April 30, 2005
Comments are working now!
Switched from Typekey and MT Blacklist, to SpamLookup. So the answer to the comment question, just in case you decide to leave one and don't know, is 'napster.'
First the update on comments: they are still not working. Sorry. Still struggling with typekey, though I believe I've got the correct URL in their system and the correct typekey code on this backend. Ugg. Shouldn't this be easier?
So, Paris was lovely. I have to thank Loic and Geraldine for the conference. They pulled it off well, even if I was a little tired at the end of the end of the day, and wished for something other than panels. They brought us to beautiful places, with delicious food and spoiled us with a good time and lots of lovely new bloggers to meet.
Had a wonderful time hanging out with Halley, Doc, Caterina and Stewart, Lo�c and Geraldine, Paolo and Monica, Neville, Hugh, Gaby who tells great stories, and lots of others too numerous to mention. There is something wonderful about being in a city like Paris with a bunch of friends for a couple of days, for what is essentially a road trip. You can't really work, you can't do your normal stuff and there are no real worries temporarily.. except where to go next together. It's very light, very fun, and we spent time sharing delicious food and practicing our erratic French. We spent loads of time laughing too.
At one point, Doc, Halley and I found ourselves on the street, near a patisserie, buying bread and amazing butter, and being so hungry, we just ate it right there. I'm sure the French were appalled. Only Americans eat on the street. But then, there is no way we could ever measure up there anyway, so why worry. And yet, the snobbism is useful, because it does mean that they demand a level of quality in their experience (and get it!) for everything. But it is also out of touch with the realities of internet life, where just being a snob doesn't get you anywhere. You have to have good ideas and do something about them. Just being a snob about every little nit-picky thing is kind of obsolete in light of the flat hierarchy of the internet.
In fact, though, the butter was so good I brought home three packages. I was thinking of cooking something like a chocolat flour-less cake, as I also brought home some 80% dark stuff and it would be so good with that butter, baked softly. Okay, I'm a food snob too. You know. Food is not scalable. And certainly food production in the EU, which is still pretty small production, is amazing and proof of that point. Partly it's because their soil is 5 to 7 (updated from 100) times as old as California soil, so the minerals taste much more subtle, instead of our big, blow-out-your taste-bud flavors here in CA. Flavors are at a lower wattage in the EU, clean and fresh, but they are far more complex -- you can taste what the cows who gave the milk and creme to make that butter were tasting.. and it's so so good.
When going through customs, I list each food item by name, often because I push the limits of what is allowed to bring in. You aren't allowed to bring in meat, and so my giant tin of cassoulet was a mystery to them, and they mumbled something about meat, and then moved on. The package was all in French. Who knows what confit means (it's duck and is in the cassoulet) and so they went on to puzzle over the butter (who brings back butter?). Two years ago, from Italy, lost in my custom's list of wine, vin santo, chocolates, cheese, nougat, dried beans, dried fruit, olive oils and balsamics, was some bresaola, some sprek, and some prosciutto. I checked the box that said I had meat. And they waived me through because they didn't see meat on the list. I guess it pays to be a snob in that case too. And very precise about it.
April 27, 2005
Comments on Bandwidth Post
Sorry.. will get comments fixed asap now that I'm back.
In the meantime, here are couple from email:
- What puts me off even more is that my parents, who live in Tours (the average size town from central France I was born in) can get 15Mb down for 29 EUR ($40 - what I pay for 1.5Mb in Palo Alto).
- And I have just seen a promotion in the subway (from Cegetel): 20Mb for 15 EUR. The fine print says that the speed actually varies from 512Kb to 20Mb depending on one's location (DSL's constraints) but we're talking roughly 1$/Mb people.
- How about this in Hongkong? 1 Gbps symmetrical for $216/mo from the Hongkong Broadband Network. HKBN's entry level broadband service is 10 Mbps symmetrical for $16/mo and its mass market service is symmetric 100 Mbps for $34 per month. I just posted this on Muniwireless.
And note Esme's excellent post: US Increases Its Lead In Dialup Internet Service. Now we're talking trashy, but good!
April 26, 2005
Comments on Panels are Dead
Sorry but comments aren't working for some reason.
Here are things people emailed about that post:
- Mary. I'm torn. Having been to some of the same conferences you have I know what you mean. When panels go bad, it's stultifying.
- However, I'm totally unconvinced that Option #2 you mention really works, with most moderators I've observed anyway.
