mobile web revisited

This doesn’t come from one panel in general, but was spurred on in part by the panels on Saturday, but also from the overall SxSWi experience and things I’ve been mulling on for probably almost a year now.

Mobile web, in non-geek (non-affluent?) audiences, is probably still two or three years off. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s too expensive with not enough value for most people. As long as the carriers keep pricing where it is (for T-Mobile, my carrier, that’s an extra $20/month…per phone*), it’s going to come in slowly for a while. If the economy goes downhill, expect that to be even slower.

But after SxSW, I’ll add that there is an “on the other hand” — people who have mobile web are nuts about it. Admittedly, that may be because they’re already nuts about the web. (Sampling bias, etc., etc.) But it also seems to fill some rather particular wants. Yes, I was involved in a discussion in a bar where Wikipedia was used to settle an argument. (Margin of win in 2004 presidential popular vote, if you must know.) I saw mapping going on, and of course the incessant Twittering.**

So eventually it will be big, but eventually is driven by money. If the carriers want mobile web to take off, the pricing will change, and it’ll happen sooner. If not, it won’t.

What about the iPhone? I don’t see the iPhone tipping anything yet outside of geek culture. Here, in my real physical existence, I know one person who owns one. And he was at SxSW, which I think just proves my point.

And I refuse to speculate on wacky stuff with the Android Project, VoIP, or anything that’s not found in a booth at the mall.

There is, however, a third hand: texting. Texting is friggin’ huge. It’s so huge that even I got a text package added to our phones, and I am notoriously a mid/late adopter, if only because I’m cheap.

What does that imply for my professional world?

If we launch anything mobile web (be that site or banking), it would be inappropriate to expect it to be a huge hit right away. It has to be looked at as an investment for the long term: 3-5 years out. Doing it now is a case of getting practice, getting the bugs worked out, and maybe getting a little publicity. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean managing expectations. And we need to expect that we will need to do something eventually, because it’s coming. Eventually. (…which seems to have been a long time already.)

Something that does texting, OTOH, could be a big hit right away, IF it meets an actual need. That means thinking deeply about context: who is using it? Where? To what end? Or to revisit Kathy Sierra: how does a text message from your credit union help you kick ass?

[update: for extra sarcastic goodness, see]

* Most families, of course, are going to have multiple phones. So x2 for a couple, x3 to add a teenage kid, etc., etc. Plus don’t forget that phones that can do decent web are bigger (generally) and cost more money. As I heard at WebVisions last year, most people pick the cheapest phone that comes with the plan they want.

** I think of Twitter as the poster child for potential mobile social applications; I also think it’s interesting that they cross over all the online possibilities, including texting. That was my reason for adding texting to my phone plan.

tools for enchantment revisited

As I said in my mondo summary, I thought this particular panel deserved a few more summary and/or explanation and/or planning notes. I’m finding that my thoughts on this fall into a couple of categories.

First of all, I find myself wanting to go nuts on our intranet. It should be attractive and interesting, to provide a rich environment for learning at work. It should reduce stress. “Do something cool within 30 minutes.” Work more with HR/PERC to include more features on physical activity. Plus I want an entirely new way to think about knowledge transfer and reference materials, with lots more of people helping each other and getting good at asking smart questions, bringing each other in on jargon, etc.

On the public side, I want to find more ways to feature how members got what they wanted by being members, getting loans, etc., etc. The education site (my last project before sxsw) pulls back at me, too; storytelling to increase learning, plus using that learning to increase understanding of financial issues; and the same thing with the email newsletter, creating a higher-resolution experience? (It’s still a little vague.)

And a couple of a little reminders: make sure that features, esp. in online banking, show up in the right places (as much as I can); and check on getting good help for banking users.

summary notes: day-by-day

I’m planning, additionally, an “executive summary” (which may just go to my boss), and additional posts on: mobile web, casual gaming (maybe), Kathy Sierra’s talk, and municipal/public wifi.

Thursday, March 6

Travel day. Up early, to bed early. Cold & rainy in Austin, too rainy to get the bike.

Friday, March 7

Session: Respect!

Top folks from Happy Cog, including Zeldman, plus Doug Bowman from Google. Mostly, this panel provided a lot of validation of common experiences amongst web folk.

The most interesting takeaway: using something “unobtrusively visible” to have (written) conversations among different parts of the team; everybody can “overhear” what everyone else is doing. They use Basecamp for that, but I imagine there’s lots of ways to handle it.

Also that day…

Picked up bike. Weather better, but still on the chilly side. Broke my camera (slammed into an escalator railing) and rode 4 miles each way to get it fixed.

In the evening, went to the Higher Ed Meetup with Andrea, mostly as a lark. There were no get-togethers of financial web folk that I could suss out, and I didn’t run into any other singletons, either. 🙁 But it turned out to be interesting, both personally & professionally, and useful as well. Point for work: got a contact from Pat for a WordPress guy who might be able to give me some comparison options for CMS stuff v. Drupal. (That makes more sense to me than it does in writing. Honest.)

