Posts Tagged ‘Conversations’

Using social technologies to run better events

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Today I had an online presentation to a group of people enthusiastic about re-imagining the role of events and how to improve the traditional format, perhaps even with social technologies. I gave my own opening presentation entitled “Using Social Technologies to Run Better Events”.Here is the abstract:

Most conferences are organized and provided from the top down. Social technologies, peer-production and open innovation models provide new opportunities for people to organize events from the bottom up. Social media applications can support event planners and participants before, during and after the event. Many alternative approaches exist, but most of them still demand a lot of technical skills, vision and labor from the part of organizers. There are also a lot of interesting concepts for running more participative events physically and how things might connect to virtual environments, but the information is scattered around the web. In my presentation I will go through some of the most interesting concepts, ideas and tools for running better, digitally mediated events. I have applied some of these principles for a project called Bantora, that I’ve been working on lately. Early on in the development we paid attention to what happens before an event: how people find each other online and turn their passion and ideas into great events. Everything starts and ends as digital. In this presentation I will go through lessons learned about the role of social media at events and how to make the best out of it. Finally, I would like to present a vision of how better events could fundamentally change the way we interact and do our work.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Here are the slides and the recording is already available here (57min), recorded with Adobe Connect. Please provide feedback below.

In the presentation I also point at one of my projects called Bantora, that we opened last week for public beta. Bantora is about events++, making better events, time/space extended events, events that utilize social technologies and just get more of the good stuff out there. Keep in mind that we are just starting there, a lot of corners might be a bit rough, things are evolving in the next few months but we definitely would like to hear your feedback on how it could be improved.

This event (Spaces for Interaction) comes obviously at the right time regarding my personal interests. Maybe it’s about time for x-events to become a reality?

I would be interested in if someone knows about some other cool non-traditional face-to-face methods or some creative uses of social technologies at events that I have missed. Anything interesting coming to mind?

Cognitive heat-sinks like TV

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

The industrial revolution brought people the ability to manage something they had for the first time: free time. Rather than finding ways to use it productively, people found ways to sink themselves in an intellectual stupor, where the TV acted as a cognitive heat-sink.

Incredible 15 minutes by Clay Shirky on where our time is wasted and where it can be regenerated: TV.

To rephrase Clay Shirky, people in media are the last ones to ask the question, where people find the time to contribute to projects like Wikipedia. No one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus media has been masking for 50 years.

In US alone, people watch television around 200 billion hours. That accounts for 2000 Wikipedia projects.

I haven’t watched TV for 2 years. What a feeling to wake up from dormancy.

In Finland, we have something called the TV fee. It is a permission to consume what you see on public television for a relatively high fee.

With recent development in Finland where people are increasingly fleeing from the duty to pay the permit, the solution is not more content, but more interaction. I was thinking, if this permission to consume could be turned around into a permission to produce. A citizen would get their own TV channel (videocasts, mobile blogs), their own radio channel (podcasts), their own news paper (blogs) and means to tap into the collective action of untapped productive potential of millions of fins and billions of citizens of the spaceship earth (social networking) for a small fee. That’s the direction where nationally funded media should head. I don’t know if there is anyone listening.

I make this statement in an interview with Olli-Pekka Heinonen, who is a director at Finnish National Broadcasting Company. They do have the right attitude, but I have to say that the gears are turning slowly (like with any large behemoth):

Jaiku house-warming farewell

Friday, October 12th, 2007

 Jaiku house warming farewell

Yesterday I was at the Jaiku house-warming party. Little did they know that the party would turn into a farewell party, as major part of the team will move to San Francisco very soon.

Jaiku has very nice offices together with Valve and Thinglink. Jyri said in his speech that he would like to see many other companies in Finland doing the same thing, sharing office space with each other and opening doors for collaboration. Many of the coolest features in Jaiku are made by Valve, for example. I’ve shared my office space with Idoneus Oy, the company behind Web 2.0 e-invoicing service verkkolaskut.fi. It has been very useful for both of our companies both for business, but also for collaborative learning.