- I like Option #3...would love to try that one!
- Anyway, wrote more about it on my worker bees blog. You can click through via my name.
- Yes it is totally mind-numbing. What's even worse than panels are panels filled with people who use Powerpoint to do vendor pitches. I am always asked to chair panels at conference on wireless broadband and I lay down very strict rules for my panels: no PPT unless absolutely necessary (for example to show a map of the city's Wi-Fi coverage) and NO vendor pitches. I interrupt people now when I see they are going down the vendor pitch route. I start asking them questions about their municipal projects, interesting things they learned, all the stuff an audience would like to know about. Then, their time is up and lo and behold! They had no time to get through the PPT slides. What a shame, eh?
- I share your sentiments on the panel format and so do many others I spoke to at the conference - a podcast is coming soon of comments I grabbed from people over lunch - my feed is http://www.perfectpath.co.uk/index.xml but I just got in off the
Eurostar and my kids are calling for their dinner!
- Have hope - several of us are trying to get such an event to happen in London before the end of the year. I'll make sure we throw your rules and Dave Winer's bloggercon guide into the cooking pot.
- When I am on a panel, I routinely do all I can think to do to engage the audience in a conversation. Most of the time it doesn't work, and not for lack of trying on my part. I am not sure why. I have speculated that it is because there are just a lot of people who are more interested in listening and thinking about what you are saying than in really engaging you in a conversation!
- Just a thought.
- Mary, I was just at a conference at Berkeley that should have been really interesting, but they also smothered it with panels. Five panelists doing ten minutes each and poof, the session vanishes.
- Thanks, Dave, for the link to Mary's post.
From Buzz Bruggman later:
- I have thought about the topic a bit more, and think that a panel should never be more than three people tops! One should be a very engaged moderator, who actively solicits comments from the audience, and who tries to draw out contrasting viewpoints from the participants.
- But the notion that the Bloggercon model fits all is just not accurate.
My response to them all:
- I think my suggestion for led discussions isn't the be all end all, but one possibility, that might be right. I've seen it done successfully, when the leader knows the audience, and can draw out even the shyiest of commenters to contribute. It is tricky and means a leader has to be well chosen by the conference organizers. I'm sure there are other ways and some of you have suggested others above. But the point is, panels in broadcast mode don't work well anymore, especially when the audience is full of people who are breaking out of broadcast mode to user produced media and conversation, and a good led discussion, or something else, that we haven't thought of yet, would be radically more engaging, interesting, and productive than panels that broadcast. I do agree that presentations of research, either singly or in panels is different, and what I'm referring to above is just the panel of discussant style that seems to me to have just become worn out. So, let's figure it out and post it.
- I hear what you're saying about panels, though I think they provide a good enough focus/locus... Some of my best moments were the impromptu, like going off outside and having a cigarette and striking up a conversation...
- I would say the luncheon the day before was the highlight of my trip. A confab of eight or so. And there were one or two stolen moments I shall remember for a while.
- The trick is that it becomes difficult if not impossible to moderate a large room full of people... and we sometimes pay panelists to come talk and they are sometimes a decent part of the attraction for our audience (in the aggregate).
- So, I think we need some better ideas about how to have discursive
panels. One thing I've seen Kim Zetter do at the Commonwealth Club is
to pass out notecards on which people could write questions... then
the moderater picks ones that he or she thinks are really good and
relevant (which alleviates that I-was-the-first-to-the-mic bullshit).
That's what I can find in the avalanche of email I just downloaded after returning from Paris. And now, to deal with the jetlag.
Wednesday update: here are some more....
- having been on both sides of the panel table many times over my career - you raise good points, however there is one important element that i see as needed...
- the knowledge level of the combined audience - those on the panel and those out in the seats...
- i remember blogon last year, which was done in traditional panel format - i didn't learn anything new, and would have gladly joined in the discussion if motivated (i wasn't) but a co-worker i brought had never been exposed to any of this, he was old school media, and he soaked it up (that is why i suggested we go)...
- would he have wanted to actively participate - no way, he would have had to ask way to many - "why", "how", "can you" types of questions that would have been to rudimentary for a large % of the folks there...
- he came to listen and learn - passively...
- bloggercon is run as an anti-conference - with success, yet numerous folks commented that they wished certain folks speaking up would have gotten more time to talk - they were left wanting so that "quantity of voice" ruled over "quality of voice"...
