Hello From Kolkata [en]

[fr] En Inde. Des trucs (très) en vrac. Un podcast en français dans les liens.

I’m in India. For a month.

I did it again: didn’t blog immediately about something I wanted to blog about (the rather frightful things I learned about the anti-GMO movement, if you want to know) because of the havoc it wreaked on my facebook wall when I started sharing what I was reading. And as I didn’t blog about that, I didn’t blog about the next thing. And the next.

Steph and Coco

And before I know it I’m leaving for India in two weeks, have students to teach and blogs to grade, and don’t know where to start to write a new blog post.

The weather in Kolkata is OK. The trip to come was exhausting: 20 hours for the flights, add on a bit before and after. I didn’t sleep on the Paris-Mumbai leg because it was “too early”, and spent my four hours of layover in Mumbai domestic airport in a right zombie state. Needless to say there is nowhere there to lie down or curl up, aside from the floor. I particularly appreciated having to go to the domestic airport for my Mumbai-Kolkata flight only to be ferried back to the international airport while boarding, because “Jet Airways flights all leave from the international airport”. But I laughed.

It was a pleasant trip overall. Nearly no queue at immigration. Pleasant interactions with people. And oh my, has Mumbai airport come a long way since my first arrival here over 16 years ago. It was… organized. I followed the signs, followed instructions, just went along with the flow. I’ve grown up too, I guess.

I slept over 12 hours last night. I can’t remember when I did that last. I walked less than 500 steps today, bed to couch and back. I’ve (re)connected with the family pets: Coco the African Grey Parrot, (ex-)Maus the chihuahua-papillon-jack-russel-staffie mix (I can never remember his new Indian name), and the remaining cat, which I’ve decided to call “Minette”, who “gave birth” to two empty amniotic sacs yesterday and is frantically meowing all over the place. Looking for non-existent kittens, or missing her brother, who escaped about a week ago? Hopefully she will calm down soon.

Maus and Minette

I plan to play about with Periscope while I’m here. Everyday life in India seems like a great opportunity to try out live interactive video. Do follow me if you don’t want to miss the fun.

Oh, and don’t panic about the whole “meat causes cancer” thing.

Some random things, listened to recently, and brought to the surface by conversations:

  • Making Sex Offenders Pay — And Pay And Pay And Pay (Freakonomics Radio)
  • Saïd, 10 ans après (Sur Les Docks) — an ex-con, 10 years after, and how hard reinsertion is, when you’re faced with the choice between sleeping outside, unable to get a job, and committing another offense so that you can go back to prison; extremely moving story
  • You Eat What You Are, Part I and Part II (Freakonomics Radio again)
  • When The Boats Arrive (Planet Money) — what happens to the economy when immigrants arrive? it grows, simply;  migrant workers need jobs, of course, but they also very quickly start spending, growing the economy and creating the need for more jobs; the number of available jobs at a given place is not a rigid fixed number

Yep, random, I warned you.

I can now do the Rubik’s cube and have installed Catan on my iDevices, if ever you want to play.

I’ve activated iCloud Photo Library even though I use Lightroom for my “serious” photos. Like the author of the article I just linked to, my iPhone almost never is connected to my Mac anymore. And the photos I need to illustrate blog posts are often photos I’ve just taken with my phone. I end up uploading them to Flickr through the app.

It seems the “photos ecosystem” is slowly getting there, but not quite yet. I’ve just spent a while hunting through my post archives, and I can’t believe I never wrote anything about using Google auto-backup for my photos. At some point I decided to go “all in”, subscribed to 1TB of Google storage, and uploaded my 10+ years of photos there. I loved how it intelligently organized my photos. Well, you know, all the stuff that Google Photos does.

Why am I using the past tense? Because of this: seems automatic upload of a whole bunch of RAW formats has quietly stopped. This is bad. Basically, this paid service is not doing what I chose it for anymore. I hope against reason this will be fixed, but I’m afraid I might be disappointed.

One thing I was not wild about with Google Photos was the inability to spot and process duplicates. And duplication of photos when sharing.

Flickr now has automatic upload and organising. Do I want to try that? Although I dump a lot of stuff in Flickr, I’ve been slack about processing and uploading photos lately. I’m hesitant. Do I want to drown my current albums and photostream in everything I snap? Almost tempted.

