WebZine 2005


This weekend promises to be filled with WebZine 2005 and the many associated sub-events, parties, and general blitzfests. I'll be doing some simple volunteering on setup today and doing video services in the main Freya room on Saturday afternoon. As usual at such event, I'll also be doling-out a few badges for PHOTOPERMIT.ORG. WebZine 2005 promises a good solid dose of new-media goodness plus, as of last night, they've announced a full one-hour rant on Sunday afternoon by Jonas on why social software is a big stinking lie... w00t!

Next weekend will also see a wire-related event, namely a celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Yeah, I'll have buttons, assuming my supplies don't dwindle to ridiculous lows. Quite a few buttons were guerilla-distributed among the coincidentally almost-matching flickr buttons during the past week's flickr fiesta. They're prized collectors' items now, kids.

On the topic of social software, a few readers may have noticed some changes to the archives page — photo gallery and other art listings for the Bay Area are now being included, powered by UpComing.Org, a service I really like; though browsing through upcoming lists can be a bit like crack — especially for someone living down here in the SV and somewhat removed from the central SF club & gallery orbits. Tonight's feature in my listings: a lecture (presented by PhotoAlliance and the Aperture Foundation) by Eikoh Hosoe. I was just about floored with excitement when I saw that he was coming to the bay; Hosoe is of of my all-time most-admired photographers, right at the summit. Heck, this is the guy who out-sensualized Yukio Mishima. Other potentially-great visits upcoming include Alec Soth and Michael Kenna.

The other bit of social software I'm keen on (and intermittently perplexed by) is dodgeball, which tries to merge the virtual and real(istic) worlds via SMS. Creator Dennic Crowley gave a couple of talks about dball (and related projects like the spectacular PacManhattan) at this past Siggraph.

I'd hoped to be able to use dodgeball to coordinate party-hopping during Siggraph, and told people about it well-before the conference, but the response was slim — the experiment stumbled across the reality that there are sometimes very few users within a particular geographic area — at least, users visible to me. The service helps coordinate your established social circle, rather than expand it. You need regular non-electronic interactions for that part. So much for software that can turn my life into an episode of Wild On...

Try them out. Make "bjorke" your friend :)

Still, I think dodgeball and related programs have a great future. Sooner or later Microsoft and the other giants will step in (Dennis did manage to sell dodgeball to Google) — maybe something like Yahoo! 360 will become a useful hub? One awkward aspect to all of the various social software that connects to the real world (that is, social software other than online chats and such, which keep themselves contained in virtual space) is their lack of connectivity. In virtual space, time is of secondary importance — in the real world, it's a big deal, so integration with schedulers and maps and so forth become a bottleneck. And integration of social softwares/networks with one another is another.

It would be awesome to check-in on dodgeball and have it respond about people at the venue from my upcoming list. It's always a bit of extra work to make sure that all of the venues listed in your upcoming lists are available for checkins via dodgeball and that maybe they pop up on Yelp (dodgeballs' own "venue review" feature" is a bit thin and redundant compared to Yelp) and somehow migrate into Outlook and show up in your PDA/phone. Right now it's all by-hand, which violates one of my personal principles of system design: Any time a human is copying information from a computer screen so they can re-type it into another computer screen, the system is broken.

Maybe there should be some sort of microformat standards for these issues? (Or will we just see it get the old "embrace, expand, extinguish" from Redmond, now that the long-expected "blogging features" of Outlook are on the horizon?)

Addendum: See the flickr tag "webzine2005" for moblogged updates during WebZine 2005. Click-through the links inside to see event coverage by others as well.

September 23, 2005



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