FOWA: The Future of Web Startups (Paul Graham) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Check out Paul’s essay derived from this keynote. The conversation also continues on the YCombinator news site.

steph-note: missed the beginning, very incomplete

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Standardizing things, from funding to acquisitions. Acquisitions are interesting because the buying company knows exactly what “brain power” they are acquiring.

Instead of approaching venture capitalists with a plan, start the company with a few thousands of $$ from your uncle or Y Combinator, and then approach VCs with a company. steph-note: I thought this was the obvious thing to do

We still need startup hubs. You need to make a startup succeed, not just start. Here is the value of startup hubs: face to face meetings. No technology in the world replaces that. Whether you need it is not the question: the important thing is “does it offer an advantage or not”? If it does, then your competitors will have it over you if you don’t do it.

The ability to be able to work face-to-face for three months greatly outweighs the disadvantage of moving.

Seed funding is a national business, contrary to VC funding which is regional. No regional Y Combinator branches. Just like you can’t have a regional “big university”. But maybe seed funding is actually international?

If seed funding is indeed international, then not really possible to create other “Silicon Valleys”, because the people who are really motivated to succeed will move to SV, and those left behind are “less good”.

Acquirers are assholes, even the nicest companies (lawyers, “they’ll make you pay”). Need: Chief Acquisition Officers. Would both identify the opportunity and close the deal. Now it’s two separate steps. Maybe in future, big companies will have both a VP of Technology (in-house) and a CAO (bring good stuff in).

College may change, if hackers start building startups. For the moment it’s warped towards preparing you to have an employer. There’s nothing magical about a degree. Do you need a degree if you’re going to start your own company? The need for degrees is driven entirely by administrative requirements.

Don’t encourage people to start companies in college, though, because that gives them a great excuse to abandon their startup. OTOH, some of their best founders were still in school.

The greatest value of university is not the brand name or maybe the classes, but the other people you meet there. steph-note: not sure this is valid outside the US. Shift from getting good grades to impress employers to actually learning stuff because you’ll need it. steph-note: OMG, is US education that broken?!

Increasing the number of startups would mean you can’t sit on an idea if you have a good idea, because other people have your idea. So if it gets easier to start startups, then they are more likely to actually do it.

If people actually get to work instead of sitting on ideas, technology will evolve faster. Some ideas are too scary! Look at how hard a time Microsoft is having trying to figure out web apps. New ideas implemented increasingly in startups rather than big companies. Big companies are just not a good place to make things happen fast.

Talked with a guy who had his startup recently acquired by a big company. From a “lines of code cranked out”, they were 1/13th as productive after the acquisition. Something about big companies that just sucks the energy out of you.

Y Combinator: there to release energy by making it more easy for hackers to start their startups.

For the moment, the process of starting a company is a whole series of tubes 😉 — lots of kinks in the plumbing.

In future: a big straight pipe. Being measured by performance, fleshing out the arbitrary crap people are measured by nowadays.

Paul talked about exit strategies, not running a company to make money. Startup means exit. If there is no exit, there is not startup. Not all technology companies are startups. Not all new companies are startups.

Hackers actually like to make stuff, they’re not in there for the money. So actually, if you let them make stuff, you can pay them less! Big companies are paranoïd about their brand, they should be less scared about releasing stuff. Companies are judged by their successes, not the crap stuff they might have released (look at Google). Just let developers release stuff to the world.

What can we do to encourage startups? (Question from Ian Forrester, BBC).
A: Make documentaries on people doing startups. Seeing how it goes is usually what convinces people to take the plunge.

If you just want a couple thousand $, don’t raise VC money, just get angel money. What makes Silicon Valley is the angels. Google would have never made it if they hadn’t had angel money.

Y Combinator is going to open source their angel money paperwork, to make it easier for “rich hackers” to invest.

FOWA: The Edgeconomy (Umair Haque) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.

