Monday Jun 08, 2009

DevDusk June 2009 in Munich

Last week, DevDusk June 2009 took place at the Sun office in Munich.

What is DevDusk, you ask?

To me, it's the ultimate geek after-work party: Every once in a while, developers gather after their work day and chat about current cool technologies. Think after work mini-unconference. There are DevDusks in Frankfurt and in Munich, and this time we were lucky to sponsor the latest incarnation out of the Sun Startup Essentials program.

Every good geek event starts with food & beer!After some food and beers, we had a nice variety of talks:

  • Wolfgang Stief talked about one of the coolest hobbies: Collecting and restoring old computers. Not just C-64s and Commodore Amigas, no, the real stuff: Control Data Mainframes, Crays, etc., including a project to build a full tube-based computer. He shared a lot of funny stories involving the many obstacles in transporting, reparing and operating huge digital beasts. Check out the cray-cyber.org website and Wolfgang's collection of photos on Flickr.

  • Wolfram Kriesing from uxebu.com introduced us to EventNinja, a clever way to leverage free Cloud services (Google Docs, Yahoo! Pipes) to create fully functional, intelligent and customizable widgets, without the need to operate any server infrastructure by yourself other than a simple static web server. Very cool and a glimpse of a whole generation of clever, light-weight distributed cloud widgets. I'm working on a similar thing myself, more on that in a future blog post.

  • And yes, I got to present something too. I used the opportunity to introduce the group to my personal definition of Cloud Computing, the Sun Cloud, highlighting it's REST APIs and encouraging the audience to play around with Zembly while they're waiting for the Sun Cloud to become publicly available.

Slides, links and other material are available from the DevDusk Munich event page, feel free to check them out (some may be in Germany, but what's a little language barrier to tech people anyway?). Also, check out Gabi's blog entry on this event as well as related Twitter comments.

Thursday Mar 26, 2009

Cloud Computing in 6 Minutes

Yesterday I visited Sun's European Education & Research Conference in Berlin where my colleague Manuel and I ran a session on Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing. Web 2.0 companies have really pioneered the use of cloud computing for their businesses, taking advantage of the low entry cost and high elasticity that clouds provide. These are really good things if you only have a few hundred or so users on one day, then all of a sudden you face hundreds of thousands of them, just because somebody featured your company on Techcrunch or some famous VC twittered about your service. So the two subjects go really well together so our session room was quite packed and we had some good discussions with attendees afterwards.

Sun Campus Ambassadors Alper Celik and Gökhan Dogan from KTH University in Sweden were busy interviewing a lot of people during the conference with their digital camera, and both Manuel and I got our few minutes of YouTube fame with them. Here's Manuel talking about Web 2.0:

And here's yours truly, trying to explain Cloud Computing in about 6 minutes:

Curious about Cloud Computing? Check out the Sun Cloud or start developing Web Services inside the Cloud from the comfort of your web browser the easy way using Zembly.

Alper and Gökhan were really busy, they published a bunch of other interviews on YouTube the very same day. Just search YouTube for "European Education and Research Conference" and you'll find more than a dozen of their interviews.

Gökhan also participated in his university's WaterWell project that used Sun SPOT technology to create a wireless sensor network that monitors water quality. Here's Gökhan explaining his project:

With a generation of students that show this kind of motivation, I'm not really worried about how to come out of this recession :).

Friday Feb 20, 2009

Challenges and Opportunities 2009

Me speaking at #cando09This Wednesday I was invited to speak at "Challenges and Opportunities 2009", an informal, almost barcamp-like gathering of startup companies and other bright and innovative people in the center of Munich. The name is the topic and so the focus was on how to make the best of the current economic situation. Surprisingly, the overall feeling of the conference was quite relaxed, almost cheery, as if the econonmy wasn't really that relevant. Just the right attitude to have, I'd say.

