Title sez it all, register at the BarCampLondon2 twiki page.
Great evening at Pub Standards this evening. If you live in or around London it’s well worth a look in. In case there is any confusion; No one talks about the standard of Pubs (especially our usual, The Bricklayer’s Arms) people may, however, talk about Web Standards.
With such a great crowd of people again, I wonder if we can’t put them to work. Mike posted about the second day at form camp. As each day goes past <insert something useful here> camp seems more an more attractive to me. You may see me attempting to organise something shortly.
Went to the Mashup* on advertising 2.0 last night. It was pretty interesting, although nothing ground breaking. Dave Burrows, Yahoo’s head of Ad technology in Europe, gave a good talk on where we are and were we should be looking. It leaves me feeling better about advertising at work, because I actually trust Dave.
The main take away for me, aside from the assorted business cards, was that advertising has to be content. Maybe that’s comedy, maybe that is a widget that allows you to do something, but above all it’s something the user gets value from. As John Taysom put it, “No one wants advertising, and anyone that does can see me afterwards for a pill.”
While I’m slightly loathed to pimp work here, I really like what Sainsburys did with Yahoo! Answers. When they sponsored the Food category and asked some questions, they created a background to content without interrupting it. Everyone knows in the food category that they can buy their food from many supermarkets. The advertising helped create some content by asking questions, and it gave some bias to their product, but it didn’t interfere with the user experience, it became part of it.
When advertisers realise that the ads need to become small desirable products in themselves things might get better.
Welcome to British Computing Society central, Southampton Street, right off the strand. Posh. Chris Moxon, the current chair of the YPG is presenting.
He did a quick introduction to the people in the room. Mainly either BCS people (working for or on the ‘council’) or people working in financial sector or consulting roles. Chris talked a little about the role of YPG in BCS. He says they do a lot more than just being there to acknowledge the fact that there are young people doing IT. He suggests that they are there to support and help develop the skills of young people working in IT. YPG reports to the ‘Members Services Board’ who take account of their activities. YPG also have people on the board of the BCS to help represent the young professionals in the industry.
Chris wants to celebrate the success of the YPG, with things like the skill centre events and some of the other initiatives. The skill centre really raised the profile of the YPG. It made people both inside and outside of the BCS aware of what YPG do. Chris himself got involved with YPG and BCS because of the first skill centre. They want to take those skill centers out to regional areas, such as Birmingham and Manchester.
There are too many events to list now, but they are looking at revamping their web site in order to facilitate this. The are having a competition to give YPG members access to Managing Directors, they are having ‘ProNetworking’ events in order to facilitate more networking. They are making an effort to give the normal BCS reps a better skill sets to interact with younger IT professionals.
I asked about continued professional developments and how does that affect young professionals? Chris asks why are we part of the BCS, what does the BCS do for me? the BCS are trying to provide more resources. Previously the BCS strongly sold itself on networking, but is that really the value people want? There was some discussion on developing value in career development for young professionals. There were a couple of points raised about Safai plus being a tool rather than a structured framework. I totally respect this and Safia plus offers some good guidance however I would still like to see some support for some more proactive ventures.
One of the BSC executives pointed out that the YPG is very proactive. Raising ideas in YPG means that they can get filtered through to BCS’s executive who will often decide to provide resources to support those ideas. YPG members are also welcome to pursue and develop ideas themselves with the resources at their disposal.
Paul Boag of Boag World fame is speaking tonight at the ‘lesser’* Geek Dinners in London. This is in a quite trendy area, just on the fringes of China town. The pub seems pretty decent, although the nibbles weren’t great for a Vegan geek like myself.
So the format seemed to be a little drinking, a little chatting, some food followed by a talk. I spoke to a few people, saw a few people I know, including 2 I invited. Paul then gave a little talk, followed by some questions. The focus of the talk was primarily that we, who turned up, probably know a lot more than the average designer. By simply taking an interest we demonstrated our standing out above the crowd. He referred to a post Molly made about him. Molly is, apparently, upset because Paul is making “arguments about standardistas preaching to the choir, being arrogant and generally being long past their due date persist.” she compares these to “THE STINK OF A THREE DAY OLD FISH”. Wow. Harsh. Paul articulated why he believes this, and demonstrated some example by quoting forums such as site point, which still evoke responses from the unwashed masses. He pointed out that we all sucked once, and that finding the right path to standards ain’t always easy. People like Molly &c aren’t always right either. There is contention in the industry, he suggests you find something that works for you, and uses it. I agree, it’s not like you can’t change if you need to, right?
