TEDx Geneva: François Bugnion, Robert Klapisch, Jan-Mathieu Donnier, Frederic Kaplan [en]

François BugnionSolferino: the birth of an idea

Bloodiest battle Europe had witnessed since Waterloo. 9000 wounded transported to the nearest city (population: 5000) after two days. Book published and translated in various languages.

This is the story of how the Red Cross came to be.

Important principles of the Geneva convention: neutrality of hospitals, and wounded will be cared for (regardless of nationality).

Less than 2 years between the publication of the book and the realisation of the convention.

Dunant was able to translate the shock of what he witnessed at Solferino into a book. Gave birth to an actual strategy.

Robert Klapisch — Broadband Internet for Africa: from Research & Education to Social Development

The driving force for the internet is still science. *(steph-note: could be argued it’s commerce and porn, imho)*

Research and education networks all over the place. The kind of connections the CERN required paved the way for “consumer” connections at 100Mb/s.

Researchers in African universities have less resources than in Europe. Travelling is costly, etc. They need the network.

Lisbon Summit. Africa Connect.

Obstacles: cost of connectivity, lack of infrastructure, enormous distances, legal and regulatory obstacles in some countries…

Until July 2009, there was only one cable connecting West Africa to the rest of the world. 80% of the traffic is by satellite, much more expensive. No competition => very high prices. Consequence? Most universities have less bandwidth than a typical western household, so students have to resort to internet cafés to have access.

In July, SEACOM raised the money to set up a cable from Marseille to Mumbai and South Africa. American CEO, French VP etc, but 80% capital is African. Capacity growth x50 over the next few years.

UbuntuNet groups 10 countries in South and East Africa (surface = China + Europe + India… Africa is **huge**!)

HDI Human Development Index: what happens when more people have access to the internet?

Cellphones++ in Africa (300 mio), very creative use. Money transfers to make up for the absence of banking infrastructure. E-government (paying taxes, filling forms). Commerce (farmers getting better deals selling crops and advice on best practices). E-medicine, E-learning.

Fighting the scientific divide.

Jan-Mathieu Donnier — 360° imagery systems and applications

*(steph-note: couldn’t really take notes as was busy climbing back on the wifi)*

Google Street View cars.

360° photos… and videos.

streetview.ch: interface of their dreams (streetview, map, and street list on the same screen). When you go through the streets, it’s video (whereas Google street view is just a collection of images). (globalvision.ch)

Next challenge: produce 2D images from the 3D data.

Frederic Kaplan — Are Gesture-based Interfaces The Future of Human Computer Interaction

Computers to live with, not computers to live inside. Frédéric gets trapped inside his iPhone. What kinds of interfaces could we have which allow us to interact with computers whilst still interacting with the people around us?

QB1: has microphones, fabric skin, camera, etc — interaction at 4-5 meters. Lives in the same space as we do. User-centred system. They mapped what kinds of gestures people made in front of the QB1 => various zones.

<!– slideshot –>

Blue zone: noisy. Red zone: much less noisy. => in the blue zone, you need to make sure the gestures are intentional, whereas in the red zone, you can be much more reactive.

Shows video: the screen follows the user, and there is a representation of yourself on the screen so you can see if you’re “touching” the controls. Pretty cool. You can call it and it will put its focus on you. You can also just show it a card rather than using gestures to give it an order.

Very important: representation of the user. More or less realistic, iconic, etc — they tried lots of things. *(steph-note: I’m thinking of Second Life avatars right now…)*

You do need feedback about your actions on the machine. Tennis game.

Gesture-based systems can know a lot about you because they share your physical space. They learn. The system can know who is in the room, how many people.

The mouse did not kill the command line. Gestures will not kill the mouse. They open a new kind of relationships with computers. It’s just the beginning.

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Lift09: Turning Lake Leman into Silicon Valley? [en]

I participated in a Birds of a Feather session earlier, titled How can we make Lac Léman into an entrepreneurial hub? — I found it a little frustrating to start with, but it ended up really lively and interesting.

One issue that I’d like to insist upon is the cultural component of the problem. It’s easy to dismiss it as irrelevant, but I think it’s a mistake, because culture is the constraint within which we work. I’d like to share a few thoughts on the cultural differences between the US and Switzerland. I’m not a sociologist, so maybe they’re a bit naive, but I think they make sense and we should pay attention to them.

Not to say that all is impossible “because of culture”, but I do believe that there are cultural reasons this area is not “another Silicon Valley”. I don’t mean that it cannot become a good place for entrepreneurs. I hope it can, but if it can, it will be in a rather different way than the US, and taking into account the cultural differences between the two areas.

Let’s look at the heritage of Switzerland and the US.

Switzerland is over 900 years old as a nation, and the people living in these areas have been occupying them for a looong time. (There’s immigration, of course, proof typing these letters, but our culture has not been shaped by it in the distant past.) We are stable here. We don’t move. We are the decendants of farmers and mercenaries, and people who decided to “go alone” (Schwytz, Uri, Unterwald in 1291) besides the big political powers of the time. Face it, we’re a bit better than our neighbours and we don’t really need anybody.

The USA, on the other hand, is a young nation, founded by adventurers or pilgrims who set off to cross the bloody Atlantic to settle on a new continent peopled by savages (that’s how they must have seen things at the time). Many would die. It was risky. It was the land for innovators, for those who were not afraid of new things, who would try to do things differently. Dream a dream and make it come true.

