November 2007 Recap [en]

[fr] Un résumé des divers billets que j'ai écrits en novembre 2007. Je sens que je devrais faire une version française complète de cet article... mais honnêtement, pas le courage de m'y remettre juste là!

A few days ago, I had an idea: why don’t I write a “recap” post of what I wrote during the month? Sometimes I go on writing binges and it gets a bit hard to follow, so maybe this will help. Note that some of the links here point to older posts, I’m not being 100% strict about “November” — but everything is indeed related to that month.

So, what was the deal for November 2007? Looking back, it was a busy month. Mainly conferences, as I travelled to Berlin for Web2.0Expo, Serbia for BlogOpen, and Paris for ParisWeb in the space of two weeks, giving a talk each time — and a fourth in Zurich when I got back. I also decided and announced that I was starting a company, and moved CTTS back to my server, upgrading WordPress while I was at it.

Talks and Conferences

Berlin, Web2.0Expo

Although I did live-blog quite a few of the sessions that I attended, I didn’t write a “summary” post like I did for FoWA or WordCamp earlier this year — heading off for Serbia and Paris right after, and being sick, I guess, didn’t exactly make for ideal conditions to be a model blogger. So, here’s a list of the sessions I blogged about:

My talk proposal didn’t make it, but I had a chance to give “Waiting for the Babel Fish” at Web2Open, the parallel unconference running during Web2.0Expo, in the Expo area. Somebody filmed a part of it, but unfortunately it never made it to me. It was fun, though — starting out with three people, and finishing with about 20 (the room was clearly hard to find, I myself got quite lost on the way).

I took photos of the conference (and a few of Berlin), of course.

Novi Sad (Serbia), BlogOpen

I was invited to Novi Sad in Serbia to give a talk about my experience as a blogging consultant. I had a great time giving the talk (and before that, taking silly facial expression photos to illustrate my slides) and was taken good care of by Sanja, who volunteered to act as my host during my stay.

Unfortunately I fell ill there (food poisoning), but did have time to go out and catch some photos of Novi Sad, in addition of those of the conference.

My talk got quite a lot of coverage (in Serbian!), including two short video snippets (thanks again!).

My departure from Berlin had been quite hectic (wrong airport!) and I was provided with the most scary landing experience in my life, courtesy of JAT airways, when we arrived in Belgrade. Leaving through Belgrade airport to go to Paris was not exactly a fun experience, either. I tell it all in Berlin, Belgrade: Two Contrasting Airport Experiences.

Paris, ParisWeb

It was nice to be in Paris, see my friend Steph again after many years, and meet all the fine people behind ParisWeb and the francophone web standards movement — some of whom I’ve known online for years through their involvement in, a web standards-oriented translation magazine I founded way back in 2001.

I was pretty ill though and just wanted to go home — no live-blogging, and not many photos. More than half of the photos in my ParisWeb set were kindly taken by Fabien while I was pretending to be a window for Chris Heilmann’s demonstration of Javascript event listeners (video snippet). You should definitely check out Fabien’s photos rather than mine if you want some visuals from the conference.

A video of the talk I gave should be available in a few weeks.

Zurich, ASCI

After the success of my talk How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications in September, I was invited to Zurich again to give a similar talk focused on internal communications: Blogging in Internal Communications.

Starting a Company

November was a busy month not only because of all the speaking and the travelling, but also because I took the decision to become a full-fledged business woman and create my own company. I announced this and also blogged some of my first musings as an entrepreneur: Competition, Colleagues, or Partners?. Way more about this in December or under the Going Solo tag.

Geeky and Other Stuff

I didn’t just blog about conferences and business stuff. As I mentioned, I also changed servers and upgraded WordPress on this blog, leading to an update of my Basic Bilingual plugin (update which was actually broken, but has since then been fixed — please upgrade if you haven’t), and some tortured thoughts about cleaning up categories on CTTS (I still haven’t done anything about this).

I also tried creating a Netvibes widget (a rather disappointing experience, in hindsight, though it was some fun geeking out).

Last but not least, I created a focus page on experiential marketing after a quick round-up of Stowe Boyd’s writings on the topic. (I’ve done some more thinking since then and need to update the page, by the way).


If you were to read only three posts?

Five? Add these two:

Parents, Teenagers, Internet, Predators, Fear… [en]

[fr] Conseils aux parents (après mon interview à la BBC ce soir au sujet des "sex offenders" bannis de MySpace):

  • pas de panique, les prédateurs sexuels tels que nous les présentent les médias ne sont pas légion, votre enfant ne court pas des risques immodérés en étant sur internet;
  • dialoguez avec votre enfant; intéressez-vous à ce qu'il fait en ligne;
  • souvenez-vous que fournir des informations personnelles n'est pas un très grand risque; par contre, s'engager dans des relations de séduction avec des inconnus ou des amis adultes en ligne l'est.

