You can do anything you want with your data but…

There is this continuing discussion about the portability of data and letting people take their data and their friends with them to other sites. We have a number of social networks that don’t allow us to ‘move’. This is proving frustrating because as new and better networks arrive we seem to be collectively stuck and harnessed to the old because the basis of use doesn’t allow us to easily move.There has been some movement here in the DataPortability group and Google’s OpenSocial. Let’s hope it continues and once again allows us the users the choice. Walled gardens don’t work for us but they do become very profitable for the gardener.Here is a transcript of Sir Tim Berners-Lee as he talks about the Semantic Web. Sir Tim brings back those fond memories of using Mosaic 15 years ago.Transcript: Sir Tim Berners-Lee Talks with Talis about the Semantic Web: “”


Some final thoughts on Northern Voice 2008

This has been the 4th year I have attended this conference and there is a difference on how I feel about this one as compared to the others. This time a number of the faces were familiar so in some ways you took the time to “catch up” with what has been happening in so many of these peoples lives. The names are too numerous to mention but you always recognize the faces. Flickr has over 3,000 photographs of the event! If you aren’t in that photostream it is because you weren’t there.

The conference is always remembered by the people who attend it. They really make what it has become. Everyone is pretty comfortable discussing all aspects of the digital world we live in. The conversations can become pretty intense. Maybe that’s why when its over everyone’s brain is very tired. It is that intenseness and passion for the subject that is so rewarding. You give as much as you can and you end up getting back more.

I keep my notes of the conference in my Moleskine. This year I have 19 pages of words, ideas, URLs, and miscellany. Those notes will be key in today’s reflection of what is happening on the Internet. There will be a few more blogs subscribed to from the people you have met, a few that you will read more often and probably a few more readers of your own blog. The social fabric continues to get woven.

We all tend to want to measure things in terms of success (it was a successful event). I have never thought NV as a success. It is more a happening, an idea exchange, a period of incubation of thoughts and words. By attending you are propelled into a different realm that everyone who participates understands by experiencing it. It isn’t something you can necessarily write about or listen to. You have to experience what took place. And experiences are made with people. We are social animals. We like to be with others to share, understand and have a venue to express what we think and believe. And that is what Northern Voice does.

Our national anthem has a phrase “the truth north strong and free”. I sense that in a fashion at NV. The strength is from who we are, the free is our ability to express it. Thanks to everyone who was there.

Social Bookmarking and the dilemma of choice

At the recent Northern Voice conference Alan Levine made a presentation of WordPress Web sites that don’t look at all like a WordPress blog. Jim Groom also had a presentation about this. Alan had a tag on that he used to keep track of these sites and suggested anyone use it if they also found examples. There were a few people that mentioned work they had done in this area, Alan hit the sites, tagged them, and the source of the information was complete. It was the first time I had seen that happen at a public session.Wikipedia has an interesting introduction on social bookmarking that deserves reading. The article mentions other sites including Simpy and Ma.gnolia. There are a vast variety of features in them all but it brings up the Twitter vs Pownce debate again. Trey twittered William’s quote this morning — community beats cool. With the plethora of web apps available does one choose to use something because it works, works better, has more features or there are more people using it?I would like to use Pownce but there are so few of us there that everyone has drifted back to Twitter. (Flock does a decent but not perfect job of helping one keep informed about the feeds.) So community has outweighed function with that choice. One of the problems we all face is filtering. There are volumes of information pushed out onto the web daily that make it impossible to keep up with. Here again the ‘wisdom of crowds’ comes into play. The use a common social bookmarking service could filter and highlight for all of us those areas of interest. I would love to have an RSS feed of informative bookmarks suggested by friends and peers on a daily basis. It can only add to keeping current on so many important subjects. But again who does one pick?, Ma.gnolia, Simpy or ??

The first day of Northern Voice 2008 = MooseCamp

The first day of NV08 was pretty good. Of course there were sessions you couldn’t get to but there certainly was enough to keep you busy.

The Enterprise Social session had a good attendance and talked about wikis in the enterprise and how to successfully grow and use them. One aspect of wikis which was noted again and again was that search of all kinds sucks. But the biggest question was how do you get people to use these tools? What exactly hinders their use? It was interesting to note that the successful use of a wiki in an enterprise situation was conditioned on both the top and the grassroots contributing and there had to be a balance of both. It wasn’t like it would take hold just because it was introduced.