These are (part of) our cultural backgrounds. Now, you can go against the grain, there are exceptions, but to some extent, we are prisoners of our culture, or at least, we must work within it.

I think that this historical and cultural heritage can help explain why the US is often branded as “entrepreneur-friendly” (what is new is better, and innovators and risk-takers are the kings) whereas in Switzerland, we are seen as more risk-averse. As we say in French, we tend to want to chop off the heads that stand out from the crowd. Don’t draw attention to yourself. I think the Swiss are less naturally inclined towards self-promotion, for example.

Now, these are cultural trends. An atmosphere. It doesn’t mean you won’t find risk-averse Americans, or extraordinary Swiss entrepreneurs. But I think these cultural traits end up being reflected in our institutions.

For example, during the session, Lucie mentioned how many administrative hurdles an entrepreneur needed to go through here to even get *close* to receiving money.

Another thing that came up which rings very true to me is that in Switzerland, we are really very comfortable. And as employees, particularly. Things like a mere two-week notice (what seems current in the US) would be unthinkable here (you get a month when you start, and it goes up to two and even three months after a few years of employment for the same company). We have incredibly good unemployment benefits (over a year at 80% of your last salary).

Now, I would not dare suggest we give up the security we have here in Switzerland. No way! But we have to take this into account when analysing the situation. If we want to improve things for entrepreneurs here, we need to identify the problem and offer solutions to it. And those solutions need to take into account things that we cannot change, like cultural settings.

So, what can we do?

It was pointed out during the session that there are lots of local initiatives to encourage entrepreneurs, but they tend to be stuck in silos. An index of all the “happenings” here would be a good start. It was also suggested to bring Venture to Suisse Romande on the years it’s not happening in Suisse Allemande.

Discussion participants wrote ideas down on a big sheet of paper at the end of the session, and Vittorio said he’s make something available from the discussion page on the Lift conference website. Keep an eye on there. Things are going to happen.

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Picking a City for an Event: Lausanne [en]

[fr] La journée de conférences Going Solo que je mets sur pied pour mai avec deux autres Lausannoises aura lieu à... Lausanne. Si Lausanne était mon premier choix (j'aime ma ville) je craignais que cela soit un choix plus émotionnel que raisonné. S'adressant à un public européen, nous avons donc pensé à Paris, Berlin, Londres... Mais finalement, ce sera Lausanne. L'argumentaire, en bref:

  • Facile d'accès: on sort de l'avion à Genève, on saute dans le train (200m de la douane) et 30-40 minutes plus tard, on est à Lausanne.
  • Organisation plus aisée: nous sommes les trois de Lausanne, donc on évite tous les problèmes liés à l'organisation d'un événement à distance. En plus, on connaît les entreprises locales, ce qui peut ouvrir des opportunités de sponsoring. Je compte aussi approcher la ville pour leur proposer de soutenir ce projet.
  • Lausanne est un cadre magnifique, la région autour aussi. Si on se déplace pour une journée de conférences et qu'on veut en profiter pour se relaxer durant le week-end, c'est le lieu idéal.
  • Plus abordable que Paris, Londres, ou même Genève.
  • Ville à taille humaine, bons transports publics. On ne passe pas 1h à se rendre à un autre endroit de la ville.
  • Changement bienvenu des "villes de conférences 2.0" habituelles!

A bientôt à Lausanne, donc!

When you decide to organise an event, other than having a good idea for the content/audience (ie, “what’s it about? what kind of event?”), two things you need to figure out quite quickly are *when* and *where* it’ll happen. This post is about the “where?” question.

My initial reaction when I took the decision to go ahead with [this wacky “organising events” idea](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/16/why-events/) was somewhere along the line of “great! I’ll do it in [Lausanne](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600210597000/)!”. A bit of a selfish reaction, as it makes things easier for me, and I really love Lausanne.

Next, I started thinking. Who is this event going to be for? Where is the highest number of people likely to come for my event? Maybe Lausanne is my favourite personal choice, but it doesn’t necessarily make business sense. From the start, I’ve thought of my event as **European**, with the idea to attract people from all over the continent. So of course, I expect attendees to travel — but there is always a high local population at events, as the absence of travel lowers the barrier to entry (cost, travel time, stress).

Well, quite possibly, the answer to that question (where is the highest concentration of freelancers in the tech industry in Europe?) would be “London”. On the other hand, London is horrendously expensive (isn’t it?), so, why not something nearby, like… Brighton? Cheaper, but still rather easy to get to.

At that point, I decided we needed a choice of cities, and we should check them out for venue options and hotel pricing, to see if anything stood out. Obviously, we’d need to pick cities which are easy to get to from other places in Europe. So, for starters… let’s look at London/Brighton, Paris, and Berlin. Paris is very close to London with the Eurostar, and Berlin (Germany) is cheaper than both London and Paris, but it’s still an Easyjet city. Because, if you’re in Europe, chances are you’re going to be flying Easyjet or some other low-cost airline. (I should think about asking them to sponsor the event, actually…)

So, armed with those three options (London, Paris, Berlin), I set off to [Le Web 3](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/12/news-from-leweb3/) to start talking with possible sponsors, and also to bounce ideas off my friends and peers. To my surprise, quite a few people said “but why don’t you do it in Lausanne?” when I mentioned the location wasn’t set yet. So, I started thinking. Because even if Lausanne is a personal, almost emotional choice for me, it doesn’t mean it cannot also be a good business decision.

