LeWeb'09: Kevin Marks on Buzzwords [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

Do we really use too many buzzwords? Right now, “real-time”. Some words Kevin has found useful to describe the new web.

  1. Flow: the stream metaphor.
  2. Faces: we expect faces. Making the face bigger makes the information more relevant. A large part of our brain is about faces.
  3. Phatic: an action that is designed for social interaction, grooming purposes, not to communicate content.
  4. Following: not assuming that all relations are bi-directional. Basic pattern of the web. Hyperlinks go in one direction. This is what allowed the web to scale to the size it is. Very powerful in a social context too.
  5. Semi-overlapping publics: not just “one” public space, which is an invention of mass media. We all see a different web. We have different publics.
  6. Mutual media: all these networks are ways of making sense of the world, filtering the web for each other to make it more interesting.
  7. Small world networks: it’s easy for information to flow through these networks, and there are also long-range links, so we don’t stay locked up in our small worlds.
  8. Out-groups: homophily, minimal group paradigm. Different parts of the web as different countries. You feel alien when visiting another online community than those you’re familiar with.
  9. Tummeling: the person who connects people with each other. The life and soul of the party.

That’s Kevin’s set of words that help him think about the web.

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LeWeb'09: Violet Blue, The Future of Sex [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

Safesearch is off!

Future of sex:

  1. instantaneous orgasms
  2. orgasm on demand
  3. sex with robots
  4. virtual sex

Why do we need to speculate on sex in the future? is the present sex so dull?

Instantaneous orgasms

1964, Barbarella. A machine which can almost torture you to death through orgasms.

A patent (more recent, 1999) to use spinal implants to help control pain, and a year ago treating female patients getting her pain treatment… ended up producing orgasms with those implants (by chance at first).

Orgasm on demand

Orgasms on the tap. When you want.

Sex with robots

In SF story. Guy who is getting married but his wife is so boring Mr. Edison makes an android copy of his wife for him.

Andy is 5500 € — high-level android for sale today. All sorts of options. Oral sex option, G-spot, etc.

Historically: treatment of female hysteria — everybody (doctors, nurses) were very happy when the vibrator showed up to relieve them of the hard work.

Virtual sex

Also predicted by SF. MMORPG. Second Life (if they got funding!) – Sex on the holodeck in Star Trek. Very strong role of gaming in sex in the future. Very efficient way to get stuff in the hands of consumers. Having sex in a world where anything is possible.

Virtual girlfriends. If she’s not human, is it cheating? Love plus game (spelling?) on Nintendo DS. Guy who wanted to get married to his AI (ALICE).

*(steph-note: this is starting to get a little creepy for me)*

Japanese guy with a robotic wife, loaded with tons of software, including facial recognition *steph-note: didn’t get the name* — sensors on her body, can recognize touch or tickle… But won’t have true emotion or soul.

Promiscuous new friends, uninhibited sex. Beware though of mad scientists who base their artificial intelligences on their own brains before having therapy first.

Designer sex experiences

As people are less inhibited, we’re seeing lots of dissatisfied and more sophisticated sex consumers. It has to be good for the environment, etc, and stylish.

“Je Joue”, British company, body-safe materials, rechargeable, made to mimic the human tongue, learns from the user. Plays back the patterns that you used. Toys that learn from you. Reading heart beat, body temperature etc. or even brain waves as feedback.

Virtual hole. World domination plans! It’s actually a very well thought-out plan. (Check it out.) Goes all the way to virtual bodies and the whole immersive gear, headphones and goggles.


Porn, sex toys and sex info online have been a commodity. Companies want to move in the space and make money. Hackers want to create toys and have sex with robots (etc.) — The distribution chain has been disrupted. Specially for women (empowerment).

1 in 3 porn consumers online are women (distruptive!)

Imagining sex in the future is a way to explore one’s ideas and fantasies about sex. It’s a blank canvas on which people can paint. Sexual hopes and dreams.

Update: check out Violet’s post about this talk on her blog.

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LeWeb'09: Queen Rania of Jordan [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

*steph-note: photographer madness for the arrival of Queen Rania.*

Doesn’t mind us looking at our computers, tweeting and blogging, etc. Remainder of the speech will be in 140-character sound bites.

Did MJ change the course of the Green revolution in Iran?

We’re part of the new field of digital anthropology.