Saturday, March 8

Session: What Teens Want

A group of teenagers (13-17, IIRC) plus an adult moderator. Important caveat that these teens go to either a tech academy at a local high school, or a prep school; YMMV.

Fairly marketing-savvy: they know that ads pay for stuff, but they also hate ads. Pop-up ads came in for specific and repeated denunciation.

Almost all have myspace accounts, which they refer to as “my myspace”, otherwise favorite sites were based on other interests (gaming, fashion, etc). None use mobile web. (I have more thoughts about mobile web to write in a separate note.) Although “casual” games are fairly popular and of course texting is big. Pac-man, for some reason, is quite the thing.

Cost came up as a factor repeatedly in mobile phone discussion, regarding phone type and features used; almost all rely on parents to fund their phones/plans.

Session: The Contextual Web

Nick Finck on mobile web; I had hoped that this panel was about more contexts than that. He covered the general idea of context in re: the web, which was useful in its own way as a reminder. Raised a question of curiosity about the context of online banking, which mostly takes place during the work day, presumably at work. What are we missing about that context? Also, all of his examples used the iPhone. (See mobile web notes for more on that.)

Also that day…

Sunny, but chilly. Lunch (etc) with H.A., which was wonderful. More futzing with camera.

Sunday, March 9

Session: Wireframing in a 2.0 World

Two of the ClearLeft guys. This was the only panel where I really got into the meebo discussions; I had to quit because I couldn’t chat & take notes at the same time. But that discussion was interesting, and confirmed my own hunch about their process: namely, that it ends up with something that looks too pretty. Plain, yes, but “designy.”

But I did really appreciate learning the general outline of the technique. JavaScript libraries used to create simplistic prototypes. It might be helpful for future projects. (Jumping forward: it makes me wish the panel on JS libraries had been remotely useful.)

Session: Emotional Design

An interesting mixed panel that actually had a blended presentation that worked well together. I have to make special note of this; like the previous panel (in the same room; hmmm) they stood, passed the mic back & forth, and had a single set of slides. It was too dark to see them very well, but otherwise it was an excellent presentation style.

As far as the actual content: an excellent examination of emotion towards things (where software is included as a thing), with the exception of a few almost-sexist quips. Things to look into or ask about: what does it feel like when something fails in Online Banking? how can the website make the connection with positive associations with branch/people? what is the internal meaning that people attach to credit union membership? what is the first impression of the website (or anything else, for that matter)? what do we want it to be? Also (this comes up again later): you can’t really promote what you don’t love.

Session: Logos (are bad)

Didn’t get anything out of it; felt like an uninformed ramble. Left early. (I ended up talking to Christina Wodke at Fray Cafe that night, and managed to express my unhappiness with the experience without being mean. That’s all I’m going to say in re: the Facebook interview debacle, which oddly enough, I missed by being in this panel & the next one.)

Session: Stories, Games & Your Brand

Something about panels right after lunch, I guess. This one felt too insular among the panelists, or maybe they’d already figured out that most of the audience was fairly familiar with the topic?

A few notable gems, though. To get to the elves thing, Office Max tried 20 different games the Xmas before; whatever you want to say about whether it helped them as marketing, it’s important to see the experimentation. Penguin Books uses a special “innovation budget” for some of its online writing experiments, rather than seeing them as marketing.

Plus a reminder about the huge casual gaming audience, which is usually described as middle-aged women, but cf. teen panel for other interested groups.

Session: Tools for Enchantment

I’d been curious about Kathy Sierra’s presentation style for a while, and I really enjoyed it; both the slides and her speaking style, plus the few audience participation bits. My one complaint is that she sometimes went a bit too fast, and skipped things under the assumption that we had seen a prior presentation. This session was dense with little bursts of ideas & food for thought. As in: I’m printing my notes right now so I can mark them up to make decent summary. [update: here’s my extended post]

Also that day…

DST = EPIC FAIL, according to Andrea. Or not. But wow it was dark in the morning.

MetaFilter meetup was very energizing at lunchtime; an interesting discussion of how people are online v offline, plus yes, Jessamyn & Gus do know each other. (So very small world. Gus, aka Jill, is someone I’ve known since junior high school. Mmmmm, band camp.) And silly things with photos/captions.

I hit the trade show for a while, which was more fun (and useful) than I would’ve expected. Connected with Dave O. at Raincity Studios, which might come in handy for Drupal stuff later, plus that was just a funny meeting. (Chit-chatting usual booth style, then he introduced himself, I went “oh, you’re Dave; I’m C’s wife.” “C with the big ideas?” “Yes, that would be the one.” Heh.)

