TED at the Web 2.0 Expo: “A platform for spreading ideas”

Interesting keynote from TED's June Cohen on viral spread of TED talks via video #w2eJune Cohen’s Web 2.0 Expo talk — Ideas Worth Spreading: TED’s Transition from Conference to Platform — just ended and it was so incredible I have to immediately commit these thoughts to a post.

TED has realized its incredible value not only as a conference but as a platform.  Largely through capturing videos of their incredible sessions and then making them available worldwide for free viewing afterwards, they’ve been able to harness the power of an amazing viral spread of enthusiasm.

Cohen used the example of Hans Rosling’s incredible talk jettisoning him into unlikely-internet-stardom, so from a content standpoint TED has a goldmine — and they want to share it.  This is where the technological and philosophical elements come in.

Technologically, they facilitate this worldwide viral spread in part by making sure the videos are subtitled into multiple languages.  Not only are the videos subtitled, but the full transcripts are available. One excellent feature Cohen pointed out was that you can click a word in the transcript and the video automatically scrolls to that point.

And if technology and awesome content weren’t enough, TED is pursuing a fully open philosophy.  “In pursuing the strategies of openness, all of the unintended consequences have been explosively positive,” says Cohen, while announcing TED Open TV Project — a network of partners that can use TED talks for free and build broadcasts around them.  The bottom line for TED?  “TED has evolved from a conference to a media company to a platform for spreading ideas.”

Definitely staying tuned to — and rewatching — this one.

Wrapping the Web 2.0 Expo 2009: Web Comes to its Senses

My series on the Web 2.0 Expo 2009 is complete and all published over on the SAP Community Network. I point to each piece here and invite you to check out my favorite quotes and highlights below:

Web 2.0 Expo 2009 – Web comes to its senses

“Web 2.0 was in its infancy 5 years ago,” said Tim O’Reilly in his opening keynote at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. What has Web 2.0 grown into since its inception, and how has it gotten there? Is the Web getting any smarter?

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1957036&dest=-1]

  • How has the Web evolved the best? Start small, with a simple idea – then let it evolve
  • “We cast information shadows on the Web & sometimes there is no global identifier – but that doesn’t mean we can’t make sense of them”
  • WE create the meaning in all of these cases: we provide the combined sensory overload via the personal, mobile, local, governing, and community components that matter
  • The answer to Tim O’Reilly’s question “Is the Web getting any smarter?” depends entirely on us

Part 1: Sense of self

  • “We all used to play and tell stories,” began Nancy Duarte in her session “Tools for Visual Storytelling.” Somehow along the way we lost the knack of storytelling
  • “There are no visual business communication classes”
  • The key to overcoming presentation doldrums lies in “becoming a student of corporate story”
  • The importance of telling your own story is one big key to Web 2.0
  • “Those who tell the best stories visually are the companies that are going to win right now”

Part 2: Sense of presence

  • Mobile devices and your real-time presence make all the difference on the Web
  • “We are going to bring the net to everybody at every time everywhere.
    It is *all* about location – social location”
  • “The device, combined with service, combined with software on the device – all rolled together is key”
  • “These devices will become our agents and friends, support us with advice, be our friends”
  • Status is ubiquitous, but in fact chained to a specific moment in time”
  • Build something small, they’ve learned; listen in to tons of data; let it evolve
  • New integration technologies now connect sensor networks with enterprise applications to enable more responsive monitoring, reporting, and tracking of physical assets – carts, forklifts, palettes, computers, tools, mobile machinery, and even people – near real-time”
  • “What we’re most excited about is the thing that surprises us most: the Twitter mashups – what are people talking about?”
  • Who bears more and more of the key data to running the business — at this moment?  You hold this future in your hands right now: presently

Part 3: Sense of place

  • Exploring the profundities of “going local” on our shopping habits, our applications, and ultimately our very livelihood
  • “This weekend, you’re likely going to spend money, and you don’t know where it’s going to go yet. You’re at the beginning of the local search / sales experience”
  • “We get paid by Nordstrom for all the people we drive into the store”
  • Most of the search sites find only biggest stores. Search engines need to modify so small businesses can prosper
  • “If you’ve got your mobile phone, you’re out and about and ready to shop and buy, and you want it NOW”
  • You’re still looking for products, but you are in fact looking for nearest store to buy them in
  • Big Data is great, but the Web is personal