Let’s look at Lausanne as a possible city to host my event, with a cool business mind:

– First and foremost, it’s actually **really easy to access**: get off your plane in Geneva airport, walk 200m from customs, hop on the train (yes, the train station is *inside* the airport), and 30-40 minutes later you’re in central Lausanne. (You’re in for at least the same kind of ride to get to central London from LGW or LHR, or central Paris from CDG.) Geneva airport is an international airport which is easily reached from all over Europe, [with Easyjet for example](http://www.easyjet.com/EN/routemap/). However, it’s way less busy than CDG, LHR, LGW, which makes the arrival/departure experience much more pleasant.
– **I live in Lausanne**, and so do my two main partners-in-crime: holding the event in Lausanne will make organisation much smoother for us, and allow us to ensure we don’t bump into any issues with the venue due to managing things remotely. Not to mention opportunities for sponsorships by local businesses — being locals, we know who they are and have existing connections we can use. There are also many important companies settled in the Lausanne area, like Nestle, Philip Morris, or Orange Switzerland. *And* it’s the Olympic Capital. (OK, drifting off-topic here…)
– [Lausanne](http://www.lausanne.ch/) is **a beautiful city**, in the midst of a beautiful region: it’s on Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), but as opposed to Geneva which is at the end of the lake, Lausanne is in the middle. The view over the lake and mountains is just breath-taking. If you’re coming for a one-day conference and plan to spend a nice week-end somewhere while you’re at it, Lausanne is ideal. The city is lovely and walkable, France is 20 minutes away by boat (just across the lake), and the surrounding countryside and lakeshore is also worth a visit (for example, [Le Lavaux](http://wikitravel.org/en/Lavaux), Unesco world heritage site, is just to the east of Lausanne). I’ll be digging out photos to convince you to come if you’re not sold yet ;-).
– Even though Switzerland is a rather expensive country (by European standards), holding an event in Lausanne is going to be **more affordable** than London, Paris, or Geneva.
– Lausanne is a **human-sized city**: it’s the [fifth most important city in Switzerland](http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villes_de_Suisse) with 120’000 inhabitants in the city itself. It has everything one needs, but it’s not so large that you can get very lost in it or spend insane amounts of time commuting from one part of the city to the other. Public transport is very efficient.
– Finally, Lausanne will be **a welcome change** for all of us on the “2.0 conference circuit”, as it’s not one of the usual “conference cities”, and probably a city you haven’t visited before much (which is a pity! you should!).

Check out:

– [Official Lausanne website](http://www.lausanne.ch/)
– [Official Lausanne tourism website](http://www.lausanne-tourisme.ch/)
– [Lausanne on WikiTravel](http://wikitravel.org/en/Lausanne)
– [Lausanne on Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lausanne)
– [Lausanne Flickr Pool (photographs)](http://www.flickr.com/groups/lausanne/)

So, here we go. [Going Solo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/) will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland — I’m looking forward to welcoming you all here in a few months.

Now tell me — did I do a good job of selling you Lausanne as a conference-city? 🙂

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Technological Overload or Internet Addiction? [en]

[fr] Les vidéos du fameux débat sur la surcharge technologique à LIFT'07 est en ligne. Du coup, l'occasion de rappeler mes deux billets sur le sujet, et de rajouter quelques pensées suite à ma participation à la table ronde sur les cyberaddictions à Genève, entre autres sur la confusion entre dépendance et addiction parmi le grand public, et le fait qu'on perçoit souvent l'objet de l'addiction comme étant le problème (et donc à supprimer) et non le comportement addictif. Mes notes sont à disposition mais elles sont très rudimentaires.

For those of you who enjoyed my [Technological Overload Panel](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/09/technological-overload-panel/) and [Addicted to Technology](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/12/addicted-to-technology/) posts, the (http://www.liftconference.com/videos/view/single/8) is now online.

Since I wrote them, I participated in a panel discussion about cyberaddictions (that’s what they’re called in French) in Geneva. It was very interesting, and I learnt a few things. The most important one is the difference between “addiction” and “dépendance” in French. “Dépendance” is physical. The cure to it is quitting whatever substance we are dependant to. Addiction, however, lies in the realm of our relationship to something. It has to do with *how we use a substance/tool*, what role it plays in our life and overall psychological balance. And it also has a component of **automation** to it. You don’t *think* before lighting up a cigarette, or compulsively checking your e-mail.

I think there is a lot of confusion between these two aspects amongst the general public, which leads to misconceptions like the [“cure” to alcoholism being complete abstinence](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/09/22/games-people-play-alcoholicaddict/). Sure, abstinence solves the substance abuse problem and is better for one’s health, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the *addiction* problem.

Addictions which are linked to otherwise useful tools are forcing us to look deeper (and that is actually what I’m trying to say in the [Addicted to Technology post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/12/addicted-to-technology/). The problem is not the substance (ie, alcohol, or even the drug, or in this case, technology). The problem is in the way a person might use it. Hence I maintain that the solution lies not in the **removal of the tool/technology**, as the panel moderator suggests twice (first, by asking us to turn off our laptops, and second, by asking “how to unplug”), but in a careful and personalised evaluation of what one uses technology for (or what one uses technology to avoid).