The books at the Blurb booth were beautiful; I’d recommend them to anybody doing visual arts/photography. The Brain Machine at the Make/Craft booth was startlingly relaxing, and the booth itself was like being in the giftshop at the old museum. Checked out the Pro Drupal Development book at the Friends of Ed/Apress booth, but passed it up for the time being; I’m going to wait for one on Drupal 6. (Later this year?) Also had a very nice conversation about southeastern Arizona, where Grandma & Grandpa N lived, with the folks at the Film Tuscon booth, which comes back in a bit.

Most cool was hanging out at the O’Reilly booth. Catherine Nolan, who I worked with when I did tech review for Head First JavaScript, is hysterically awesome. Simon St. Laurent, the editor for Shelley’s book, came up and said hi too, was super-nice, introduced me to a guy (whose name I’ve forgotten!) working on a book about online communities, which sounds potentially quite interesting. (A side note about ’08 vs. ’06: I felt much less star-struck this time around, which overall was a good thing.)

Went to the Fray Cafe in the evening, which was as fun and funny and moving as Ralph led me to believe. Prompted by the conversation with the Film Tuscon folk, I told the story of my grandparents — an enormously long pause in the middle is all I remember, and then the MC getting people to applaud me into talking again. That led to the conversation with Christina Wodke, as mentioned earlier.

Then probably the best serendipitous moment of the entire trip, and one of my rare bursts of quasi-star-strucked-ness (?), running into Dori Smith in a parking lot, after midnight, and then talking for an hour. (Turns out she worked with credit union software, ages & ago. Good to know. We talked CU culture for a bit. So I guess that means that I did connect with someone CU-related. Hey!)

Monday, March 10

Session: The Web That Wasn’t

My notes, my fairly damn copious notes, seem to have vanished utterly. And I’ve already cleaned off and returned the borrowed laptop, so if they were in a text file, they’re still utterly vanished. This was one of the more interesting sessions, too. (expletive deleted)

What sticks after a week & the flu? “The Buffalo Public Library of 1983” (an article from 1883, in which a librarian imagines something that sounds suspiciously like the Intarwebs); Paul Otlet’s crazy library/index-card thing in Belgium: apparently, you could telegraph them a question and get it answered for a small fee, like a verrrrry sloooow Google. Destroyed by the Nazis. Ted Nelson is kinda nutty.

The most useful part of the session was the author bringing together common themes of visions of web-like things: two-way links, meaningful links, annotation, persistent identity/trails. In conversation with C later, it occurred to me that many of these are made unlikely by spam; their visions were (of necessity?) of smaller self-contained non-commercial systems. Also, (and this just hit me) perhaps they have something useful to add to an intranet?

On the bright side, re: notes: I did add some of his suggested items to delicious, all in the post of March 10/11.

Session: keynote with Frank Warren of Postsecret

My notes are nothing, really; just things I typed somewhat randomly while being deeply intensely moved. Something about Postsecret just hits me right in the freaking gut. It’s also a good reminder that as the personal use of the web spreads, more and more people are going to have bits of themselves, “non-professional” bits, out there, and not be willing to erase them for corporate life. (Had a conversation later on a similar topic over drinks. Obviously, and as long-time readers will know, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a Really. Long. Time.)

Session: Video Games & Corporate Training

One of two “core conversations” that I tried out. An interesting experiment; worth the effort in general, altho this one was a bust for me. (My notes have my thoughts on the format.) The casual gaming thing came up again, this time around training on specific topics. Casual gaming, like mobile web, may deserve its own post.

Session: Target Lawsuit Update

Most of the technical issues are so familiar to me at this point as to be not worth repeating. OTOH, it was helpful to see the list of types of “public accommodations” which I hadn’t seen before, as well as a number of particular notes about the legal issues that had previously escaped my attention. “a service related to a public accommodation” seems to be a key phrase.

There are things I need to check up on; right now the thing that probably requires most work is probably the least important: adding captions/transcripts to the TV & radio ads on our site. Also, it sounds like this whole thing is something to keep an eye on.

Also that day…

This was the day of truly insane rain. I missed the first session hoping that it would let up enough to bike in; ended up walking instead. Somebody told me that Austin & Seattle actually get a similar amount of rain; it’s just that they get in 10 minutes what we get in 2 weeks.

I think this may have been the day I finally got my camera really working, better than before even. (Smacking it while the lens was still open. Don’t ask.)

Lunch with Andrea. Really good lunch with Andrea. Reminder to her: when you have time, watch The Venture Brothers; the thing that your idea reminded me of was in the Brisbyland episode in Season 1. And I think I realized that what I want out of my (long-abandoned) Media Diet idea is something fairly semantic-web-like. Maybe an actual reason to learn RDF?

Another trip to the trade show, with more time at O’Reilly. (Minor ego-boo: Catherine introducing me to (?) as “one of our tech editors” (or something to that effect).) And bought the newest Postsecret book — signed — as a surprise present for Elizabeth, which she got in the mail yesterday.