Nicholas MacGowan von Holstein of Twidox.com took the effort of putting this event together, which was a remarkable feat, given that he was in the middle of entering open beta with his startup at the same time. Twidox is a new startup company that offers a platform for the collaborative exchange of high-quality documents. The idea comes from Nicholas' experience during his university days where students would spend a lot of time researching publications and trying to find relevant papers to a certain topic. Twidox lets you both publish and search for documents and helps you make sense out of them through tagging, rating and other mechanisms. Actually, there are quite a few parallels to our own SunSpace document management system and so it was not surprising to see Nicholas and Peter having a great interest in each other's work.

Each presentation was limited to 5-10 minutes which was a good thing to keep the pace going. We heard from Terry Bibra about Yahoo's strategy of openness, Stephan Uhrenbacher from Qype talked about principles they observed when creating their startup, Ingo Dahm from Microsoft highlighted some opportunities that today's technologies offer and Nicholas Kirschner of High-Tech-Gründerfonds offered his insight as a venture capitalist about the good, the bad and the ugly of VCs during difficult times. The ticketing logistics of the event were done through Amiando, a fast growing German startup that provides streamlined ticketing operations to everyone. Felix Haas from Amiando offered his own views as a startup, highlighting flexibility in finding the right business model and pointing out that startups don't necessarily need to go for a multi-million Dollar exit.

My own talk was about "Survival 2.0", inspired by Tim Bray's "The Fear Factor" talk at FOWA 2008 that he also elaborated about in a series of inspiring blog posts. Tim talked to developers, so I mixed in some of my own experience of having gone through the Dot-Com Bubble and made a 5-point list of tips to get you through tough times, that everyone of us can use today. Most, if not all of these tips are just common sense, it's just that we sometimes tend to lose our common sense when the going get's tough...

The fine people at Tiburon-TV have recorded the talk and you can watch a video of "Survival 2.0" here. The slides are available from Twidox as well. It's all in German but if you're interested, I can send you a translated version of the slides so you can use them for your own presentations.

Also, check out the Twitter buzz around this event's #cando09 hashtag. It's quite fascinating how dynamic instant communication has become today...

Tuesday Feb 17, 2009

Start Believing in Artists, not the Music Industry

A few months ago, while driving home from the in-laws, we heard Normcast episode 119, a German podcast full of nice little fragments, pieces of music and other fun stuff. In this episode, Norman played Matthew Ebel's song "Everybody Needs a Robot" (lyrics, YouTube video) and, being the geek that I am, I liked it a lot.

Goodby Planet Earth Album CoverI asked Norman whether the song was podsafe, it turned out it was not, so I asked Matt directly for permission to use his song in a podcast. He kindly agreed and so we played it during HELDENFunk episode 22 around September 2008. As a way of saying "Thanks!" I bought Matt's latest album "Goodbye Planet Earth" off of CDBaby.com, a website where independent artists such as Matt can publish their own CDs without the need of a traditional record company.

Later, during an event called "Mission Future", which was part of Ars Electronica 2008, I watched a presentation from Pim Betist about a cool new website called "Sellaband". Sellaband is a crowdfunding website that brings musicians together with their fans (called "Believers") and help them raise real money ($50,000) to record an album in a high-quality studio, with professional producers and market it using a real distribution chain.

Now, the two powers have collied: Matt recently joined Sellaband and he's on his way to financing his next album there!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because this is the biggest shift in the entertainment industry since the introduction of recordable media.

Think of it: Now artists can create their own CDs, all by themselves, from writing the lyrics, writing the music, producing demos, connecting with fans, raising funds, managing production and selling their work, all without a single mention of what was formerly known as "the recording industry". While the RIAA and their likes are still behaving like little kids who have lost their toys, music artists have started to take control over their carreers and simply optimized away unnecessary intermediaries out of the equation.