It can be hard to connect to people when you’re a Queen. Position clouded with protocol, but online people are not afraid to speak their minds. Has created a space where titles mean little. Direct and personal connection that lets people reach out to her, and lets her spread ideas she is passionate about. Monarch on a mission? Takes it as a compliment.

Can the real-time web bring real-world change? Can it tackle the challenges facing our community? Her Oracle of Delphi is Twitter, that’s where she takes her questions. Surprised that the majority of her followers on Twitter thought digital advocacy could not translate into real action. Difficult the get their butts out of their computer chairs!

Green revolution at the front of Twitter, until Michael Jackson died, and took over the Twitter trending topics.

Of course he didn’t change the course of it, the revolution was much more important than that.

With little offline personal involvement, online activism becomes bleating.

We’re at the tipping point. Real-Time is the new prime time. Examples of what she learned of things going on in the world, through Twitter.

All this has hightened our feelings of selflessness, but what we need now is action.

One topic @QueenRania feels strongly about is education, girls in particular. Many statistical advantages to education, but behind the statistics, there are little girls and boys. Personal stories. Most people don’t realize the power of education.

Global campaign for education.

One day for one goal to help children who are locked out of school and in poverty. join1goal.org

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LeWeb'09: Timothy Ferriss [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

Presentation about building following. Building a global phenomenon with less than 10K$.

There is a heavy price to pay for achieving consensus. The initial title of 4HWW was “drug dealing for fun and profit”. Walmart told him the title was vetoed (rejected all over the place). Used Google Ads, bidding on search terms related to the content of the book. Used a dozen of prospective titles and subtitles in the ads, and saw which got the best clicks.

Objective end 2006: 20’000 earlyvangelists for his book in 2 weeks. If you have 10K sales in a week, you have a high probability of hitting a list, but you can easily be knocked off the list, so he wanted 2 weeks.

3 Tipping points: indirect, direct, meta.

  1. 43folders. Podcast with Brian Oberkirch at SXSW, by chance. First indirect exposure that triggered more similar coverage. Rather than target the high-traffic blogs, but target the thought leaders who are read by the high-traffic ones.
  2. Scobleizer. Had a huge impact: “I’m going on a trip and taking this book with me.”
  3. Micro Persuasion. The launch and the books popularity became newsworthy.

Pitching feature articles? Probably not going to happen.

Another principle: sell around the product (phenomenize, polarize, and communitize).

A few findings: blog post on the shortness of life (intro to Seneca). People are addicted to new. Current hits rather than all-time. “Copy” is the most underestimated element you can test, e.g. Topics rather than Categories.

Twitter, Slinkset, Evernote. Collects stuff on Evernote, then sends it to Twitter via Slinkset.

Video is interesting because it takes less time to produce. There is a value in adding text. Value in what you don’t say or show.

*steph-note: all this talk about micro-improving to make things more efficient is not really my cup of tea — I mean, I know it’s important, but that’s not my way of functioning. Apologies if my notes are a bit flakey.*

Gyminee. Too many clickable elements above the fold.

Posterous. Another example, they weren’t really answering the question “how will I use it”.

How not to pitch, a book by Tucker Max.

Plan big, test assumptions, and start small.

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LeWeb'09: danah boyd [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

What you see online is not what others see online. It’s mediated through your friends.

How do we get a sense of our norms? Not through our audience, but through the people we follow. What we see gives us our sense of going on, rather than who sees us.

We’re not on the same internet as the average teen.

We have the ability to look in on people’s lives, a very powerful thing about the web. But lots of people don’t look.

Funny things that danah does is searching Twitter for “the” or random words to see what comes up. Even better in another language. => different kinds of environments.

Three case studies about visibility and what we see. Assumptions about what people see/do online that need questioning.

1. College admissions

MySpace, early on, college admissions officer calls danah about this young man who wrote a beautiful essay about wanting to leave the gang world, but his MySpace seemed to tell a different story. Interesting question: why do they lie to college admissions officers, and put the truth online? They’re not lying, just different ways of describing oneself in different parts of our lives to survive. Gang profile on MySpace to survive. Interesting: admissions officer assumes he is lying! Two different context, neither the kid or the officer knows how to deal with it.

2. Parental access

MySpace girl invited her dad to be her friend, but dad saw she took a test “what drug are you?” — cocaine. He did the good thing, talked to her. Asked her. “Dad, just one of these quizzes!” Having the conversation, opening up. Dad made the decision not to make assumptions based on what he saw, but to start conversations.

