaggard.  Im taking a blogvacation from my blogvocation.  Blah. Blah. Blah.

Ever noticed that timesharing has shifted from mainframes to us?

8:36:09 PM    comment []

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Trade Winds

The community that was fostered at AO2003 is now providing more pensive analysis.  This is a great time to reflect on how social software is changing the events business and the "trades" in general. 

An excerpt from Conferenza, which provides a tad more traditional paid research coverage of trade shows, contains this golden nugget of controversy:

Still, there were interesting insights, some intended and some not...

·   As a demonstration of the power of interconnection, a panel on Web services featuring Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff provoked the most talked-about moment of the conference – at Benioff’s expense. Asserting that the largest e-commerce software supplier is Amazon.com, Benioff pointed toward co-panelists from IBM and Sun Microsystems and said, “None of these companies has any position in [that] market at all. Even Apple’s iTunes music store was built on Amazon,” and asserted that Amazon has 300 people working on its proprietary software.

We thought this was news, until Ross Mayfield, CEO of one of the Web’s leading blogging software providers, Socialtext, led an online chat charge showing that most of this was apparently untrue: Amazon uses standard XML out-of-the-box stuff, and Apple’s iTunes doesn’t use Amazon’s software at all, the chatters charged. As Benioff continued, the audience watched as a group of online contributors disputed fact after fact, input Benioff apparently did not see. “It was sort of like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit,” said one attendee. “As Mark spoke, we could see his nose growing longer, like Pinocchio.”

How it played out in the Chat (Archive) was Kevin Marks did the fact checking, which was simultaneously projected on to the big screen:

[11:51] KevinMarks: no he didn't
[11:51] adina: bthey /are/ mentioning public web serivces

[11:51] KevinMarks: he licensed the patent
[11:51] KevinMarks: iTunes backend is not Amazon
[11:51] toughcrowd: this panel is showing lots of promise - but I love that cynical suspicion "lovefest"
[11:51] Ross: Amazon's real smart move was an API for developers
[11:52] adina: tross /greencard/
[11:52] Ross: but they dont get decentralization. witness http://www.allconsuming.com
[11:52] adina: ross /greencard/ again
[11:52] Ross: Kevin, did he say it was?
[11:52] KevinMarks: Apple had ahuge online store already selling Macs
[11:52] KevinMarks: they built on that for iTunes
[11:53] Ross: real-time fact checking Kevin, I love it
[11:54] DariusD: Do you know that the Apple onnline store was not built on Amazon technology?
[11:54] KevinMarks: It is built on Webobjects

Here's Apple's story of how iTunes was built and how they licensed the one-click form from Amazon.  Before we get carried away with the event of a fact check, rather than dynamic itself, its important to understand the context.  I doubt Marc had negative intent, he had little to gain if so, and he was just plain conversing.

This parallel channel, a second superpower on a finite scale, first emerged at PC Forum 2002 when Dan Gillmor blogged a fact check on Joe Nacchio.  Clay fostered the first experiments with social software as an in-room chat tool.  Supernova I was the first to formalize a group weblog.  PC Forum 2003 was the first to incorporate a conference wiki.  The O'Rielly Emerging Technology conference renewed interest in IRC and Hydra in parallel to the wiki.  Supernova II was the first to incorporate chat and wiki.  AlwaysOn was the first to add video streaming (Archive), creating a richer remote participation experience.

For some, the choice of modes is overwhelming at first, something we are tuning.  But Social Software and its practices for events has a reached a level of maturity where it is solving fundamental tensions of event structure. 

Take Bob Frankston's experience with remote participation after in-person attendance the first day:

While it's not the same as being their in person, I was surprised how well the combination of the video and Wiki worked. Over my standard home Internet connection I had very good audio and video quality in looking at the panel.