Beer and Coffee Album CoverSo how does this work? A little bit like owning stock, but with more fun and better "dividends": The $50,000 budget that is needed to produce an artist's album is split into 5,000 "parts", at $10 each. For as little as $10 (1 part), you can become a "Believer" in an artist that is listed on Sellaband. Being a Believer gives you the right to receive a limited edition of that artist's album, once it is recorded. Think of it: This is cheaper than most regular CDs, so there's nothing to lose here. Actually, this is just where the fun starts: Each part entitles its owner to 0,01% of the album's revenue. So if you have a good "nose" for finding successful artists, you can even get some money back out of your investment! You can own more than one part and the more parts you buy, the nicer the perks become. From "Believer" (1 part) to "Promoter" (2 parts), "Publisher" (5 parts and you start earning publishing revenue), "V.I.P." (10), "Crew" (50), "Music Angel" (100) all the way to "Executive Producer" (1000 parts, free trip to the studio baby!). Check out the full "what's in it for me" list.

Back to Matt: His music is a modern version of songwriter-style piano rock. A little bit like Billy Joel, maybe with some Elton John thrown in, but with a modern twist: He likes to add loops, electronic sounds or samples into his songs to add to the atmosphere without them becoming distracting. The lyrics are insightful, full of life, spirit, humor and a little irony. Check out his bio for a much better description of him and his music.

But Matt is more than that: He is a leading example of how an artist can connect to his audience using Web 2.0: He has his own paid subscription service, sells his music online on iTunes, CDBaby and MySpace, including online merchandise on Spreadshirt.com, he blogs, has over 100 videos on YouTube and you can follow him on Twitter. His concert calendar is online and if you can't make it to one of his shows, you can watch him online on UStream. To me he's simply the Piano Man 2.0.

And now you can enjoy a part of his next album, too! Check out his profile on Sellaband.com and feel free to invest in his work.

BTW, Sellaband is a social network, too: You can check out my profile and add me as your friend there, too. Then we can together check out other great artist and change the way the music industry works, just by Believing in the artists we like.

Tuesday May 20, 2008

Geek Marketing

This morning, I listened to the "Blick über den Tellerrand" podcast, where Alex Wunschel gives us his thoughts and findings on the "Blogosphere, Podosphere, Web x.0 and User/Corporate-generated Knicknack". In one of his latest episodes, he interviewed Steve Rubel

Steve Rubel is a PR expert and author of one of the most read blogs called "Micropersuasion". In one of his articles, published through his employer Edelman Digital, he lists nine digital trends for the future. One of the trends that caught my attention is "Geek Marketing".

In a blog post, he further explains the concept: Technology is moving so fast, that marketing divisions are increasingly hiring geeks to help them understand developments in IT better. A geek marketer therefore is a link between technology and marketing people.

Cool. That's what I've been doing over the last year or so. I just didn't know there was a name for it! 

At Sun, we have a lot of geeks (they're mostly called "SEs" or "System Engineers") and we don't have much marketing (we'd rather spend the money on creating cool technology such as ZFS, UltraSPARC T2 or project Blackbox to name a few). But those few marketers we have, are really at the edge of the digital age. Starting from our long history of employee blogs, through our presence on Second Life to the Systemhelden.com portal (with the HELDENFunk podcast) - Our marketing people know what's hot and cool in the digital world, and how to engage the Sun geek communities to help them make cool stuff happen.

This fits very well with the book I'm currently reading: Dan Pink "A Whole New Mind". In this book, Pink argues that the virtues of the left half of the brain (typically associated with logical thinking) are not enough for today's global and networked world, in which left-brain work is increasingly outsourced to Asia and other emerging countries. In other words: If you want to keep your job, you better start thinking about your right half of your brain.

Right-brain work is quite interesting. Pink introduces six new aptitudes: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning are senses that complement the Information Age worker's logical skills and help him be successful in the new "Conceptual Age".

So, without knowing, by participating in all this video, podcasting, blogging and Web 2.0 stuff, studying better ways of doing presentations and gaming on a Wii, DS or a Playstation, we're actually training the right half of our brains.

