Quoteable quotes from Reboot 9.0

Before I file away (or accidentally lose) my Reboot notebook I thought I’d transcribe a few of the handwritten notes I took whilst listening to some of the presentations I attended. Some of them are my paraphrasing… I’ll put quote marks around those that I’m fairly confident are verbatim quotes.

(Note that the number of notes taken… or whether in fact any notes were taken at all, is not proportional to the interestingness of the talk. I didn’t take any notes on Matt Webb’s talk and very few on Johnny Moore’s and they were both particularly interesting :)

Further note – these people said many more interesting things than what I noted down… in fact… it’s quite possible that some of the most interesting ones didn’t get noted down because I was too busy listening to what they were saying :)

Opening talk – Tor Nørretranders

We should be more interested in artificial emotion than artificial intelligence

Emotion is governed by meaning and value, which makes it more efficient than a computer (less heat coming off the tops of our heads!)

Emotions are more efficient than intelligence

People will accept losing money to ensure fairness. We don’t want to lose money to a computer tho’, as we know it is not vulnerable to the idea of fairness.

The gift economy is about to dominate the market economy [I wrote this down and put a big question marke next to it because Tor didn’t go on to explain where this gift economy was coming from… have I been missing out on an avalanche of gifts lately or something? Anyone know more about this?]

Roszak 1979 Person/Planet – the needs of the planet are the same as the needs of the individual. If one is in crisis, so is the other.

Flow – we are like flames, or riveres, or flows of things. We are not ‘things’. We are a system.

90% of the atoms in your body are replaced every year

Permanent reincarnation – the matter changes all the time but we retain our identity. (Like digital media – never lose the information).

Dare, Share, Care —> Attention —> Sex, Jobs, Recognition

‘Sex is the origin of all that is noble’

The killer app for Civilization 2.0 is links.

Albert Einstein – ‘Remember your humanity and forget the rest’

Trusted Space – Robert Paterson

A legion of men may look like a machine, but it is built on an intense social unit (a tent of 8 men who live together for about 20 years) and nodal leadership (the centurians).

We are most hapy in a group of approximately 7 or 8.

Twitter is like being ‘in the tent’

Kids who do well are kids who learn 300 words by 2yrs old. They learn via conversation and need to have heard 50 million words by 2 yrears. They need to hear conversation to get an ideal development trajectory.

While we wait for the BabelFish – Stephanie Booth

Mario Wandruszka ‘Being human among humans means living in a state of ever incomplete multilingualism’

People who are ‘somewhat multilingual’ are in the majority

We need more than binary on/off choices when it comes to language

The internet is a space cruncher – access isn’t the problem any more, language is. The really strong borders are the linguistic ones.

Some multilingual people act as bridges – how can we design tools to better support them in this task?

Linguistic groups are more relevant than countries – misconception: country does not equal language.
Currently, the internet encourages mono-lingual silos

Code-switching – switching between languages to choose the best expression from the languages available to you

Contact: Fuck off, come closer – Johnnie Moore

Experiment where you have a baby and a mother, and you put them in two different rooms with a video link. The mother does what mothers do… mirrors the baby’s talk and actions back – baby is fine. Add in a 2 second time delay. Baby freaks out.

The Uncanny Valet – Tom Armitage

What we’re building on the web today is defining the manners of the web for the future

Agents make people diminish themselves ‘anthropological representations destroy [users] sense of accomplishment (eg. MS Clippy)

Computers as social agents – we treat them like people

The illusion of control (which we want to create) is esp. hard to convey to new users

The principle of least astonishment – avoid surprises in the interaction, avoid ‘breaking frame’ etc.

Desktop manners are inappropriate on the web [anyone want to discuss this? I think this is related to the whole ‘design uncanny valley’ which I think is far too broad a generalisation… ]

Forgot to write down who said this…. anyone remember?

Not trusting is inhumane. It paralyses you.

‘Trust is a reducer of social complexity’ [who said this?]

Ewan McIntosh – Citizens of the Future

(note to my elearning friends, if you’re still out there – you *definitely* want to know about this guy if you don’t already!)

Kids are used to having large audiences

Kids are ‘genius level’ at creativity when they enter school. Only 2% remain at this level when they leave school.

Kids want authentic goals – why do we have to do this? They need to have an authentic purpose

Some *great* examples of using existing platforms to support learning activities eg. Flickr for art appreciation, Choose your own adventure games built using Flickr and links.

At the moment, the mobile phone is the most powerful technology we have in schools – why don’t we use them more?!

Lee Bryant – A town called Kozarac.ba

‘for a period of time these websites *where* the town’

power of virtual communities to reclaim and rebuild physical communities.