J'ai écrit relativement peu en anglais à ce sujet jusqu'à maintenant. En français, lisez Adolescents, MySpace, internet: citations de danah boyd et Henry Jenkins, De la “prévention internet”, les billets en rapport avec mon projet de livre sur les adolescents et internet, et la documentation à l'attention des ados que j'ai rédigée pour

Update: radio stream is up and will be so until next Wednesday. MySpace piece starts at 29:30, and I start talking shortly after 34:00. Use the right-facing arrow at the top of the player to move forwards. Sorry you can’t go backwards.

I was just interviewed by BBC World Have Your Say (radio, links will come) about the MySpace banning sex offenders story. (They didn’t find me, though, I sent them a note pointing to my blog post through the form on their site.) Here’s a bit of follow-up information for people who might just have arrived here around this issue.

First, I’m often asked what advice I give to parents regarding the safety of their children online (the BBC asked this question but I didn’t get to answer). So here’s my basic advice, and a few things to keep in mind:

  • don’t panic — the media make the whole online sexual predator issue sound much worse than it is; (they might even be more at risk offline than online if they’re “normal” kids who do not generally engage in risky behaviour, given that most perpetrators of sex crimes against minors are family members or ‘known people’)
  • talk with your kids about what they do online; dialog is essential, as in many educational situations; show interest, it’s part of their lives, and it might be an important one; start early, by introducing them to the internet yourself, rather than letting them loose on it to fend for themselves from day one;
  • keep in mind that sharing personal information is not the greater risk: engaging in talk of a sexual nature with strangers/adult friends is, however <insert something about proper sexual education here>;

I regularly give talks in schools, and I speak to students, teachers, and parents — all three if possible, but not at the same time, because the message is not the same, of course. When I talk to parents, I see a lot of very scared/concerned parents who understand very little about the living internet their kids spend so much time in. But they read the mainstream media, and they’ve heard how the internet is this horrible place teeming with sexual predators, lurking in chatrooms and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, on the look-out for their next victim.

I may be dramatizing a little, but this is basically the state of mind I find parents in. I’ll jump on this occasion to introduce a piece by Anastasia Goodstein: Dangers Overblown for Teens Using Social Media. I’m quite ashamed to say I only discovered Anastasia and her work about a month ago — we seem to cover similar ground, and I’m really impressed by what I see of her online (for example, she’s actually published a book about teens online whereas I’m stuck-stalled in the process of trying to get started writing mine — in French). She also reacted to the MySpace Sex Offender Saga.

Anyway, my job when I’m talking to parents is usually:

  • play “tourist guide” to introduce them to this strange internet culture (my background in Indian culture clearly helps me manage the cross-cultural internet/offline dialogue) — I encourage them to try chatting (find a friend who chats and can help you sign up to MSN to chat with her/him) and blogging (head off to and write about random stuff you’re interested in for a couple of months)
  • de-dramatize the whole “internet predator” thing so they’re not as tense when it comes to having their kids online, or being online themselves, and put forward the positive aspects of having an online life too.

What am I concerned about, when it comes to teens online? A bunch of things, but not really sick old men in raincoats posing as little girls in chatrooms or MySpace profiles.

  • their blissful unawareness of how permanent digital media is; photos, videos, text etc. are all out of your control once they’ve left your hands; easy to multiply and distribute, they could very well be there for ever; they also don’t realize that all their digital interactions (particularly webcam stuff) is recordable, and that nothing is really private;
  • their perception of the online world as “uncharted territories” where all is allowed, where there are no rules, no laws, no adult presence; for that, I blame adults who do not accompany their young children online at first, who do not show any interest in what’s going on online for their kids, and who do not go online to be there too; teens need adult presence online to help them learn to become responsible internet citizens, just as they do offline; our fear of predators is resulting in teenager-only spaces which I’m not sure are really that great;
  • their certainty that one can evade rules/law/morals by being anonymous online and hiding; we’ve told them so much to stay hidden (from predators), and that one can be anonymous online (like predators) that they think they can hide (from parents, guardians, teachers);
  • their idea that what is online is up for grabs (I’m not going to stand up against what the record companies call “piracy” — that’s for another blog post — but I do feel very strongly about crediting people for their work, and respecting terms individuals or small businesses set for their work).

There are other things which are important, but discussed so little, because “online predators” is such a scary issue that it makes everything else seem unimportant: the “chat effect” (why is it easy to “fall in love over chat”?), findability of online stuff (yeah, by parents, teachers, future bosses), what to say and what not to say online (“what am I comfortable with?”), gaming environments like WoW…

One thing we need to remember is that kids/teens are not passive victims. Some teens are actively seeking certain types of relationships online, and when they do, chances are they’ll find them (proof the “catch a predator” operations in which “normal people” or policemen pose as lusty/consenting teens to trap dirty predators… sure it works, but most teens aren’t like that!)