I had a talk after the panel with one of the people there, who told me of some rough numbers he got from a consultation in Paris which is rather cutting-edge when it comes to dealing with “internet addiction” amongst teenagers. I think that out of 250 referrals (or something), the breakdown was about the following: one third were parents freaking out with no objective reason to. Another third were parents freaking out with good reason, for the signs that brought them there were actually the first indicators of their child’s entry in schizophrenia. I can’t remember the exact details for the last third, but if I recall correctly the bottom line was that they had something like a dozen solid cases of “cyber addictions” in the end. (Please don’t quote me on these numbers because the details might be wrong — and if you *have* precise numbers, I’d be happy to have them.)

This confirms my impression that people are [a bit quick in shouting “internet addiction”](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2006/10/internet_addict.html “5-10% sounds like way too much.”) when faced with heavy users (just like people are a bit quick to shout “pedophiles!” and “sexual sollicitation!” whenever [teenagers and the internet](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/20/adolescents-myspace-internet-citations-de-danah-boyd-et-henry-jenkins/) are involved). I personally don’t think that the amount of time spent using technology is a good indicator.

I took [some very rough notes](http://climbtothestars.org/files/20070221-cyberaddiction-table-ronde-geneve-notes.txt) during the panel I participated in (half-French, half-English, half-secret-code) but you can have a peek if you wish.

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Travel Adrenalin Rush [en]

[fr] Projets de voyage: 28 mai - 5 juin, Copenhague pour la conférence reboot. Puis un ou deux mois à San Francisco (encore à déterminer) dès le 18 juin. Décision pas facile, parce que je dois me décider vite (sinon je perds l'option) et que ce sont des billets non remboursables et non modifiables.

On the way back home from judo by this bright sunny springy afternoon, I decided it was high time to hop in at the travel agent’s my brother had recommended and give a little bit of substance to my travel intentions.

Well, oh my! I wasn’t quite expecting as much substance. I’ve got a pre-reservation for [San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/26/back-to-san-francisco/) (June 18th to August 19th — two months!) and one for Copenhagen (May 28th to June 5th), for [reboot](http://reboot.dk/) (is reboot happening this year?) Both are quite cheap, but the downside is that I have to give confirmation very soon (3 days for SF, one for Copenhagen) and that there is no flexibility in the dates (I can’t decide to fly back a few days later), and if I cancel I still have to pay the full price of the ticket.

I’m thinking now that maybe two months in San Francisco is a bit of a plunge. There are two issues:

– money (most of my paid work is done face-to-face — speaking engagements, consulting, training — so I can’t really “do stuff through the internet” for my clients here while I’m away)
– the cat (he’s 10 now, I’m very attached to him, and a bit torn between leaving him here and being afraid something will happen to him when I’m gone — I have a good cat-sitter *and* a good cattery, so there are options open, or taking him with me and having him not be able to go outside in SF, depending on where I’m staying)

So, maybe one month would be more reasonable. Specially as I’ve been told summer could be quite cold (50F=10C?! can anybody confirm that?) in the city, whereas it’s beautiful in Lausanne during July and August. And maybe come back in autumn? Heck. I need to go to Montreal and India too.

Now, just in case I *do* decide to come over to SF for a month, starting June 18th… Are there any events taking place mid-July that I should know of? As I said, once I fix the return date, it’s set in stone — and I would hate to be biting my fingers off because I’m leaving *just that one day early* and I could have known…

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More LIFT Notes: Sampo Karjalainen, Lee Bryant (and Stowe again) [en]

***As always, can contain inaccurate material.***

#### Sampo Karjalainen

Habbo: hang-out place. You get a character, you can configure it. *steph-note: looks like a very lo-res version of Second Life*

Sampo Karjalainen

There are games inside Habbo.

What makes people come back? People can create their own room/spaces. Can buy furniture (in-game credits), pets, kissing booths, armies, banks. *steph-note: this **really** looks like pixelised Second Life. Question: can you create stuff and objects as you can in Second Life? People seem to be having a ball in Habbo, in any case.*

Playful environment, though people might find it “uncool” to say they’re “playing” in there. A part of unexpected in what people did with Habbo.

Provide building/playing blocks. Intuitive interaction. Get people in the mood for play.

#### Lee Bryant: Collective Intelligence for the Enterprise

Brain Leak

*[Original photo by Violator3 on Flickr](http://www.flickr.com/photos/violator3/93589371/).*

Basic problem: wasting a lot of brain power in large organisations.

Our IT systems don’t understand how we work. People are great at pattern matching. We don’t go “yellow object, subset with large hairy objects, teeth => lion” — we just shout “Lion!”.

We need to feed our minds, not the machine. *steph-note: Lee has got **much** better at slides since BlogTalk 2004*

Many intelligent people inside organisations are surprisingly open to using social tools.

Lee Bryant

Usually, enterprise tools get worse the more people use them. Social tools get better the more people use them.

There is no such thing as a global collective intelligence. Collective intelligence exists only within a defined community.

Large large companies (>1k) have enough scale to make these things work, and do internal versions of these tools.

Bottom line for doing social stuff:

– potential cost savings if we work in a smarter way
– multiplier effect on productivity
– greater peripheral vision
– less duplication of effort
– closer, more responsive client relationships

Basic principles: reading, writing, filtering.

Over time, information starts to find you. If I miss something in my news reader, it’ll probably pop up again, because somebody else in my network is going to blog/link/del.icio.us it.


