OK, so I’m lost in a blogOspheric mania but not posting enough here at Joe Duck.
The new project is with my gadget expert pal John and it’s called Technology Report. We’ll report extensively from CES Las Vegas this year and I’ll have liveblogging from the Convergence08 and Mashup Camp conferenced in Mountain View in a few days.
I’ve imported lots of my technology posts from here so I hope this does not mess up any search issues because I certainly don’t want to delete indexed blog posts from here.
Mashup Camps have been coming to Mountain View for over two years, bringing great startups for their product launches as well as lively discussions about innovations and new products to help the mashup community. There also will be mashup experts from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, and many more key players. Programmable Web has the best coverage of the Mashup topic.
Convergence will have even more provocative content as the first conference to address the intersection of four technologies likely to shape the world in extraordinary ways: Nanotechnology, Biological technologies (gene splicing, stem cells, DNS mapping, life extension) , Information technologies (internet and computing) and Cognitive technologies. This last would, I think, broadly include everything from brain enhancing drugs and devices to artificial intelligence. AI is the most exciting category for me, and I remain convinced that we’ll see conscious computers within about 20 years – hopefully and very possibly less. Conscious computing is likely to change the entire planetary game to such a degree it’s nearly impossible to predict what will happen *after that*, which is one of the issues that will be discussed at the conference.
My main concern is that proponents and predictions keep things real and this does not become a sort of brainstorming session for half-baked ideas and ideologies.
After millions of years of very slow biological evolution we’ve now entered a new age where technology is likely to eclipse most and probably all of our human abilities. Even that fairly obvious idea – which simply is an extension of current developments – leaves many people skeptical, cold to the idea, or even antagonistic about the changes that are coming. Like it or not … we are all in this together and it’s best to keep it that way as much as possible.
Mashup Camp 6 is in about 10 days and I’m really looking forward to the firehouse of new mashups, APIs, startups, and application information that’ll be there. I attened the first two which were both great, then missed the last three including Dublin which would really have been fun.
Incredibly, this *four day* technology conference is free of charge. This is especially notable because from an education point of view Mashup Camp is arguably one of the very best conferences in Silicon Valley, laregely because it’s run in large part by the participants and this always leads to excellent levels of interaction and information flow. Everybody knows that the best conference stuff often happens in the halls or after hours when you can really get into good conversations with speakers and other folks, where at Mashup Camp this type of interaction is more likely to happen right in the sessions which are generally very unstructured and informal.
Organizer David Berlind had actually started out by charging some attendance fees this time – partly just to reduce the number of no-shows that can make conference planning even more difficult. But concerns about the fees led him to refund them all, making the conference totally free, supported by the many sponsors who help with everything from the espresso cart to the excellent lunches and great Mashup party on Wednesday Night. I’m not clear why anybody would protest the trivial $35 for developers and observers, though people who routinely pony up that much on a bar tab can be notoriously cheap when paying for education. Perhaps though the protests came from some of the Venture Capital folks for whom the formerly free entry fee was boosted to several thousand.
Here at the blog I have noted before that I think the Ted conference has a pretty high elitist component, and although I’ve warmed to the idea that most of the speakers there have important things to say I’m still concerned that the TED and other expensive conference formats somehow create a lot of unintended biases and effectively censor people and content in a way that is akin to our problems with US politics where purchasing access to things trumps giving access to the maximum number of innovative and clever ideas and deserving people.
There is now an alternative UNconference called the Bil Conference, and to TEDs credit they appear to be supportive of this venue which will be just after and near the location of TED, but won’t cost to attend.
Of course *free* conferences can also suffer from the challenges of non-representativeness. I do think the costs of transportation and lodging provide a barrier to entry that keeps out those who are just looking for a free lunch or to annoy people from the soap box provided by UNconferences to anyone who cares to speak.
I won’t be attending TED or Bil this year though I’ll be down there for MashupCamp later in March. TED blog