I think that’s enough random for now. It’s 10.30 pm and I’m starving, off to the kitchen.

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Working For Fame Or For Cash [en]

[fr] En organisant la journée de conférences Going Solo, je me trouve directement aux prises avec mes difficultés face à l'économie du peer. J'organise un événement qui dégagera je l'espère assez de bénéfice pour que je puisse me payer, ainsi que mes partenaires. En même temps, j'espère trouver des personnes prêtes à donner de leur temps en échange de la visibilité que leur apportera leur association avec Going Solo. Mais je ne sais pas trop comment m'y prendre. Je trouve difficile de rendre les choses claires.

I’d like to introduce this reflection by quoting [Tara Hunt](http://horsepigcow.com/), who writes the following in a post titled [Please Stop Crowdsourcing Me](http://www.horsepigcow.com/2007/12/21/please-stop-crowdsourcing-me/):

> I came and I thought, hey, this is kind of neat-o and it empowered me at first. I thought, “Awesome! They want my opinion! They listen!” and I offered it and the feedback was, “Great idea!” and I watched as you implemented it, then benefitted from it and I felt good. I was great at first, but then after a while, I started to feel a little dirty…a little used…a little like cheap labor, replacing people you probably laid off or decided to save money on not hiring because you were getting so much great value out of my time. Maybe it was because it seemed that you believed you could ‘tap’ my well of ideas or ‘pick my brain’ endlessly? Maybe it was because my generosity goes so far and you overstepped your bounds? Maybe it was because you had a chance to reward my efforts, but dropped me like a wet rag as soon as I asked?

Tara Hunt, Please Stop Crowdsourcing Me

I just came upon her article a few minutes ago as I was aimlessly clicking around in my newsreader. It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking of this post I wanted to write for a few days now, and it’s right on the same topic.

I’ve already [felt uneasy about the “Peer Economy”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/09/donnant-donnant/) (if I may call it like that before). About the fact that certain businesses actually get a lot of stuff for free from their enthusiastic users — stuff they would have to pay for, otherwise. The point I understood about a year ago is that the fact that people contribute voluntarily to help improve services like WordPress, GMail, Twitter, and countless others is what allows us (the community) to benefit from great tools like these free of cost or way cheaper than what they’re worth. I’m comfortable with that.

However, I agree with Tara, there is a fine line to tread. As a company, you don’t want people to feel used. And like Tara, I’ve had more of my share of people/companies who want me to “take a look” at their stuff and “tell them what I think” — picking my brain for free. And I don’t like it. If I’m [passionate](http://headrush.typepad.com/) about your product, then yes — I’ll give you feedback. You probably won’t even have to ask me. I’ll blog about it. If you’re smart, you’ll point out what I wrote, give me credit and link-love, thank me publicly. But I didn’t do it for that. I did it because I liked your product, or because talking about your product fulfilled one of my agenda, in a way. I’ve given products/companies like [WordPress](http://wordpress.org), [Dopplr](http://dopplr.com), [Twitter](http://twitter.com), [coComment](http://cocomment.com), [Seesmic](http://seesmic.com) and a bunch of others valuable feedback *because I wanted to*, because I loved their stuff.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll do it for any product or service that crosses my path. If you’re one of the lucky ones, well, good for you. If you’re not, you’ll have to pay cash ([experiential marketing](http://climbtothestars.org/focus/experiential-marketing/) is one of the ways a company can use cash to make up for lack of immediate passion on the part of this particular human being). Just like I’ll help my friends out for free and open blogs for them just because I love them, some companies out there benefit from “free intelligence”. Others need to pay for a similar service.

You get the idea, I think.

Now, here’s what I really wanted to bring up with this post.

As you know, I’m putting together an event for the month of May, [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net). (If you’re a freelancer or a small business owner, you should plan to come, by the way ;-).) This is my first event. I’m not going to be doing it alone. Thing is, I realised I’m a bit shy about asking my friends to help me out, because on the one hand, I want to keep the event expenses to a minimum, and on the other hand, I don’t want people to get the impression I’m trying to “crowdsource them” — as Tara expresses above.

This is made worse (and way more uncomfortable for me) by the fact that this is not a non-profit venture. I’m going to be investing quite a lot of time in this adventure, and I hope to be able to pay myself enough to have made it worthwhile. Ditto for my sales and logistics partners. So, yes, we’re hoping the event will make a profit (against all odds, it seems — everybody tells me that if you’re first event breaks even, you’re very lucky).