Laws of the Edgeconomy

FOWA 2007 80

steph-note: whoops, no more slides!

(organizing principles)

    1. Open beats closed

Huge companies are shifting to open business models.
A universe of external possibilities explodes.

    1. Betters beat goods
    1. Plastic beats specific

Bluetack vs. screw.
Glue that can hold stuff together.

Lots of companies get this, but it’s not enough.

How to make this work is about management. How do we manage all of this stuff? We really need to think about 3 key challenges.

  1. volatility of the economy – interdependence

Craigslist does not intend to maximise profits.

Trust. steph-note: slides are back

FOWA 2007 83

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Purpose Beats Profits.

FOWA 2007 86

Guilds were there to protect a skill.

A purpose is a set of shared beliefs about how value is created. Encapsulates key trade-offs. Google: organizing the world’s information (that’s a trade-off). steph-note: I’m lost.

Failure Beats Success.

Fail really fast. Not like Bush… Can’t plan for the future in this kind of environment.

Play Beats Work. There is No Consumer. They are the people at the edges of the firm. Synergistic relationships with firms. Culture > Brand. Competition is a Commodity.

Markets, Networks, and Communities Beat Firms.

We don’t compete. This is what we have to build business models upon.

Advantage is in the DNA. It’s the stuff that makes the firm go.

Future of the recording industry: two futures

  • dynamic pricing
  • open pricing (a kind of “social price” — challenge: how do you get that to scale?)

Networks manage risk much more efficiently. Communities are better for managing fixed costs. steph-note: (?)

Future of big media corporations? They need to start by blowing themselves up, atomizing — before coming back together.

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steph-note: can’t said I understood everything (and to be fair, I think Umair was a bit thrown off by the Powerpoint failure, or it’s just that I have trouble grasping all this “economy” stuff) but all this seems really interesting. Going to start reading his blog for a while to see.

FOWA: Customer Service is the New Marketing (Lane Becker & Thor Muller) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session with Thor Muller and Lane Becker of Satisfaction. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.

FOWA 2007 71

The sacred hospitality code: serve people food and welcome them in before you ask them their name. A drink before introductions. Let’s look at customer service from that point of view.

Amandari, Bali: 8 waitstaff per guest

Great approach to customer service, but unfortunately doesn’t scale very well.

Different approaches to customer service:

  • customer-focused (Four Seasons, Zappos, Craigslist)
  • product-focused (Apple, Google, most web startups)
  • infrastructure-focused (telecoms…)

The best way to deliver excellent customer service is the stop trying. Because trying looks like robots in cubes answering the phone.

FOWA 2007 77

Funny Dell Customer Service Call YouTube video. In the US about 3% of the population is employed in related support roles.

“Customer Service from ValleySchwag” on Flickr.

Secrets of the Concierge (hotels):

  • they talk, get to know people
  • they have little control, but a lot of influence
  • smashing the silos

Enter the Cluetrain…

“Customer interactions are our best branding opportunities” Tony Hsieh, Zappos. Call centre, with no scripts, and no metrics for call length. Just do everything it takes to make a happy customer. A bunch of concierges rather than robots.

Online: how do you make conversation central? Look at the guys doing 30boxes. With their previous company, had so much success they couldn’t really keep up with their customer support. Worked from a business perspective, but they weren’t very happy about it. So with 30boxes, they set up a forum. Went to 50% questions unanswered (previous company) to 50% questions answered by other customers.

Once you start building a community, customers want to start telling you lots of other things. Lots of valuable stuff.

Disconnected support tools => disconnected customers. Contact page, FAQ, Trouble Tickets, Forum, Wiki… But they don’t produce and engaged experience, and it’s disconnected from the service that we’re offering. The common thing here is conversations, except with Trouble Tickets (separate).

With a trouble ticketing system, Customer Service is often a firewall between the company and the users. When you make the conversations public, everybody inside the organisation gets much more exposure to the problems, questions, suggestions… Your successes are magnified too.

