In about two hours, I’ll be talking at ETech 2006 – presenting a slightly adapted version of my Native to a Web of Data talk. If any of you are at ETech and have seen the presentation before (or listened to it online) – please don’t come! I’m hoping to rehash most of the decent jokes, and you’d completely throw me off my stride. To be honest, I’m only really even writing this post because I want to have a self-referential slide in my presentation near the end indicating that I’m writing stuff live from the conference, so I’ll need a screen-cap.
The conference this year has been pretty good so far, all told – not least for setting up a number of opportunities to collide with my disparate groups of nerds – the British contingent (mostly ex-BBC who I can’t see enough of: Webb, Biddulph, Alice et al), the Yahoo! contingent (Chad, Karon, Simon, Leonard, Danah, Jeffrey and others) and all the wonderful extended networks that I don’t get to connect with so often – people like Ben and Cory and Ben and Derek and Veen. I could go on pretty much ad infinitum, but I can’t imagine it’s a fascinating read for you guys.
In terms of sessions, I’ve been to many. The Multi-touch interface high-order bit kind of rocked, Ray Ozzie’s session on cut and paste of microformats in the wild almost changed my mind about embedding data directly into pages (but not quite) and the session from the last.fm guys was solid enough – although it didn’t really sell the wonder of it to people around the room as much as I might have liked. I wasn’t enormously impressed by the Eric Bonabeau session – the only thing that really got me excited about it was the idea of creating a recipe space within which you could apply evolutionary principles to find varied and interesting ways of cooking limited amounts of ingredients onboard space missions. That kind of rocked, but was a twenty second throwaway at the end of a talk that otherwise didn’t seem to me to say anything enormously new. It’s easy to get blasé about innovation at ETech though, so perhaps that’s unfair.
I didn’t learn an enormous amount from Peter Morville’s talk but that’s probably because I’ve read most of his recent major work. The Microformats session was also pretty solid, but I didn’t get much new from it that I hadn’t gleaned from a systematic interrogation of their site. I’m still thinking about Clay’s talk on moderation strategies. It’s a noble goal, and one that I’ve been interested in for a while (I even proposed a talk to ETech around a similar area a few years ago), but I’m not convinced that it really got into the meat of the territory. That’s probably also unfair, given the shortness of his slot.
The three highlights for me so far have been Linda Stone on Attention (I saw her at Supernova last year, and this was a cut-down version of that talk, but still just as urgent and prescient), Webb and Cerveny on playsh which just seemed to be endlessly entertaining and inventive code-play, and Bruce Sterling’s piece on Spimes and design and innovation and language. I’m in the process of digesting his book at the moment, so that was all pretty rewarding.
I have to head off now to put the finishing touches to my slides, but I’ll try and write up some more of my thoughts over the next couple of days. These events are all about refilling the cup of creativity when you get tired and jaded by your immediate missions, and as usual ETech fills me up to and sometimes over the brim. Too much to think about, too little time. I’m looking forwad to the couple of weeks afterwards where I can finally digest everything.