– feeds everywhere
– feed library management
– filtering tools
– clipstream tools
– social search

Importance of engagement and context. There is no magic tool. Adapt the solution to the context and situation.

Engaging people with new ways of working is not easy.

There is *perception* of dangers, risks, security — and the “real” evalutation.

#### Stowe Boyd

This is a shorter version of the [workshop notes](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-social-applications/), so I’ll send you there. Or read [Bruno’s notes], which, as always, are quite complete.

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Stowe Boyd: Building Social Applications [en]

***Warning: these are my notes of [Stowe](http://stoweboyd.com/message)’s workshop at [LIFT](http://liftconference.com), meaning my understanding and interpretation of what he said. They might not reflect accurately what Stowe told us, and might even be outright wrong in some places. Let me know if you think I really messed up somewhere.***

**Update 05.2007:** enjoy the (http://www.slideshare.net/stoweboyd/building-social-applications) and the (http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/social_me_first.html) (not the workshop!).

Questions to play ball with:

1. What makes social applications social (or not)
2. How can we make applications more social?
3. What are the common factors in successful social applications?
4. What is worth building?

1. iTunes vs. Last.fm; also non-social applications which implement, at some point, some social component.

“Software intended to shape culture.” Stowe Boyd, in Message, August 1999

*steph-note: a step further than “groupware”*

LIFT'07... Stowe Boyd

Applications which are qualitatively different. But they haven’t replaced the rest: people are still building applications which allow people to buy stuff online. But we’re looking for ways to stick the humans back in there (“what do the top 10 authorities on cellphones recommend?”)

Read: The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg (Third Place, not home and not work)

Decreasing affiliation in the USA (Putnam — sp?). People spend less time “hanging out” with people. *steph-note: cf. danah/MySpace* More TV. Commuting isn’t that significant, but hours in front of the TV is. The light at the end of the tunnel, the only hope we’ve got left, is the internet. Social hours spent on the internet are hours not spent watching TV *(steph-note: yep!)*

TV is not involvement in people, but in this “entertainment culture”. TV reached lowest numbers in the USA since ’50s.

One way we can measure the success of a social application is how much it moves us in that direction.

Social: me first. Put the individual in the centre. Look at the difference between traditional journalism (disembodied third voice) and blogging (first person, you know who’s writing and who’s reading). Need to start with needs and desires of the people using it (?).

Adoption happens in stages. First, the application needs to satisfy the needs of an individual, in such a way that he/she comes back. And then, there needs to be stuff to share that encourages the individual to invite his friends in.

my passions — my people — my markets

Start with the people. Put the people in the foreground (but how?) Easy to fail if you don’t do that right. How are people going to find each other? Second, support their networks/networking.

Only third: realisation of money — markets — shipping etc.

Give up control to the users: “the edge dissolves the centre”.

To review a social app, you need to use it “for real” over an extended period of time.

Xing: the edge doesn’t dissolve the centre. E.g. can’t create a group. Need to ask them by e-mail, and they try to control group creation and management.

Build an environment in which people are “free”. Allow them to find each other.

Success factors for a social application: me first and bottom up. Otherwise, it won’t spread.

Blogging: primary goal is social interaction and networking *(steph-note: half agree, there is the “writing and being read and getting some recognition” goal too — and that is not necessarily social **interaction** and does not necessarily lead to **network contacts**)*

What suicide girls get right: low price, real people, real lives, social stuff like chat, pictures, etc. They have the connections between the people as the primary way to go around.


– iTunes
– Bestbuy.com
– Pandora (until recently)
– After the fact (eBay: reputation, Netflix: friends in a tab, Amazon: recommendations from other users, Basecamp: not that social, fails some of the critical tests)

**The Buddylist is the Centre of the Universe…**

A case against IM being disruptive: the user chooses how disruptive the client is (blings, pop-up messages, etc… same with e-mail)

Totally acceptable to not answer on IM. But also, maybe at times your personal productivity is less important than your relationship with the person IMing you.

“I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections.”

(Give to others, and they’ll give to you. Help your buddies out, be there for them, and others will be there for you when you need them.)

List of hand-picked people who are on *your* list.

Groups help huge communities scale, in the way they bring them down to manageable sizes for human beings again. (Dunbar constant, roughly 150 people.)

Six degrees of connection doesn’t work. People are strangers. Even second degree is really weak.

Difference between people you really talk to, and “contacts” (often people will have two accounts => should build this kind of thing into the service — cf. Twitter with “friends” and “people you follow”).

**Me, Mine, and Market.**

Market: it’s the marketplace where the application builders are going to be able to make money by supporting my interaction/networking with “mine”.

You can’t “make an app social”, you need to start over most of the time.

Think about the social dimension first, and then what the market is. E.g. social invoicing app, what could the market be? Finding people to do work for you. And then you can invoice them using the system.

E.g. Individual: “I need a perfect black dress for that dinner party.” => who knows where to shop for the most fashionable stuff? => market = buying the perfect black dress, with commission to the recommender. (New social business model!)

Facebook profile: all about flow, it’s not static. It’s a collection of stuff going on in my world. Information about my blog (posts), friends… I don’t have to do anything, and it changes.

It represents my links to the world. People want to *belong*. Be in a context where what they do and say matters. Make it easy for users to find other people who will care about them.

