Barcamp Stanford – Notes (cleaned up)

Barcamp Stanford – August 26 2006

Rah! It’s BarCamp! At Stanford!

Why am I here? People keep asking… rather suspiciously. Next time I will answer that I am a benevolent gazillionaire that loves to give money to Web 2.0 startups and quirky bloggers. Instead of saying I’m a housewife ex-programmer and poet who’s been out of work for 5 years. Lucky for me people talk to me anyway and are not hacker-snobby.


“Attention” discussion:

I came in quite late. People are talking about: and Touchstone – an attention management engine. Both sound interesting.

Someone talks about 2 kinds of consumer. The smart direct consumer who knows how to get exactly to the thing they want (the source of the mortg4ge refi). Companies will/should pay for access to their attention. As opposed to the dumb consumer who goes through expensive-to-the-end-company intermediaries, lots of clicks, form filling out, which added up, costs the company 350 bucks. So the smart consumer is saving them 350 bucks. And they should be paying (someone? the smart consumer?) for that attention.

Lifestyle data – trading that private data P2P.

One dude’s friend who is a “star dieter”. She gets paid 30-50 K by Weight Watchers for her story. They sell it for 1.5 million to glossies. (?!!) Then it’s sold again for 4-5 bucks a pop to millions of people. What if that were more p2p. [I think this was James talking, the health/life/something guy)

Ryan: That’s 15-20 years out. Recording automatic data. “Oh, ryan ate an apple. Recorded.”

me: why 15-20 years out!?

James: some of it is near & some far, a lot of it will happen sooner

(Keywords, ads. Some people are taking the stance that “ads are bad”. [or… Ads are so yesterday.] But on the other hand, contextual ads are the proven way to go at the moment)

“word wide” tshirt dude: Gesturebank. Looking to track specific gestures. Sign/signifier question. [I lose what he’s talking about]

Ryan: Keywords are very small info. 1.5 words average in a search. But your clickstream is huge amt of info compared to one search.

[Totally.. have I not been saying this for a zillion years… the ways that people are information! and we have to look at people as data as many ways as possible and open access for them to their own data!]

[I am thinking of the aol data exposed and how it is likely being mined this very minute,…. obviously very valuable!]

[Also, I like the idea of making easy ways to toggle your openness levels. Not just a one-time thing. You know when you’re in your house, you’re private. You know when you go outside that you’re not. Make that difference clear in browsers or other tools. How often I want to use Anonymouse or something like that… just build it in and educate people about what it means.]

More discussion of ads.

word wide guy: invited Adina to continue what she was trying to say before she was interrupted

Adina: Sort of demurs

word wide guy: Pertinent information at that particular moment. It changes. … Say for example a person looking to tell their breast cancer survivor story. And the perosn looking for that story. Aren’t those the same thing? We don’t have to call it an ad or not an ad.

[It’s a connection possibility. But I would add that it’s either monetized by someone or it’s not, and if it is, who is it benefitting? This is an important, important political question.]

Ryan: But to a company it matters. To those people it doesn’t b/c they don’t make a profit… etc

[I flip and say imprudent things probably not responding in proper register/context]

Me: Hey! Content producers also want to and should make money off their story… why treat it like they are free labor for people to make money off!! Why is the model that the breast cancer survivor does not make a cent off it. As a content producer myself I think it is vile.

Ryan: name calling . . . i’m not vile… hey now…

Me: sorry, not you… didn’t mean to call you vile… but… ack. The idea.

Ryan: … (he explains but I kind of missed it from general embarrassment. Lord knows he is probably someone Important and I just was an ass. Did not mean to be rude personally but I stick to the idea. (At least I didn’t say the F-word this time!) Fine, I get it; enough people have told me that The Money is not in “generating content” but rather is in getting a lot of user generated content for free or dirt cheap and you will make a ton of money off it, while implying that if I don’t get on the bandwagon I’m lazy or idealistic or both. Arrrgh. I don’t have to like it.)

