My recap notes and observations on day one of Web 2.0 2005

* production values not as good as at eTech, a/c problematic, a/v production problems in multiple sessions * traffic layout of moving people not well thought out, everyone had to leave ballroom via one exit which itself has the expos and open bar. * The place is packed, dare I say they oversold the conference? * A lot of the presentations are being shown using OpenOffice. Many of these in turn were developed (and practiced) using PowerPoint. There are apparently some minor differences between the two that are causing guffaws and the occasional awkward pause during presentations. * I'm not impressed with the hotel: $14.95 for in-room 10Mbs ethernet, and they don't (or haven't) restocked the toiletries (and yes, they took the barely used ones). Don't complain about my hair today.

I saw not one female presenter, all day. not on panels, not in plenaries. Only women in adverts from SKEarthlink session or clips from the Second Life demo.

I wrote privately to a friend that I had a chill down my spine during some of the presentations. To explain: I feel like I've been through this before, and I have to some extent. Look, there's lots of interesting ideas floating around, but I really question what the practicality is of some of them. And there's a growing amount of money chasing the ideas around, which is causing more people to jump in. I don't doubt that there's something new with Web 2.0. While the underlying technology may be the same as it was five, ten years ago in some cases, what's changed is the saturation of the technology. Even five years ago when we were pplanning the Sydney Olympic Games web site one of our biggest concern was the sheer volume of data moving around, across very expensive trans-pacific links. So we optimized to make things as small as possible, as cacheable as possible. This had the side effect of making the site faster to download to the typical user who was still on dialup, not broadband.

Fast forward to today ...there's not so much concern about the sheer amount of data flowing around. Everyone (it seems) has broadband. On the server side you still have concerns (RSS/Atom feed bandwidth for example). The result is it's now possible to create usable, rich internet applications using gorpy, goopy javascript and what else have you. If the initial download is 100k, so what? Everyone has broadband, and if they don't they don't get to use the product. And maybe that's a big mindset change there. In the height of the insanity in the 1990s, we were expected to present the exact same experience to all comers, regardless of platform or connectivity. It resulted in both a lot of dumbing down as well as a lot of just purely stupid code-arounds (I still shudder to think I had to code for graphical browsers which didn't support tables into 1999).

So maybe Web 2.0 is, in addition to rich interactions and user generated content, a screw you to those who are stuck with older browsers, slower links. As a server guy, I'm perfectly happy to write off older technology, it becomes more and more expensive to maintain the various hacks with diminishing returns. On the other hand, you are wirting off potential customers, users, whatever your audience is composed of.

Another observation: many Web 2.0 apps are poorly constructed for being mass-served. You see a lot of inline JavaScript that could just as easily be in separate files. Same with CSS styles. Again, maybe it's just a judgement call: we don't care, bandwidth is cheap, processing time is cheap.

Back to the chill down my spine: I have been here before, and one of the sessions yesterday was like a replay of a sales-pitch I got on Avatars and VRML. Back when I was getting hit over the head with Avatars (You'll pick an avatar and use that to interact with the company, really) I thought and reacted with I don't get it, what's the practicality? And that was my reaction yesterday to some of the presentations.

For example, there's a group called AttentionTrust, which was formed around a spec for clickstream data, collecting that data and sending it to upstream servers and services. What is this data? It's your browser history, plus potentially anything you pay attention to. It's a marketer's wet dream.

But I don't get it. And, I mean, I get the technology, I understand the technology and figure I should account for it in my "Yet Another Social Bookmarkting Tool": project (yeah, I know the design sucks, and there's nothing there). But fundamentally, in a world where the US Congress wants to outlaw cookies, where the EU has various and sundry conflicting data privacy laws, why on earth would I build something that says "Sure, send me all of your attention data and _trust me_ to do something good with it". (I suppose the FBI would love to have everyone's attention data streamed, though we know that by the time they finish analysing it we'll be remembering the tenth anniversary of an event we'd just as soon want to forget).

The hacker side of me would _love, love, love_ this data. Sure, tell me everywhere you go. I'll even pay you for it. Using your own money of course.

I did finally get to hear what SXIP (pronounced "skip") is. Basically an open, extensible identity infrastructure, where you can share as much or as litle data about yourself as you want with the requesting party (of course, that party can decide whether or not to grant access if you limit the information you provide). I wonder where, if anywhere, x.509 and SXIP intersect. SXIP seems to be about providing one identity for users to access resources online, but I didn't see (and I need to do some more reading when I get home) anything about certifying to service providers the identity of the user. As in, verifying that it's really "Ed Costello of Sim City, US" accessing the resource and not just someone _saying_ they were "Ed Costello" (why anyone would do that ...well, nevermind).

I need to get down to today's sessions, more later.

  h2. Miscellany * Dare Obasanjo has a nice "writeup": of "AttentionTrust":

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