Defrag Blog

Archive for October, 2007

All the cool kids are doing it

by Eric Norlin on Oct.23, 2007, under general

I woke up this morning to a whole bunch of coverage about ProQuo, and this makes me happy. It makes me happy because I’m reminded of how *cool* the companies are that are coming to Defrag (ProQuo is a Defrag sponsor). Somehow (and I’m not sure how) we’ve managed to end up with a bunch of sponsors of the event that are not in the “me too” categories. I know that their presence will bring a lot to the conversation, because I know that our sponsors won’t waste time/money by sending “booth babes” with shots of vodka for attendees. Defrag just isn’t that kind of event.

What it is is the kind of event where you send your brains for a workout.

I was just glancing at who Yahoo! is sending to Defrag - check this out:

Bradley Horowitz (vp of product strategy)
Joshua Schachter (creator of
Chad Dickerson (runs the Yahoo! Developer Network)
Jeremy Zawodny (resident MySQL guru and platform engineer)

I don’t know all that much about Yahoo!’s 100 day strategy planning thingy they’ve been working on, but I do know that those four guys have “strategery” oozing out of their eyeballs. (Sorry, we’re getting close to Halloween.)

Do you wanna get into a room with a couple hundred other people and really dig in? I know I can’t wait. And I hope you’ll join us.


Defragging Identity

by Eric Norlin on Oct.22, 2007, under general, speakers

Way back in 2005, Dick Hardt delivered a presentation at OScon that really helped “popularize” identity, and served as a catalyst for a bunch of the subsequent work thtat went on around user-centric identity and OpenID.

If you haven’t seen Dick’s presentation, you owe it to yourself to go and check it out.

A few months ago, Dick approached me and said that he was working up a whole bunch of new material that he’d like to unveil at Defrag. I was, of course, intrigued. Dick’s presentation style has gained him a lot of notoriety. I’m looking forward to hearing Dick’s new thoughts on Defrag and Identity. You should join us.


Inter-twining at Defrag

by Eric Norlin on Oct.19, 2007, under industry stuff

One of the earliest phrases that I hit upon to help describe Defrag was “networked knowledge.” The idea was that it was something past “knowledge management,” where the knowledge is a passive component in a managed space; and into the idea that the knowledge was an *active* component in the system. You can see my early attempts at speaking about this in the language on the Defrag site (”augmenting networked knowledge”).

That idea — that knowledge is not simply a passive, managed asset, but an active agent in a system that is working for me — is the core of what we’re exploring. Accordingly, I’m very happy to tell you that Nova Spivack will be joining us at Defrag to talk about his view on things. We actually have three sets of people working really hard on this problem — Alex Iskold (AdaptiveBlue), Eran Shir and Jon Aizen (Dapper), and Nova and his team (Radar Networks). The in-room (and resulting hallway) discussion between all three should make for some interesting conversations.

If you’re wanting to “bone up” on the subject prior to Defrag, make sure to read Alex’s stuff over on Read/WriteWeb, and then check out ZDNet’s and Read/WriteWeb’s coverage of the launch of Twine.


Two very interesting slides

by Eric Norlin on Oct.18, 2007, under general, industry stuff

I was just thumbing through Mary Meeker’s slides from her presentation at the Web 2.0 summit (taking a break from the detail crush of Defrag), and slides 13 and 14 really caught my eye.

Slide 13 shows tech spending as a % of business capex expenditures — with Mary’s thesis being that “enterprises may be coming out of a relative purchasing funk.”

Slide 14 shows that US productivity seems to have bottomed and is now rising again.

All of which brings me back to several points:

1. While the “consumerization of IT” seems totally inevitable, I don’t think that necesarily means that “innovation” always lives on the “consumer-facing” (ie, YouTube) side of the world. In fact, I think we’re about to see a shift back toward the enterprise side of things, as the movement of “web 2.0″ into the enterprise will unleash a tidal wave of cash that a lot of startups are going to be thirsty for (it really isn’t all about advertising - sorry folks).