3. Violence

Young woman in Colorado murders her mother. American press: “girl with MySpace kills mother”. On her profile, detailed descriptions of how her mother abused her. It was documented but nobody did anything. Heartbreaking.

Just because it’s visible doesn’t mean people will see it or do anything about it.

We can be very visible, but nobody is looking. What does it mean to be public? Who is looking, and why are they looking?

Those who are looking are those who hold power over those observed. “If it’s public, I’m allowed to look!” => great conversations around privacy. Surveillance.

Flip it around: when should we be looking when we are not? Should we be looking to see a world different than ours? Jane Jacobs (?): “Eyes on the street.” Look at what is going on. One of the best ways to keep the community safe. Somebody is aware of what’s going on when a kid falls off his bicycle.

When should we be creating eyes on the street?

Privacy is used often to justify why we aren’t looking at things. Last 3 years: shift about how we think about domestic violence. 60s: didn’t exist. Can do what you want at home. Now: right to safety in private space. We use privacy to deal with when people are hurt in public spaces.

Lots of kids crying out for help online.

Transparency, visibility: the best and the worst is made available.

Bullying: lots of parents are afraid of technology because they fear it creates new dangers or situations. Data shows that bullying is not more present today than before, but it is much more visible.

Challenge: we can see when kids are hurt. Parents who don’t understand the technology blame the technology, when the technology is just making the problem visible. Call to action.

People move to gated communities to get away from different people and not have to deal with them but the internet is bringing all these people together. We might not want to be in such a mixed space.

BET: on Twitter, all the trending topics were black icons in America. And then also, critique of black culture, it’s full of black topics in Twitter. Reaction. How do we deal with this?

TV news often takes power by making us uncomfortable, showing us what we don’t like. But recently, showing us more what we want to see. And now, what happens when we’re forced to see what we don’t want?

Looking at the darker side of youth-generated content. But there is nobody to turn to. Legal? Easy to get the police involved, but not about social services, etc?

We’re making all sorts of parts of society visible, parts we like and others we don’t. Ramifications of doing this. How do we deal with this visibility of hurtful and harmful things? It doesn’t have to be illegal…

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Content Curation: Pearltrees, SmallRivers [en]

[fr] Tentative d'utilisation de Pearltrees et SmallRivers. Ça semble intéressant mais pour le moment j'ai l'impression que soit quelque chose m'échappe, soit qu'ils sont en train de réinventer la roue.

If you’re at LeWeb’09, you’ve heard of Pearltrees. They’re offering an interface/platform to help people curate web content by collecting it (bookmarking it?) in the shape of “pearls”. SmallRivers are a Lausanne startup which are also in the content curating business, by allowing people to network pages together by inserting some code in the page.

I’m trying both, unfortunately with not exactly enough energy and time to do it properly. But I already have a few comments.

In a way, this kind of content curation is already possible. Blogs, wikis, and even stupid old webpages with hypertext (hypertext!) allow this. So, is the revolution simply in the interface? In some element of social auto-discovery? Part of me is excited by new services in this space, but I’m also pretty skeptical. Is this just reinventing the wheel in a pretty wrapping?

The question I always want to ask is the following: what exactly does this new shiny service do that I cannot already do (or almost do) with my existing tools, and which will justify the overhead of investing in a new space or service?

For the moment, I am “not getting” either Pearltrees or SmallRivers, but as I said, I have just given them an initial “does it click?” look. I have my pearltree account (not much in it yet) in which I’ll try to place interesting posts about the conference when I have a moment. I also tried to create a “LeWeb’09” network with SmallRivers but think I messed up a little. If you go to my initial post on the LeWeb’09, you’ll see a little widget at the bottom which opens up a sidebar to which you can connect other posts about LeWeb’09. Give it a try and we’ll see if we can build something. (Basically: click on widget, click the connect button in the sidebar, copy the javascript code and paste it into your post.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about content curation during this conference — it’s a topic that the “real-time web” really brings to the forefront. Expect more posts on the topic.

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LeWeb'09: Why The Middle-East? (Joi Ito, Rabea Ataya, Habib Haddad) [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

Joi moved to Dubai in December. Why the Middle-East? Panelists: Rabea Ataya and Habib Haddad.

At one point Joi figured out he’d never understand that world unless he moved there. Everything is a bit harder than he expected but the opportunities are more exciting than he thought.