Dell IdeaStorm. Digg-like thing for their more loyal customers.

Dangers: the Digg revolt. (“The numbers.”)

These conversations are happening somewhere. Better be somewhere you can engage in them.

In your hands, but out of your control. JetBlue YouTube video (CEO speaking).

Don’t create systems that place constraints on customer interactions. (Time per call: don’t talk to people, avoid interaction… which is actually the wrong thing to do!)

Ning. Putting out major product releases on Fridays, as the only people who would be banging it around during the week-end would be their more rabid users. So they’d get feedback etc. from them, and by Monday the release would be nice and clean for “normal users”.


Think of your story as your customers’ story. They’ll put the word out for you and defend you in the marketplace.

Danger: people are messy.

Smash the silos: think like a network. Companies think of themselves as silos. Our customers are in a lot of different places. “It’s not our problem” is a problem. When something breaks, it can be hard to know who to call (ie, cellphone not working). People get bounced around from company to company. So, put the customer in the centre. All the stuff we’re building on the web is very interdependent. So, for customer support, we need to stay focused on the customer.

E.g. Dopplr, a web application that you can use all over the place without ever going on the website. Widgets, API, integration. But a customer support nightmare.

Growing belief that nobody is really in charge anymore. There isn’t necessarily one person/entity to go to. Participate in the larger conversation that’s going on.

Danger: competition? It’s difficult to speak about competition in an environment where everything is networked. Some companies don’t want forums because they don’t want customers talking about other products on their site.

“What would a concierge do?”

Genius Bar in Apple.

FOWA: The Future of Commerce (Robert Kalin) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check. See Suw’s notes on this talk.

Etsy: soapbox for people who make things to stand up on.

FOWA 2007 69

Went to New York, faked college IDs to go and follow classes. Owning his education. Started about six different companies.

100’000 sellers on the site. Slow, regular growth. Only US$. Most of the users are in the English-speaking world.

If you engage people in a different way, you can change the way they relate to stuff.

Online marketplace: notorious tarpit where so many companies have tried to be successful. People go to offline marketplaces also for the people. The social aspect is important: who made what I’m buying?

Make things playful to engage people. Colour blobs you can play with on the screen, to choose things by colour. Time machine.

Userbase 95% women. 1500 people a day are joining at this stage.

steph-note: I don’t mind being shown around Etsy, and this is quite interesting, but I’d expect something else from a talk titled “The Future of Commerce”. This more “Story of Etsy” or “Etsy Demo”. I think it’s really important that the people making the programmes of conferences are very clear about what the sessions cover.

Etsy is still very much under the radar.

A brief history of money: going from very concrete (barter, silver coins with a certain weight) to abstract (paper money with number written on it, plastic, electronic — never physical).

FOWA: 10 Cool Web Apps Demo (Ben Forsaith, Adobe) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Very brief notes from Ben Forsaith‘s session at FoWA.

FOWA 2007 5

  • Slide Rocket (Keynote/Powerpoint online)
  • Scrapblog: make visual stuff
  • Picnic: very easy to use, full online photo editor
  • MTV Video Remixer: not working
  • BuzzWord (recently purchased by Adobe)

Examples outside the browser (AIR):

  • Fine Tune: web radio station with randomized playlist
  • eBay
  • a Media Player of some kind
  • Pownce
  • a Google Analytics tool (sounds nice)

FOWA: The Future of Search (Tony Conrad) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session with Tony Conrad, hosted by Brian Oberkirch. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.

FOWA 2007 24

Brian is the original Sphere groupie. Tony is one of the Sphere founders.

Lots of blogs, but felt that nobody had made a really good job of making that content available to a more general public. => so with Toni Schneider, started Sphere in 2005.

Sphere had a promise: better, more relevant blog search.

