Een maand geleden diende ik een voorstel in voor het Nederlandse WordCamp, om over IndieWeb te spreken, vanuit mijn perspectief als blogger. In de hoop dat het leidt tot meer thema’s en code die IndieWeb mogelijkheden actief omarmen. Deze week hoorde ik dat het voorstel is geaccepteerd. Nadenken over een verhaallijn dus.

Netherlands WordCamp vindt op 15 en 16 september plaats in Arnhem. Binnenkort wordt het programma bekend gemaakt.

Bonus link: mijn eerste kennismaking met WordPress in 2006, toen Matt Mullenweg op BlogTalk Reloaded in Wenen er over kwam presenteren. Later (veel later) die avond deze foto op Matt’s blog…vlnr Thomas (organisator BlogTalk), ik, Anne, Monica, Elmine, Matt met camera, en Paolo.

There has been quite a bit of response on my posting where I thought out loud about a search tool to help me find on-line traces of people I met face to face, so that I can follow up.

A large part of the comments seem to implicitly assume the creation of an on-line service where you type in the name of the person you are searching for, and that then comes up with the results from different sources.

Lilia Efimova voices her worry that it should not be too easy to combine all the traces of somebody on-line. There might be a very good reason after all to keep traces seperated. In Lilia’s case that would be the division between private and business life. Not that she thinks it should not be possible to combine those traces, but because it should take some effort to do so. I agree with that. That effort is the investment you make into forming a relationship, and when a relationship grows and deepens it becomes easier to track and interpret traces, as you start seeing what is there between the lines.

Therefore what I envision is not something like the where the one being sought maintains a list of all public traces, nor is it any other one-stop-shop like tool.
I simply need a tool to help me search. I get tired of having to go through many different search screens for each tool and platform in which I want to find if someone has a profile there, filling in the same information each time.

I do not mind that it takes time to get to know somebody, I do not mind that traces might be deliberately hard to connect and that I need to invest in a relationship to see the whole picture. I do mind that the time I spend filling in search forms might be time spent on building those relationships.

So it is precisely as Barbara Kieslinger says in the comments, I still want to be the one searching and deciding myself.
I want a search aid that is completely dumb, unlike the, and does not remember or register anything, nor shares or republishes search results. But a search tool I control that I can give what I already know and then looks where I point it to look. It’s just plain old search really, that can dig as deep as the current level of trust between me and the person the search revolves around allows.

Some of the participants of BlogTalk Reloaded mentioned it, and I found myself thinking it regularly as well. Not only at BlogTalk Reloaded, but at almost all events I go to it happens: the misleading use of the term Open Space.
Can we please stop using the term Open Space each time we mean ‘not the usual broadcasting session format’?
Applying it to everything that seems slightly different than the usual is a dilution of meaning.
The same seems to be happening around the word ‘unconference’ by the way. (even though I think that is an ugly and negatively motivated word)
If you are curious about Open Space, browse through the Open Space World site for stories, experiences and tips and tricks.

As I do after each conference I am currently busy finding people on-line and adding them to my ‘social filter’ after BlogTalk Reloaded. Basically that means finding their on-line presences and adding them to my feedreader, and connecting to them in different environments such as Plazes, Skype, Flickr, OpenBC/Xing, LinkedIn, 43People etc. Weaving them into my social web so to speak.

Weaving a social web. Image by Pandiyan V, license CC BY NC

I don’t mind to spend the time to think of who I actually want to stay connected to. That after all is part of digesting the event I have visited and part of weaving new relationships. This can be time-consuming but that is not to be helped (except take better notes during an event). For instance today I have spent some time to find out who Marc Barrot is. He seemed familiar from a previous BlogTalk, seamed to know Paolo pretty well, and we had fun conversations. I have looked at his nametag a number of times, resolved to remember his name, but back home I drew a blank. Googling around a bit for him in combination with what I did know about him soon revealed his name.