- so, i guess my point is - depending on the forum and audience, eliminate the panelists on high - unless of course that is what most people came to hear - a small group of knowledgeable guides sharing their experiences so others can benefit...
- sorry - this is long, i should have trackbacked it, but it would have been off topic for my blog, other than the fact that i will be on a podcasting panel in may :-p
- i do hope those w/ something to say at that one will not be shy and join in the fun ;)
And my response to Mike:
- Mike, just to clarify, at Blogon, the rest of the organizers wanted panels and so we did them, but I went around and around with them, arguing for led discussions for at least some of it. Ironically, we did manage to get three in the afternoon, during split sessions. Though I must admit that about a month before the conference, while I was on vacation, the rest of our program committee managed to slip "semi-panels" into the led discussions... which teaches me never to go on vacation. But even so, those sessions were the most well attended part of Blogon. I do think and agree with you that led discussion require a knowledgeable audience and leader, but we had both on hand this weekend, and for a similar situation, I'd recommend a variety of formats, to keep engagement and learning high, instead of just panels in their traditional sense.
April 25, 2005
100mb down and 20mb up for 26 euros (approx) in S. Korea
Yes. You heard that right. Yat Siu of Outblaze in China is comparing internet access in Asia compared to France (France averages 2mb up and down for 14 euros).
We are so totally freaking lame in the US. That's half the price I pay (approx $35 dollars for 100mb down/20 mb up in Asia verses my DSL from SBC for $60 a month for 768k down/ 384 up in Berkeley). And of course, we, the US, aren't even on chart up on the conference wall. And why should we be. As far as broadband access goes, we're a third world country paying ghetto rates (you know the deal.. where the supermarket charges less than ghetto corner markets cause the folks in the ghetto can't afford to drive out to get reasonably priced food).
Update: there has been a big discussion by some who attended the conference, who also blogged this information and were later challenged on it. Subsequently, Yat Sui, whose talk addressed a comparison between broadband service in Hong Kong to that of Paris, sent this article on 100mb DSL service for Korea. An English article mentions the goal to make this service available all over in Korea.
- Last year, the Korean government forked out more than $2 billion of the $10
billion needed to build the world's fastest integrated network. This
"broadband convergence network" (BcN) will provide connection speeds of
between 50 to 100 megabits per second by the end of next year. The fastest
connection speed in the U.S. is just 3 megabits right now. "BcN will be a
core platform for the creation of an advanced communications market," says
And lastly, Yat sends this:
- I know of quite a number of people who have 100Mbps service, whether they
GET a full 100Mbps is a different question alltogether I suppose. Korean
Broadband providers are not thinking they will compete on price and size
alone so they are leading the charge in value added content services (like
digital TV). Most don't compete like HKBN, they call it "Super High Speed
Mega Ultra whatever" and place the xDSL or vDSL "speeds". In many cases the
bandwidth increases are being treated almost as "unlimited" for the pro
super speeds which are geared towards online gamers. Super high speed is
also a requirement for the Cyber Cafe's which are the social center of many
of these online communities. Fiber is also widely connected across Seoul and
even "smaller" operators like Dreamline are claiming network capacity in the
800Gpbs service range with 1.6Tbps coming soon.
Panels are Dead
For me that is.
I'm sitting here at a conference that I flew all the way to Paris for.. for two days, and damned if it isn't full of panels, broadcast mode all the way, telling the audience how it is. And well.. it's so freaking undynamic. Because it's not a discussion. These are bloggers. They know a lot. They know what it is. These 300 people make media every day on their blogs and yet, panels are here giving us time to email the office, our cats or the mailman about a critical lost postcard.
This audience is creative, bright, thoughtful and our brains are being numbed to death by one-way talk about how blogs are about losing legacy control and we're all taking it back. Somewhere there is a tragi-comedy in here. It's time for a revolt. Please, please, please can we do all conferences from now on differently? For the love of transparency, aliveness, I hope we can.
1. Ditch the panels.
2. One leader per room.. moderating an active discussion by everyone in the room by, asking questions and interacting.
3. IF we do panels, any time there are more people lined up at the mic, than are on the panel, the panel and the people at the mic have to switch places.
Please note, I do appreciate all the work that goes in to making a conference like this, and thank the people who put it on. But they are doing a format we all have done for a long time. And we need a change. This doesn't work, and it needs to stop.
