March 2006

Next session has James Surowiecki speaking on The Wisdom of Crowds.

BTW, I caught the 2pm keynote which covered “building big things with small groups”. Their wisdom: KISS.

Title compliments of SteveR

Tapping the collective wisdom of a large group of people – “under proper conditions we can leverage the intelligence of the large group”.

Hey, I ran on the idea that we could tap the collective wisdom of Chapel Hill to solve some seemingly rather intractable problems.

JS: Google is an excellent example of the power of the collective. “Google is tapping into the intelligence of the ‘net” via page ranking to sort the most relevant links to the top.

Over the long haul, the bettors at the racetrack function, collectively, as a perfect forecaster of the future. Rather remarkable considering that the pool of bettors include “old-hands” quite knowledgable on horse-racing, folks betting their Mom’s first name, those using lucky numbers or “systems” – in general, a normalized mix of people, the common factor of which they’re interested in a positive outcome.

Of course, JS’s basic hypothesis is not too different than that posited by the Delphi Method, described further in this 1975 work The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications


Local Austin developer David Humphreys opens the panel by introducing Jesse James Garrett, who coined the term AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) – which describes a mix of web technologies used to provide a much more fluid web experience to the end users.

Humphreys kids that by coining the phrase, Garrett has gauranteed himself many years worth of invites to panel discussions ;-)!


Looking for XML in All the Wrong Places is supposed to cover all the vagaries of XML usage in the Web-world.

Finding well-formed XML on the ‘net can be quite a chore 😉

As I walk in they’re discussing XML micro-formats. The discussion shifts to namespaces and namespacing your documents.

Oops! The classic namespace boner cropped up – “namespaces are the like tm:”. For XML wonks, the confusion between a tag’s namespace prefix (the “tm:” in “tm:title”, for instance) and the namespace itself is neverending. Essentially, the prefix is malleable and can be arbitrarilly assigned while the namespace is invariant.

I jumped in to point out the difference and asked the panel if they thought the namespace should be well-defined – like with a schema. Panel split on this.

Best reccommedation on namespaces, etc. – use RDF to help tease out the structures for micro-formats, extending formats (like RSS) using namespaces.

[UPDATE: Podcast of this session.]

First up, Podcasting 2.0, a panel discussion crying out for the unconferencing talents of our local Audioactivism’s BrianR:

Chris Pirollo on podcasting “It’s not a lack of tools, it’s a lack of talent.”

One person asks – “Is there anyway you can do to make a podcast sound professional?” Pirollo – “garbage in, garbage out – without talent, without decent equipment it’ll sound like garbage”.

On video and monetizing content (how come making money drives so many of these discussions?) Eric Rice “we’ll never video something unless it’s a taste test – don’t give it for free.

Audience member – “you seem to be saying that most podcast are produced by technical people – that’s why you’re saying podcasters “need talent”.

Pirillo – NPR has raised the quality of podcasts overall. Before NPR, the poor quality of podcast was generally acceptable – NPR set the standard.

Pirillo – “Because the tools are so simple, everyone and their grandmother can podcast, and now everyone and their grandmother is…”

Rice – “That’s good” Pirillo – “No it isn’t – if you want to do a podcast for 5 people, leave a voicemail”

Laura Swisher – “let people do a podcast for 5 people” – if they’re good they’ll rise up

Once again, how do we monetize our content?

Rice talks about using product placement on his video ‘blog – I wonder if he told his consumers that he was touting a product?

So I ask Rice – What’s the ethics of product placement? He quickly ducked that question.
Back to branding,monetizing and money, money, money.

On to Looking for XML in All the Wrong Places

I’m attending SxSW Interactive in Austin this week. Interactive is a growing adjunct (attendance up %270) of SxSW (South by Southwest). Panels cover a range of topics, technical to political to social.

I thought I’d post a few comments on the sessions I’m attending/monitoring/ease-dropping on throughout the week.

Note: This is the full-text of an editorial published in today’s Daily Tar Heel. Ryan Tuck did an excellent job editting for brevity – I’m including the full-text here for completeness.

An election does not a leader make, but rather a temperament and a set of skills.

Leaders with vision will make sure their decisions are accretive, adding
one brick on another, until their visionary “cathedral” is set on sound
foundations. The more pedestrian of elected officials will forge ahead
without vision – making decisions as expediency demands. These folk may be
trusted to guide a ship along well traversed paths but they will never
bound forward to undiscovered shores.

Our Council has recently discussed two paths to social and economic

One path, of traditional “bricks-and-mortar”, has the overwhelming,
enthusiastic and at times giddy endorsement of our elected leadership.
The other path, which promises a much lower risk and a much higher reward
than the first, has languished in a backwater of indecisive malaise.

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