Who knew work could actually be that much fun?

Edit:

Added a link to the actual Tellerrand episode. Bummer!

P.S.: The photo shows me in front of a lot of technology. I find this quite fitting the geek theme. The technology is actually a nuclear fusion reactor in Garching. Yes, the kind of stuff you see in superhero movies right before someone gets a new superpower. Didn't seem to work on me, though. 

Monday Apr 21, 2008

On Knowledge Management, Community Equity and Ontologies

Last week, I attended a meeting of the BITKOM Working Group for Knowledge Engineering & Management at the Sun Frankfurt office. The meeting was very nicely organized by Mr. Weber, Mr. Neuwirth and some colleagues from Sun in Germany (Hi Hansjörg, you should really blog!) and Peter Reiser from Sun in Switzerland. Therefore, I got to play host of the meeting without having to do too much work :).

Peter asked me to present his work on Community Equity (see also this interview with Shel Israel and this other one with Robert Scoble) and the CE 2.0 project to the group. The working group was very interested in how to encourage communities to participate and how Community Equity mechanisms can be used towards this goal. We had quite a few positive discussions during the breaks.

Image illustrating Community Equity 

But, some people seem to be concerned with tracking community contribution and participation on an automatic basis, for example, see Mike's post on the subject and Alec's reaction to Peter's interview. These are all very valid thoughts, and indeed nobody wants to see their work or life be reduced into a couple of numbers.

As always, the threat is not in the technology, but in the way we use it:

  • Measuring stuff is a good thing, if you know what you measure and how accurate that measurement is.
  • Telling people how their work is being received is also a good thing. I always get a kick out of the HELDENFunk download statistics (We should probably start publishing them), or my own blog's metrics. This is a huge motivator.
  • Telling people about how other people's work has been received is also a good thing. Nobody would put the kind of trust into eBay if it weren't for their rating system. How many books have you bought on Amazon based on other people's recommendations, stars, etc. on their site?
  • Web 2.0 style commenting, crosslinking, social networking, tagging and rating is also a good thing. Much of the web 2.0 world today would be untrusted, unnavigationable and unuseful if it weren't for those mechanisms.
  • The next step is to take these concepts, and apply them to an enterprise context. This is what Peter's Community Equity work is all about. The goal I see here is: If you do a good job, others should be able to notice (including, but not limited to, your manager). If you're looking for an expert on topic X, you should be able to find people that may be able to help you. If you are talking to person Y or if you run into that person as part of a team, you should be able to see what kind of work that person has contributed to the enterprise before and what others are saying about them. Think Amazon and eBay and LinkedIn ratings, recommendations, tags etc. as a tool to better navigate the social network and knowledge base of your enterprise.

Notice that the part where discussions become heated is not the technology one, it's the "what do we do with the numbers" part. That, of course, is where we need to be careful. We need to understand how the data is generated, how it has been processed (i.e. the exact rules and formular that is used to generate the Community Equity score) and what it does not tell us. You may trust your latest auction winner to transact with you on that particular sale, but you still don't know if she is actually a nice person or not :).

As long as the process is open, well-understood and transparent, using Web 2.0 mechanisms and Community Equity style metrics can be a very useful thing. You can generate a lot of useful information based on that kind of data: What are hot topics? Which documents are the most used, best rated, most re-used ones? Who are the company internal creators, connectors and consumers of knowledge? What topics have trouble to be picked up by the community? Sounds like fascinating stuff, if you're responsible for your company's knowledge...

Of course, this was only a small part of the BITKOM meeting. We heard presentations by other companies on different applications of knowledge management technologies in a customer service context. Interestingly, all of them (including CE 2.0) mentioned the term Ontology in one way or other. In a knowledge management context, an Ontology is the part of the system that relates "words" or other abstract data to real-world concepts and objects, resolving ambiguities, consolidating synonyms and clarifying user-errors. It's the part of the system that tries to bring in semantic knowledge as opposed to mere processing words.