2. We are not, as I’ve heard alleged recently, within 4 months of the “bubble” popping. In fact, both of these slides would seem to give at least tertiary support to my thesis that *right now* we’re analogous to the 97-98 timeframe (you might remember a little mini-recession that preceded a loud boom).

Tech companies like Cisco are about to spend a lot of time (and money) figuring out this whole enterprise-y, collaboration, implicit web, enabling productivity thing (see Microsoft with Sharepoint and the Unified Communications Platform, etc), and that cycle of “figuring out” is what the next 2-3 years are ALL about (and that means M&A, big deals, etc). Will the bubble pop? Sure - after we exited this “recession” and really felt the ramp.

In the meantime, we’re going to lay the groundwork of thought that will result in the real stuff getting born *years* from now. And we’re going to lay it at Defrag.


Suppose you wanna learn about those “implicit web” services?

by Eric Norlin on Oct.17, 2007, under general

Infoworld has published their Web2.0 Summit lead off piece -complete with this quote:

Meanwhile, Andrew Parker, an associate analyst at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, has great faith in online services that, with permission, monitor users’ activities and, based on that data, personalize their offerings.

“I call this set of services ‘implicit Web services’ because they involve implicit data collection instead of explicit data entry,” he said in an e-mail interview. “I think we’ll see more valuable implicit web services going forward.”

Now, let’s just suppose that you wanted to discuss the implicit web in-depth without all of the web 2.0 buzz and hype going on around you; where would you turn for such a valuable service? ;-)

[Later: filed under "significant news of the day" -- Krugle has announced a nifty deal with Amazon Web Services. And Steve Larsen, Krugle's CEO (and long-time friend) will be joining us at Defrag.]


The Top 10 Reasons to come to Defrag

by Eric Norlin on Oct.17, 2007, under general

Okay, I wasn’t really going to do a “top 10″ post, but I just saw 2 of them over on ZDNet, so I thought maybe it was “top 10″ day, or something.

[sidenote: Top 10 posts are normally reserved for right before the Holidays, when you *have* to write something, but are exhausted. Perhaps the fact that we're seeing them already is some sort of pre-indicating indicator of how this is all a bubble that will result in people leaping from buildings. Or something. ;-)]

Setting the Top 10 aside for one second, I wanted to point everyone to the conversation with Shane Pearson over at IT Conversations. Shane (and BEA) have been supporters of Defrag since very early, and even amidst all of the takeover talk, what I’m really looking forward to hearing about are Shane’s insights into how “consumer-facing aspects of web 2.0″ are moving over into the enterprise.

Another pointer - and someone you’ll be able to interact with at Defrag — Andre Durand, my longtime friend and co-conspirator on so many different things. Andre started Jabber and then, when starting Ping Identity and Digital ID World, let me join in on the fun. He’s now heads-down being the CEO of one of those boring enterprise software startups, but I assure you that he still has 30 ideas for startups per week (even if he won’t admit it to his board of directors). ;-)

Top 10 reasons to come to Defrag, you ask?
1. Defrag is small enough that you can actually interact with people there.
2. Defrag does not have a versioning number in its title.
3. You will not receive a 78 page show guide at Defrag.
4. Defrag’s speakers and other attendees will be a room full of amazing people.
5. You’ll get to hear about what companies like me.dium have to do with companies like BEA.
6. You’ll forever be a “first annual Defrag alumni” - and receive the multitude of benefits that accrue to such a status.
7. You won’t waste your time attending another “me too” conference, but instead be exploring *actual* innovation.
8. I promise there will not be a kerfluffle between Dave Winer and Jason Calacanis (I know only because Jason isn’t keynoting Defrag).
9. With any luck, you’ll get snowed into DIA and have to spend the next week skiing.
10. We really can’t do this without your participation, and that will show in how we value your presence there.