Habib, based in Boston, entrepreneur. Arab-speaking world is a huge market.

Rabea co-founded a business in June 2000. Why start an internet business for somewhere that doesn’t use the internet? One of the fastest-growing places in the world.

300 mio in the Middle-East who all speak the same language. Europe is a linguistic nightmare in comparison! Lots of young people, compared to Japan which has an ageing population.

Joi: before being in the Middle-East, it didn’t show up on his map. Now he can’t understand why nobody is marketing to it. Like China before. Middle-East = very interesting market.

Habib says 21% internet penetration. Obstacles: online advertising space is tiny. European gaming site arabized their site, 10% users from Saudi Arabia, but 50% revenue from there! Tipping point in terms of web consuming.

Rabea: common language but no commonality of market (opposite of Europe: one market but lots of languages). Challenge but also competitive advantage. They focused on setting up operations throughout the Middle-East early on. Advertising model? doesn’t survive. Have stayed ahead of the curve. A lot of misunderstanding about what the region is. Strategic investor who visited them, and his perception of the UAE was like the USA, when it’s a tiny country.

Joi sensed racial stereotypes very strongly. Was disowned by some of his good human rights friends for moving there. Country built upon slaves. Lots of Dubai bashing. Didn’t notice it until he moved to the region.

People think of Dubai as Las Vegas. Each country is very different. Jordan is very USA-ized.

Habib: racial stereotypes exist all over the world. But there is also willingness to learn and change. He got his seed investors from the Silicon Valley. Now looking to move back, in 3-6 months.

Joi: Everybody is worried about him being in Dubai. Land prices have gone down. Now all his favorite restaurants are packed with people, lots of white-collar immigrants. Very vibrant everyday life. What’s the impact of all this?

Rabea: Dubai = interesting experiment. Went from small town to a world-renowned city, victim of its own success. At one point became very difficult to get things done when it used to be one of the easiest places in the world to do business. Right now this is being recalibrated, we’re going back to a business-friendly environment. Government focused on winning back entrepreneurs and small business owners. Overwhelmingly the infrastructure and mindset is so good that things look very rosy.

Lots of restrictions and requirements change from city to city, some of them which would seem inappropriate to us: based on nationality, gender, language capacity, etc… Stereotypes don’t really apply because very little ties the region together. To “tackle” this huge region, you need to go small region by small region and understand their specific requirements.

Joi: everybody seems to always talk about the gender issue in muslim cultures. But a lot of it is superficial. Many of the smart powerful people he knows are women. In Japan, women have little power in the workplace but a lot in the home. Americans who say to his arab friends “I hate the way you treat women”. Cliché.

Rabea: 3 highly-educated and smart sisters. Almost all the women he knows are educated and working. Great misconception: women are forced into ways of life that they would not choose. Not a majority, it exists in the fringes. Women play a very active role in the community. Queen Rania, very representative of what women in the Middle-East are capable of.

Habib: encourages companies to move to the region, translate. Facebook missed the boat when it comes to translation.

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LeWeb'09: Facebook, Facebook Connect, Identity (Ethan Beard) [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

Mark’s initial idea: give people a better way to connect. Basic information. 5 years ago.

Huge growth now. The core activity on the site hasn’t changed, but now the user base has changed. 70% of the users come from outside the USA.

Not just connections between people, but between people, objects, ideas, places. Building an accurate representation of one’s identity. I’m easily identified as/by a series of connections.

Facebook connect: opening up for others to build upon. Traveling together. Facebook didn’t get this growth by going alone. Taking the connectivity of Facebook outside the platform.

Facebook aspires to be a technology that people use to connect to what they care about wherever they are.

Tool for building applications inside Facebook => connecting outside Facebook, with Facebook Connect. Fanbox: very successful. People are looking for ways to connect to brands and companies they care about not just on Facebook.

Didn’t imagine that gaming would be such a success. Social gaming. Hugely successful companies. And now traditional gaming companies like Sony etc are jumping in.


The Huffington Post. Add the network to reading news. What are my friends reading? Using Facebook Connect makes it easy for users to comment and publish back into Facebook stuff they find. Since they added Facebook Connect to Huff Post, 500% FB referrals, 50% comments, 50% user growth *(steph-note: other factors might factor in to explain growth… can’t give 100% credit to Facebook Connect for that, though I’m sure it has an influence.)*

JibJab. Connect is now the primary way to log into the site.