Orkut failed because it was just social networking for the sake of social networking. Not targeted at a specific group of people. Nobody who cares! Disease-like replication and then died down. Nothing to do there.

Swarm intelligence. People align around authority and influence. Some people are more connected then others. Inevitable. Swarmth = Stowe-speak for measure of reputation. As soon as reputation brings something to those who have it, charlatans step in and try to figure out how to game the system. Need to be aware of that, to discover those cheating mechanisms and counter them.

General principle: things are flowing, and we want to support the rapid flow of information (ie, stuff that goes in my profile). “traffic”: do you make it possible for people to get information from a variety of sources delivered quickly to them? (e.g. Facebook bookmarklet) (traffic=possible metric).

The media hold the pieces, but not the sense of the conversation. You need to immerse yourself into the flow to get it. How transformative is it to get a constant flow of information from people you care about? Can’t evaluate that from the outside.


cf. David Weinberger: tags matter for social reasons. The power of classification is handed out to the users. They use it to find information and to find each other. They define implicit social groupings.

If people don’t “get” tags, the interface isn’t good. Because the concept is really simple. (e.g. Flickr, del.icio.us get it right)


Primary abiding motivator of anybody on the internet: discovery (things, places, people, self)

**One of Stowe’s pet peeves: Groups and Groupings**

Networks are asymmetric, accept it. Everybody is **not** equal in a group. The groups are always to some extent asymmetric.

Groupings are ad hoc assemblages of peope with similar interests (from my point of view). (My buddy list categorisation.)

Groups try to be symmetric.

Community of tags. They happen automatically.

**Power Laws**

There will always be people with more power than others, get over it. The recommendation of somebody with more swarmth should count more than that of one with no swarmth.

Accept and work with the imbalance of power.

But careful! The people decide who has more swarmth. And you need to constantly counter the games. Natural social systems are self-policient (sp?).


Measure and reward swarmth *(steph-note: !== popularity, quantity)*

Reputation is not transportable from one network to another.

**Deep Design**

– last.fm (neighbours!)
– upcoming.org (events are nothing without people!!)
– Facebook
– ThisNext (about design and fashion)

First, just build the social app. Once the social stuff is in place, build the market (see Last.fm).

Journal where you can integrate music references. With backlinks from artists.

Mistake? tags aren’t source of groupings.

*steph-thought: Flickr groups are not just about people, they are about editing content (creating collective photo albums).*

If you have an existing social app, and an entrenched body of users, to make people switch to your new product you need to be an order of magnitude better.

Tag beacons: a recommended tag (e.g. lift07)

If you make people tag an item, the tags used stabilize over time. After a while, the same 10-15 tags. Little chance a new user two years latter will suddenly introduce another tag.

ThisNext is pretty. A piece of social interaction stuff missing however — can’t communicate with other people. Profile just leads to recommendations.

**Cautionary Tales**

Basecamp and the Federation of Work: multiple logins, domains — fragmentation. Wanted to be able to pull everything in a single place. Not simple to keep track of everything one has in the system. Pervasive static models with hardly any flow. It’s an online groupware app, not a social app. It doesn’t put me in the foreground.

Outside.in is about finding people who are in your zipcode. I remember Stowe did a post on this some time back. “Where’s the people?”

You only get one first launch. What’s the point of missing it by doing it before you got to the social tipping point?

Blinksale: where’s the market? (invoicing thing)


Where is all this going? All commerce on the internet in the future will be social. Put in context of social recommendations etc (perfect little black dresses). A social iTunes — what would it look like? They could acquire Last.fm and integrate them to iTunes, for example. I could recommend music to my friends via iTunes…

Calendars are hard! We’re still waiting for the perfect (at least good) calendar-sharing system.

Social browsing… “What should I look at today, based on recommendations of these n people I really find smart?”

Safety/privacy concerns: solutions we have in the offline world need to be emulated online.

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Tomorrow Will LIFT You Up! [en]

[fr] Demain commence la conférence LIFT à Genève. Deux questions capitales: est-ce que la conférence sera retransmise en direct, et y a-t-il un backchannel officiel?

Yes, [the LIFT conference](http://liftconference.com) will be taking place in Geneva from tomorrow Wednesday until Friday. If you’re there and want to meet up, [drop me a line](http://www.liftconference.com/2007/people/participant/48) — and if you’re not there, you can [drool over the program](http://www.liftconference.com/2007/lift/program) and vow that you’ll be there next year.

[Kevin](http://epeus.blogspot.com/), who is taking that vow as we speak, asked me two important questions:

– will the talks be streamed? (this, by the way, is the [only situation streaming really makes sense](http://epeus.blogspot.com/2006/04/video-on-net-is-solved-problem-many.html))
– what is the backchannel? (just in case, we’ve joined #lift07 on [freenode](http://freenode.net/))

**Update:** I’ve just [announced the backchannel](http://www.liftconference.com/flow/?p=12) on the collaborative [LIFT Flow blog](http://www.liftconference.com/flow/).

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Back to San Francisco? [en]

[fr] Je tente de prévoir un peu mes voyages. Angleterre en principe début avril, puis pourquoi pas San Francisco en mai-juin? Par contre, je peine à trouver un vol au-dessous de $1000 -- si vous avez des tuyaux, c'est volontiers. Peut-être je devrais viser l'automne?