That was also the night that I attempted to go out and didn’t end up having a whole lot of fun. Wanted to go to SXNW party, since it’s peeps from this part of the world, but I just can’t stay up that late, and the thing I went to before that to pass the time was immensely boring, plus I got cold. (Yeah, I’m kind of an old lady.) But some lovely random person left a lei of silk flowers on my parked bike, which made me smile.

Tuesday, March 11

Session: CMS Roundup

I was honestly not expecting this to be as good as it was. I missed the beginning because of a really interesting conversation that I’ll get back to shortly. IMHO, there is no reason to spend big bucks on a CMS. (I was going to add a caveat, but let’s just assume that every blanket statement has a caveat. Even that one.)

Going with open source means paying for knowledge (consultants, staff time, etc), but that seems to be true for any CMS being implemented in a commercial setting. Drupal is powering some pretty damn good (and good-looking) commercial sites. With the color picker, it’s possible to do micro-sites with one-off skins, similar to how sites on our intranet work now. It can handle external data being passed through without disturbing the original source. (Or something. I’m not entirely sure I understand how that worked.) But it has a hard time with singletons & edge cases in general.

Expression Engine is also looking good, and seems to have a lot built in; along with the WordPress conversation I had with Pat, that might give me several comparisons to make. (Should talk to Andrea about that too; isn’t HSU using EE?) Also, Jeff Eaton from Lullabot has a nice turn of phrase; the notes include my favorite bits.

About that conversation: I’d forgotten my mini-schedule, so I was asking around at the Lego pit for room info. I ended up talking to a Yahoo person, initially about CMSes. If I got it correctly, they have a few units using Drupal for intranet stuff, which was very interesting to hear. Plenty of pros & cons.

But also, the person was allowed to say, but not allowed to write themselves, that a bunch of stuff (code? it was morning, and I’ve had the flu since then) is going to be released open source this summer. Call that my scoop of the week. 🙂

My source was really excited about some of the things going on at Yahoo, but really frustrated with PR folk for not being able to say more sooner; feels like that’s what makes it look like they’re “me too” with Google: they’ve been working on X for however many months, Google announces super-experimental-beta of X, then later when Yahoo announces their version of X, it gets called copy-cat. An interesting perspective. I continue to hope that they fend off the approaches of MSFT.

Session: Core Conversation: Specialization v Doing It All.

My notes are about 3 lines of not-notes, which is sort of sad because it was a really interesting discussion. HUGE group, 4 or 5 rows deep, but really engaged (and getting the last row to stand up made it possible to hear).

My odd realization was that becoming a web generalist was actually a form of specialization: before Pierce, my jobs included (mixed together): event management, database design, print production, admin support, grantwriting, teaching, managing other admin staff, and other stuff I’m forgetting at the moment. My faux title at the museum was Random Chaos Girl, after all. 🙂

The question of which was “better” seemed to come down to organization size and personal temperament. For specialists (and for all of us, really), it’s important to be aware of the needs & skills of other specialists; for generalists (and I suppose people in general), to know enough to know the limits of what’s knowable for you, and when to call in the specialist.

Also, the moderator is part of a design/dev group that’s an un-company, which sounds very very interesting. Self-organizing groups & all that. Something to think about for myself for later?

Session: Secrets of JavaScript Libraries

I had really high hopes for this one; as did a lot of other people, apparently, because it was packed to the gills. But I was sorely disappointed. This ties with post-lunch on Sunday for the session low point.

Too large of a room, and I was in the last row, so I could neither hear nor see properly. The code samples in particular were entirely unreadable. There was no discernible structure to the presentation, and the panelists didn’t have a good flow amongst themselves. Might’ve gotten more by hanging out longer at lunch, alas.

Session: Municipal WiFi

I ended the sessions (more about that later) on something of a personal note, as well as on way too much caffeine. (Spilled my mocha on the carpet, even, in my excitability.) Like the Kathy Sierra presentation, this has too many interesting bits to summarize without a marked-up printout.

But it energized me enough to think seriously about how to do something locally, plus I have contacts I want to make. C & I had a pretty good chat about it on the way home from the airport, too, which once we are both healthy we’ll need to get back to.

Session: Futurists’ Sandbox

Ran into Glenda & Andrea (and masses of other people) outside of this one; it was the only one that really interested me, and was so full that we were sitting on the floor. But it was too weird, honestly, to stick with. A faux funeral/eulogy? I couldn’t get into it, not sitting on the floor anyway.

So we 3 all bailed together, and to good effect, I think. Ended up at the Hampton, for excellent conversations over drinks. Particularly enjoyed chat with Andrea, Tom & Jeff of Blue Flavor, and Paul Boag about self-branding, blogging/flickr boundaries, etc.; my long-standing rules of blogging. And before that, about driving/walking/biking in Seattle, etc.

Also that day…

Finally the weather got nice. (grr)

Had lunch with a nice fellow from Belgium named Hans. With that & Drupal, I think Tuesday may have been Belgian Day. 😉 Always interesting to meet new people, learn what else is out there in the world. We talked CMS for a bit, and he suggested looking at Django; so yet another thing to go on the list!