Part 4: Sense of governance

(Also cross-posted by request at MyVenturePad and GoverningPeople)

  • Government 2.0 — arguably the newest hottest Web 2.0 trend capable of touching all the online applications we use and design
  • The notions of open government data, crowdsourcing government, and turning government into an (actually!) innovative platform itself make it clear this is the part of the next biggest “Web 2.0 thing”
  • “Increasingly, it’s also about applying the principles of Web 2.0 to governing”
  • Open Government Data Principles created by a collection of open government advocates (including Lawrence Lessig): These principles “mean to government what open source meant to software”
  • Making data public is a political act in the first place
  • “Grab our data at Sunlight Labs and do something interesting with it”
  • Open data is not the only way the Web is opening up to “Government 2.0.” Government is also opening up to the use of the Web itself like never before
  • Flipsides to watch out for while using and designing for all of this open data include such topics as privacy, security, credibility, and not least — message control
  • “We’ve always been better at managing data than innovating with data”

Part 5: Sense of community

  • Community pulls it all together. Bridge the on- and offline in a great “embryonic mass movement for change”
  • Community managers — keys to success of online communities
  • “Groups are both part of identity as well as part of conversation”
  • “Social objects are the reason people connect — with each particular other and not something else”
  • “Knowing there is a community manager around keeps your community alive”
  • “People want to find each other and talk to each other. It’s really that simple. Support that. Start there, with conversation”
  • “Launch the smallest simplest thing, then measure whether the community asks for something else”
  • “Making people less afraid of social media is critical to your success”
  • “Social media is an ‘add on’ — not a replacement for but a complement to traditional press releases”
  • How can you tell if you have online community? Answer “yes” to “If this brand was a person, I’d be friends with it”
  • “Passion is one of the only reasons community happens”
  • “Managing large number of volunteers can be hard,” and the solution is to empower your audience and create ownership
  • WE together create the meaning in all of these cases: we embody the personal, mobile, local, governing, and community components that taken together represent the mass movements. And that, in the end, “is a prospect that invites our close attention and dedicated participation as technologists, businesspeople and — most of all — as citizens”

Web 2.0 2004-2009: from embryo to “mass movement for change”

My Epic Web 2.0 Saga…

… has only just begun.

“Web 2.0 was in its infancy 5 years ago,” said Tim O’Reilly in his opening keynote at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. What has Web 2.0 grown into since its inception, and how has it gotten there? Join me for my first in a series of posts on key themes from the Web 2.0 Expo 2009 in which I tease some sense out of all the sensory overload — launched today on the SAP Community Network:

THANK YOU!

Web 2.0 and My Community: Personal Report

The men -- and some women -- of Web 2.0. Keynote audience.

The men -- and some women -- of Web 2.0. Keynote audience.

In several places, the Web 2.0 Expo< at Moscone West (April 15-18, San Francisco) blurred the line between the ethereal online community and actual communities of the world in which we live:

  • Most hearteningly, the line blurred when Architecture for Humanity talked about applying “Web 2.0 principles” in responding with housing to communities in need during times of crisis.
  • Most uncomfortably, the line was blurred when tragedy hit Virginia between Sunday night’s Excite presentation of “K’Nex Guns” (“What are 14-year-old boys excited about? Weapons!”) and Wednesday morning’s recap of K’Nex Guns.
  • And most dishearteningly for me, the line was blurred when Jay Bhatti introduced O’Reilly darling Spock to the audience during Monday morning’s multiple-thousands-packed keynote session.

See Shuba’s report, reprinted on watchyourmouth, for a description of what happened next:

Right after the keynote, there was a Launch Pad session where 3 new start-ups launched their product officially in front of the audience. One of the products was a new search engine that can be used to search for people: http://www.spock.com

The founder and CEO Jay Bhatti made a very compelling pitch that had me raring to give the site a whirl until he stuck his foot in his mouth. The first search he demonstrated for the audience was for “bloggers”. For the next search, he said he wanted to make it more interesting, and asked the audience (mixed audience, 16,000+ mostly tech. crowd) whether they would like to search for Swimsuit illustrated models or for Victoria’s secret models!! Folks in the front voted for VS it seems, so he went ahead and used his search engine to pull up Victoria’s Secret models on the multiple big screens for the crowd. The women standing next to me were disgusted, and walked out literally calling him an idiot.

