My full notes for day two can be found here.

DIY Now, Or Someone Else Will

This panel was the reason that we got up early on the Sunday morning, despite jetlag and the effects of the first exposure to the sun in quite a few months, but luckily it was worth it. It primarily took the form of each of the panelists telling their stories, which was very interesting. The full presentations can be found on the wiki they set up to help people find fellow DIYers, which I thought was a nice finishing touch to the session.

Key bits of advice:

  • Now is the perfect time to do things yourself — hosting is cheaply available, as are people & info resources
  • Don’t try to make money immediately (this was the mistake Willem Vos said he made)
  • You should build something you need & want, that is better than what’s already out there (Gina)

How To Leverage Solipsism

This panel was very good, even though it wandered a bit. Each of the speakers was very interesting, but they didn’t really add up to a cohesive message. Jeff Veen started by introducing the topic and trying to explain that it wasn’t his fault. Solipsism essentially means self-interest and there was some exploration of services that have been successful because self-interested behaviour aggregates to something worthwhile to the community (e.g., Amazon’s recommendations system). [Jeff Veen’s slides]

Thomas Vander Wall then discussed personal information management — how people organise their data. Everyone’s view of their own stuff is different, personal. Some people have systems and some even have systems that work. He gives a great explanation for why there will never be one global agreed taxonomy — just look at people’s harddrives and try work out the common file hierarchy! The real thing that matters with information management is refindability: “Usability is king, but refindability is the bright young prince”. Personally I think this is why people love Google so much — it really helps them find things again. [Thomas Vander Wall’s slides]

Don Turnbull then discussed the inherent problem with classification — it’s difficult to do, even for humans! Automatic classification is extremely difficult. The advent of tags is giving people a more flexible way to classify things though — “the inmates are tagging the asylum!” He brought up some interesting points around tagging — the issue of trust, the fact that tagspam can’t be far away and the problem of maintainability. His most interesting point to me, however, was that tagging’s strength is that it is a user-centric view of the data, rather than a systems view. If you’re just tagging something, you can give the user a lot more freedom. Tags appear to be the first meta-data implementation really taking off in common use. [Don Turnbull’s slides]

Tantek then basically just discussed what Technorati is doing with tags. Some of it was very interesting, particularly the concept that the tagging they’re encouraging is decentralised — distributed tagging, so your tags remain your own property, just like you want your data to be. Sometimes it was a bit infomercialesque, but overall quite interesting [Tantek’s slides]

Lunch Over Malcolm Gladwell

After the solipsism panel we headed to lunch, gathering up geeks as we went. At one stage we were following the group that John Hicks was leading, but then they disappeared and so we eventually found our way into some Thai restaurant and had a lovely lunch (well the conversation was good anyway), as documented much more promptly over on Focal Curve. The company was good enough that most of us didn’t bother to return in time for the Malcolm Gladwell keynote. I’m told that he’s a good speaker, but in terms of actual information there wasn’t anything really that you couldn’t glean from his latest book

Open Source Marketing

This session didn’t live up to its promise. It was essentially a discussion about whether open source marketing existed, whether it was anything new and whether anyone should care. Although watching the panelists bitch at each other was very entertaining, I didn’t come away feeling I’d learnt a great deal. There were some good quotes though:

  • “BzzAgents Dave is just trying to make money out of a process called ‘giving your friends advice'” – Jason Calacanis who is wonderfully, wonderfully ascerbic
  • “The second people know you can be bought, the gig is up” — interesting in terms of this being very much a traditional media approach

Build Your Brand With Blogs

More a discussion of what the panelists had done to successfully build their brand with their blogs than anything else. Nevertheless there were some great concepts:

  • Molly described the “Accidental Blogger” phenomenon — a particular thread getting massive pagerank and bringing an unexpected audience flow in. She explained that the busiest thread on her entire blog is on a post about racing frogs! Simon describes a similar phenomenon, in that he has a thriving community on his post about having mumps, as well as some scary people visiting his artificial diamonds post
  • Transparency doesn’t necessarily equate to authenticity — and authenticity is what’s really important!
  • Jason Fried supplied another of the most memorable concepts from this year’s conference: “Use your blog to build up an audience first, then work out what you can sell them”
  • Jim Coudal supplied the warning to partner this approach: “Your business should probably have a blog, but you need to think about whether your blog needs a business”, as well as the apt observation that “If you build it they will come” is different from “If they come you can build it”