I’m thinking about my travel plans right now. Looks like UK (Leeds + London) beginning of April (awaiting confirmation from family and kind hosts). I started looking at flights to San Francisco, for example in May-June, but I can’t find anything under $1000 (GVA-SFO).

Is it because May-June is too close to now? Am I not looking at the right airlines? Should I aim for autumn instead?

Any advice/tips welcome.

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Lausanne to Portland [en]

[fr] Récit de mon voyage de Lausanne à Portland, avec des hauts et des bas.

My trip was “interesting”. I got up at 5am, said bye to the cat, and took the bus. I had a really lucky connection (reminded me of the Knight Bus in Harry Potter). Then, another nice surprise at check-in: the longest leg of my journey (London to Seattle) was upgraded to business class. (Don’t ask me how I did it — I didn’t do anything. The flight was full, and then by a combination of a lottery and maybe other things like being a woman travelling alone, I was the lucky one.) Unfortunately, my flight from Seattle to Portland couldn’t be checked in there, as I was flying with a different carrier (Alaska Airlines) which was not associated to British Airways in any way.

There was no queue at passport control. I was in so early that there was no gate indicated for my flight. I did a bit of duty-free window shopping and worked hard at drinking down the huge bottle of water I had bought at the station.

I was copying down my hotel addresses when I discovered that I had left my flight itinerary (with hotel reservation details) at the check-in desk. The guy at the customer desk was incapable of reaching them, so I had little choice but to go back out and come back in again. There were two hours to my flight, so I had plenty of time.

I got my papers back without any trouble, and headed back to passport control. Gasp! the queue was stretching all the way through the shopping area, nearly to the top of the escalator. I queued patiently, calmed down after an initial panicky reaction by the fact the queue was moving along quite fast. I even got back inside shortly before the gate for my flight appeared on the board and I could start queuing for security.

I’m starting to find the way security checks are managed in various airports interesting. For example, I wasn’t asked to remove my boots in Geneva, but I was in London and Seattle. (In Geneva, however, I learnt that my solid silver bracelet was a beeper — now I know to take it off.) I’ve also learnt (after having to empty half my bag in Lisbon) to remove my laptop from my bag straight away (camera and hard drive can stay inside, though).

I had liquids with me this time, but there was no problem at all with them. I had made certain the bottles were 100ml or less, and had packed them neatly into one of the transparent plastic bags provided by the airport. I also had medicines packed separately in my bag, also in a plastic bag, just to be safe. In Seattle, however, this small “medicine-bag” triggered a minor security alert. “Is this your bag? I’m going to have to open it — don’t touch it!” But it was quickly behind.

Upon arriving in Seattle, I was surprised that they X-rayed (and sometimes dug through) incoming luggage.

But I digress. Back to the flight. I made a rather painful mistake on the Geneva-Heathrow leg of my journey. After sitting down in the plane and getting organised (book, iPod, starting to know the drill) I realised I needed to go to the loo. Remember that big bottle I had bought at the station? Well, I managed to finish it (with difficulty) before going through security. 1.5 litres. *And* twice 500ml of lassi-yoghurty stuff which was part of my breakfast.

The other passengers had more or less settled down, but the whole take-off process hadn’t started. As is always the case, the fasten seat-belts sign was on, and I decided I could wait until after take-off and the light went off.

That was the big mistake.

It took a while for us to take off, first. And then, the weather was pretty rough, and it took the pilot and excruciatingly long time to decide it was safe for us to get up and walk around. I think this was one of the worst “gotta pee” episodes in my whole life. I mean, it was really really bad before taking off. So imagine: plane take-off, bumpy ride, and rather quick worsening (if it could get any worse) of the situation, given how fast I had forced myself to drink all that water.

I really thought I was going to have to get up despite the seat-belt light. However, I held on, and the moment the light went off (I’d been staring at it for about 20 minutes) I was out of my seat and trying to negotiate getting past the trolley without having to squeeze between it and a seat (no squeezing, no).

The rest of the flight was uneventful, as was the transfer in Heathrow (I tried going to the Business Class lounge, as the connecting flights lady had pointed me there, but then learnt that I wasn’t entitled to ground goodies as I had been upgraded — just on-flight goodies.)

Ah, business class. I got a seat facing backwards, straight on the wing, by a window. The seats are huge! You can actually make them go so far back that they lie flat — and there is a footrest for the feet. I had barely arrived on board that I was served a glass of fresh orange juice. Yum!

Food was extraordinary. Smoked salmon, warm bread rolls, excellent salad, delicious fish pie (I chose that over the meat, knowing what the British tend to do with steak). Real butter and real cutlery. This is where I regretted not appreciating wine, as it was included.

I also got noodles, a sandwich, and fruit salad when I popped into the kitchen later on as I was hungry. All very nice. The flight attendant who had to put up with me and my appetite (both for food and water) was really very nice.

Sitting as I was with a view on the wing, I got to see exactly how flexible an aeroplane wing is. It really bends up and down quite a bit, particularly during take-off and if the weather is a bit rough. When flying, it curves upwards quite a bit — it really makes you feel the wing is holding the plane up in the air.

After we took off (late), I asked the flight attendant what our new estimated time of arrival in Seattle would be. I had 1h50 to catch my flight to Portland, and I was a bit concerned that I would miss it. She checked, and told me that I’d probably miss it, but that I shouldn’t run into much trouble over there if I explained what had happened — they would transfer me to a later flight.