He then invited some questions, at which point I possibly heckled, or at least hogged the talking a wee bit too much. Sorry about that, I just get a wee bit excited is all. There was some discussion about Web 2.0, Paul made some good points about a comparison to the previous bubble in which he was burned. However I did point out that there is more than one kind of Web 2.0 company, Digg may have got a big wad of cash for a business model, he rightly pointed out was weakly based on advertising. However some companies like Feedburner and Dropsend or even Flickr were and are turning a sensible buck from the new markets. He conceded the point, but suggest that the badly managed clones of the decent companies will cause more pain than their worth. To this I certainly agree.
Then there was some point about usability testing and how to try and understand how Web 2.0 hasn’t really affect average users. He suggested that the cutting edge of technology doesn’t really affect a lot of people. He cited his mother in law as an example. I asked if Web 2.0 is more of a paradigm shift rather than a simple wodge of new tech. That idea was bandied around a bit, I think a lot of people were still resistant to the idea that average people use computers without help or introduction from some kind of geek. Paul used a number of examples to illustrate this.
He talked about during usability studies how the users picked what the designers and clients considered to be the worst design out of three. He cited this as an example of why you need to do user testing. I kind of agree with this, but only to some extent. I think he misses some of the finese. Someone also included Myspace as an example of an awful site which users really liked. Paul agreed. I actually disagree. What Paul doesn’t seem to understand, or at least didn’t express, is that users follow perceived value. Myspace isn’t popular because of their shitty user interface (UI), they are popular because of the value they provide. The users suffer, and slowly learn to live with, the UI because they see the value they are gaining despite the interface. It’s odd that I should cite what Cory said last night, but he hit the nail on the head. If you want news do you pick the Financial Times who require registration and a subscription fee, the New York times who require registration, or a blogger who requires nothing? If you want news you pick the blogger. However, if you want authoritative news on which to base your business decisions you pay for the FT and suffer the login screen. The difference is this, to acquire the news there is no additional value from either the FT or NYT, but their interface do create barriers to the value. When requiring authoritative sources the barriers inherent in the interface is justified by the value, which can’t be acquired elsewhere. To return the original argument, Myspace is not popular because users like their crappy interface, it’s popular because it offers value. This is, of course, User Centered Design. The lesson? Learn about your target audience, make use cases, and design to that. And, always, always let real users correct your assumptions with user testing.
Oh, and they were giving away flights, hotel and tickets to SXSW. I didn’t win. Well done to ‘red’ Simon who won, you lucky lucky bastard. ‘Blue’ simon sitting next to me lamented not putting his name in the hat. Whoops!
Finally, well done to Ian F for organizing it all. I had fun and met groovy people.
*By ‘Lesser’ I don’t mean that it is any worse or less enjoyable. Merely, that unlike Scoble and the ‘greater’ geek dinner, Ian Forester doesn’t try to cater for the entire geek universe and their dogs.
So this is my second ‘geek’ this week. Which, I am actually pretty buzzed about. Dorkbot was a hoot but this is a little more serious, examining actually issues.
I arrived a little late and Cory was talking. As usual he was both witty and poignant. You can’t stop being copying bits. You should embrace it. As he points out, at least for sci-fi authors, obscurity is a much bigger fear than piracy. He suggests that people stop calling their potential fan base thieves and work harder on engaging them to sell their books. He suggests that mass media has made both the ‘charisma’ and the ‘virtuosity’ of performance easily available. He suggests that people like Joss Weadon actually engage their fan base, ‘having a conversation with 1 million people at once’ and this is what gives them their edge.
Paula LeDieu from iCommons was next. She said that Brazil are very keen on Creative Commons (CC) and Open Source Software (OSS). She also had some surprising stuff that is considered legitimate for politicians to say regarding copyrights. She suggests we should look to eastern europe for interesting use of CC.
Tom Chance from RemixReading was up next. He suggested CC &c is mostly used by techies, geek and so on. Joe Public finds CC licenses bit confusing, especially with the different types. Tom doesn’t think that having cross-over licenses re:GNU documentation licenses helps any. We need to educate Joe Public on what is available. Even high profile open content sources and providers like Flickr &c aren’t widely known.
Jennifer Rigby, from the BBC Creative Archive was the last speaker. She said the public is less familiar with open content, and that the archive was a response to public desire to have on demand content, and to let them use their content as they wish. The Creative Archive (CA) license differs in that the license specific to UK usage, and is specific to the editorial guidelines controlling how the content can be used. This includes no defamatory or derogatory uses. They are starting with small pieces of content and scaling up. They are proving public value by taking pilots targeted at specific audiences. They invited remixes of content and got 400 responses in 2 weeks. The level of response were nice but they are more interested in the discussions around the licenses and usage; what people want to do with the content and how they want to use it.
Now into the discussion panel. (Even more) flakey blogging from now on.