The point: All representations of results in the demo were men (all geeky techie bloggers and the like) UNTIL he pulled that punch. I had already been perceiving a gender imbalance at the conference and in the keynote audience. I had also been in some disarray by the time I arrived at the Expo. Community was on my mind.

Earlier that morning, after dropping my daughter off at school, I had walked through the Tenderloin (on Golden Gate Avenue – such a promising name) towards Moscone West. During that walk through part of what I consider my community, I stepped over and around sleeping or sick people, jumped over rivers of urine, was offered drugs, asked for drugs, and surrounded by clouds of pot, and felt simultaneously ashamed and humiliated that with all of our collective resources, this is the best community some of us ever get. And these are familiar feelings to many of us.

What I didn’t expect was that my odyssey of community-related feeling would continue throughout my conference attendance at the Web 2.0 Expo, and I didn’t predict that I would wind up feeling saddened as a woman in technology as a result of the Expo.

The women of Spock

The women of Spock

As the Expo continued multiple-day run, I continued to note that women were vastly outnumbered by men (1:10 in most sessions – and of course there were exceptions – in both directions). Women were not represented in any of the Launch Pad companies, and were poorly represented as speakers. Kathy Sierra was supposed to be there – and is still not able to continue with her speaking engagements. Anyone who is familiar with her story will understand how poignantly related this is. Kathy was relegated by our Web 2.0 community back into the pre-1960s – or is it ahead into the 2010’s?

It might have seemed like a fleeting moment on stage and a “what’s the big deal” for many, but Jay Bhatti reinforced exactly that stereotype. Judging by Jay’s personal posse at Spock, the split in the blogosphere, and the defensiveness of some of the company’s response, I can only assume that Spock and its users will continue to reflect those same values as their community and their search results grow.

One interesting thing “Web 2.0” does offer is a measure of appearance anonymity. Ironically, Spock (and its blurred lines, in turn, between “people search” and “image search”) will serve to strip this away. Mr. Bhatti has indeed assimilated into the community – another by now with which I’m uncomfortably familiar – of (for lack of a better term) “frat boys online who rule the Web 2.0 capital.” Conversely, the women whose images Spock serves will not assimilate as easily – or at least anonymize. Or, perhaps the role to which models are relegated are assimilation enough for Spock.

Tim O’Reilly, for his part, has been even-handed in fielding the blogosphere and Spock itself, for their part, (was it the letters sent by Systers to their VCs?) has cleaned up their Web site of some of its trash, posted an apology (of sorts) to their About page, and continues to try to do (somewhat weak) damage control, the likes of “I’m sorry if we offended you…” A collection of committed people were instrumental in getting Spock to change their behavior – but probably not their minds. The demo (or some would say clever marketing ploy) achieved measures of success both for Spock and for reinforcing a particular image (or lack thereof) of women in technology.

On my way home that evening, I took Ellis Street this time to pick up my daughter. I walked past the long line of people waiting for a bed for the night at Glide Memorial. I wondered what difference any Web 2.0 was going to make for this offline community, while simultaneously feeling like the communities are nothing unless they serve the people who need them the most. My daughter is fortunate: She does not need it the most. But after that day’s regression in gender equality, I wondered.

Ultimately, today’s “search results” are oh-so-fleeting in the great scheme of things and many certainly already wonder what all the fuss is about. But true communities take a long time to build and involve – I believe – trust, compassion, safety, and common goals. In the end, I want these three things:

  • I want, most profoundly, a community in which my daughter can grow up to be anything she wants
  • Actually, I want community in which anyone can grow up to be anything they want
  • And above all, I want a community for people to grow up into in the first place

Spock will be long gone, but let’s hope this unfortunate incident helps Web 2.0 continue its trend towards helping the real communities in need in which we all live, so that the brightest future is ahead for all.

At least the men's room is evolved

At least the men's room is evolved