Why Social DevCamp East is Important

And Why You Should Attend

Social DevCamp East is being held in Baltimore again – the fall session was recently announced for November 1st.  

What is Social DevCamp?  

“Social DevCamp East is the Unconference for Thought Leaders of the Future Social Web ….. Social DevCamp East Fall 2008 once again invites east coast developers and technology business leaders to come together for a thoughtful discussion of the ideas and technologies that will drive the future of the social web.” – Social DevCamp Site

So, why should you care?  There a several reasons why this is an important event not only for developers and companies that are involved in social applications, but also for anyone interested in leading edge technologies and promoting the area ….  

Social DevCamp Provides a Great Opportunity to Learn About Technology

Many people still think of social networking as a niche area, but that simply isn’t true.  If you have been watching the technology news lately or read Andy Monfried’s blog you may have heard or read that 40% of internet traffic is on social networks. 40%!  That’s impressive, but what does it mean?  It means that in order to support that type of growth, to handle that much traffic and that many eyeballs, the social media related companies need to continue to push the envelope, advancing technology in ways that we haven’t done before.  They need to determine how to store more data, access it quicker, relate it better, and make it user friendly and useful enough for people to keep coming back.  The amount of data that many of these companies have to deal with is simply staggering.  Social media related companies are innovators, learning how to push existing technology to the limits and develop new technologies and strategies where needed.

The point is, that whether you are a social media developer or not, there are important things that you can hear about at Social DevCamp that you can take back to your company and use there.  Topics will include things like Web 3.0, Cloud Computing, Crowdsourcing, Building Out the Semantic Web, Mobile Development Best Practices, and other topics similar in nature.

Social DevCamp Provides a Great Opportunity to Network

This event is targeted to the East Coast, not just Baltimore.  That provides an opportunity to meet innovators from up and down the coast.  The Greater Baltimore Technical Council will be there as will people that have been involved with twittervision, the Mozilla Foundation, and others.  These are real people, with real ideas building and leveraging the latest technologies that will be sharing ideas in a setting conducive, and designed, for discussing ideas.  This is not a place where people are selling technology to you at a vendor show, but rather are talking about technology, where, and how it is being used.  What a great way to spend at least part of your day.

Social DevCamp Highlights the Great Opportunities and Companies on the East Coast

When people think of new technology, start-up companies, and people living on the bleeding edge of technology, they tend to think of the West Coast.  There are fantastic things going on out there, and there is quite a bit of innovation … but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything happening here in the East.  It is a mindset kind of thing  – looking for new technology, go west young man.

That isn’t true though, there are great things happening on both coasts.  The problem is, that not everyone knows about the great opportunities and the great small / start-up companies that are here.

Social DevCamp East provides the opportunity to bring an awareness of some of the really mind-bending and fun technology that people use in this area.  People that are looking for exciting opportunities on the East Coast can look right here and see who may be using technologies in the areas of cloud computing, distributed caching, distributed processing, data portability, and areas such as mobile computing and crowdsourcing.   

As you can tell, I am really excited about this event.  This is something that until recently I was unaware of until it was brought to my attention by someone with whom I work (thanks Bev!).  In fact, I am excited enough about it that I have just sent an e-mail to the organizers stating that Lotame would like to be one of the sponsors.  We want the same chance to see and hear the great things going on in this area and to mingle with smart people with great ideas.

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Blogs and Wikis

I have done a moderate bit of blogging and wiki editing, although most of it has been behind the closed walls of employers.  I got to thinking about it though, when is the “right” time to use a blog or a wiki?  I have my own opinions based on that …

First let me say that I tend to think of both blogs and wikis as business and/or resource tools, I do not think of them as a way to communicate personal information – I do that other ways with my friends.  I may want the whole world to see what I think about a technical or political topic, but that is very different than letting you know where I live or who my family members are.  I know not everyone agrees with me in this area, but I think it is important to understand my stance on what is appropriate for public vs private consumption to understand my thoughts on when to use a blog vs. when to use a wiki.  Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s move on.

