Archive for March, 2007
Jeremie Miller has written a great post about “the meaning economy” — and touches on a lot of what we’re trying to explore at Defrag.
“To give meaning to information, is to make it useful, to have context, to enable understanding, to empower. Information simply exists, a commodity, dimensionless…Why is it then that our current most modern Meaning Economy is a text box dictatorship? Why in such an advanced civilization have we become Knowledge Peasants whom are so easily placated by the black magic of our Governor? Am I the only one wondering why these commercial boxes own such an important social function: what everything means?”
Jeremie goes on to call for open protocols for networks of search functions. Its an interesting area, and one that fits into some of Defrag’s focus around next-level discovery.
Defrag started around the idea that information was “swamping the boat,” and that some technologies were starting to address that huge problem. The act of *discovery* –be it through blog intelligence tools, collaboration spaces, or bringing context and relevance to aggregation — is the big, hairy elephant in the Defrag room
Right now, we’ve got a bunch of blindfolded vendors, feeling the elephant, describing different pieces.
And we can only start to get to “meaning” when we all realize its an elephant we’re describing.
I wanted to quickly point out our *very early* sponsors of Defrag (folks that have been on board since I floated this idea to them):
Gold Sponsor: Newsgator
Silver Sponsors: HiveLive and Lijit
Breakfast Sponsor: Collective Intelligence
In addition, we have several spectacular media and association sponsors:
Premiere Media Sponsor: ZDNet
Exclusive Audio Sponsor: Gigavox media (IT Conversations)
Media Sponsor: Read/Write Web
Association Sponsor: CTEK
If you’d like info on becoming either of these, please email me — enorlin AT mac.com .
(except I wasn’t exactly in “the band” - I explain below)
Truly sophisticated types will instantly recognize the title of this post as coming from the modern cinematic classic, “The Blues Brothers.” I bring the line up because over the past day (as we’ve launched the site), I find myself talking to folks and consistently referencing PC Forum.
It all started several weeks back when I wrote an internal document trying to describe the values, vision and mission that Defrag would bring to life. That document morphed into an email to Esther Dyson telling her that every time I envisoned Defrag I saw a “PC Forum-like” event (Esther has been very gracious with her time and advice.)
For those that don’t know, PC Forum was Esther’s long-running tech conference (and not just Esther’s — Jerry Michalski of the Defrag Advisory Board was a co-host for some time as well), and PC Forum (now no longer) is missed. The amazing thing about PC Forum was two-fold: 1) you could not walk away without having A) learned something and B) taught something; and 2) the sheer quality of the people there was astounding. When I say I want Defrag to be “pc forum-like,” that’s what I mean.
What we’re aiming for with Defrag is a gathering that’s outside of people’s normal echo chamber (ie, NOT in the bay area) that brings together 200 of the smartest people we can find, and give them the room to collectively think through big, hairy, exciting problems. Lots of folks that organize conferences *aim* for it, but belive me, magic is never easy to conjure up.
That’s why I’ve gone after the advisory board that we have. That’s why I keep bothering Esther, Mitch, Stowe, Brian and a host of others. That’s why we’re going to do everything we have to do to build the right community around Defrag. That’s why I (jokingly) say, “we’re putting the band back together!”
Alright, enough “vision-stuff” — back to work (content, sales, marketing, registration systems, etc).
The questions are beginning: who’s going to be speaking at Defrag?
Besides the advisory board (and i’m about to add some impressive folks to that), I have confirmed David Weinberger and Esther Dyson to be at the conference.
David’s new book, “Everything is Miscellaneous” is in the Defrag space.
And Esther told me she “has some things to say” about attention.
The list of people that have told me they intend to be at Defrag: Esther Dyson, David Weinberger, Clay Shirky, Jerry Michalski, Paul Kedrosky, Andy McAfee, Elizabeth Churchill, Brian Oberkirch, Stowe Boyd, Brad Feld, Jeff Nolan…
Day 1 - and the excitement begins.
Just off of a great call with Jerry Michalski — discussing the myriad things he sees floating in and around Defrag.
On the “tagline” problem: Jerry’s suggesting “social intelligence.”
He also brought up visualization as a major area of work to be done in the Defrag space (specifically the ability to represent threads of discussion through linkable, widgetized visualization thingies — that’s a technical term ;-).
Jerry’s breadth and depth of knowledge around these topics is immediately apparent. We’re lucky to have him on the advisory board.
Hang on tight folks - when this advisory board sets their mind to putting the right people on stage, I have a feeling we’re all gonna be amazed.
other notes from jerry:
1. let’s get some interns and a wiki and document the things we figure out a Defrag.
2. let’s put a projector on a side wall of the room, so that people can add context to what’s being spoken about.
3. let’s work through jerry’s acronym — “MADA” — memory, analytics, discourse and action.
I titled this post, “working on a tagline” as a half-joke. Since beginning Defrag, I’ve spoken with many people about “what this is about” - and I’m finding that the prism that is Defrag allows different people to see different things in it. I’ve simultaneously been “working on a tagline” - trying to figure out a succinct way to summarize what Defrag is about. So far, I haven’t found it.
Defrag started as Brad Feld thinking about the “dynamics of information”. It transformed into “intelligence amplification.” It has been lumped in with “enterprise 2.0″ and “collaboration.” David Weinberger thinks about it in terms of the “miscellaneous.” And we’ve all started to dance around “the implicit web” and “the semantic web.”
In truth, I think Defrag is all of those things. The analogy I’ve been using to describe it is the brainstorming session — specifically, the “aha” moment. Being about the “aha” moment means you’re about more than simply collaboration. Defrag is about collaboration *plus* a special something that helps to *accelerate* the aha moment that we have in the physical world.
Because Defrag is X plus something - it encompasses a whole bunch of technologies and topics: wikis, feeds, aggregation, attention, trust, discovery, community, intelligence-adding algorithms, and on and on.
Now, when I speak with people about this - they all agree that the topic is vital and that its a big, hairy, exciting thing to work on.
So what is the Defrag tagline? You tell me….we’re working on it.
I can already envision a two hour “open space” (unconference) session on the morning of day 1 of the conference entitled, “Defining Defrag.” Part of me expects that only through interacting with the community working on these problems at the conference will I find the holy grail of a tagline.
Maybe this is all best thought of through examples — companies that I consider to be “in the Defrag space”: HiveLive, Lijit, Collective Intellect, Newsgator, Me.dium, Teqlo, Pluck, Attensa, Amazon (web services), Radar networks, Jaiku, Metaweb (freebase), Dabble, Zimbra, Zoho, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Adobe, Judy’s Book, SocialText, Mashery…..
After much behind the scenes wrangling, we’re finally getting Defrag off the ground. Keep an eye here as we begin posting articles, linking to things of interest and generally trying to figure all of this “stuff” out.