April 24, 2005
Existential Parisienne Blogging Party
Tomorrow. At the French Sentate.
300 bloggers. The conference is just a pretense for us to get together to blog, no?
Halley Suitt, for her panel tomorrow on Corporate Blogging, was thinking of being very Jean Paul Sartre, which would mean her panel would only IM chat, silently, while the audience chat over IRC.
It reminds me of that play.. from the 50's.. where the curtain opened, and a baby cries off stage.. and then 20 minutes go by.. with nothing onstage and no sound, then the last gasps of death.. and then silence. The curtain closes. And it's all very existential. But I digress. C'est la vie.
Did I mention, it's raining and sunny at the same time, here in Paris? See the photos here. Oh, and I'm here to connect with people who blog or have EU companies with social media enterprises. And eat the amazing food. And it is amazing.
April 18, 2005
I'm at a search event at Microsoft.. of the 32 or so people.. there are about six search engine optimization people here. Kind of like being at the FBI and having criminals helping out in the room. We aren't really supposed to blog about what happens here.. but the event and attendee list are now out and known online. So far it's interesting and there are many smart people here.
Saturday night blog party
April 16, 2005
The Gender Guessing Game
Sign up to play here, and the game is happening on AIM between noon and 3pm, PST today (3-6pm EST). They still need participants.. and it's an academic study.. and so far, it looks like they are doing all the right things with human subjects, etc.
Wrapping up Freedom 2 Connect
So I'm way behind on blogging.. having had four posts in the hopper the past week and no time at all to get my thoughts together to post. It's so bad, I've invited about 30 friends over for dinner tonight, so that we can geek out on wifi and hopefully I'll get some blogging done while socializing. I wouldn't see them if I didn't do something like this.
Freedom to Connect, the conference I attended three weeks ago (time is flying by.. eek) is one of the the topics I wanted to address. I had earlier asked for some constructive actions we all might take to change the situation we were addressing -- the lack of real broadband (not the standard tiny-band stuff we mostly have here in the US), providers attempts to lock-out municipal wireless, and cellphone carriers attempts to keep their oligopoly hold over our services and phone access.
What I heard at the conference that answered my question really only addressed municipal wireless.. we should band together on a local level to fight for it town-by-town before Verizon and the rest of them get a lock-down going, with petitions, attending municipal meetings and local education about how connectivity is like water.. it's a utilitiy and needs to be treated as such.
I don't recall any constructive thoughts for what to do about cellular providers or the lack of broadband.. we just discussed it,getting a little clear on the issues.
What we could do about cellular services:
I had an idea the other night, at the 106 miles meeting, that we should develop applications for cell phones that creatively route around the carriers. And we most definitely should not use their framing of the customer situation: 'consumers' and 'enterprise', to describe the possible user markets. I think what's key to breaking the cellular provider stranglehold is developing cool apps that can sit on phones, but that only require users to download these apps in simple ways (not through carriers but through web access and SMS messages sending them the link to the web download). That way carriers will lose the monopoly they have on users access to applications. Because the phone IS the platform, not PC's.
Related broadband info: just got this from David Farber's IP list:
- In today's ">New York Times, Thomas Friedman's column highlights "Down to the Wire" by Thomas Bleha in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs:
- Thomas Bleha, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer in Japan, has a fascinating piece in the May-June issue of Foreign Affairs that begins like this: 'In the first three years of the Bush administration, the United States dropped from 4th to 13th place in global rankings of broadband Internet usage. Today, most U.S. homes can access only 'basic' broadband, among the slowest, most expensive and least reliable in the developed world, and the United States has fallen even further behind in mobile-phone-based Internet access. The lag is arguably the result of the Bush administration's failure to make a priority of developing these networks. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized state without an explicit national policy for promoting broadband.'
April 07, 2005
The Church is not a conversation.� -- Peter Hirshberg
...from his blogpost: The Pope, The Word, and The Blogosphere where he discusses the whether the Pope might blog, and how the Vatican uses or doesn't use new media, as they attempt to mesh their style and goals with the distributed network online.
The score card, according to Peter:
Taking comments from the great unwashed: no.
Hearing from God and pronouncing: yes.
Vatican and cluetrain: no.
Broadcasting eternal truth to the masses: yes.
You get the idea.. basically they are into one way communication.. and to the extent that online distributed media can help with that, they'll use it, and otherwise likely opt out of other aspects.
Very funny post Peter!