Tuesday was my one and only “party night” at a conference that seems to have acquired quite the reputation. But I am a mild partier, so nothing particularly wild to report. (As if I would.) More fantastic conversations, including an incredibly thoughtful (if shouted) one about politics, with people I had not met until right then. On the walk to the hotel, got to put in my 2 cents about the importance of CCs in training of web people to someone where it might actually make a difference. That’s always a nice feeling.

Wednesday, March 12

Another glorious day; had immense fun biking to the post office with Elizabeth’s gift and then to Whole Foods, although getting from Whole Foods to the bike shop was a frustrating puzzle, even tho they are on the same road. Dropped off the bike, checked out of the hotel, hung out at the Hideout (reminder to self: name of the place where I had best. mocha. ever.), and then to the airport. Kept running into SXSW people, which was nice/weird/melancholy. Then airplane, then home, then…well, flu.

teh suck.

I went to bed Wednesday night tired and giddy, and woke Thursday still exhausted…and with the flu. I don’t think I’ve had actual influenza in years & years: fever, chills, nasty (painful!) cough. So I’m trying to get as much rest & fluids as I can. Also, I’m a little scatter-brained, so a SXSW summary might not be forthcoming for a couple of days.


It’s Wednesday morning, and I’m sitting in The Hideout (on Congress) snacking on lunch, and (inadvertently) hanging out with other sxsw people. feeling spacey, but in a mellow way, after 4-5 hours sleep. took the bike back this morning, after a big loop to the post office & whole foods. getting from whole foods to the bike shop was a PITA, even tho they are on the same road!

Last night was the one and only time I really “partied,” and almost to my surprise, I had a really really good time. I didn’t drink much, because I don’t ever drink much, but my throat is a little hoarse from all the shouting. One long crazy conversation about politics and sex (sort of), and then lots of little random conversations, meeting people at oddly the last moment. (Chris Wilson’s hair, btw, reminds me a lot of Raul’s, but with more gel or something.)

Ran into Denise who used to live in Seattle, and who now lives in Miami, and that was fun as always. She introduced me to Tiffany Brown, who does some hella-smart blogging.

walked with Andrea (& jon hicks & craig cook) back to her hotel, where I’d parked my bike, and said goodbye, and that was totally bittersweet, as was cruising the dark streets of austin, crossing the river at night for the last time.

Oh, and I had some entirely excellent bbq last night, too.

This morning as part of my packing I made notes on all the business cards I got, so I can remember who the hell those people were and anything specific I was going to follow up on.

I still need to reread all my notes. Somehow I have to summarize, pull out the best nuggets, and figure out what the hell I’m going to do with all this weird nerdy energy. Also, I need to finish posting photos: lots from Fray Cafe that need review, plus some from the last couple of days. (Oh, I think I’ve fixed my camera better than new by smacking it while the lens was open. How very.)

Don’t know yet if I’m going to sleep or read on the plane. It seems vaguely unreal that I will be sleeping in my own bed tonight and going to work (!!!!) tomorrow.

municipal wifi

ah, coffee.

“league of technical voters”?

esme. (started june 2003) mix of technologies in non-western co’s. “I refuse to get an iPhone until I get 3G.” easier to get wifi on friend’s iphone than to use EDGE network. has tmobile pre-paid card here. gets roaming charges if she leaves netherlands (“about 20 feet”); data charges! (yep.) 10,000 euro phone bill because she was videoblogging a conference in paris. price it high because they don’t want you to use it, because there isn’t enough capacity.

going into models: (1) building backbone and allowing providers to do stuff with it (2) let advertisers run it (3)

underestimated number of access points needed at street level, and the amount of backhaul needed.

“free-est wireless city in the world” (austin guy) network designed in case of political or financial disaster. SBC (now AT&T) is a texas co, don’t want to put a target on their heads. financially resilient. “every node had to carry its own weight” vs. single payer. (did we use a photo of this guy in C’s final project?) if a node went bankrupt, burned down, etc, all the other neighborhood’s nodes are still ok. like internet v. nuclear attack.

experiments in austin: network started in fall ’02, aeons ago in wifi. started experimenting with social networks, co-working. meeting the people that you see around the coffeeshops, and actually getting to know them: break the ice. (that’s freaking cool.) playing with advertising as well. “still a myth” that mobile advertising can fund any large build-out. help advertisers come up with well-defined audiences, because the users are known.

bonewald (league) was involved in protesting crackdown on sharing bandwidth. convincing argument: town near grandparents’ ranch (family is big in football coaching in texas). has a business model; sf had just “welched out” what would work? several-step process. hmmmm. “free and open source social network” underlying architecture of individual sharing. but no city buy-in. and then advertising, but again what’s in it for the city? municipal tools! moving away from yahoo groups, “to help build community on the east side” (ha!) supplying computers and all that. (okay, must talk to her now.) how to work with user agreements that time-warner is making people sign.

