Archive for June, 2006

Thoughts at Aula Movement

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

Yippee, Jyri did finally answer to my wishes to organize an Aula event related to social software. So, Aula Movement is here. Here are my notes:

Clay Shirky, Failure for Free:

  • What we are living here is a more general shift
  • He represents an intro to sourceforge, interesting comparative looks into the ecosystem as a whole
  • Looks at the most active projects (100% activity): hundreds of thousands of downloads. If you go 0,5% down: only a few thousand downloads. In 90%: only hundreds of downloads. Below 75%: no downloads.
  • Other commonality in less active projects: one member
  • Has the press wrongly understood the case of open source, while the normal condition is failure?
  • Open Source is also outfailing commercial alternatives
  • Starting condition for an OS project and metrics for failure are the same
  • Linus’s announcement as an example: this is only going to be a hobby
  • Even if you are a professional, you can’t differentiate a success from a failure
  • Open Source ecosystem doesn’t have to care about failure
  • Businesses have to care about failure
  • No-one can’t predict what is going to be a success and what not
  • Open Source people can try everything and that’s why they will succeed in the long term
  • Meetup has always been a place which is used by people who have no other standard channel to meet each other
  • “Stay at home moms” is the most active meetup group
  • The founders of Meetup couldn’t predict what groups want to be together, it was the possibility explore
  • Meetup: no source code here but the pattern is the same: try everything and then aggregate and broadcast the success


  • Notion of time: what is the patience for failure (Linus, 1991)
  • Being longer in these networks is no longer a penalty
  • The one who has the biggest network wins
  • Pulling out people who belong to one community like moms at home to some other more commercial and more focused place is not necessarily the solution: it also draws them away from the other marginal meetup groups they might want to belong to
  • Mashups make trying everything easier
  • Dangers of premature optimization: optimizing only the top might kill you in the long term
  • It’s not necessarily about switching gears from openness to optimization

I think Clay’s observations were very important, although it’s not new that most of the OS projects are failures based on Sourceforge statistics. I would also note, that Sourceforge statistics are greatly influenced by activity at the Sourceforge site: some projects just register there and are very active, but not on sourceforge, resulting in less downloads from that specific site, although the project might be very popular in general.

What the open way of innovation teaches us is something that will change the way business does things. It wont be the same but it will be influenced by the ability to try everything.

In the meantime, Jukka Perko jammed with Brian Eno’s Music for the airports…

Alastair Curtis:

  • Nokia is selling 200-300+ million phones a year (2005 was around 260 million phones): they have to consider that when they design phones
  • Design is much more than style
  • Design has a responsibility to bring technology alive in order to capture the imagination
  • Technology in itself is not interesting, but how you take that technology and turn it into something that captures the imagination
  • Imagination connects to opportunities and possibilities
  • The future of all media is social: this is fundamental even for Nokia to saying this
  • Nokia no longer works to own the media but to embrace it by making it social
  • It’s not about Nokia connecting people, but that people connect through other people
  • When you are passionate about something, then you start to talk about it
  • Nokia has the responsibility to design and create solutions which are relevant
  • Meaningful things that make your life simpler and more beautiful
  • They are not going to make it by being dictatorial sort of Microsoft way (to being the most loved and admired brand)

I think it was a cheesy and weak presentation, as some of my neighbours in the audience also felt about it. Great slides but nothing original in terms of substance to really think of. I really have to say that I was expecting more. Quite obvious things for designers and people who live in the social web. The audience even commented that he used the term consumers, while the audience doesn’t want to be consumers but creators and passionate users who do things, rather than consume things. He answered that he totally agrees with that point.

