ETech – Opening talk

Rael Dornfest starts off the conference on introducing Mass amaterurization. Made a note about Clay shirky’s thoughts. His introduction was mostly talking about how the hacker is moving away from just tech circles.

Tim O’Reilly is up right now to talk about things on the radar of their company. Patterns they’re noticing–The idea of design patterns to internet applications. What are design patterns?

Each pattern is a three-part rule , which expresses a relation between a certain context, a problem and a solution. Christoper Alexander

On today’s web, you no longer need to build all components of your system. Therefore: glue together the small pieces of others. Everything is about smaller releases. Don’t package up new features into monolithic releases; rather fold them in on a regular basis as part of the user experience. Engage your users as realtime testers and instrument such that you know how new features are being used (examples: flickr, Google,, Amazon). Del is an example of always in beta–it’s an ongoing experiment.

Users add value to shared data. Open Source has become the lingua franca of the Internet. Invite your users to participate. Customer reviews at Amazon given as an example. BTW, heard “Amazon” mentioned at least a dozen times so far. It’s a love fest. 😉 Another example is flickr’s tagging (reflection of a user created database).

Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of explicitly adding value. Therefore, make participation the default, aggregating user data as a side-effect of them using your application. ie. default settings for flickr is “public” which creates the network effect.

The long tail. Many of the limiting factors from the physical world are absent on the Internet. Therefore: use the power of the computer to monetize niches formerly too small to be commercial.

Software above the level of a single device. The PC is no longer the only access point for networked apps. Therefore design apps from the get-go to access Internet services. iSync an example. Across all your devices, all your data is shared. Don’t design for a single device anymore. You have to design for all devices that connect to the network.

Architect your apps to tap into the social network.

Data is the next “Intel Inside” Apps are increasingly data-driven. Owning data creates future Intel’s (the gold is in the data).

Packets and shipping containers. As demonstrated by container shipping, IP packages, and HTML pages, a standard content agnostic packet is the most effective way to ship both goods and data. Understand the optimum “packet size” for your application domain and devise processes that fit it. What’s the ideal packet size for my apps?

Remix. When content is digital, it lends itself to being broken down and remixed. Therefore: Bid your business model so as to make your living from the smallest atomic unit. Music industry as an example.

Other things on their radar:

  • Ajax. Use JavaScript as a way to build rich internet apps (Google Maps example). Jon Udell walking tour of New Hamshire example.
  • Hardware hacking. Make, Fabbing, Networked Objects, car PC hacks.
  • Ruby On Rails. One little line of code gets you easy access to databases for example.
  • Data Visualization. Flickr color wheel. Baby name wizard.
  • Voice-over-IP. Skype. Allows sharing in a new way.
  • People. The “P” in P2P is People. Wisdom of Crowds.