Fractious Friday: Supernova in SF and other stellar attractions

After a break for the Thanksgiving holiday here, December descended dark and hectic. Here are some things that illuminated my week:

On Tuesday, I had the good fortune of spending an afternoon at Supernova 2009, a conference where some of the web's most interesting thinkers and doers gathered--people who turn big ideas into policies, products, and sectors.

David Weinberger, the philosopher of miscellany, liveblogged some of the sessions including wonderful unedited coverage of an unusual trifecta: Amazon's Werner Vogels as the cloud-booster; Berkman's Jonathan Zittrain as the fearmonger, and Google's Bradley Horowitz to close.

On Thursday morning, Weinberger liveblogged a session called "Fun with Fun" that included panelists Amy Jo Kim, Susan Wu, and Nicole Lazzaro. The summary post Should everything be fun? was about the pros and cons of gameplay as a 21st century life skill.

Another attendee, strategist David Sparks delivered an essential recap of Chris Anderson's talk on the democratization of manufacturing and distribution in the world of real objects. "From Bits to Atoms" describes how what happened in the world of computing can now happen in the world of made objects because of the reduced cost of manufacturing and distribution.

Ross Mayfield, Socialtext co-founder and president, captured the concept succinctly in a napkin drawing:

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Photo credit: First it happened with bits, Ross Mayfield

On a parallel track, a ripple through my personal Twitter stream linked me to a post from WebWorkerDaily (on the Gigaom Network) titled "Wordnik: A Better Dictionary Web App." Wordnik is an interactive site for word geeks. They even have an API. The social objects here aren't photos or furry pets, they're morphemes or combinations of morphemes -- juicy little bundles of meaning better known as words.

Meantime, Randy Farmer has a post about using reputation as a method of improving the design of "Social Consent" within the user experience flow, a problem near and dear to app developers everywhere. Randy proposes a more intelligent, informative design flow, in which a user is asked by the app platform whether they're willing to share personal info in exchange for some unknown benefit.

The idea comes from a game called Portal, which inspired the pattern Randy calls "the cake is a lie." Reputation data/ratings left by prior users would be stored by the app platform provider and made readily accessible to subsequent users. Building Reputation is a blog by Randy Farmer and Bryce Glass, authors of the upcoming Yahoo Press/O'Reilly book: Building Web Reputation Systems.

BTW, Supernova Sessions were livestreamed and archived on ustream. Feed your brain something tasty - catch up by video.

Havi Hoffman
@ydn
YDN Blog Editor