On “lobbyconning”

by Eric Norlin on Oct.15, 2007, under general

There’s an interesting piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today about “lobbyconning” — or the practice of hanging out in the lobby at tech conferences, working the biz dev angle (as opposed to paying to attend the conference).

I was especially delighted to see Ben Metcalfe quoted in the article:

“The sessions at technology conferences are often like plots in porn films,” said Ben Metcalfe, a technology consultant from San Francisco who said he lobbycons about four conferences annually. “It’s required for the context, but it’s not really what you paid for.”

You may remember Ben - he was one of our iMac (actually, he chose the MacBook option) winners.

It pleases me to think that Ben sees the value in actually *attending* Defrag, versus simply just lobbyconning. Thanks Ben! ;-)

[Postscript: We've got so much networking going on *inside* of Defrag, that you'll surely see the value too.]

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Coming to Defrag

by Eric Norlin on Oct.15, 2007, under general

As registrations heat up for Defrag, I took a second to glance at the attendee list and pull ten company names that caught my eye:

Cisco Systems
Guidewire Group, DEMO Conferences
Pay Pal
British Telecom
Safeguard Scientifics, Inc.

…oooooh, it is gonna be good. ;-)


Brian on Location

by Eric Norlin on Oct.12, 2007, under general

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m SOOOOOO glad that Brian Oberkirch is coming to talk at Defrag. And you will be too (when you come and see him).

Today, Brian’s posting about how the idea that location matters in a startup is, as Dick Costolo, puts it “rubbish.”


My favorite quote from Brian’s piece: “To Dick’s point, the Valley tends to dramatically overestimate its impact and importance on the development of the Web. When the simulacra says ‘everything is here’, you’re not motivated to look elsewhere. For this reason, I think a nomadic strategy (see Ben Cerveny, danah boyd) is warranted.”

And in case you need more proof, just check out what’s going on at Defrag (in Denver) — where we’ll have a whole bunch of startups that are NOT valley or bay area based (Dapper is in Israel, for instance), and even more people who have made their lives on non-valley-based startups (ask Esther about how many of her investments aren’t even in the U.S.).

It really is time for us to more evenly distribute this thing we call “the tech community.” And I, for one, can’t wait to have a tech conference that’s NOT in San Francisco, San Jose, or Santa Clara.

Maybe, you should join us. ;-)


Alex at Defrag

by Eric Norlin on Oct.11, 2007, under general, speakers

You can always tell when you round the corner and you’re four weeks out from a conference. Two things happen: People you’ve never communicated with before begin asking for discounts (not a bad thing at all), and you begin to get the question about what you’re “really looking forward to” in the conference’s content.

The first question is easy to answer — use the code, “defrag3″ to get $300 off — but hurry, it is expiring at the end of this week.

The second is really a bit more difficult. I can rattle off a ton of sessions that are going to entertain, inform and offer fodder for thought, but if there is one session that I think is going to force me to stop typing, look up from my computer and *really* listen, it will be Alex Iskold’s session on “structured attention.” Why do I think that? For the same reasons that Brad Feld and Fred Wilson keep bringing up: Alex is just damn smart and REALLY good at condensing his thoughts down into understandable chunks.

Evidence: Alex’s latest on Read/WriteWeb. Alex writes about the “structured web” in general, but manages to capture ALL of the important technical underpinnings of what we’re working on at Defrag. And, he brings up probably the three central pieces to Defrag’s conversation: semantics, attention (implicit behavioral stuff), and personalization.

You should, of course, join in this discussion.

My bet is that the first Defrag will see 7-10 people/companies emerge as the folks that will be “definitional” in the Defrag space. Alex has already made that list.

PS: there’s talk of a tuesday night dinner with Alex and David Mandell from me.dium….heck, I’m hearing talk of all kinds of cool meetings in and around Defrag. We’ll be rolling out several social networking tools to help accomodate that — but please be in touch with me if you have questions about getting included, etc.

PPS: Don’t delay on that registration, discounts are expiring Friday.


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