I have very little to report from the first day of etech 2006. Due to a tragic misunderstanding between my travel staff (that would be me) and my scheduling staff (me as well), I did not book the tutorial day as I would be flying out this day. But I flew out last night, thinking I had booked the tutorial sessions. The travel staff has been severely reprimanded.
For the opening session tonight, Rael Dornfest, Tim O'Reilly, and Bruce Sterling spoke (with an introduction by Cory Doctorow).
Rael did a tour through the previous etech / p2p conferences, setting up the theme for this year: the attention economy.
Tim talked a bit about instrumenting the physical world, the effect of turing applications over to users to generate content, the effect of changing networked application behaviour based on user content and actions. He flipped Artificial Intelligence around to Intelligence augmentation to describe what's going on with web feeds, aggregators, various web 2.0 mashups, etc.
Cory Doctorow introduced Bruce Sterling. I like Cory's speaches. Perhaps it was the late hour (near midnight for me), but I sort of got lost in Bruce's speach. He talked about the effects of words and the naming of things. That inventors rarely really get to name the thing they've invented, that names are conveyed by the users of the language, by the crowd so to speak (though he did not reference "the crowd" at all in the naming discussion). He positioned Web 2.0 as the attempt of the geek-crowd to take back control over the technology, the discussion about the Internet from the wider population.
He also talked extensively about the world of networked objects. Everyware. Ubiquitous computing. He wove this discussion in and around the discussion of language. He coined a term (though it appears he's used it before, I'd never heard it): spimes: space and time locateable objects. The material instantiations of immaterial systems. He called spime a Theory Object (another new one for me, clearly I've been out of literary theory far too long). A theory object accretes attention and generates trackable trails of attention. So, the term theory object itself is a theory object.
He had a great quote:
If you are doing something that no one finds dangerous then you are doing something powerless to change the world.
That's a close quote, I'm not guaranteeing it's exact. But his point seemed to be that conflict is good. Language is resolved through discussion and conflict. Terms come about into common use not because a single party declares the single definition and use of the term but because the crowd (again, my terminology) has agreed on that common term.
The main conference starts in the morning. Unlike last year, I do not plan to "live blog". There seem to be 1000-1500 people in attendance so it'd be redundant. Instead I'll take notes on the sessions I attend and try to write a cogent, coherent summary at the end of the day. As I'm totally anti-social and a bit claustrophobic (neither quality a winner in trying to network with people), I'll likely skip the evening soirees and write in the Sheraton Suites bar (which has free WiFi, of interest to anyone else stuck here instead of the conference hotel).
Posted in ETech
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