Sphere bookmarklet: not link-based. Content relevancy. Something they threw in at the last moment, but a lot of their traffic came from there. steph-note: if I understood that right.

Day 8: OMG, we’re going to have to do something different.

Time contacts them to see if they can integrate context-related stuff to their articles. They loved it, but Tony didn’t like it: not a good user experience. People don’t want to go on a site called “” that they’ve never heard of. => little widget that would overlay on the page.

Ex. Reuters page. A-list publishers are getting very good at linking out, they understand the advantages (SEO + readership). Contextual link between mainstream media and social media (blogs). Widget works well for mainstream media and bloggers. (Long tail!)

FOWA 2007 27

FOWA 2007 29

The stuff in the left column and bottom of the page is generated automatically.

Overlay “window” with related content, also for blogs:

FOWA 2007 32

Over a billion article pages across the web in a year.

There is a widget now available for WordPress blogs, and one for TypePad in the advanced templates.

Issue: thinking about the scaling issues.

Different “client/users” have different requirements for what they want to filter out of their searches. Funny: CNN asking to remove the safe filter, and running lead story about “Pornification of American Culture” — Sphere did indeed find all the relevant results… and got an earful.

Publisher partners don’t want adult content.

Brian: lots of talk about how little it takes to bring a product to market, but this story is about what comes after… people scaling. 10 people now but not in the same office. steph-note: Brian, not sure I interpreted correctly what you said

Close to Automattic, which is a completely “virtual” (steph-note: I hate that term) company, meaning they’re scattered all over the place. Freedom to pick out the very best people for the job. Sphere communicate non-stop, always online, always on the phone, get together at 4-5 every Friday. At one point Tony had met 6 of the 10 people on the team, and he was the one who had met the most. So brought everybody in location in SF at some point, and it was awesome! steph-note: Matt told me they had this happen at WordCamp for Automattic this summer.

Tony: advocate of taking baby steps. Figure out an idea that’s going to be in a big space and nibble around the edges.

Brian: business model? how is this company going to make money?

Tony: Somewhat advertising-based (Brian notes there are no ads now).

Brian: is there an API?

Tony: to do an API right, and not screw people around, without conflicting with their ability to serve their partners the way they are today… steph-note: sentence that never ended…

Sphere’s focus is more at the publisher end than the long tail end (at least for the moment).

Testing people’s online collaboration skills is part of the hiring process.

FOWA: How to Turn your App into a Business (Ted Rheingold) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of Ted Rheingold‘s Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Suw also blogged this session.

Blogged Ted earlier this year at Reboot when he was encouraging us to learn about cats and dogs.

Simple idea: let people make web pages for their dogs and cats. Realised later that this could actually be a business.

FOWA 2007 64

What does it take to be a business? Suddenly all sorts of words like CTO, CEO, Incorporating, Titles… start flying around.

But mainly, being a business is about generating revenue, or at least having a pretty good idea where it’s going to come from. If you don’t have an idea how you’re going to make money, you’re going to run out of money.

Important: don’t think there is a new economy. There’s new technology, but the economy hasn’t really changed.

Dogster and Catster make money from advertising, partnerships, people subscribing… A lot like a magazine. Virtual gifts. You’re maybe disrupting the economy, but not creating a whole new one.

Learn your market. It took Ted a long time to learn these markets. You can’t pretend to know where the advertising goes because you’ve read magazines. Also, get ready to learn other markets. Ted thought at some point they were going to do classifieds, spent a lot of time trying to figure it out, but nobody was interested in their classifieds, so that failed. Don’t get overly attached.

Get advisers. People who understand the industry you’re in. But also people who understand how to run a business.