So, I know that part of the difficulty I’m facing here is my own inner workings. Despite what some people on IRC may think 😉 I’m somebody who doesn’t find it easy to ask for help/stuff. I always feel I owe people (except when I feel I’m owed, in a kind of weird back-swing dynamic).

There are certain things that I need for the conference, where I’m hoping I’ll manage to find somebody who is willing to “work for fame”. Taking care of the website is one. Design is another. Similarly, I’m hoping to strike up a partnership for the WiFi and bandwidth we need for the event.

In fact, there is some similarity between “working for fame” and being a sponsor/partner. You provide stuff for free (or almost), and in return you get visibility. So maybe I need to switch mindsets. Instead of looking for “people to help me”, I’m looking for “individual partners” for the event.

I feel like this is a thought in progress. I’m not exactly sure what I think, or what to do, or what is “right”. I’m particularly embarrassed when I start talking with friends or contacts about this or that they could do for the event, because it’s not clear from the start if we’re talking about a partnership (work for fame) or Real Work (work for cash).

Any insights appreciated. I feel like I need to step out of my mind a bit to find a way out, and you can help me out with that by sharing your thoughts.

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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)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) 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.

– 2. Betters beat goods

– 3. 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

FOWA 2007 84

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.

FOWA 2007 82

*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](http://www.bubblegeneration.com/) for a while to see.*

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Supernova Open Space: The Economy of Free (Chris Heuer) [en]

[fr] Notes de conférence-discussion.

*Random, scattered notes. Not necessarily understandable. Might contain outright mistakes — I don’t always understand everything. No who-said-what either, sorry.*

Popcorn round: what is the issue?

– Money taboo (seen as hurting open source)
– Zero times anything is always zero, whereas a small something times something big ends up being something
– Rival goods vs. non-rival goods. How do you make money out of non-rival goods? Need to introduce a kind of exclusion mechanism (ex. Movies).
– Free building materials
– Discrimination that patronage causes (*steph-note: seems to me we’re aware of this in EU*)

Supernova Open Space 8 Chris’s core point is precisely that. Hidden patron model. Independants don’t have the ability to go to some of the events employees go to. Everybody does it “for free” — actually their company is paying for it.

Age of abundance.

Patronage: potentially disturbing effects. Women. There’s money behind this for some people but not others.

*(steph-note: ew. I need to work on my US accent parser.)*

Most of the programmers of “free stuff” are youngsters or people who have a day job — so who are supported in some way to do that.

Popular: The End of Free.

Trying to find patronage for a project involving chemists doing spectroscropy — get them to communicate/have compatible software.

Beginning of the century: huge numbers of mini-newspapers in Chicago.

In an economy of abundance, where do people make money? Make money out of being to apply knowledge/information, rather than the knowledge/information itself. (Debate: “knowledge” or “information”? Data.)

Problem: denial/taboo about patronage. We need to talk about it, and about how it works. We’re not teaching companies/individuals how to be good patrons or how not to be.

Perception: money = manipulation.

Free vs. non-measurable. Air isn’t free, we just don’t know how to measure how much it costs (keep it clean, etc).

Funding medical research for profit. Exploiting profit vs. “reasonable profit”.

Gift economy is different. Property. Money: when you fall out of relationship.


Organisation has been vilified by the abuse of power for personal benefit and bad behaviour of a few.

At some point, if you want to produce/achieve something, you need some kind of organisation.

Chris: conference model. Exploiting profit from the knowledge of the speakers, session participants and participants. Just organised a conference co-produced by the speakers. Need to continue to think about new ways for cocreating value.
*Feel free to add notes about this session in the comments. I really didn’t capture everything that was said, and probably missed the most interesting bits.*

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Donnant-donnant [en]

J’avais l’intention de faire court lorsque j’ai commencé ce billet. Du coup, étalant la rédaction sur plus de 24 heures… il s’est allongé. Mes excuses.

