I’ve spent yesterday and today at the WebVisions 2008 conference, at the Oregon Convention Center in downtown Portland. I was asked to speak on a panel about Open Source and Open Content with Ward Cunningham (most famous for inventing the wiki), Deb Bryant (OSU Open Source Lab), and Bryan Jamison (Open Sourcery).
I was late yesterday morning, because I had an appointment at the Apple Store Genius Bar to see about getting my iPhone replaced (it had a dead strip where touch stopped working – it’s a known hardware issue, and they replaced it for free, no hassles. It was awesome!). I went to Marshall Kirkpatrick’s session on advanced RSS ninja techniques, and I learned a ton (mental note: need to spend a LOT more time playing with Feed Informer, AideRSS, Dapper, and Yahoo Pipes). I thought I knew a lot about RSS and feed tools, but Marshall is the king, and I bow down before him. It was great stuff.
I spent some time in the hallways, chatting with old friends, and meeting new people. One of the things I love about geeky conferences is the chance to associate a real human with a Twitter handle or blog URL or an email address. Last night was the WebVisionary Awards, which I wasn’t able to attend. Emma had her preschool graduation last night, and I wouldn’t miss that for the world (it was great – she was so cute, and looked so grown up! I can’t believe she’s starting kindergarten soon).
Today started off with my panel with Ward, Deb, and Bryan. I was by far the least experiences person on the panel, I think, and I felt a little nervous. I hoped that I would have something to contribute. The panel turned out just fine – we had some great questions, some great discussion, and I think I did an OK job of sharing some interesting stuff. I got to throw out a couple of good quotes, like “if your business model depends on controlling access to something (software, media, etc.), then you don’t really have customers. You have hostages.” Couple that with a few references to Cory Doctorow, Creative Commons, and 1000 True Fans, and I think I did OK. The best part of the panel, for me, was hearing what my co-panelists had to say. Ward had some GREAT insight on the perils of artificial scarcity, and after the session, we were chatting about his Three Reasons Companies Want To Try Open Content (1. because of buzz, 2. because they want slave labor, or 3 because they really want to build community). I have lots more thoughts on that, and I’m sure I’ll be posting more on the topic soon.
After lunch I went to Andy Baio’s (@waxpancake on Twitter) session on “the anatomy of a meme”. He covered the basics of what makes up an internet meme (you know, LOLCats, All Your Base, badger badger, the Numa Numa dance, Chocolate Rain, etc. – Google for examples). It was a great talk, and I tweeted lots of quotes and ideas while I was there. I was all excited, because a new internet meme broke just this morning – less than a couple of hours before Andy’s session. The band Weezer released a music video for their song, Pork and Beans, that was totally made up of various internet memes and YouTube stars. I thought maybe I could get a little bit of “first-to-share” cred by telling Andy and the room about it, but he’s too fast. He had already worked it into his presentation, and showed the video to the room. It’s hilarious – you should check it out below. How many of the memes/references can you spot?
Now, I’m catching up on email and a few other things, then headed home for date night (going to take Rachel to see Iron Man tonight! Yay! ). Have a great weekend!