Adina from Socialtext: I find it interesting, the phrase “choose to expose”. Someone used that word. Mining someone’s attention seems like it’s free. I was using Broadcasting my music. So, the other day Ihad an earworm for shlocky sentimental music I didn’t want to broadcast to everyone… do I have the opportunity to prune. If I do, how much of an extra overhead does it take for me to prune, in my daily activity. Here’s my browser tabs since just this morning, barcamp. (Laughter. She has a zillion tabs.) Someone mentions a book, a web site, I bring it up. That’s a whole bunch of tabs. Am I going to go back and say which of these things to i want to expose?

word dude: kind of like…..

Adina: Maybe 25% of them I chose to put to delicious. The others are in the log.

word dude: It’s a cost/benefit… you could turn off broadcast… and then turn it back on.

Adina: You wind up with extra filtering tasks you didn’t have before, an extra burden…

James: mash up your tags with … [I missed it]

word dude: You don’t want the world to know when you’re looking at something unsavory… or bad taste…

Adina: Say you’re reading a news article about the London bombing plot with liquid explosives and you go look up liquid explosives, but you’re not at all interested in … Well, I guess someone’s watching you anyway….

word dude: There’s no downside in capturing your own stream for your own uses. So you have a geeky interest in liquid explosives… but that would not be sufficient to tag you as terrorist.

[So says the voice of privilege… As if it isn’t already happening… it’s sufficient if you’re muslim or arab-american. I know what he means though and I want to work for that world and that utopian vision and I am acting as if it is true, even if it isn’t true for me.]

Adina: That’s assuming that intelligence services are intelligent, which….

word dude: But it would become pretty damn obvious this was not the case for you.

[hmm i disagree with that one and again… already happening here and is way more so in some other countries]

Adina: Annoying thing on Amazon. They recommend stuff based on occasional data. I searched for a gift for 2 year old relative. Now my own recommendations have children’s music forevermore…

Me: Opting out of that, there could be a way made easy

Adina: Probably there is a way but not so easy, a 6 step thing…

[I surf a bit. looks kind of cool!]

word dude: You probably never want to turn you attention recorder off. but you do want to turn off whether it is sent to Because ultimately I’m looking up those explosives… and my uncle works for the airline industry… and I’m curious… and la
ter on if something is served to me on stumbleupon or delicious… then does THAT get served to someone who might draw the wrong conclusions.

Adina: It’s distracting and interrupting sometimes to have the “related things” in your view and you don’t always want it.

*** end of session ***

Open space – a self organizing interlude

Todd Davies heads it up.

There’s stickies on whiteboard with A B C D E F etc. on them and blank ones. 15 spaces plus blank ones. Various places around the room are labelled A B C etc.

Setting up spaces where people can move easily between discussions.

The Four Principles. ( Open space discussion principles.

[it is slightly harder to move between discussions with your laptop open]

Bumblebees and butterflies.

– whoever comes is the right people
– whatever happens is all that could have
– whenever it starts is the right time
– when it’s over it’s over.

The law of two feet. If you are no longer interested then you can leave… it’s your responsibility.

People get up pretty much one by one to claim a block of space and declare a topic.


Ajax UI – best/worst (Adina)
Social media v.s influence brokers (Vic)
Browsers. why?
Drupal (Neil)
Open educative systems (Liza)
Scaling data on the cheap (Ryan from Google)
Creativity, think outside box in organization
Brain/machine interfaces. Invasive or non-invasive. egtms (?) etc. (guy with glasses and curly hair)


Adina shows me nifty new socialtext version. I get all excited. It might be perfect for the femsf wiki. Or for my last-century women writers wiki.


I still want a social network for all of history.


I go to “open education” – What if we assume we don’t have schools? What would we build to education people?

[I come in after it’s started b/c i was dealing with M.]

Jonathan Dugan: 15 profs, sharing info. open? or closed?

[I wonder where these miracle profs are…]

Liza Loop. Loopcenter – palo alto. Take a look at the MIT open courseware. Look at that. Also David Wiley’s open courseware conference at the University of Utah.

group membership – open or closed.


what are the roles that schools fulfill?

– babysitting. social. custonianship iof the kids. and the vry elderly and handicapped. we call it school but what we’re really doing is social care. one funciton.

– another is sorting and selecting. grading.

– recordkeeping.

– educative experience.

– certification.

What if these functions were done independently and optimized.

We could have kids log in wherever they were. They could stay home and be in their parents’ care.