Jeudi, invitée de dernière minute un peu muette à la table ronde qui a suivi la présentation d'[Alban Martin](http://cocreation.blogs.com/) sur l'[Âge de Peer](http://alban.martin.googlepages.com/home) lors du [dernier First de l’année de Rézonance](http://www.rezonance.ch/rezo/classes/ft-first-tuesday/geneve/20061205/one-community?page_num=0) (respirez!), j’ai enfin saisi la réponse à une réflexion qu’on m’a faite concernant la co-création et qui avait fini par me mettre mal à l’aise.

Les entreprises qui impliquent les clients dans la création de produits, qui comptent sur le bouche à oreilles ou les blogs pour faire leur marketing… ne sont-elles pas, en quelque sorte, en train de profiter de la bonne volonté des passionnés que nous sommes? Lorsqu’un service web sauce 2.0 encourage une communauté d’utilisateurs à devenir également une communauté de développeurs, et à produire plugins et extensions, ou lorsqu’il compte sur la “communauté” pour répondre aux questions dans un forum de d’aide, n’est-il pas en fait en train de **réduire ses coûts sur le dos des pauvres naïfs** qui donnent gratuitement de leur temps et de leurs compétences?

**Réponse courte: non.**

Réponse plus longue? C’est ce genre de dynamique qui permet aux utilisateurs de profiter de nombreux **services gratuits ou quasi-gratuits**. Si on peut aujourd’hui lancer un produit avec un budget marketing frisant le zéro absolu, parce qu’il est assez génial pour que les utilisateurs prennent eux-même en charge de faire sa publicité, cela réduit les coûts, certes, mais cette réduction est répercutée sur le prix que doit payer l’utilisateur: souvent rien.

On peut en quelque sorte dire qu’**au lieu de payer en argent un service, l’utilisateur paie en donnant un peu de son temps** pour recommander le service à des amis (réduisant ainsi la somme d’argent nécessaire à la publicité), ou bien en contribuant un peu de code qui profitera ensuite à tous.

J’aime bien cette façon de voir les choses: j’aime [GMail](http://gmail.com), par exemple, qui fournit à mon sens un service e-mail extrêmement performant pour rien du tout (en cash). Cela ne me dérange pas de “payer” en recommandant GMail à mon entourage, ou en permettant à Google d’afficher parfois des pubs dans l’interface web. Personellement, j’aime recommander les produits que j’apprécie à mon entourage. On pourrait considérer que d’une certaine façon, Google me paie pour faire ça, et qu’en retour, je leur reverse d’argent pour utiliser leur service.

On se déplacerait presque vers une **économie du troc**, vous ne trouvez pas? L’avantage que j’y vois, comme ça un peu à froid, c’est que le “travail” que je fais pour permettre l’existence d’un service gratuit, je ne le ressens pas comme du travail. Finalement, le service devient le résultat d’un effort communautaire, avec un minimum de structure salariée pour servir de base.

Je crois qu’on commence à avoir tellement l’habitude du gratuit sur le web qu’on oublie ce qui le rend possible. Du coup, dès que quelque chose devient “un peu payant” ou se “commercialise” parce qu’il y a des gens qui gagnent un salaire, on pense que toute gratuité devrait disparaître — de la part des utilisateurs.

J’ai beaucoup entendu ce genre de réaction autour de [WordPress](http://wordpress.com). WordPress ([le meilleur outil de blog](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/07/20/bloguer-avec-wordpress-cest-facile/) de la planète en ce moment, à mon avis) est avant tout un outil open source et libre, résultat du travail d’une communauté de développeurs et d’utilisateurs. Lorsque [Matt](http://photomatt.net/) a fondé [Automattic](http://automattic.com/), une entreprise qui a des employés et qui fournit des services payants tournant autour de WordPress, certains ont commencé à dire “pah! les pigeons qui contribuent à WordPress sont simplement en train d’enrichir Automattic!”

Quand, dans le cadre de [mon travail avec coComment](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/04/13/im-working-for-cocomment/), j’ai demandé à un utilisateur qui critiquait notre façon de faire ce que lui suggérait à la place, il m’a envoyé sur les roses en me disant que [coComment](http://cocomment.com) n’avait pas à tenter d’extorquer du public des informations que lui faisait payer à ses clients.

Ce qui échappe à ces gens, c’est que les petites contributions volontaires sont entre autres ce qui permet de leur fournir gratuitement un service qui vaut plus que rien du tout.


– [billet d’Ollie, qui était dans le public](http://b-spirit.com/blogollie/?p=1863)

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