TFI. Integration of Facebook live feed during matches for example.

Bejeweled2 on Facebook. But you shouldn’t be limited to playing on Facebook. With Connect, can play elsewhere but it remains social.

Connect is the glue that ties together your experiences, whatever the device you are using. Ubiquituous. *(spelling?)*

The web is about people and you experience it through the lens of your friends. The graph is the foundation of the social web. *(steph-note: reminds me I have to write a post about the blogosphere as a social network — this stuff is not new)*

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LeWeb'09 is About to Start! [en]

[fr] Me voici à Paris pour la conférence LeWeb. Quelques liens pour suivre la conférence depuis chez vous!

Here I am, sitting in the 104 in Paris, surrounded by a big gaggle of geeky bloggers plugged into the ethernet cables kindly provided at the little tables near the stage.

It’s going to get crazy really soon, so here are a few pointers for those of you who want to follow things as they unfold:

And if you see a mad Scotsman in a kilt at the conference, ask him to show you his latest toy, the PsiXpda! (I just went “ooh” and “aah” and “ooooh” while he was showing it to me.)

(I will tell you later about my arrival in Paris, and escaping the metro to find myself in a huge cloud of smoke, in the middle of a crowd, with CRS cops cordoning off the streets all around…)

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Se voir à Paris, avec wifi [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

Mardi matin, je saute dans le TGV pour aller passer quelques jours à Paris afin de participer à la conférence LeWeb. Cet événement, qui s’appelait il y a six ans “Les Blogs“, rassemble en un même lieu plus de 2000 professionnels de tous bords, ayant un intérêt dans le web et les médias sociaux. Le thème de cette année? “The Real-Time Web“, le web en temps réel de Twitter, Facebook, la messagerie instantanée, le streaming vidéo live, l’iPhone, etc.

Si je vous mentionne cette conférence, ce n’est pas dans une optique bassement publicitaire (elle affiche complet — quoique… prenez-vous-y à l’avance l’an prochain!) mais parce que ce foisonnement d’événements s’adressant aux gens du monde connecté, ou à ceux qui gravitent autour avec intérêt, nous montre bien à quel point toutes les avancées technologiques en matière de communication n’ôtent rien à la richesse et à l’importance de la rencontre en chair et en os.

En effet, c’est là un souci récurrent que j’entends: la pléthore de moyens de communication à distance n’est-elle pas en train de nous déshumaniser, de nous transformer en petits robots emprisonnés dans des mondes virtuels? L’être humain est-il en chemin pour finir sa carrière sous forme de cerveau flottant dans un bocal, branché dans la matrice?

Que nenni, heureusement.

Il se trouve même que plus les gens chattent, bloguent, et de façon générale se connectent à leurs semblables via le monde en ligne, plus ils ont envie de se rencontrer. L’être humain est fondamentalement social et utilise toutes les ressources à sa disposition pour le devenir encore plus. L’expression “médias sociaux”, traduction française un peu maladroite de l’anglais “social media” (ça fait un peu “services sociaux”), vient bien de là.

C’est logique, quand on y pense. Prenons un peu de recul technologique: est-ce que l’avènement du courrier postal a découragé les gens de faire l’effort de se rencontrer? Et le téléphone? Et le téléphone mobile? Bien sûr, on remplace parfois avantageusement une rencontre en face-à-face par un coup de fil. Mais le coup de fil, souvent, mène à une rencontre. De même avec l’e-mail et le chat. Et que dire de la facilité de communication croissante, qui m’encourage à envoyer un SMS “à tout hasard” à une copine pour lui proposer de me rejoindre ici, maintenant, pour un brin de causette?

Au fond, la technologie crée autant d’occasions de se rencontrer qu’elle ne semble en supprimer. A Paris, dans quelques jours, c’est donc toute une partie du monde connecté qui se retrouvera dans la même ville, à la même conférence, pour se serrer la main, s’embrasser (si H1N1 le permet), discuter à bâtons rompus autour d’un bon buffet, rire ensemble, parler business, ou tout simplement être assis côte-à-côte pour écouter le même orateur.

On aura bien sûr nos ordinateurs portables et nos iPhones, il y aura du wifi jusque dans les moindres recoins, mais qu’est-ce qu’on sera contents de se voir… ou de se revoir.

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