it’s not a tech problem, but a business problem. yeah. usa definitely NOT a leader in this area? what about other countries?

esme: wireless broadband is connected to wired broadband. EU telcom commissioner forcing carriers to open fiber et al to competitors. separate the pipe from the service providers, layer 2.

mackinnon: montreal, berlin, suburbs of barcelona. montreal copied austin, but did things differently. in austin they relied on pc-based servers, kept pentium 1/2s out of the landfill. they went to programmable linksys routers, skipped the server. elegant, if not as green. easier to put into venues: less space, needs less electricty. berlin mesh networking. “hijacked” (like meraki) when the venture capitalists came in with lawyers. berlin group wilfully violates sharing agreements, but that’s a social/political issue. municipalities don’t realize there’s a lower cost option. spain has phone monopoly; outside of big cities, no broadband. ancient villages drying up. enable villages to help themselves. point to multi-point. gigantic wireless lan. just because you have access to the lan, doesn’t mean you have access to the internet. (That’s what C keeps talking about) gaming as the classic application. “internet as an extra service”

bonewald: someone in the audience from new zealand where they’re playing w/meraki stuff. but otherwise not as knowledgable outside of US. grid (mesh?) solutions in small towns can be a fiscally conservative option. volunteer fire departments.

also a political issue. could we build a movement on the national level?

esme: yes, you can. texas movement. you can’t just talk about broadband. “we need wifi. why?” talk about it as choice. take back control from the big phone company. always be asking why.

bonewald: I want everyone to be as addicted as I am. spent too much money while in new zealand.

q: guy from montreal. really believe in the ad-driven model, but projects are missing component: local salesforce; what about partnering with yellow pages? every city has a weekly newspaper (the stranger, et al) supported by ads, partner with those? compelling value proposition: we’ll run your ad on hotspots all across the city. with a social network included, can have the events as part of that. “yay you guys, y’all are hard core.” (for being at a panel on last day)

q: EU proposal abt structural separation: do you know people who’ve done networking in the US; are there serious non-geeks involved? esme sez no, because of telcom lobbyists, our money system in politics. I missed the 2nd question; who’s logged into hotspots near you. send “shouts” or “whispers” have been looking at openid, haven’t done yet because programming resources are so tight. 98% of public have no idea what you’re talking about. waiting for people to understand.

q: what didn’t work in philly? mountain view provided by google — how are public spaces are going to be provisioned? issues with earthlink getting out of the biz. ceo died and he was the big backer, plus cost overruns. google: deep pockets, but it’s still moving so slowly. mobile marketing market may still be too immature. “advertising? where are those dollars?” lots of finger-pointing! met 3 ad partners, now piloting some of the best programs around today. 200 new users a day. they make $200/month on advertising. and they have one of the best networks around. mesh network — slowly — coming into parks, thru city of austin. never able to invest because couldn’t get coverage in buildings.

q: mike from NZ. “the free net” sees it as a national competitive advantage. they lose out whenever someone can’t get onto a network. spills over into the community. agrees on advertising model, but maybe later. people configuring advertising on their own node. (neat!) cost of mgmt is more than the network. need to figure out how to set up a network that doesn’t need mgmt, which is tricky w/govt. can be grass-roots AND top-down. they pay by volume, not speed. donate your extra volume back to the community. room for both telcos and free. no guarantee “might unplug tomorrow & plug my xmas tree in” on free. demonstrating that internet is of value. starting with CBD. (as was discussed with Oly in cmte)

q: people getting frustrated with lack of coherent in wifi projects. “” decentralized. problem that he keeps seeing: no easy rolled-up solution for setup. ddwrt that was super-easy to install, divided off part of your service, throttling, your part is secure separate from public. “people need to know that they can share” (not really a question!) problem with time-warner contracts. muni’s have to care, even if individuals don’t have to. grassroots vs. weeds. squirrels planting volunteer trees. yeah. something permanent for the people of austin. need a “gardener” to have a quality network. “network planted by squirrels” (that is the MOST HAWESOME PHRASE EVAR.) download software that they use (austin project) from sourceforge. authentication server. time warner provides window stickers.

q: guy out in the country, gets dial-up, broadband is 4 miles away. satellite doesn’t work if weather is lousy. what to do to get this closer to his house? collective action. find compadres, like suburbs of barcelona. like a co-op. (what was the name of those guys?) sharing the hard-line costs, then distribute it nearby. “you’re in the same position as the 3rd world, you’ll need to use a third world solution.” direct beam to guy in NZ?

q: works with rural telcos. “universal service fund” when someone tries to build out cable, what rules to include in local agreements? (I should go find that guy. franchise.) in austin: got best brains in the region together. grande communication, has clauses you are looking for, but made them less competitive.

cms roundup

came in 15 mins late, but with interesting reasons. (aside from the fact that this place is freaking HUGE) more on that later.