Martin Varsavsky:

  • Very funny guy from start to end
  • Fon is like Vodafone, but free, based on wifi
  • They got 3000 wifi access points in Korea in 24 hours
  • Some joking about solving the problem of P2P downloading “Lost” for free. Should you go to work or finish the download first?
  • All you need is a Linux based mini-computer for 25€, for finnish people 5€
  • FON is a Movement, and a company
  • FON is good where there is a lot of people
  • 22 000 people in Madrid to have whole coverage. In Finland it’s hard to get full converage, 3G might still be the best option in many areas
  • In the system, you Define yourself as Linus, Bill or Alien. Aliens are people who pay, Bills are people who get money and Linus are people who get it for free
  • Aliens are the nice people who make it all happen. Why do you call them aliens?
  • With 3G you have to be really lucky, but with wifi it’s quite good
  • People who use Fon are Foneiros
  • It’s like a user-generated infrastructure (some people use the term user-generated content)
  • Technology is a remix of what has already been invented and it’s pretty secure
  • Bandwidth throttle protects you. You have to share at least a megabyte

Maybe I’m going to be a Fon? I have some home bandwidth to share while I’m at work…

Joichi Ito:

  • He starts by explaining how his serious things actually start as hobbies and how he moves to other things as he gets bored. Same thing for blogs, now he’s got sick of them and is moving to gaming: never been addicted to anything else so badly as World of Warcraft
  • He tries to do his presentation on Second Life but it’s offline
  • WoW killed the fan in his computer in 2 months, most computers can’t run it
  • More and more people will play it once the performance picks up
  • He introduces the concepts of monochronic time and polychronic time
  • In polychronic life you have much more time and it’s much more context sensitive, but you can’t really organize it that easily
  • Monochronic time is pre-designed, based on meetings, calendars and such
  • He goes on to present user-generated interface in WoW
  • He explains it as the most sophisticated “project management” tool ever created
  • Some people pay 50$ every month to press the same button over and over again, but if the community needs it, people go to great lengths to do it
  • WoW has a really complicated set of relationships, a lot of it’s not fun but based on coordination. To achieve something you need to fullfill your relationships
  • Most MBAs are failures as leaders. He has construction workers, unemployed bartenders and priests is his guild
  • Leaders who are good at commun
    ication and organization are not necessarily the people you would think who they are
  • Audio as presence (like Skype) is monochronic and it doesn’t really work as presence. Polychronic talk (as in semi-asynchronous text) in the other hand works
  • He has audio connected to stereos while he is cooking to hear what’s going on in the guild as the other people are playing
  • Interesting points that these interfaces are getting better and better by each week. He is able to follow tens of different conversations at the same time
  • When these people start to run companies, they expect to run their companies like WoW
  • When these people mature, we will be able to create an even better interface
  • Swiching cost is the community, not really the character you are playing
  • He hopes his next investment is in gaming (when asked what is his next target)
  • He achieved 100% conversion rate for getting people to play WoW
  • Playing WoW is more deeply integrated experience (mixing physical and virtual), rather than just a second life somewhere. His life has started to evolve around people who he plays with
  • He also points to some problems of mixing commercial approaches with massive online games: It reminds you of the goldrush, when the chinese are there in the games to make money etc.

I also blogged Joi Ito’s talk last time when he was at Aula.

Btw., when I formed my company 8 or so years ago, it was the people who I played with in our Quake clan who I started doing business with. Many of my employees came from the gaming circles or some other online environments. I did build the strongest relationships there. The interface we used to play the game was also a creation of hobbyists to better organize the rapid collaborative efforts inside the game (although a bit primitive compared to WoW today). We also programmed our own off-game environments to organize the activity, like clan member pages and IRC channels. For some odd reason I’m still selling the same ideas of online collaboration to businesses icon wink Thoughts at Aula Movement I briefly spoke about this with Ito, who told that the people in his WoW guild are people he could trust in his company.

I also visited the evening session where I briefly talked to a few people. I really enjoyed Jukka Perko’s improvised sax. I was not invited for thursday session (which I find a bit strange, but well I’ve been more in the edu social software sector), so you have to look somewhere else for information what happened there.