My aim was to record a video with Jyri for our Yritys 2.0 book project about Enterprise 2.0 presence and workstreaming, but I didn’t feel rude enough to disturb the tired and happy man, so I just took the above picture through the window of their top floor offices. I don’t know when I will have the opportunity again to meet in person, but I wish Jaiku and the rest of the team good luck with Google. I understood from one of the developers that it feels very challenging to go and work for such an innovative company. So, selling your company to Google might not make your life a lot more easier, but at least it will be a great environment for learning new things.

12.9, check your calendars for knowledge, learning and innovation

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

On wednesday 12.9 around 19:00 Yritys 2.0 book project (Enterprise 2.0) will host an informal session in Café Luft, Helsinki (Aleksis Kiven Katu 30). The session is open and free for anyone to join, but we ask you to register yourself beforehand (more information here). We plan to host these sessions about once a month.

I have promised to lead a conversation entitled “Havaintoja tiedosta, oppimisesta ja innovaatioista organisaatioissa” (Observations on knowledge, learning and innovations in organizations). The conversation will be in finnish, but we are not turning anyone down simply because of language barriers. The main focus will be conversation among the participants rather than “sage on the stage”. You are welcome to join us.

Censoring the censors

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Finland’s State Prosecutor Mika Illman has recently suggested that law should make it mandatory for internet discussion forums to use moderators. These moderators would moderate the conversation and remove any illegal messages.

Once in a while it shocks me to see people throwing around ideas like these in positions where they should atleast exercise fair judgement. Either this is a person who doesn’t know what he is talking about or this is exatly the sort of Brezhnev’s mindset that scares me – the state and the people in the state moderating each other for unlawful behaviour.

Apply the idea to physical world and it sounds ridiculous. No talking on public plazas unless there are moderators around? Who moderates the moderators? C’mon. Welcome to 1984.

Apparently Mr. Illman thinks this is good use for tax payer money. To expose the absurdness of this idea, let me educate a little bit on what kind of discussion forums there are on the internet:

  • Discussion boards: the sort of public plazas where everyone can register a nickname and participate in a coversation around a certain topic. Usually centralized on one server maintained by a single person.
  • IRC and other chatrooms: anyone can setup a discussion channel and anyone can join and comment. The technical protocols have no capability for moderation. What is said, has been said. The conversation is distributed over a network of servers. IRC servers are often maintained by universities and other organizations.
  • Blogs: your voice on the internet. Public discourse is conducted under individual blog posts or between blogs with technologies like trackbacks. Single blogs are often maintained by individuals on platforms maintained by companies like Google or SixApart, but the conversation itself is distributed on a network.
  • Microblogging/mobile presence: something like Jaiku or Twitter, where you use your mobile phone to update your presence and have conversations around presences. A server is used to centralize the conversation, but the conversation is also distributed over multiple different mobile devices over traditional phone networks.
  • Email and mailing lists. One email address is used to distribute messages to a number of subscribers. Each reply is sent to everyone on the mailing list. A network of mail transfer agents distribute the messages.
  • The list goes on… Internet has also different protocols, not just HTTP (WWW). Take for example instant messaging platforms like AIM, MSN, ICQ or Skype that enable chatrooms between multiple individuals. Think of newsgroups. Also, there are massive online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, where we emulate public plazas for conversation.

It’s not easy to distinct one conversation technology from one another. The internet is the ultimate conversation technology.

Some discussions are located on a single server maintained by a single person, some are distributed on a network of servers and maintained by multiple different people. Some cross over legal boundaries (a law set forward in Finland cannot affect servers located in a different country). The only way to moderate the conversation is to moderate the internet. Sure, we could try to form artificial technical boundaries like China has done, but is that what people really want? Finland would not be the innovative network society we portray ourselves in the future.

When decentralization increases, moderation becomes much harder. The internet is increasingly becoming integrated with our physical world with RFID tags, QR-codes and other technologies, forming an internet of things. The web has no clear boundaries. The conversations going on in the network are like ideas emerging in our neural networks: there is no easy way to locate a single idea and its roots in the network and then censor it.

Bottom line, do the math: taking the number of discussion forums, means, channels, technologies and methods we have on the internet and consider that each one needs to have a moderator and the moderators require moderation, too. We have 5 million people in Finland. We simply don’t have enough people, reason or patience to do all of that.

Mr. Illman has done his dissertation on free speech and I find it strage that with suggestions like this he is showing such a lack of academic understanding on digital technologies.