Jonathan Dugan: There’s problems with that… that assumes someone is home…

Liza: Not necessarily. Kids can be anywhere. Bioidentification…

Liz: They could be at work with a parent. Depending on the work.

James – Schools are factories producing a product with qualifications. Subjective tools to get into another institutionalized game. On the web more people can do stuff.

[Yeah James anarchy 4 evah!!!!]

Tim – (citizen think tank on his name tag.) If you start at an open school and then moving to standard one – that is hard.

Liza: Home schoolers do it and they built ways to do it.

Liz – another function of schools ideally is to shelter public intellectuals from market forces. We’re not doing too well at that. It becomes its own market

James – Plus if you want research money for your lab you get bucks from microsoft …

Tim – Schools decide who goes to university and who doesn’t, early.

Liz – yes, tracking starts early and it’s hard to switch tracks up even if it isnt overt.

Tracy Ruggles – how to judge if soeone is competent at a thing?

Liz – that is [what Liza called] certification and what we need is ways of tracking what people produce. And judgements of it. How to avoid it being a popularity/charm contest. However, the current system doesn’t always work so well either ( so flaws shouldn’t stop us from building it. )

[kid bathroom break so I missed a bunch]

James – more about kids’ autonomy

Tim – scarcity in teachers could be eliminated even worldwide.

Liz – decentralize more. Anarchy is good.

Liza: Anarchy??!

James: Anarchy!


Liz – Track attention streams, as we were talking about in the attention talk just now, and if decentralized then there must be ways to track what people do, pay attention to and learn. People are what they are doing and what they pay attention to, who they talk to…

James – That sounds like the openyear project.

[later after I look it up – HOLY CRAP… James is right… right on, openyear people! I will investigate further. Thanks James! A tear springs to my eye! I love a really juicy manifesto. It opens people’s minds. Says it a different way. Allows a shift of vision. This is a good one…. I have been trying to explain this vision… It is *so* important and ties in with what i have been saying about collaboration, idea transmission, crediting people for ideas. Also! This is exactly the sort of thing I was just talking about with Silona!]

Liz – And how to pay people for their expertise or teaching. Schools also exist to pay people for that. [I say, wishing as so many of us wish, that someone would freaking pay.]

Tim – Wikiversity.

[I think of how cutting and snobby academics in the humanities are right now towards Wikipedia b/c they get papers from their students citing it. Giant arguments about trustable sources and judgement. As if being in a book is magic legitimacy? WhatEVER.]

James – It’s a huge political issue…

Tracy – It’s about creating a culture. Kids are self organizing anyway. They are doing it whether we make it happen or not.

Liz – Yah sure, DIY, then we’ll oppress them more b/c it will be scary… and they will be vulnerable and hijackable by corporations like a cultural revolution controlled by corporate world. Oh wait. I forgot, we’re already in that.

Liza – The classroom model exists and we have to deal with it. We don’t have to destroy it.

A guy: Oh I don’t know. Destruction has a place.

Tracy Ruggles – We need to make Barcamp in high school, junior high context, introduce those concepts. Teach them tools for self-organizing.

[Right on!]

Liza: Generational… age… old people who narrow down and only tell one story…

Tracy – This plays into concepts of age, ossification

Liza – age segregation can also be [undermined] by net and open education

Look at gomilpitas.

NASA – showing interest in serious gaming – they want research to back it up – but they are interested.


[I bumblebee away.]


Drupal – Neal and 2 other people – I have missed it – I don’t ha
ve anything to contribute except “I’m an end user of it at Blogher” and “I’m thinking of poking at it and trying it” (We’ve talked about it for

[I bumblebee away again.]


Influence brokers session

Dude with beard – You! *points* How do YOU get out of the blog ghetto? How do YOU become influential?

Me: Oh blah. Hmmm. Well, by knowing who to talk with. I am more influential if I can talk to the right 2 people and they listen – rather than being popular and 5000 people reading my blog, but not those two.

Scott (wearing high-status-geekitude ancient-looking “The Well” tshirt) – influence is about ideas because you care about them and want them heard


Scott – Becoming the ebay of content – is there a scarcity? or not?