I think most people think that the decision is straight forward – use a blog when you are the sole owner of the material or thought, use a wiki when the content is shared.  Makes sense, but I don’t think it is the whole picture.  When I think of a blog I think of a way to communicate unrelated bits of temporal data.  Maybe news or a short burst of thoughts on a topic, or commentary.  That’s not to say there isn’t or shouldn’t be some connectedness between blog posts either within a blog or across blogs.  The connectedness is useful and good, but not the same connectedness of a wiki.  I see a wiki as trying to tell a story or provide direction that is not temporal.

But what does that mean, temporal vs. not temporal?  What I mean by that is that a blog is a one time shot – I am telling you something as it is or as I see it then and there at that point in time.  I don’t believe a wiki presents itself in the same way.  A wiki is made up of inter-related content that, while created over time, should be able to withstand the test of time (i.e. it should be updated to reflect current status, not subject to a point in time).  A wiki can be constantly edited and corrected, and should be.

But doesn’t that really take me back to the first point about who “owns” the content of the blog post vs the wiki entry?  Not really.  I can’t argue with that point, I believe it to be true.  But what if you are the sole owner of the content of both a blog and a wiki?   Why would you do that, you ask?  (i.e., why would you have a wiki only you could edit)?  Because of the type of content, style and connectedness of the content, and the expectation of the reader.

Let’s use an example.  Here I am blogging about wikis and blogs.  It is a short (ok, not so short) opinion that I have right now.  It certainly isn’t any statement of fact, it is an opinion … and my opinion could change over time.  Since I don’t want to rewrite history I might actually make another blog post over time that states I have changed my opinion.  This is just the kind of thing that I would expect to read in a blog, but would never, ever read in a wiki.  On the flip side, I also have a wiki (shameless self promotion, visit  http://peragro.wikidot.com).  I have two main things on that wiki about SOA and SOA Governance (I plan to put more there soon).  Those topics connect to each other, they have sections that would make them way too long for a blog, and as the state of development and SOA changes, so should the content in that wiki.  What I said in the past is no longer relevant, only what people need to know to develop a good architecture at the time they are reading it with the most up to date information.

I am not sure if this post will actually help anyone work out any issues they have in trying to decide on over the other, and the fact of the matter is that the technology is converging anyway such that soon enough there won’t really be a difference between the two, just a difference in the types of content you find spread across a bliki (Blog + Wiki).  Maybe my real reason for doing this is to justify the various places I have squirreled my content away.  Anyway, you’ve read this far, go ahead and check out my wiki.

iPhone and Blogging in WordPress

This post is coming to the site courtesy of an iPhone 3G ….

So, what do I think of the usability of posting via an iPhone? Overall the experience is fairly positive considering that typing on a small keyboard definitely slows things down. I won’t bore you with yet another review of an iPhone since there are already so many out there. What I will tell you is that I do recommend the WordPress application from the iTunes application library. It isn’t flashy, but it does do the job of letting you post your thoughts when you don’t have access via a larger device … Maybe while you are sitting in the airport or taking a long ride in the car (notice I said riding, not driving!)

My advice? Try the iPhone app, take it for a spin, but do you hard core blogging on something with a little more finger real estate.

I can’t resist saying at least one other thing about the iPhone… I do very much like the 3G, although we don’t actually get those speeds where I live. Everything has been great, except MS Exchange integration. One of the big reasons I waited to get the 3G was to be able to get mail pushed from our corporate servers, and so far no dice. I was able to connect to some other Exchange services outside of our company, but so far we have not been able to find the secret ingedient to getting our mail server to work.

That leads me to leave you with a final thought on the various “answers” that people have out there to try and make this work:

If you are guessing, just say you are guessing and don’t fake being an authority ok the subject …. And if you really don’t know, just stay silent. All the garbage out there that is clearly not right just makes it take that much longer to find the real answers.

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