Citizen Journalism was interesting but it was also a presentation by CBC. The ‘motherhood’ culture predominated. Sure you can send stories and news to them but they will control the content. I don’t think they get it. By it’s nature citizen journalism uses the ‘openness’ of the web as one of its strongest points. To have it funneled and used by a large public media outlet takes away that strength. It was interesting to see how the CBC have now silently changed into beginning to understand what is happening. A few years ago blogging and alternative sources of news were largely ignored and discounted. But the giant will move slowly.

Photocamp was great. Lots of discussion around light.

WordPress and your problems was everyone moving into specific groups with resident experts leading the discussions and helping everyone with their questions. Jim Groom led our small group with some amazing information about plug-ins and presentation schemes.

Alan Levine had a session ‘More Than Cat Diaries’ that showed some web sites that don’t look like blogs but are running on blog software. The tag ‘notcatdiaries‘ on gives numerous examples.

That was it. Voxant was buying the beers and handing out T-shirts at the local bar so a bunch of us headed over there and continued discussing the day’s event. By the end of the day my brain hurt. And now we move into the second day.

The Starbuck incident

Yesterday I went through the drive through at the local Starbucks. Pretty simple order, medium sized coffee (what do they call it grande?) with cream and sugar. So the speaker comes on and this over friendly voice takes my order, asks all the same questions and it seems that life is really good from her voice tone. “That will be $1.97”.

Moving along the line up I get up to the wicket. Of course the change tray in the truck has pennies galore so I add 2 cents to the toonie to get my nickel back. The same girl is cheerfully talking stating this and that and I hear the final ‘Thank you’ and ‘Here is your coffee. I’m fine with the chatter, somewhat overdone, but friendly.

I pull forward, stop and begin to pour the paper cup of coffee into my thermos mug. Black coffee, no cream, no sugar. Aaarrrgghhh!

Now the moral of the story — it doesn’t really matter how friendly you are to the customer or if you are Chatty Kathy extraordinaire, if you screw up the order you really haven’t done your job. Pseudo-relationship building comes at a cost.

End of day or eod in CU speak

Getting ready to head home after a busy day and caught up on the Twitters and Pownces. Tim gets an international lunch and Charlie posts something very nice.

This morning in the Globe and Mail, the front page had a number of articles about the Presidential race south of us. For a Canadian who has lived so close to the border for most of his life and who feels such warmness for the people of the U.S., this race to the election is being watched closely. One realizes when one travels throughout the U.S. (27 states) the political realities are different than here at home. There are mountains of books written on our differences and our similarities. Whether we agree with one side or another it is everyone’s right to voice that freedom and most of our fathers or grandfathers spent some time out of the country 65 years ago to maintain that freedom. What I deem so important to both countries is that our unique relationships continue no matter what the political choice. When you travel north on the I5 and get to the border you see the white Peace Arch. If you ever get a chance stop there and walk through the portal. It mentions the longest undefended border in the world. There is a lot written there that speaks of who we are and what all of us earnestly desire.

I’m going home. Tomorrow night I will be away and off-line for a few days. We all need a rest.

The ongoing saga of Twitter and Pownce

Once upon a time in the land of virtual worlds there lived a little service called Twitter. He (ok it could be she) had a great idea about sending messages to friends. So he released his idea and low and behold it became popular. It worked and people loved it. All was well as groups of friends shared in a fashion they hadn’t thought possible before. Communities formed and relationships built and all was well.

Then came along another little service called Pownce (let us say Pownce is she for the sake of equal gender participation). Pownce loved Twitter but felt hampered at times, and so her idea was released and low and behold it became popular. Friends found out about here, told others, and now the groups started forming. But wait something unforeseen happened.

How could these established groups maintain contact using one or the other? The discussions began. People changed from T to P and then back again from P to T. Groups all over the place were stating similar things. All the twitterers and powncers were amiss. What would happen? Would the grey knights Googley and MicroHard do something?

We can’t say everyone lived happily ever after. We do know that things change. Everybody is still here. The relationships between people in the groups haven’t changed, just the means of communicating. Twitter and Pownce continue to develop because both can see they have to. The real beauty of this is us. We, by using whatever platform we choose, are influencing what in the end will be a changed platform. Will someone be able to develop the DIY concept in microblogging, that is create one area of all my friends but choose the features I want to use with friends, groups or the public timeline? And that has been the neatest things about this episode. We are watching it unfold as well as being part of it.

Why I am changing from Twitter to Pownce

This is a tough decision. There are a lot of people that you connect with on Twitter but in the last few weeks I am getting frustrated. Using Twitteriffic is good but there seems to be missing posts. Conversations and threads have holes in them or you miss someones’ single brilliant post. I ended up flipping back to the browser to get some completeness in posting and that was a step back.

