Day One of Gnomedex Wraps

 Internet Litter 

Day one of the Gnomedex conference has come to a close.  As I write this, it is 6:20pm, I am offline and have just ordered a Maritime IPA and a cup of clam chowder to enjoy here on the patio of the Fishermans Restaurant and Bar on Seattle’s waterfront.  There’s not a cloud in the sky and the sun has just begun to consider falling toward the horizon.  This restaurant is an ideal choice as it sits one peer south of the Seattle aquarium where tonight’s Gnomedex reception will begin in less than an hour.  The reception should be cool, and I understand that they feed the critters at 8:30, so I’ll plan to be on hand for that spectacle.

The conference today was interesting.  It had a bit of controversy, but mostly it focused on conversation about where technology is leading us instead of, perhaps, where we should be leading it.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m not drawn to this conference for political reasons, and thus, was not overly enthused by the first keynote (Robert Steele).  The speaker was great and his presentation very well delivered; I’m just not the audience for it.   I loved the focus in a later session, on how technology is missing the boat when it comes to aging members of our society ( but I spoke enough about that in a previous post).   Another topic I found interesting was lead by Jason Calacanis and focused on how littered the Internet has become.  Spam, ads, junk comments, etc are facets of the web now, annoyances that we all must endure.   The Internet has become the LitternetMahalo, a search engine that is actually scrubbed by humans to get around the garbage that bubbles to the top of the usual search engine, was discussed as one approach to the problem.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get too far down the path of other approaches to the issue. 

Almost by accident (but partially because Justin from was in the line up), we spent some time talking about privacy in this new age.  Specifically, about being recorded and/or streamed to the Internet with or without ones consent.  The topic is an interesting one, but I feel that the result is the same regardless of how much the topic is discussed.  Privacy in public spaces is dead.  The world is too wired (and wireless) and recording technology is too pervasive to believe  otherwise.  We can talk about how we’d like it to be until we are blue in the face, but as we do; Smile, because you are on camera!

With that, it is nearly 7pm and I am going to wrap this post up.   I’ve eaten my chowder, I’m nearly done with my IPA, and the reception is about to begin.  

Gnomedex 2007 is for Geeks of All Ages

Ronni at Gnomedex  

The first official day of Gnomedex is nearing its end and it has been a worth while day.  The opening keynote was interesting, but too political for my tastes.  The theme was “open government,” presented by Robert Steele, but it was very heavy handed and spent a lot of time picking apart political and corporate leaders.  Yes, they probably deserve it; No, that’s not what I paid to participate in at Gnomedex.  The day got better after that.  Guy Kawasaki discussed product/company evangelism and was entertaining and informative as usual.  A very interesing presentation was given by Ronni Bennett about the need for technology to address the needs of the aging members of our society.  The baby boomers are growing up and there are many uses for technology in that age group that are not manifesting themselves currently.  Specifically, creating the ability for monitoring health over the Internet is not out of reach and would be a huge benefit to those that are aging. 

A key theme was that the form factors and user interfaces of technology products and software do not cater to the elderly in the way that they should.  To demonstrate this, volunteers from the audience were given glasses to better simulate the reduced light that the eyes of the elderly are able to absorb, and gloves to simulate reduced motor skills and touch sensitivity. The volunteers had a very difficult time just navigating and reading websites using standard laptops.

It was a well thought out presentation that definitely pointed to a gap in the tech industry (and an opportunity for geeks who can fill those gaps).  My favorite quote of the presentation: “In your life, you will be old for much longer than you are young.”

Shameless Self Promotion

Beer SteinI’m probably stooping to new lows right now, but I wanted to quickly do some shameless self promotions, as well as some not-so-shameless  promotions of others.  First of all, I’m excited to introduce a new feature to the CrapMonkey Website: The CrapMonkey Store.   That’s right, you can finally get CrapMonkey swag so that you can impress your friends with your awesome listening tastes.  Keep your eye on the store as I hope to update merchandise frequently.   Additionally, the Podcast Awards are seven days away from wrapping up the nominations.  Please get out to the Podcast Awards site and nominate the CrapMonkey for a People’s Choice Award.  I’m guessing the “general” category is the closest thing going for this show but it’s your call of course. 

Okay, onto the less shameful promotions.  If you are  a technology geek, forward thinker or entrepreneur; you are not going to want to miss Gnomedex as it is, hands down, the leading technology conference.  We are less than one month out, so get registered asap.  Likewise, if you are headed out to Seattle for the event, shoot me an email and we’ll hook up for a beer at one of Seattle’s many fine breweries.  Finally, I wanted to make a quick case for the Podcast and New Media Expo in Ontario, California in September.  Hotel rooms are already becoming scarce, so if you are interested in going, you better hop to it.  It’s the home of the Podcast People’s Choice Podcast Awards and a great place to get to know your favorite podcasters better.  Well, that’s all I’ve got for now – hope to see you at one of these events (wearing a CrapMonkey t-shirt of course)!

