June 22nd, 2006

  Pre-GnomeDex build-up


So I’m very, very much looking forward to Gnomedex, coming up at the end of this month. I went last year, and it was really cool. I went to the Seattle MindCamp, which was intense, a lot of fun, and tiring. I met good people at both, although the MindCamp folks were more…relaxed, I think. The knowledge sharing was much more peer-to-peer at MindCamp, and I really reveled in it.

Gnomedex is looking to be even more interesting than the last one, with the addition of Senator John Edwards as keynote speaker. I don’t expect much from him in particular, but the added attention it’ll give the conference should be interesting.

More than anything else, I’m looking for the little moments, like last year when I watched the JotLive Wiki updates stuff happening as the guys debugged it while sitting in the back row of the conference. In retrospect, it presaged the Google Spreadsheets interactive/shared updating. The big presentations on stage generally came to nothing. The little moments, and the side discussions are where the action was, and I expect that to be true this time as well.

Plus I get to show off my new house to some friends who are coming into town for the conference!

I need to get my act together, get some software updates out there, and psych myself up for the conference. I’m not a big name guy, so my contributions tend towards having useful pieces of technology to show off and play with. 🙂

On a more depressing note, my mother asked for money again, which coincides with the start of my paying mortgage payments, NOT a good time for this. However, I think I may re-release JBidwatcher with the affiliate program enabled again, and funnel the money from it to help her out. I could simply sell the program, but without being able to use the eBay API I can’t promise users it’ll be consistently functional, and that seems like a sucky thing to do to paying customers. At the same time, the program drives revenue to eBay, so it should be of value to them.
This is yet another place that I can get some help at Gnomedex, not so much directly for my mother, but to get an idea of ways that people have monetized their passions outside of work, in order to get an extra income when necessary.

My goal at this years Gnomedex is to keep my ears open; to hear the rumblings of what will make next years tech news, when writ larger. I need to keep in mind the small conversations, and imagine them happening in the halls at Google, or Microsoft, and imagine what they’d do with them…

So many people probably think that Gnomedex will be all about Podcasting, and VLogging. I think that’s just the cover story. The medium(s) are not the message. I think it’s about new ideas, new directions, smart people, and listening carefully to what people are showing off.

Yes, a dozen video hosting sites are making history, and providing all sorts of interesting value, as well as amusing video. Yes, podcasts are so mainstream they’re available on iTunes Music Store, CBS has turned over its incredibly valuable properties into $1.99 iPod Videos, and Suicide Girls post iPod Video-compatible introductions. Perhaps the abundance of new video sources will push out the television, and eventually replace it. This actually interests me less, because it’s a Big Media world.
I’m more interested in what people are saying, rather than how they are saying it. I don’t so much care about the media they use, I care about the ideas they’re getting across.

I probably won’t vlog, I’m not photogenic enough. I don’t really podcast, for the same reason, nobody wants to hear my ideas interspersed with ‘umm’, and such. If anyone is interested at all, they want the thoughts filtered, cleaned up, parsed, and posted, so they can be searched, summarized, stored, and (most often) skipped.

If there’s any serious value out there, in interesting but HARD technology, it’d be in automatically extracting the text of a voice discussion, describing the scene in a video, etc., so it’s searchable using text search engines. This is a Hard Problem, but it would suddenly make the world of VLogs, Podcasts, and even TV and movies, all searchable, indexable, and accessible to everyone.

There’s a world-changing technology, if ever there was one.

See? I’m already getting my mind into the mode for the Gnomedex… 🙂

— Morgan Schweers, CyberFOX!

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