Learn business finance. Know how much money you need to spend, etc. Forecasting expenses, revenues. Some of these things are actually pretty basic, but you need to be comfortable with them. Don’t spend any money you don’t have to. If you’re cheap with your employees and your contractors, they may leave (steph-note: indeed!), if you’re cheap with your hosting your site might go down, if you don’t trademark your logo/names…

Sell, sell, sell. Ted is a designer, not a salesperson. Nobody is going to sell your business for me. Everything changed for Ted when he brought in a business partner. (Not an employee!) Important to choose well. It will be years of partnering with that person, startups don’t usually get bought. You need somebody who is as passionate as you are.

Make your business a business.

Very hard to make money on AdSense or that kind of advertising unless you’re serving millions and millions of pages. Sponsors and partnerships are more viable. Even a small market is interesting if it’s targeted. Subscription: emotional thing. Be part of the team. To show their support.

steph-note: lost some of the Q&A because of running around with the microphone.

Fail fast. They just removed classifieds three months ago. Important to see if the changes you’re thinking about are really worth it financially.

Q: when did you decide it could be a viable business?

A: thought it would be a kind of passive business where he’d get a check every month from advertising for a bit of maintenance here and there. Month 3, 10’000 people joined the site. A lot! Way more than he thought. Used the wisdom of his crowds to think about it, and then sat on it for a while before making the big decision. Making sure people are using it and spending as little money as possible the whole time.

Hiring is a real pain, specially if you want to be ethical about it (don’t want to hire somebody and lay him off three months later).

FOWA: We've Got This Community: Now What? (Heather Champ & Derek Powazek) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session with Heather Champ and Derek Powazek. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check. See Derek’s post about this, and Suw’s notes of this session.

FOWA 2007 7

Telling stories.

Chelm Sweet Chelm

Angels, trying to distribute something (?), and one of the sacks ripped and the contents spread out in the valley, and that valley became the town of Chelm (idiots). steph-note: sorry, very confused, wasn’t concentrated.

So, lots of stories around that. When you run a community site, you sometimes feel like you are living in Chelm. How can you make the most of your life in Chelm?

Heather and Derek are going to tell us some Chelm stories.

Derek will tell the first one, because it’s embarrassing to Heather’s employer.

Yahoo including photos tagged “wii” in a page. But you don’t really tell anybody about it. Users revolt: start tagging all sorts of things “wii”:

FOWA 2007 15

Heather: being the mothership, you’re always held to higher standards by your community. Do the right thing, beyond the legal requirements. Yahoo had the right to do this, but that didn’t make it “right”.

Derek: provide copious opt-outs.

FOWA 2007 17

Heather: last year, Flickr realised they were going to have to take the DB down (it was bad). So they decided to turn it into a contest instead of just displaying the “massage” message. Something like 2000 different entries. People responded really well. Gave away something like 16 Pro accounts instead of the 1 they had planned.

Derek: when you fucked up, say you fucked up. Confess. You can earn a lot of credibility like that. When you suck, own up.

FOWA 2007 18

Other example: FOWA sending out marketing e-mail to the “wrong list”, the ones who had opted out. “We screwed up!”

Don’t keep score. Here are the top… can be a really excellent way to motivate people when you’re playing a game. But with most web apps, it’s not about playing a game, it’s about sharing your photographs, telling stories… Use these scoreboards when you want to play a game. Otherwise it can actually work against your community.

Heather: Flickr interestingness. This is the only place in the Flickrverse where people are ranked. It was pretty bad when they launched (500 most…). It created aggravation and angst. Now it’s a randomly loaded page.

Derek: the goal of interestingness is to see some interesting photos. The error was showing them in a ranked order. “Hey, look how many photos are more interesting than mine!” Gaming behaviour can lead to a negative experience. (e.g. people trying to get to the front page of digg.)

Use scores where they make sense.

Heather: important to put an editorial layer on the “stuff”. “Contribute a photo of your day”: 20’000 people in the group, 7000 contributed photos, and 122 selected to be in the book. One way of bringing people to the forefront and rewarding them in a more collaborative way than just ranking.