John Edwards Leads an Open Discussion at Gnomedex

John Edwards was the keynote speaker at this year’s Gnomedex conference in Seattle.  The topics were varied, ranging from technology issues (like the recent Netwrok Neutrality debate) to political strategy (like what will it take for a Democratic candidate to win the presidential election).  The conversation was open and insightful (there was no holding back from the Gnomedex attendees).  Among several of the suggestions provided by the group was the idea of sending a blogger/podcast along with the candidates on the entire campaign trail.  Not a “stay on point – yes man” but a real blogger/podcaster exposing the candidate honestly (warts and all).  Senator Edwards seemed open to the idea, but certainly didn’t commit.  He did go so far as to say that the next winner of the presidential election will be one that people can identify with as a person, not someone staying forever “on-point” with top-down political messaging. 

Seattle MindCamp Half Way Point

It’s midnight: Seattle Mindcamp is officially half over and it has been pretty interesting so far.  It started with lunch at noon, after which, we introduced ourselves and described our interests in only three words (mine were media, technology and beer).  After the introductions, the group started to sign up for sessions.  Within moments, the conference was literally born on a blank sheet of giant butcher paper.  The first session I attended was on MindMap, an idea organizing tool from Mindjet.  The second session I checked out was on social networking as it pertains to mobile devices.  It was an interesting session, but I’m not all that enthuised about using my cell phone in such ways… at least not today.   The next session I attended was my favorite so far – RFID Toys.  It was a great session explaining RFID and its uses.  The session presenter had RFID chips implanted in his hands (see Pieces of Crap #5 in the podcast feed).  
After that session, it was time for dinner.  We had a delicious spread of chicken and fish – very tasty.  After dinner I spent some time chatting with folks and then watched a short documentary called “Invisible Children.”  A fairly sad story about the trials of children in Africa.  After watching the movie, I rolled out back where I witnessed a hard drive being completely melted into oblivian in a slow explosion (I forget what chemicals were involved…).  Needless to say, data will not be recovered from that drive. 
Now it’s past midnight… and I’m parked on the floor doing a little blogging.  Images are available on Flickr.
Over all rating:  Seattle Mindcamp 2.0 is a raging success.

Reality Television Changes the Production Game

At NAB this year it became very clear that reality television is changing the tool sets used in video production.  In scripted programming, the ratio of shot footage to used footage was traditionally fairly closely alignedl.  With a script, one would generally only need a few takes of any given scene and it was fairly obvious which of the takes would be used in the final production.  Reality programming has flipped the scales on that model.  Hours upon hours of footage is now recorded in order to squeeze out a singe episode of 30 to 60 minutes.  Likewise, where the script was once the blueprint of a program, now the footage often dictates the script that gets written. 
When any model is turned on its head, opportunities arise to create new tools.  Many of these tools emerged at NAB this year.  Content management systems that allow for logging, scripting, annotating and categorizing footage came out of the woodwork from most of the big players.  An interesting demonstration by Avid showed off some tools designed to help script writers organize footage in manners that allow them to appy the shot content to a traditional story arc (hook, conflict, resolution, etc.). 
Traditional methods of writing and telling a story… “You’re Fired!”

So Much for 411

Okay, so I just heard about this on Pirillo’s podcast moments ago, but I’m as impressed as he was so I figure it warrants some blog time.  1-800-411-SAVE is the new way to access directory services from your phone.  Similar to what Movie Phone did to calling movie theaters directly, this service has the potential to make 411 type directories obsolete.  1-800-411-SAVE is an advertising based directory service.  Hence, there is no direct charge to the user.  If you don’t mind listening to a 10 to 15 second add while getting your number, you’re going to save a buck.  But that’s not really what makes this cool.  Two additional features really stand out:  First, how many times have you been disconnected when using a 411 service and had to call right back (incurring an additional charge)?  Fear not, 1-800-411-SAVE remembers the number you looked up last.  When you call, the first thing it does is ask if you’d like to hear the last number you looked up.  Second, a provided option is text messaging the number to you.  In the tests I ran, it also sent me the address of the businesses I looked up.  That is an extremely handy service.
The significant drawback this has is that it does not allow you to automatically connect to the number (and that is not a trivial drawback).  However, the ability to have the info text messaged to you overcomes that in my mind.  Once texted, you have it on your phone for a reference or you can easily add it to your contacts.  Very handy indeed. 

TextPayMe – The Future is Now

How often are you in a situation where you are dining with friends, the bill comes, and all of you want to pay on a card?  Don’t you wish you had an easier way to share funds back and forth other than “spotting” each other until the next time around?  Finally, there is a way.  TextPayMe is a new service that allows for you to easily send money from one person to the next using text messaging… right from your phone.  Certainly, you can imagine the multitude of scenarios this could support as time goes on. 
SignUp at TextPayMe