Ontologies are very hard to do. That's why most of the times they are generated "by hand" which is very time and resource consuming. The holy grail of ontologies is when the system can automatically generate semantic meaning out of naked data by itself, without any help. Some of this systems are seeded with hand-made ontologies that can then expand somewhat automatically.

An interesting approach to generating ontologies might be to analyze web 2.0 style tagging data that has been created by users. An ontology system could then try to identify clusters of tags and assign them to a real world concept, then try to identify relationships between those concepts. As an example, the tags "LDAP", "Directory Server", "DS" all belong to the same concept and they are related to (but not the same as) "Identity Management", "IdM", and "Databases". A search engine then can use this data to find better matches for a user that is looking for "Identity Management and LDAP interoperability".

As you can see, even a seemingly dry and academic workshop on "Knowledge Engineering and Management", organized by an industry association can be an exciting topic, sometimes transcending the boundaries between technology, philosophy and anybody's daily web 2.0 style work.

Tuesday Apr 15, 2008

SAGE@GUUG Web 2.0 Presentation

Yesterday, we had a SAGE@GUUG Meeting at the Munich Sun office.

In similar spirit to the USENIX SAGE, the SAGE@GUUG meetings are an informal gathering of system admins and Unix enthusiasts that like to talk about interesting computer-related topics. This time, I had the honor to host their Munich's group April meeting at Sun and the topic of the day was Web 2.0. Many thanks to Wolfgang for organizing the meeting, and a lot of thanks to Barbara, my angel from marketing for getting us food&drinks!

We began the meeting with this video:

Check out Mike Wesch's digital ethnography site for more information.

My slides were a slight modification from the GUUG FFG talk of the same name. As expected, the "PHP maintainability" slide with the large spaghetti photo triggered some agitated responses, but that's what provocations are for, and this is why Ruby is becoming more and more popular. I try to make my slides unusual and interesting, not boring eye-charts and bullet-point deserts. Let me know what you think of them!

We had about 30 people and the interaction with the group was great. Many people pointed out examples of their own on how the world is changing thanks to web 2.0, most visible in the way young people interact with media and technology.

After the talk, we saw an introduction by our favourite IT Guy to the new Sun UltraSPARC T2+ servers:

Which led us to a visit of the Sun Vision Center for some hardware show&tell, before going to the Fliegerbräu for some well-deserved beer.

Friday Mar 14, 2008

Presentation on Web 2.0 to the German Unix User's Group (GUUG)

Hands holding each otherYesterday I was invited to present on Web 2.0 during the German Unix User's Group's (GUUG) annual conference called the "Frühjahrsfachgespräch" (Spring Topic Conversations). The day before, Ulrich and I did a ZFS workshop during the same conference.

I was originally planning to show a video before the presentation, but I discovered too late that I forgot to install mplayer on my laptop. It's actually as easy as "/opt/csw/bin/pkg-get -i mplayer" (which I'm doing right now), if you have Blastwave installed. Here are two great videos to show during such occasions.  

About 35 people came and we had some interesting discussions after the talk. Some people like "The new web" because of its new possibilities of participation. Some are scared by fear of privacy, profiling and spam issues. My personal opinion is that the best way to deal with it is to participate, learn and adapt one's lifestyle to the Web 2.0 reality. If you don't like what Google comes up with when you search for your name, then update your online profiles on the different social networks, start a blog (or update it more often) and make sure that the good stuff you do shows up on the web somewhere. I only blog about 2-3 times a month, but this is enough for Google to put my blog on the top three links when searching for my name.

Here are the german slides to my current web 2.0 presentation, and an english version is available too. The slides are meant to complement the speaker, not to substitute him or her, so they may only be of value to people who attended the session. If you want to get the presenter as well and you are in Germany, tell your Sun sales rep to do a Web 2.0 workshop with your company :).