Derek: producing print stuff is often seen as a money-maker. But actually, providing physical real-life things is actually a great motivator to encourage people to participate in your online community. JPEG Mag. Great photographers online, but never seeing anything in print. Getting published in the book was enough to get people motivated to participate in the virtual community.

Rip that band-aid (Heather): the old skool merge thing. Flickr knew at some point they would have to migrate everyone to Yahoo IDs. Waited 18 months, and at some point… it’ll be in 6 weeks. Significant change that’s difficult for the community: don’t wait 18 months. 6 weeks is a good time. Discuss about it, answer people, but then do it, hold firm. Sometimes you have to do things that are unpopular. If Flickr hadn’t waited 18 months… would probably not have been that painful.

Derek: community, manage thyself. Give people the tools they need so that they can be the community manager for you. Build tools to support that. In Flickr: I manage comments for my own photos. It’s my spot, so I’m my own community manager. Heather: it allows people to establish the guidelines for themselves.

Community expectations: Heather loves lawyers. Pages and pages of terms of service. Expectations of what your role is to be in that community. Flickr didn’t have community guidelines when it began. At some point, they understood they needed a way to put those expectations in human-readable format. “Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.” 4-5 bullet points. Doesn’t supercede the TOS, but helps make expectations understood. Understand that nobody reads those legalese TOS.

Derek: don’t create supervillains. We usually have sites with free membership. Anybody can create an account. First community moderation tool: “boot member”. But the booted member can come back, create another free account, but this time he’s pissed. Booting people creates supervillains. Come up with clever ways to minimize their damage, contact them directly, person-to-person. Design community so one person can’t make too much damage. E.g. one site, if you get on their “bad list”, the site just gets slower and slower for you. That’s clever!

Heather: members of your community are passionate. Passionately good, and passionately… passionate.

Derek: know your audience. Eg. Tahoe thing: create your own ad. But actually, all you could do was actually add some text. So they went wild, of course. Be careful how tiny the box is you put people in. Here it was tiny, people rebelled. You couldn’t do much. Constraints are good, but if there are too many, people rebel. Also, their site was available to everybody on the internet, not just Tahoe owners.

Last and most important lesson: embrace the chaos. When you create something where people have a voice, they’ll do something you don’t expect.

Heather: small company which had 4 computers stolen, one of the laptops had PhotoBooth set up to upload automatically to Flickr. Some dude with astounding tattoos unwittingly uploaded PhotoBooth photos to the company’s Flickr stream. “OMG, this could be the guy who got our computer!” To cut a long story short, this guy was “known to the police”, and his lawyer saw a piece about this in the local paper, and told him to turn himself in… which he did.

Ex: person who used geolocating photos to spell “fuck” over Greenland. Lots of hard work there!

Incorporate these things as you go forward.

Derek: pet profiles on Friendster, which they wiped out in a week-end! Created a business opening for Dogster/Catster. When people misuse your site, they’re telling you there’s something to do there. Sometimes the misuse is the most valuable input you can get.

Q: how do you deal with requirements from the mother company regarding the way you manage your community?

A (Heather): not much has “come down”. Often, the answer is education. Talk to people — lots of misguided “requirements” come from the fact they don’t really understand your community.

Derek: design for selfishness.

Q: How do you balance community with commerce?

A (Derek): fable that community and commerce have to be separate, but that’s wrong. We talk about “commerce” a lot with our friends (products, etc). JPEG: been very upfront about “what we’re doing with your work”, “what you get out of it”. Set expectations well in the beginning.

Heather: two kinds of Flickr accounts. Pro, you don’t see ads. Is it worth the money for user X? Running a community costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. “The web is free”: to a certain extent, but when it involves huge amounts of hardware, somebody has to pay for it.

Q: (?)

A (Heather): if you have a global community, you want to ensure that people can express themselves — but when it gets member-on-member, that makes her uncomfortable (abuse). “What’s acceptable in the community?” Have a “report abuse” link in the footer of every page of the site. If you come down too hard saying “you can’t say that”… Trout-slapping. Huge question. Some people join communities just to be trolls.