Vic – Measuring ROI. Ad in nytimes you can measure. How do we measure influence. The rate sheet for the NY Times. (Vic later gives me a card and his name is “Vic Podcaster”, from Hot From Silicon Valley. Who is this man of mystery? Where is his “about” page? Is he incognito? Why no mask? Wait, why don’t I have a mask? It would solve all my secret identity problems. Or I could just take my glasses on and off.)

Liz – Monetizing vs influence. different.

Scott – Influence of ideas and opinion! that’s what’s important.

Jonathan Dugan – We need accountability so that bloggers if their view matches reality over time then… you get a plus. if not then you get dinged for your bs or your non expertise

Liz – Yeah! Like whuffie but for accountability. You have an idea market. Your bad ideas take away from your rep. Your good ones persist over time and you get credit for them.

Jonathan: Disgusting examples of erasing history to fit current political spin. The NY times takes a line out of a story and acts like it never was written that way.

Bearded guy: 911 stories that disappeared…

John Kim: How is this diff from a market. How do we make something that is different from a market, from just not trusting the nytimes anymore and not reading it.

Vic – That’s what blogging is.

Liz – no. they can change it. It isn’t.

Vic – persistence

Jonathan – deep tagging

Vic – a wiki

Scott – content structuring

Liz – identity tracking is important for it

Vic – while writing you can backspace. the tool is editable…

Scott – i can page down and find stuff faster than i can listen to it

bearded dude – i have something better than google

liz – what?

bearded dude – relevancy rating…

Liza – you can learn to hear faster than you can talk

Jonathan – you can watch a video in 40 minutes, it’s great… just speeded up

bearded dude: videotape, streaming… with indexing and random access, the user coproduces, they go back over it and snippet it and stuff

liz- they can tag minute 1:32, or whatever, with a tag

john kim – so you’re just saying make it a composed artifact like text then
bearded guy – neurolinguistic programming and studies of it – visual learners – radio tv split – etc if you read it nixon won if you heard on radio then it was a tie, if you watch on tv then kennedy blew him away.

vic – new media has to be difff formats for same content

jonathan – thent he holographic simulation…

*general hullaballoo as some people say text is more important. some say audio/video is. Simulations. Games.*

scott – some things translate well and some dont. the mcneil lehrer report moment of silence while the names scroll down the page

jonathan – depth to which people wthink for them selves -t he more info you provide the more their brains turn off. there will always be a place wehre text trumps these rich media formats. (jonathan dugan) it’s not as easy to consume. you have to have a readership willing to dig in and think . it’s a more arcane system

Liz – Games!

Jonathan – holograph

Liz – The whole universe simulated in a universe-sized simulation! Cool, we just invented God!

No one appreciates my humor…

[I bumblebee away, because I see Silona.]

Conv. with silona on legislation, big collaborative papers. I suggest that the best model for it is consumating-like. Also, all literature could be that way. Each bit separatable and taggable and commentable. And you can rank all the bits and your rankings trace back to you. Instead of you ranking the person who had the whole collection of ideas. Everything2 did not do it so well. Consumating has the right idea, is on the right track as is Flickr. Collaboration! It will make everything better, and ideas better, and synergy, and art, and empowerment! Silona gets a shiver and has an aha moment. We talk about big science collaborations, which I got to experience by watching John work at Fermilab and on the Amanda neutrino detection experiment.

I *heart* Silona.

She is doing a time machine project & also brassiere reclamation cantina at burning man.

We talk about the Code-a-thon. I ask if she called it a lock-in because of the church thing. (Yes. It is a southern baptist thing and was meant to be full of irony, but no one who’s not from the south gets it. Silona did week-long camps where they had low protein, low sleep, and high propaganda, including Led Zeppelin played backwards.) The Code-a-thon sounds fabulous! Coding! Drupal! php! Tranquil loungers with vibrating subwoofers as seen at burning man, fabulous wireless speed at huge lan party space, wide range of levels of programming ability, ui stuff, martini rampage. Stickers for the UI experts, “ask me”… they will wander about to help the programmers.