What I do mind is how much time it actually takes to preserve a bit of context around having met somebody, by trying to find out if somebody is part of an environment where that context can be preserved. When I first started doing that it was fun as sort of a detective story, but nowadays I find it simply is too time consuming, and it really sounds like something a tool can do for me just as well.

Hence my question. Would there be a way to create a search agent that takes the name of a person you’ve met? Ideally you would provide such a search agent with your own account data of all the environments you are part of that you want to have searched. And then it comes back with a number of likely search results that might contain any or all of the following for instance:

Possible blogs of that person
Possible Flickr Feed, or 23 feed
Possible Skypename
Possible IM names
Profile in
Profile in
Profile at
Possible Plazes account
Possible account

So that I could have a look if it indeed is the person I am looking for, and then connect or subscribe. Connecting and subscribing would be manual again. Only I can send out personal messages, only I decide what to add to the feedreader.
Any suggestions, or a sudden inspiration to start coding?
Or any stories on how you do this yourself?

Except that they completely overlooked this large screwdriver in my hand luggage which I had completely forgotten about. Thanks to Schiphol Airport Security, I now know that what I always saw as mere window dressing to make us feel ‘more secure’ is actually the joke I thought it was.

BlogTalk Reloaded made for 2 days filled with presentations, conversations and fun.
A last drink in a Viennese pub on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, with only 7 people left, was accompanied with a last round of evaluation.

Thomas Burg said he did not have a lot of energy this time around. Understandable, but it showed.

It showed in the barely managed expectations of the presenters. It turned out that most speakers were not aware that they were allotted only ten minutes, so that there was room to let more real conversations and dialogue take place with and within the audience. This led to confusement and some irritation. The 10 minute slots also weren’t really fixed, we wanted it to try for at least one session to see if we could break the traditional broadcasting mode of conferences, and turn it into a conversation more. For that one session at least expectations of the presenters were managed beforehand.

Communication with the presenters could have been better. Around making clear that all video was being put on Google Video almost real time and asking permission, around making clear that the presenters in each panel should decide with their panel leader what to do. And also that their presentation were meant to trigger conversation, to challenge the audience. Reading from paper doesn’t fit with that in my eyes for instance.

Communication with the audience could have been better too. Changing the form of an event takes some education for the audience as well. And any event needs an explicit starting point and end point.
It is a mistake to think that more free format events are not highly structured and carefully lead. I’d say that this conference lacked a dose of that careful leadership.

I was host to the first and the last panel of the conference programme. In the first panel we tried to break with the more traditional Q&A format. After Danah Boyds keynote Adolfo Estelella and Jan Schmidt had both ten minutes to present their material. I asked all three to give me two or three questions they would like to ask the audience, and had those questions put up on the wall afterwards.

Then everybody was asked to have a look at the questions and strike up a conversation around the one that triggered their thoughts most. Ideas, thoughts and questions were captured on post-it notes. After a first mad dash to the coffee machine (which had me slightly worried) it turned out pretty well I think. It was a shame however that we did not succeed in feeding the results back to the group, or have a little group discussion at the end. We did immediately transcribe the post-it notes into the wiki. (Thanks to Martin and Matthias) I am not sure though if people found out about that quickly enough, or were able to have a look at it.

The last panel of the conference was also hosted by me. Together with Anne Bartlett-Bragg and Ricardo Cambiassi we had a lot of fun taking the audience through the after lunch dip and onto to the end of the conference. At least for me it meant ending the conference on a high-note.

Thomas Burg and Jan Schmidt owe our thanks for bringing us all together again in Vienna for another round of BlogTalk. We had two very fun days and I loved being there, meeting with people new and familiar, hearing new and existing ideas confirmed and challenged. After all, in the end everyone is personally responsible for making any event a success for themselves. And a lot of people did precisely that, but it could have been made easier for them to do so. All in all a good enough conference with a whole bunch of great people. Heaps of fun and plenty of cognitive stimulation.

In the coming days I will try and write down some more impressions, stories and reflection on my take-aways from the conference.