Yes, Alec, I know I should record myself on video... I will.

Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

Great Web 2.0 Videos to Show to Customers, Partners, Colleagues, Friends & Family

The past few weeks were very busy ones for me. I was preparing a lot of stuff for the Sun Germany Partner University 2008 in Fulda, which took place this Monday and Tuesday. The bad news is that I hardly had any time to blog. The good news is that I now have many things to blog about over the next couple of entries.

Web 2.0 was one of the main themes that permeated the agenda. There were presentations about tools for web 2.0 developers (Check out NetBeans and its wonderful JMaki plugin for instance), discussions on web scalability using CMT servers and I also had the honor of presenting a Web 2.0 overview talk.

During the general session, as an introduction to Sun's vision, we found this video to be quite breathtaking:

This video called "Did You Know 2.0" was developed by teachers in the USA who are concerned with the education of today's kids and how to prepare them for an exponentially changing, globalized and networked future. It's great to see so many concepts in this video that are at the heart of what Sun is doing, combined with a forward-looking, heads-up attitude, designed to shake us up and tell us "Wait a minute: There's significant change going on right now. Prepare for it". A lot of people asked me where to get this video after the general session (I was in charge of A/V support during general sessions), so now you know: Visit the Shift Happens website for high quality versions of the video as well as some background.

Many thanks to Danilo for pointing me to this video (and unconsciously influencing this year's partner university agenda)!

Here's another Web 2.0 related video that I like to use during presentations: "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us" by Michael Wesch from Kansas State University:

A great summary of the history of the web: From HTML to XML to RSS syndication, blogging, video sharing, user-generated content to today's way of networking communities. Never has Web 2.0 been explained in an easier to understand way. The best thing about this video is that it has been created by non-techies: Michael Wesch and his team are actually anthropologists.

This is what I always repeat to customers: Web 2.0 is not about technology. It's about humanity.

Monday Dec 17, 2007

A Day in the Life of Constantin 2.0

The Web 2.0 hype of the last few years asks the question of "Web 2.0: Waste of time or useful?"  But to me it's clear that social websites, blogging and podcasting have changed quite a lot the way I use the web. Here's an exemplary day of my Web 2.0 style life:

Between waking up, getting dressed and driving to work (sometimes I eat breakfast, too), I sync my iPod with my PowerBook so iTunes can fill it with my favourite podcasts. On my 25 minute commute to work, I regularly listen to "Blick über den Tellerrand", "POFACS", "Extremetech.com", "EGM Live" and the "AVForums Podcast" (The current december episode has an interview with Tomlinson Holman of THX fame!). Old school radio hardly plays a role in my car, only when I forgot to bring my iPod, or when the trip is real short. If I have time (as in: long trip, airplane, etc.), I enjoy listening to "Braincast", "Scipod", "Semi-Coherent Computing", "Spektrum Talk", "The Daily Source Code" (although it has a low SNR...) and try out some new ones.

In the office, I sign in to Plazes, XING, Facebook and lately even Twitter, and Dopplr to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. It depends on my current mood whether I type something interesting into the various "What are you doing now?" fields, someone please consolidate all this stuff into a single entry mechanism!

How do these add value to me? The obvious one is that it's now easier to manage contact data with friends and colleagues using XING, LinkedIn or Faceboo. Plazes and Dopplr let you know where people are, facilitating ad-hoc meetings. As work and leisure life styles become more and more global, keeping track of your friends' whereabouts will be more and more useful. If someone robs my house while I'm away, I'll just blame Jörg, or install a wifi camera at home that sends email whenever something moves :). But there's much more to social websites as we'll see blow. Micro-blogging, such as Twitter or to a lesser degree the Facebook status or the Plazes activities are as useless and as indispensable as small-talk is in real life. IM may give us an electronic alternative to 1-to-1 or 1-to-many chatting, but micro-blogging is more like the kind of chat you have with strangers while waiting for the bus or while being at a party, only global and with many more people at once.