catapult systems on sharepoint. variations for internationalization, mobile. “my site” for intranet.

drupal. is that the lullabot guy? who has heard of? like 80-90%. “vaguely creepy logo, weird name” built by the people who use it. “hobbyists, businesses, volunteers, belgians” (2 top contributors: 12 year old named Dimitri; 50 year old woman who wanted to write about taking care of elderly parents)

fast company. all existing content, 10 year old social network, plus NEW stuff with citizen journalism. whew. (Oh dear god I want to make OlyBlog look cool.) Lifetime TV. musician with flash (!) site where backend is drupal. UN end poverty. DC comics + IBM site. US magazine. (Dave told me the other day they just finished a site for Harlequin books. Remind me to send that to mom.) The Onion. “now that Onion & CNN are cross-sharing headlines, my world is a lot more disorientating.” heh.

“drupal can look like whatever insane photoshop files your designers throw at you.” approx 3000 modules.

graphic of the layers (need to find that image). core (can do “enough” with just that) -> modules -> users (in different roles. does that say “plebians”?) -> content ->  views of content -> theme.

looks lame by default, because default theme is blog-style. yeah.

not good for: “I just want to make a page” (like swatting a fly with a buick), “the next twitter”, brochureware sites (altho I did it), just a blog.

good for: user-generated content, communities, many kinds of content, many views of content (mailings, calendars, etc), if you care abt open apis, web standards. big community that works on integrating with apis from other site. openid is part of core in the latest version. most of the good theme designers are good with standards & accessibility.

sony artist sites. building traffic by being dynamic; roll out new artist sites fast (2-3/week), Sony BMG is one of the largest contributors to drupal now.

expression engine. “a fool that needs pity.”  handful of EE users. just giving a specific example. “I have no technical expertise” no custom php on the site at all. (mr. t & me?!) everything is standards compliant, and has been since 2004.

using php to find double-pipes, breaking content apart, then mashing it back together. can have custom field for every single bit of content. (asked if drupal now does the same, I think the response was yes)

too hard to see the screenshots. should’ve had a close up over the big screenshot.

has used on abt 20 sites on his own. abt $200 for commercial license. with paid support staff on the forums.

shows sites for other clients. on EE side, coded the whole thing in one day, after the design was built in HTML/CSS.

new presenter: “cms agnostic” case study of art institute of chicago. “we’re still thinking about our ‘real’ cms.” round 1: dreamweaver, bits of custom php (1500 pages) “interim solution” quick & easy, discrete scope. …but: doesn’t stay interim: to this day that events module lives (in PHP4, MySQL4), never added another page, nav was nightmare to do in dreamweaver.

round 2: serena collage. “design-time product” switched to text-based navigation. nice master-page structure. added breadcrumbs. “wcms”? greatest asset is being “metadata-driven” design-time aspect can be frustrating, can’t just do a database query. spit out static files (ala MT?). still using it. master pages were great; workflow; version control one of the most used features. “links as assets” managed, change in one place & propogates throughout. good for internal, not so much for external. training contributors was easy. training developers much more difficult, hard to keep staff: tedious. don’t have people work on back-to-back collage projects. very slow interface. not Mac-friendly. interfered with php code, no support for dynamic framework: nothing interactive. end-of-life product: no more licenses being sold. “maybe this is the announcement” (!!!!!!)

round 3: drupal. “really into drupal now” added a “my collection” feature. drupal controls the menuing, easy to bring together various sources of content. everything about any particular work. their digital collection management system is custom, and drupal works pretty well with it. using an orange variant of garfield for management. their main system is the main source of information, and drupal lets it be. (or something.) then microsites for major exhibitions. they don’t have web staff, can use color picker to generate new skins. user management is “awesome”, they like jquery. drupal 6 didn’t come thru in time for them. drupal isn’t as good with one-off exceptions (edge cases), which make

q: resource for people new to drupal? “like a garbage truck full of legos” community is putting out more resources. (yes, that is the lullabot guy.) biggest failing of drupal. suggestion from (? woman) they have some resources. I missed some of that. “pro drupal development” I looked at that in the trade show, and it’s 5, not 6.

q: certain feature that’s not included, do you try to lean them to something that exists or create from scratch? often better to find something close, but in some cases you need to do something specific. also, consider the expertise of the client. “impressed at the willingness of clients to release custom work back into the community.”

q: drupal & workflow: “workflow” module, also “actions” — states that content can be in.

[EE guy keeps saying, “it has that built in”]

missed question about designing a cms or something.

q: cost structures? per site, start-up, monthly. how do free products make money?

“it’s microsoft so it all depends” number of people for external, flat fee for internal (abt $25,000) holy moses. edu installs get huge huge discount.

“everything in drupal is free” downside is that you need knowledge. hiring a company or spending the time to ramp up. lullabot does a lot of work getting clients thru the ramp up stage, training internal staff.