I prepared to catch a few hours of sleep, and was just about dozing off when the flight attendant gently woke me up to ask for my Seattle-Portland flight number. She told me they would try and send a message to Seattle that I was going to miss my connection and see if anything could be arranged before my arrival. How thoughtful!

Near the end of the flight, she came to tell me that they had indeed managed to get the message through to Seattle, and that I had been booked on later flight. I had just to approach the British Airways attendant who would be in the customs area and she would give me the details. That’s what I call customer service…

I was one of the first out of the plane, as I figured it wouldn’t do for me to get held up in a long queue at immigration if I was to get my new flight. Immigration was a breeze (and seeing the queues that had built up, I was really glad I’d rushed out of the plane).

Luggage was much longer to arrive, though. I watched two airport employees energetically dump excess luggage off the conveyer belt into rather unorderly piles on the floor. I can assure you that this scene of luggage handling will remain engraved in my mind for all packing sessions to come. You do *not* want fragile or delicate stuff in your check-in luggage. Ever.

When my case arrived, I grabbed it and headed for the connecting luggage area (with a little detour through luggage-x-ray-and-do-you-have-plants-or-seeds-in-your-bags security check), as per instructions from the BA ground staff. There were roughly 45 minutes left before my flight (6.30pm local time = 3.30am internal-clock time). And this is where — luckily — the baggage handler noted that my luggage had only been checked in up to Seattle. Well, of course! He went to fetch the attendant while I waited, and she tagged it manually before they put it on the conveyor belt and I ran to catch the three different trains which would take me to the correct terminal.

I got there on time, slept all the way through the bumpy flight on a tiny and very empty plane with propellers (woken up by landing — bump!), and walked zombie-like to the baggage claim area. Long, long walk. Astonishingly, the baggage claim area is outside the secured area (so you follow the one-way streets almost all the way out of the airport before getting to your luggage).

Then, I waited. And waited. And waited. And tried not to fall asleep standing up.

And finally, my flight number disappeared from the belt, and my bag still hadn’t turned up. This journey was becoming increasingly challenging, and I was becoming less and less functional as time went by (8.30pm = 5.30am internal-clock time — over 24 hours since I got up, with 2-3 hours of solid sleep and a bit of dozing off in between).

I headed for the lost baggage desk. The lady there was very nice. Very. She filed a report, and before she had finished told me that my luggage was located, and would be coming over later that evening. She took my details to have it delivered to my hotel, and even offered me a toothbrush if I needed it (this is where I was glad I had packed my essentials in my maximum-size cabin luggage).

I managed to ask her how to get to the place I was staying at (my brain was almost at a standstill, and I was starting to have trouble formulating questions and recording answers by that time) and she gave me some indications. On the way to the cab/bus/whatever stand, I walked past the information desk, and asked again. *Another* very nice lady. She called the hotel for directions, and told me I could take the light train ($2, quite a bit cheaper than the cab).

By then, I’d realised that I’d forgotten all my dollars at home (sorry, Grandma — I’ll go back to the States, promised). Not to worry, the ticket machine takes credit cards, doesn’t it? Well, in theory — but not mine.

I went back to the desk to ask for a cash machine or a place to change money. Uh-oh. Not to be found around here, and particularly not at this time of day. The lady (*very nice*, remember?) gave me a five-dollar bill to get my ticket.

Unfortunately, the machine refused that too, so I was back at the desk for the third time. She told me the machines were often uncooperative, and I should just take my train and explain if there was a ticket check. Now, all this took a long time, because I was starting to be thicker and thicker and slower and slower. Anyway, I thanked her again, and got on my train. Managed to change at the right station (froze a bit in the cold and rain between trains). More or less slept at times on the second train (not easy with the permanent announcements on the loudspeaker). Half-dazed, explained to the guy who wanted my pass why I didn’t have one. He was quite nice, had a look at my ID (“Sweden!”), asked for some details about how I got here (“How long have you been in the country? 7 hours?!”), didn’t write me a ticket (“Next time… Do get a pass…”). Interesting, these guys looked like policemen, not train employees. Cried a bit once that was over (sheer exhaustion). Got off at the right stop.

No, not over yet! I had instructions: cross this street, and when you reach that street, there it is, and this is what it looks like. Straightforward enough. But when I got off the train, my first concern was: which way do I need to start walking? I walked through the rain to the nearest road, and it wasn’t any of the roads included in my directions. I went off in another direction. No luck either. I must have walked around in the dark and cold for about 20 minutes (even rang a doorbell in desperation, but nobody answered) when I saw the next train coming in. I headed back to the station, hoping maybe somebody would be there (I seemed to have really landed in the middle of nowhere).

Oh joy! two human beings were standing at the bus stop. I walked up to them and asked if they could help me. They couldn’t directly, but the girl’s father was arriving with the car to pick them up, and she asked him. He invited me to climb on board with my stuff, and we drove around for a while until we found the place. It was *much* nicer to be in a car with nice people who were taking upon themselves to find the place rather than be walking around in circles along with my rolling-bag in the rain.

Finally — finally! — I had reached my destination, checked in, got some food (frozen muffins with stuff inside them to stick in the microwave), free wifi, and a bed. Good thing I flew in a day early to have a chance to settle down a bit!

*Note: my luggage was there the next morning when I woke up. I’ll add links to [relevant twitters](http://twitter.com/stephtara) later on.

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