I don't know how to capture the screen picture that included the video so I simply used my digital camera to take a picture. That's Tony Perkins summing up the conference discussion log is in the lower left. There was a lively discussion with people in the room and others outside such as Joi Itcho in Japan and me at home. Joi mentioned that he was attending in his underwear and people wanted to get a video of him. He obliged though only above the waist...

...I judge events by the attendees more than by the panelists and, by that measure, the event has gotten off to a good start. The concept of being always-on or always connected is a good one though, in my opinion, it is important to distinguish between the transport issues that enable connectivity and the question of what one does with connectivity and the implications. This confusion is reflected in some of the panels.

As I write this I'm still attending remotely. I can view the conference over the Internet with very good audio and video quality. Socialtext is provided a live commenting facility using their Wiki software. This is wonderful for those like me who want to jump up and say "that's stupid" or maybe even be positive. There were problems with 802.11 connectivity the first day so I had only a few opportunities for such commentary though I did make good use of it. Today, from home, it appears to be working better and I've been able to add my own comments on the side.

Participating from afar is interesting. The audio/video works very well but I miss the ability to kibitz with others. A side-chat facility would help. Still, this is my first time trying such remote participation. Having been there for the first day I have some sense of the context and it works very well. Of course this is early stage and I can think of a lot of improvements but it is mundanely useful rather than being a novelty.

David Weinberger recently wrote a great piece in Darwin on the Death of Panels:

...Panelists and audiences do not share the same goals. Audiences want to learn and be entertained. Panelists want to impress and sometimes want to sell. Conversations work against the panelists' natural inclination to manage their speech; conversations develop their own gravitational fields that fling panelists together in ways they can't control.

If you're organizing a conference, as an audience member I implore you to cast aside the spurious safety of panels. If you're a moderator, you'll do everyone a favor if you rearrange the chairs, eliminate the opening statements, confiscate the bulb in the projector and get your participants to just talk. Don't "leave time" for audience participation; open it up from the beginning. Hell, screw the bulb back in and project the online chat where the real life of the conference is probably happening anyway...

Mike from Techdirt yearns for conferences with semi-structured small group interaction.

...An ideal conference, then, would be more like a day full of these lunches - that forced people to think in different ways. Thus, I'd love to see a conference where people are either randomly (or carefully planned by the organizers) split into small groups, and given a task or a challenge. Let them do some scenario planning that forces them to think creatively. Get people thinking, get them involved with the ideas, get them interacting with others and force them to think outside of their own viewpoint. Maybe challenge them. Have different groups "competing" in some way to get people to really pay attention, and really try to get their minds around very difficult issues. ..

Trade Winds

Social Software and Social Networking Models provide the greatest threat and opportunity for the trade industry (trade magazines & shows) -- because they change the notion of audience into participants.  The rise of weblogs and participatory media allow domain experts to contribute without making contribution their full time job.  Networking models allow people to connect regardless of space or time as is the case with LinkedIn, or in space and time with Meetup.  Because these tools work so well in virtuality, it is natural for them to be extended to reality (whatever that means).

Trade shows will fundamentally change their structure to become more participatory -- and the result is more connective, constructive and conversational.  Remote and in-room participants will moderate panels, there will be greater use of working groups and communities will persist between events.  We used to come to trade shows for the people in the place.   As Dr. Weinberger says in Small Pieces Loosely Joined, the web is a set of places itself.  Now we have places upon places, where the network is the conversation.

This isn't the place for me to talk about commercial value for event organizers, but let me say this.  There is no such thing as a closed system.  Bloggers are coming to your conference.  You can't throw up Walls.  The energy can dissipate or enjoin with the event.  Do what Tony did and give out blogger passes.  Augment experiences.  Create a greater and more open context for your event and the wind will blow at your back.

11:51:45 AM    comment []

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2003 Ross Mayfield.
Last update: 8/6/2003; 5:20:33 PM.
This theme is based on the SoundWaves (blue) Manila theme.
August 2003
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Jul   Sep