I remember getting in touch with a kid who had an account on Xanga. He had lifted some HTML code from my site, and visits to his page were showing up in my stats. I asked him to remove it (“hey, lifting code like that isn’t cool!”) and he didn’t react. I found his ICQ number and messaged him, and he was outright obnoxious. A few days later, he started messaging me vulgar messages out of the blue (“I want to f*** you, b****!”). We finally trapped him, a friend of mine posing as a Xanga official who scared him a bit so he’d remove the code from his site, and who actually had a long, long talk with him. He was 9 years old.

If you came here via the BBC, leave a comment to let me know what you think about these issues, or what your experience is!

See All The Blogtalk Talks [en]

[fr] Allez voir les enregistrements des conférences données à Blogtalk. En ligne presque en temps réel.

Via Suw, Blogtalk talks are being put online almost in real-time. Go look. Good job, guys. Extra brownie points for you 🙂

No brownie points, though, for not giving a mike to people who asks questions form the public. You can understand a microphone-less person asking a question at you, but not away from you. Next time, maybe?

Give Us Time to Digest Talks [en]

[fr] Le format des conférences (particulièrement celles avec un public de blogueurs, donc producteurs actifs de contenu) doit changer. On nous fait écouter des choses intéressantes, il faut nous laisser le temps d'en faire quelque chose. Après deux présentations, j'ai de quoi bloguer ou discuter au moins une heure! En rajouter deux de plus par-dessus, même avec une pause d'une demi-heure, ne fait qu'accélérer la grillade de cervelle.

Talking with a couple of people during the SHiFT closing party, we agreed that the conference format has to change. If you’re putting a bunch of people in a room, particularly bloggy people who are used to producing content and thinking on keyboards, and you’re hopefully providing them with thought-provoking thoughts and speakers, you need to give them time to digest the talks.

After two talks, I’ve got enough stuff in my head to blog for an hour or talk for the same length of time with the people who were in the same room. After four talks in a row, even with a thirty-minute break in between, my brain is fried and I just stall.

That’s why I’m really excited to see how the LIFT’07 concept works out. One day with lots of small talks (select those you want to see, skip the rest), and another day with keynotes and huge chunks of time around them.

Looking at what awaits me tomorrow, I’m feeling a tad apprehensive…

Short Post-SHiFT Note [en]

[fr] SHiFT est terminé. Blogtalk commence.

SHiFT was really nice. Interesting things, writer’s overflow, but not writing. Check out Suw‘s notes on Strange Attractor: talks by Dannie Jost, Stowe Boyd, Martin Röll, Kevin Cheng, Euan Semple.

Suw’s talk was great, I’ve finally understood what ORG is about — and a bit worried about the situation in Switzerland.

Kudos to the SHiFT team for being so proactive in asking us for feedback during the closing party. Conference organisers everywhere, geek girls would like girly-shaped T-shirts, please! (Reaction to men-shaped T-shirts, however cool: oh, good, another one to sleep in.)

Many things not mentioned. My apologies.

I’m in Vienna now, with a cold, for Blogtalk reloaded. Looking forward to talking with John Breslin tomorrow, and hoping to get a chance to catch danah and Matt too.

Back to Being a Low-Tech Audience [en]

[fr] Dans une conférence où beaucoup de blogueurs sont présents, on a besoin de pauses-blogging 😉 -- et peut-être aussi de présentations qui tiennent bien dans un billet? Suivent quelques suggestions pour les personnes qui font des conférences -- sachant que je ne fais certainement pas tout ce que je dis.

Running a bit late for Emmanuelle‘s talk on anonymity online, I decided to go in without my laptop, which was in the other room. Decision also fueled by my earlier cogitations about my decreasing attention span.

Well, there we are: I was more attentive and took notes on paper.

I was telling Robert that conferences like this lacked blogging breaks. The audience is in the real-time information business if you have lots of bloggers in the room, so if you don’t want them to spend half the talk time uploading photos, chatting, and writing up blog posts. So, how about give us blogging breaks, and plan post-sized talks? Wouldn’t that be neat?

For many people, the most interesting moments of a gathering like this is around and outside the talks. Try to change the balance a bit? I know there are organisational imperatives, but I’m sure a solution could be found.

Other than that, some ideas for speakers (and I’m aware I don’t do what I preach when I’m giving a talk):

  • Give me an outline of the talk, paper would be best (I’ll get lost somewhere else by trying to find it online). If I tune out of your talk for a minute (and I’m bound to) I need a chance to tune back in. An outline will help with that.
  • Be theatrical, keep me listening, or make me participate. Effective use of slides is good, but I don’t know how to do it so I won’t give you any advice on the topic.
  • Don’t talk to fast, particularly when the audio in the venue isn’t too good. Articulate. (Yeah. Sorry.)

Update: I took hand-written notes of Robert’s talk too. Lesson learnt.

My Notes of Robert Scoble's Talk

Now let’s see if you can decypher my handwriting!