Category Archives: tech

General technology issues

BarCampTexas in Austin August 26-27, 2006

It looks like we’re having a BarCampTexas (part of something larger called BarCampEarth), Saturday August 26th to Sunday 27th at the amazing Thistle Cafe in downtown Austin.

From the BarCamp Web site:

What is BarCampTexas? Well, the organizers of BarCampAustin, BarCampDallas, and BarCampHouston have decided to join forces and create BarCampTexas! The goal is to get over 1000 campers to join together August 26th-27th. We will be updating this site often so sign up, check back, and participate!

So what is BarCamp you say? What should you expect at a BarCamp? What are the rules of BarCamp? Click and learn.

Note: BarCamp in no way resembles this, since I am able to tell you about BarCamp.

I'll be at dorkbot-austin

Austin is finally on the map. We now have our first dorkbot in austin at 8pm (tonight, Thursday June the 8th) at Cafe Mundi, 1704 East 5th St.

What is dorkbot you ask?

From David Nunez (one of the organizers):

It’s a celebration of tinkering – people doing strange thing with electricity. Fringe finding at its finest.

There are three main presenters for this inaugural event:

* Bob Sabiston, the programmer/animator behind the trippy animation technology for Richard Linklater’s films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly will debut his latest invention: an art/animation homebrew application for the Nintendo DS game system;

* Phil Mancutt demonstrates his homemade Theremin that’s encased in a vintage 1984 Macintosh computer case; and

* Craig Newswanger fires off his Tesla Coil and Jacob’s Ladder (think of the electrified gizmos in Frankenstein movies).

There will also be the much-anticipated “Open Dork,” a rapid-fire open mic kind of thing. Between all this, DJ KDH spins.

Tagging 2.0 panel at SXSW2006 now a podcast

The Tagging 2.0 panel I organized at South by SouthWest 2006 in March is now a Tagging 2.0 podcast among the many SXSW 2006 podcasts you can download.

Some highlight quotes from the panel you really shouldn’t miss:

How can you pass up quips like that?

The Tagging 2.0 panel was one of the “highly-rated panels” this year, tied for first place with a number of other entertaining and informative panels, so check out their podcasts as they become available as well.

Logging Traces of Web Activity workshop at WWW2006

Yesterday we had a great workshop about Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection at the WWW 2006 Conference.

All of the papers, presentations and statements of interest provided a number of insight into different methods for collecting data about Web use including using both server and client based tools including the issues faced when trying to decide what to log about users’ interactions and what the log formats should look like too. A number of revealing studies also reviewed some current views of how Web users do interact with the Web as well as a number of applications, plug-ins and scripting methods for getting data, distributing it and what users’ perceptions of their data might mean to them.

We were just one of the many excellent workshops at WWW2006.

The entire day went well thanks to my excellent co-organizers for the panel: Kirstie Hawkey, Melanie Kellar, and Andy Edmonds.

WWW2006 – Foundations of Web advertising

Earlier today I was sitting in a tutorial about the Foundations of Web advertising taught by the most over-qualified staff I’ve ever seen:

Here’s the blurb for the tutorial:

Web advertising spans Web technology, sociology, law and economics. It has already surpassed some traditional media like radio and is the economic engine that drives Web development. The transformation touches the way content is created, shared and disseminated – all the way from static html pages to more dynamic forms of expression such as blogs and podcasts, to social media such as discussion boards and tags on shared photographs. This revolution promises to fundamentally change both the media and the advertising businesses over the next few years, altering a $300 billion economic landscape. The technical underpinnings of web advertising are based on a plethora of scientific disciplines, including Information Retrieval, Microeconomics, Auction Theory, On-line Algorithms, Security, User Interface design, Data Mining, and more. The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce the audience to the many technology issues behind the curtains of web advertising.

A lot of what Andrei is discussing so far is basic, but it is worth attending to hear how his mind works through these issues, and his jokes aren’t bad either.

Sadly, we’re packed in yet another horrible venue, these workshop rooms are the size of a double (American-sized) office but they’re packing up to 40 people in them with the projector smack dab in the middle of the room that has the usual problems of being noisy and near the audience as well as the frequent shadow on the screen of the back of someone’s head. It goes without saying that the network connectivity is still lousy too. This has not proved to be a good physical venue for the conference.

Tagging Workshop at WWW 2006, Edinbugh

I’m in the Collaborative Tagging Workshop at WWW 2006, Edinbugh right now sitting in the back with Ryan from Technorati using the wall outlets and sharing power adapters to keep our powerbooks running. So far, we’re not experiencing the optimal conference experience as the wifi is pretty sporadic (I suspect they didn’t count on nearly everyone here wanting network access), the room is standing room only and they even ran out of lunches with at least 100 people to go earlier this afternoon. I’m sure organizing a conference like this is nearly impossible.

Lots of excellent presentations and papers (see the link) with a lot of focus on enterprise or private tagging systems and some working demonstrations of products in progress. It will be amazing to see what this same workshop would be like next year, with lots of these ideas brought out into the wider world.

I'm back online

Not that you are desperate to know my status, but not being connected for 5 and a half days (it’s those half days that get you), it’s important that I’m back online thanks to the good people at the Bonham Hotel here in Edinburgh. I think that’s the longest I’ve been away from the internet since 1994. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

While I was offline I got 449 emails (223 were junk) and 318 comments (316 were spam) on this blog. It’s (almost) enough to make me go back offline again.

One good thing though – new Flickr photos!

I'll be in Scotland

in the next few weeks, primarily to attend the 15th International World Wide Web Conference where I’m co-chairing a workshop on Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection with Melanie Kellar, Kirstie Hawkey and Andy Edmonds. If you won’t be attending, you can check out the excellent program schedule, including links to the submissions that will be presented at the workshop.

Fortunately, before the conference I will be doing some touring throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. If you have some recommendations, on “must see” experiences, I’m happy to hear about it. I’ve already added a few events to my trip from excellent suggestions including the Isle of Skye and a whisky distillery or two. Feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

Open Source Workshop at UT Austin, May 2, 2006

On May 2, in conjunction with the World Congress on IT 2006, The University of Texas at Austin will host panel discussions on “open source”, peer-based information sharing that was once only found in the software world. The free (yes free) workshop will cover the challenges and growing impact of open source.

I am both a (partial) organizer and speaker at this workshop. If you’re there, do stop by and say hello or introduce yourself.
For more information including directions and registration, please see the Open Source Workshop Web site