During work, I'm currently doing some research on the adoption of blogs and podcasts within the company with Jörg. I also help create the HELDENFunk podcast and sometimes I present on Web 2.0 in general to customers. It's interesting to see the many shades of gray between people that are into blogging, podcasting, social networking etc. and those who are not, multiplied by the permutations of IT-literate people and not, US, German, UK and other nationalities, IT producing companies vs. IT consuming ones, management type positions and individual contributors, friends, relatives etc. Large, if not worlds of varieties in terms of Web 2.0 adoption. But this is only fun, my real work is more centered around IT consulting on CPUs, Systems, Solaris, Grid Computing, Workstations, etc., but I digress.

Between pieces of useful work, I relax my mind by attacking my friends on Facebook with Zombies, Vampires and Werewolves while retaliating their blows with my Slayer. Or I challenge someone to a movie quiz. Or other senseless, but fun stuff. Is this time-wasting 2.0? I'd say this is more like a fun way to say "Hi" to friends over the web or maybe like the quick game of snooker, table-soccer, etc. down the hall. A social, fun way to take a breath in between work.

More work. We're planning to do a new movie, after our "CSI: Munich - Saving the world with ZFS and 12 USB sticks" one was so popular. The thing with user-generated content is that it enables you to reach many, many more people than you would ever be able to present physically in front of. Quite a good thing if you're in any knowledge related business. My typical customer presentation involves 5-15 people about 1-3 times a week with the occasional presentation to an audience of maybe 20-200 about 2-3 times a year. Altogether this is in the order of 1500 people that I can reach with a traditional presentation. Well, our CSI movie has been downloaded more than 50000 times so far. I have to divide this number by 5 or so for the co-authors, but that's still an order of magnitude more people than I could ever present in front of. The HELDENFunk podcasts have accumulated a couple of thousands of downloaded episodes, which again helps me better get my messages through. And my blog has hundreds of hits each day, too. Check out Alec's wonderful video on a very similar matter. And hey, producing podcasts and videos is a lot of fun, too!

On my way back from work, more podcasts are in order. At home, I usually do most of my blog-reading and blog-writing as well as some more Facebook, XING or other Web 2.0 style things.

I hope to write something useful into my blog about once a week. A blog entry consumes about 2-3 hours of work because I try to write longer, more interesting articles with good content. There are of course many other styles of blogging, but I tend to subscribe to the views of this article: "Write articles, not blog postings" that my colleague Roland found somewhere. Blogging saves me quite some time in the end: Some howto-like stuff that I get asked a lot gets converted into a blog entry and then I can point people to it instead of explaining things all over again. For reading blogs and other syndicated content, I find Google's reader to be quite useful. The list of blogs I like to follow is more or less what you see to the right in my blogroll. Many useful and intriguing ideas I have found in blogs that I'd never have found elsewhere...

There's still a lot of stuff in Web 2.0 land that I don't do. I'd like to create my own personal podcast, but I'm still missing some time, concept and courage, but who knows. And I'm not convinced that Second Life is useful - yet. It's a great PR outlet for some companies (including us) and virtual worlds are clearly the way of the future. It's just that Second Life is too much, well, kinday version 0.1-ish. It sort of feels like the early days of Real Networks in the early nineties when audio quality sucked due to not enough bandwidth. SL has some serious scaling problems and the user experience is not ready for the masses (which IMHO is a requirement to make any Web 2.0 service useful). But it's clearly a step into the right direction. Check out projects Dark Star and Wonderland if you want to see how scalable 3D worlds look like and how they can add value to real businesses.

Am I a Web 2.0 addict? I don't think so. I try out a lot, but the the stuff that sticks usually is the stuff that adds real value to my work and personal life. The key thing here is to try out new things often, with an open mind, then try to understand what these services really do, and decide for yourself where the value to you lies. And yes, "fun" is a legitimate value, too :).

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