Caleb (that creative genius) mentioned Pownce so I tried it out. Sorry to say this but this is what microblogging and Twitter should be. Here’s what impressed me:

– I don’t have to constantly condense my message if it doesn’t fit. Sure Twitter keeps things short and limited but it was taking more time to fit the message than write the message.

– I haven’t tried this but you can grouo your friends. The possibility of sending a message to a specific group (family, work, bloggers) was something I had only wished for.

– has a number of additional features that could prove useful (event posting, file transfer, links).

– introduction to Adobe Air which is very well done.

– etc.

So to all my fellow Twitter family members you maybe should start exploring. What was that byline in that TV commercial “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Desjardins movement and it’s truly co-operative nature

Last night a number of credit unions attended an information session by the Desjardin Group. Most of us came to listen to what their IT people had as a banking system. What it turned out to be was a lesson on how a 100 year old co-operative financial system has evolved for its members.

There were presentations by all the component groups (subsidiaries) of the Desjardin Group. Insurance, brokerage, wealth management, payroll services, Visa and IT. Here is a quote from their Web site:

“Desjardins Group is an organization of caisses populaires and caisses d’économie (credit unions). The 516 caisses Desjardins in Québec and Ontario (494 in Quebec and 22 in Ontario1) and their 911 service centres (869 in Quebec and 42 in Ontario1) are assembled under a single federation: the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec.”

This organization has an asset size of $147 billion made up of credit unions from $20 million to a a few over $1 billion. The average size is $170 million. Their whole infrastructure is built to serve the member caisse populaire (credit union). Again and again the co-operative nature of the organization was presented. It was an eye opener.

Why are we becoming aware of Desjardins? In the last few years their members voted to allow other credit unions to participate in the products and services they have developed. The meeting had 93% voting in favour of the motiion. It still is a street fight among themselves in the retail market but there is no discussion as to how fundamental services are to be built and made available.

So when we talk about credit unions individually here is a prime example of where the independent credit unions moved co-operatively to build a system that can compete with the banks. In Quebec the banks are second to credit unions. Sound pretty good doesn’t it. But remember it took some time to get there. Keep them in mind because they are here to stay.

A Monday in February

Today was my day off so headed to the barber (or do they call them hair stylist’s these days). I mentioned my trip to Europe next month and he said “you know we should cut your hair shorter.” I trust the guy and said ok. Now without my glasses I can’t really see what he is doing but I am hearing the buzzing haircutter as it chomps away quite a bit of hair. A little worried I keep my mouth shut remembering to trust the guy. After it is all over and I get my glasses back – it doesn’t look bad. And when I pick my wife up from work she is delighted. So it worked.

The PVR had the Super Bowl taped on it so this afternoon I would get to watch it. I kept away from the papers, radio and TV but yesterday the Twitter group gave it away so I had a clue as to how it would end. (Note to self: turn off Twitteriffic next time) But with all the darn commercials the program didn’t tape the last 7 minutes. Subesquent reading of the sports page then clues me in on how the Giants won. AARRRGGGHHH!!!!

Moral of these stories – trust your barber before you trust your PVR.

How do you sponsor a blogging event?

Once again the credit union is part of the group of sponsors for Northern Voice 2008, Vancouver’s best blogging conference. We got involved 4 years ago and every year it is a challenge. How do you present your message to a group of bloggers? These aren’t the beginners, they are what blogging is all about. Lots of attendees rank below the 50,000 Technorati level. An extremely intelligent and intriguing group of people.
This is what we end up doing -we commission a poster, craft a bunch of buttons, give away a couple of these posters (they get to be hot items) and give someone a free registration to the event. This year we are also giving away two hockey tickets (Canucks – Detroit game this Saturday night) at Thursday’s dinner. After that you just attend and enjoy.

2222362543_156f23a315_m.jpgAttending creates so many ideas that it leaves you drained after two days. The event always is about the people. Whoever shows up makes it what it has become, a blogging event that is about the person and the idea.

This year Basco5 asked for input as he was designing the poster. There were some great comments on Flickr and by the end of the 4th draft there was more than enough feedback to arrive at a finished product. Interesting that some of the ideas for design are coming from some attendees. See what social media leads to.

This year we understand Vancity is also a banner sponsor. This is great. The largest CU in Canada along with one of the smallest participating in a blogging conference. I remember telling some people in the CU system the first year we were a sponsor. They thought we were crazy. Yup that’s the credit union I work for — real crazy.