Derek: if something inappropriate is happening in a global forum, create a place where it’s appropriate, and send people there to discuss it, so the rest can get on with their lives.

FOWA: What is the Future of Web Apps? (Ryan Carson, Om Malik, Michael Arrington) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

Here are my live notes of this Future of Web Apps (FOWA) session with Om Malik, Michael Arrington, and Ryan Carson. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check.

steph-note: arrived really late to this session (not quite as late as Arrington, though), so vaguely trying to pick up a few snippets here and there as I get organized for the day.

FOWA 2007 3

Gphone. Gphone. Gphone. steph-note: as I was entering the room.

Launching a DRM-free music store would be a good business idea right now. But please, says Om, not another Office clone. We have enough.

Plugins. Facebook. Organizing the buddy-list. Facebook Appls: we haven’t seen that many game-changing apps (besides Scrabble, says Om).

Om: Facebook as directory service. Ryan: critical mass. BBC/Radio4 talk about Facebook.

Arrington thinks there is a chance that Facebook will go the portable social network way. (Ryan seemed skeptical.)

Arrington: more mobile stuff, and more “virtual reality” — using your body to interact with the computer.

Om loves his Crackberry.

On Liveblogging [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions de la part d'une personne (bibi!) qui prend des notes "live" aux conférences...

Via Bruno Giussani, a post by Ethan Zuckerman on liveblogging conferences. Again, a comment turned into a post — so here are some of my thoughts on liveblogging conferences, something I’ve been doing more and more regularly.

No big surprise, my reasons for blogging conferences are quite similar to Ethan and Bruno’s. “Taking notes” helps me concentrate on what is being said, I can search through them later easily, and this kind of “conference coverage” brings new people to my blog. I’m not yet at the stage where I’m being invited to conferences because of my liveblogging-fu — but who knows, in future? (hint, hint)

Here are a few of my comments (go read Ethan’s post first, it’ll make more sense):

  • no lapdesk for me — due to RSI, the best place for my keyboard is right on my lap, even if it gets a bit hot.

  • I take photos too, so I tend to sit in front, or further back right next to the central alley if there is one (the “distracting to others” side of liveblogging never struck me, but maybe I’m too engrossed in my typing).

  • I’m not good at summarizing (like Ethan and Bruno do), so my style of live-blogging is very note-like, with a few “steph-notes” to express my thoughts along the way. Actually, I started liveblogging because I took notes for myself on the computer (RSI has made handwriting “not an option”), and thought “oh well, they’re pretty crap, but I might as well publish them” — and to my surprise, they were very much appreciated.

  • I usually publish right at the end of the talk, which means I snap a few photos of the speaker at the beginning of the talk, upload one at some point during the session, and near the end copy my notes from WriteRoom (my editor of choice) into my blogging tool, add tags… I take note of Ethan’s “preparation” tip — I could really do with writing the post titles in advance. There are two reasons I publish fast (in addition to the little thrill I’ll admit to having at the idea my post might be “first up”): first, I get to enjoy the breaks, and second, it helps me continue to convince myself that blogging sessions does not create “extra work” for me — as I do it all during the session.

  • One point Ethan does not raise is tiredness — is he immune, or just more resistant than I? Maybe it’s lack of practice, or just the way I’m wired, but I find that I can’t go without breaks. Even without taking RSI into account, my brain just goes liquid and I become incapable of taking in stuff after 2-3 sessions. So, I skip a session once in a while, and even sometimes skip it completely, not even attending.

Ethan mentions collaborating: some people blog, some people take photos, others keep an eye on blogosphere coverage of the conference, etc. I remember how participants to the BlogTalk 2004 conferences took collaborative notes using SubEthaEdit. I have to say, I’ve never done it since. That gives me an idea for the next conference I’m going to…