EE: personal license abt $100, commercial $200-$250. subscription fee to the code, might have to buy in again with upgrades.

agency: time & materials estimating. collage was very successful in higher ed, “until yesterday” — $80,000 – $200,000 fee. ouch.

target lawsuit update

in 5 mins late. millions and millions of dollars! (of course vs. tiny amounts to just pay people to do the damn thing.) oh, this is the first session where I’ve seen a ASL translator. asking about sizes of co’s that people work with. I fall in between “small business” and “the size of target.” point the first: lawyers cost more than web folk.

millions and millions of people. both the narrower group of disabilities that actually matter to the internet, and things that aren’t disabilities but mimic them. (lack of speakers.) oh, the complex topic of learning disabilities.

the law. (this is all known stuff for me.) nice list of public accommodations. “Retail services (barbers, banks, lawyer, accountant)” so yes, of course that would be us.

are these ballrooms a wifi dead zone?

access now, inc. vs southwest airlines. “must be a physical, concrete structure.” “nexus” to physical place? aircraft not included in ADA. does not apply; case dismissed. (2002)

national federation of the blind vs target (hrm. slides of bullet points. he’s quite articulate, but dude. still.) (06-01802 MHP; N.D. Ca. 2006 don’t know what those means, but might want for reference later.) “reasonably related to the purpose of the store” not throwing out the lawsuit. “affirmative defense” not cause for throwing out, just a defense at an actual trial.

NFB allegations; Anitra is going to review the actual site. guy who wanted to pre-shop, because it makes it easier, and couldn’t; also couldn’t order online to pick up at store. couldn’t complete checkout by himself. (I wanna see pictures here, or a video or something. are they going to get to that?)

here’s the pictures.

rendon v valleycrest prod. — who wants to be a millionaire case! phone access to game show was a service, game show was a place of accommodation. target argument: “web site isn’t only way to get to store”

ford v schering-plough — employee benefits not a service related to public accommodation

stoutenborough v national football league — live telecast; allegation was connection between service & accommodation, but not owned by the same company.

“the answer is maybe”

if you have a brick & mortar location and a website that covers a [???] related service. meager: amazon, 37signals, et al probably not covered by ADA. why aren’t these disabilities organizations working on lobbying congress to amend the damn law already? for the love of frigging god.

“nexus test” 1) store locator. (happy to have made our gmap w/graceful degradation, although I should probably do additional testing. call that lady that emailed?) 2) ordering online to pick up at the store.

get proactive; be responsive. (YES!) test, involve users, design accessibly from scratch. take feedback seriously, fix quickly, offer equal alternatives. largely in the dark on that last.

schools for the $DISABILITY will usually be happy to take a look at sites in progress, given enough time.

I should really look into adding captions for that silly TV ad and/or transcripts for radio ads. (ugh. I wish I had more access into the banking stuff. but I’m not going to talk about that, except maybe to think about how I can improve the shell.)

“accessibility is cheaper than lawyers”  this is an important phase to watch. evolving law, technology, and user expectation.

q: wtf happened to watchfire? recommendations? firefox extension, cynthia says. shawn henry (?) pipes that there’s a list of all the checkers on and go looking from there.

q: non-profits? if you’re a public accommodation, including social services, then yeah. “profit has nothing to do with it.” does the public use your physical space?

q: if the co doesn’t have the knowledge to understand, can the developer/designer get sued? probably not, unless it’s a big company. 😛 the analogue: would an architect get sued? (I find it almost always useful with web stuff to look for the next closest analogue.)

core conversation: why video games fail in corporate training

it looks like this may actually be an interactive format rather than sitting & being talked at, so might not end up with a lot of live notes. thus, this is a placeholder for later.

ok, that was lame. got one useful thing: casual games for learning discrete tasks. (3M game from 1996, elephant crossing the bridge by matching adhesives & materials.)

update: the core conversations were a set of moderated discussions amongst attendees; all the tables at a given time were within a specific “theme.” 2 problems with the general format: the room was terrible for having a good conversation, big & echo-ey with a high ceiling; and being all on a theme meant picking between topics that one was very interested in or not being interested in ANY of the topics. This conversation was not what I was hoping for, except for that one tidbit, while the other one I went to was fascinating.

keynote: frank warren (postsecret)

late in (lunch w/Andrea at mongolian grill, yay!) — came in as he was showing postcards that couldn’t be in the book. clip art, famous people, unidentifiable photos.

something about postsecret stuff just makes my eyes well up, I can’t help it.

the bar code as evidence of the journey, and as a challenge to the viewer.

omg, guy just proposed to his gf on the keynote stage.

“women have the most [interesting? creative? something] interior lives and I feel [grateful?] for getting these.”

“whatever secret you’re going to say, I’ve gotten it before and someone else has that secret right here in this audience.”

“authenticity revolution” (from questioner) what the heck is that joe clark thing from ages ago about the life-on-the-web generation gap.

false dichotomy of true/false with secrets.

okay, now I am actually crying.