We talk with Adina. Adina rocks… I fade from reality a bit… my sinuses hurt… my laptop runs out of battery… Adina tells Silona to talk to Eugene (eek) about what we were talking about. Adina asks Kevin what the most interesting thing he’s seen in the last month is… It’s a straw that is a water filter and lasts for a year. No one is sure how cheap it is. Clearly beyond camping use, it could save many lives…


Met at giant circuit-board egg on University Ave. Dinner at University Cafe (so-so for the expense but at least it wasn’t too noisy. Talked with Tracy (Galen’s dad) about his taggregator idea. Tagging. I am a lazy tagger. Anarchy (We maybe used the word anarchy in a way unusual to Liza.) Austin. Sxswi. Poetry scene in SF. Did i lose his card where he wrote the names of 2 bay area poets? How can I lose something between dinner and getting home? Cooper something, language poetry person… [ah – it is Cooper Renner] and another poet in Oakland. I recommended Writers With Drinks and Edinburgh Castle to him. (He just moved here from Austin.) We talked about and the other stuff from the attention talk and the education discussion. Rook talked about voip and (the lack of) open source IM and voice over IM and why there is no application for seeing the IM status of friends of friends. SIP. Then I lost the thread of the conversation.)

Milo and another kid (Galen) played with a Transformer and a Bionicles creature, almost the whole afternoon, running around doing hide & seek & writing about aliens on the whiteboards. It was nice. As we left (to meet them at the restaurant) Milo commen
ted quite shyly to me, “I think that kid whose name is Galen? I think he is
a Friend.” (Rare moment.)

Rook is v. curious about Galen counting in Korean for hide & seek.

Milo wrote “Egghead Egghead Egghead Egghead Egghead” mysteriously over on the paper tablecloth, while Galen created a kid vs. adult menu where all the adult options were like “Calimari Salmon Tofu Flakes” and the kid options were hot dogs for way cheaper. Observant! He did not riff off of our suggestions of worms or other nonsense foods and then I realized he was properly suspicious of mocking adult humor and condescension, but we didn’t mean it that way.

Oh yeah – almost forgot – Tracy told me about FeedLounge which sounds like it does everything I have been wanting from a feed reader – but it is 5 bucks a month. I’m considering it since they promise they allow you to export your feeds with tags.

3 thoughts on “Barcamp Stanford – Notes (cleaned up)

  1. re: “The Money is not in ‘generating content’ but rather is in getting a lot of user generated content for free or dirt cheap and you will make a ton of money off it, while implying that if I don’t get on the bandwagon I’m lazy or idealistic or both.”

    This would be why I am running far, far away from this industry. I can’t stand that idea. The only implication should be that you (and me, and others on that side of the fence) are _principled_ and they are, um, less than principled. See? This is why I don’t go to these things. I’d end up calling a room full of people vile thieves or something.

    re: “I think of how cutting and snobby academics in the humanities are right now towards Wikipedia b/c they get papers from their students citing it. Giant arguments about trustable sources and judgement.”

    True. However, there’s a good swath of people working at the low levels (e.g. comp 1A/1B and the equivalent) who are using Wikipedia as a teaching tool. As in, “yes, you may use Wikipedia for research but you must confirm the sources and this is why,” or even people who are using the whole “neutral voice” aspect as an assignment. For example, having students look at controversial topics and talk pages and discussing how the article does or does not reflect neutral voice, and how to change it, and even having students write their own wikipedia entry for something or another, with appropriate sources per wikipedia standards. IOW, I do see a slow change happening, but at least it’s a positive change.

  2. I don’t get why the attention people fetishize “attention” instead of just talking about privacy.

    When I think about abuses of “attention” I don’t think as much about people recording my clicks as about noise, spam, and bad design. Overloading the term “attention” with privacy issues muddies an equally important conversation about intrusive advertising.

    I also think it’s absurd to believe that you can walk through the world, interacting with things around you, and retain sole rights to the consequences of your interactions. If you and I have a conversation, can I require you to erase it from your brain? While I resell the conversation to the highest bidder? That’s what the attention rights movement sounds like to me.

    Even if they convinced me about their goals, I would question their methods. I would have much more trust in a good anonymization service than in Attention Trust, which as I understand it consists of unverifiable promises by online services not to misuse my “attention”.

    I’m hoping that my skepticism will earn me a slot on Christian Crumlish’s proposed SXSW panel. 🙂

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