Marko Ahtisaari – Blyk

what young people use their mobile phones for (in order of use) – a) clock, b) TXT c) calling

Stowe Boyd – Flow – A New Consciousness for a Web of Traffic

I wrote a bunch of stuff based on what Stowe said earlier. Also:

Time is a shared space

Productivity is second to connectivity

Don’t worry if you miss something the first time – the network will repeat it. You don’t have to be a slave to the flow of traffic.

Food for thought. A couple of days well spent. :)

Reboot 9.0 – Ambient Intimacy

I spent some time last week at the fabulous Reboot conference and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share some ideas around concept of Ambient Intimacy, which I continue to find fascinating. It was great to have the opportunity to develop and share my thoughts.

I’ve shared my slides on SlideShare although I’m not sure how much sense they make on their own… I can’t seem to work out the ‘notes’ functionality that I think (or perhaps imagined) that Slideshare has, so I’ll give you a quick overview of the concepts here. (Note… this is definitely the Cliff notes version. I have heard rumours of a video… if that materialises I’ll try to post a link here… this post isn’t intended to give you all the detail of the 40 minute talk tho!)
Soooo… as you probably know, Ambient Intimacy is a term to describe that sense of connectedness that you get from participating in social tools online that allow you to feel as though you are maintaining and, perhaps in fact, increasing your closeness with people in your social network through the messages and content that you share online – be it photographs or text or information about upcoming travel.

There are lots of other terms that people have used to describe this kind of connected experience including Situational Awareness, Hyper-Connectivity, Hive Mind, Social Presence, Distributed Co-Presence etc. I still prefer Ambient Intimacy because it combined the human ‘ickyness’ of ‘intimacy’ with the distributed and non-directional nature of ‘ambiance’.

I talked about the ethnographic research that came out of Japan about teenagers using text messaging to create techno-social spaces that allowed them to remain connected despite geographical distance and it’s uncanny similarity to the current experience of tools such as Twitter or Jaiku. And then took it back even before the internet and mobile phone, back to our primate days when we socialised by picking fleas. Of course, we ended up using language as a more efficient means of socialising… tool that facilitate Ambient Intimacy that allow us to further amplify our social chatter possibly allowing us to maintain social groups greater than Robin Dunbar anticipated, perhaps.

Perhaps not tho’, because for people to count in your ‘MonkeySphere’, they need to be multidimensional – that is, more than a Twitter username or a FaceBook profile. Just like when you were a kid you could be surprised to find your teacher in the supermarket or in a restaurant – it had never entered your head as a child that your teacher could be anywhere other than your classroom!

So, in the end, as Dunbar theorised, it comes back to the neocortex and your ability to recall and assimilate all the information about your fellow primates and how they fit together in your tribe. My neocortex isn’t up to more than 150 (Dunbar’s number), I suspect. Is yours?

I talked a little about the difference between self presentation online and offline, and how maintaining your ‘image’ offline is much more hard work that maintaining it online – how often maintaining it online is as much about omission than anything else eg. only Twittering when you’re doing really cool stuff. This, for me, leads to questions about authenticity & trust. Are these people online really your friends? And how do you *know* this if you don’t know them offline?

So… what is Ambient Intimacy good for? I think it’s incredibly good at providing phatic expression online. Phatic expression being the language we use for the purpose of being social, not so much for sharing information or ideas. It’s like the virtual ‘what’s up?’ or ‘how’re you doing?’

There are a million places on line for you to develop and expound upon your life changing thesis, but for me, Ambient Intimacy is the village green of the global village.

David Weinberger calls it Continual Partial Friendship. Johnnie Moore says that it ‘exposes more surface area for others to connect with’. I think it can be incredibly powerful.

What I’ve noticed is that Ambient Intimacy is quite polarising. For as many people that love it, there are plenty who intensely dislike it. There are two key issues at play here, I think – the first is the idea that the communication is actually not high value at all, and perhaps even causes cognitive dissonance and stress. This is an idea that Kathy Sierra posited in her post ‘Is Twitter TOO good?’. Many people find the idea of communications that weren’t particularly created for them and don’t necessarily require their attention somewhat distasteful. All of this periphery communication can also mean that we are in a state of Continuous Partial Attention, and not achieving the state of flow that our brains like so much.

I think that we need to take some personal responsibility for perhaps switching off the feeds if we know we’re liable to distraction and we need to maintain focus. I also love David Weinberger’s take on this, which is that ‘it helps that the volume of flow is so impossibly high that there’s zero expectation that anyone is keeping up. ‘hey dude, what didn’t you know that? I like twittered it two days ago’ is just not a reasonable complaint’.

Of course, there is a challenge for designers of current and future applications to help support us in maintaining focus when we need to without disconnecting us from our network. For me, this is all around design interpretations of ambiance. Having just enough impact to create an effect without being overly demanding and needy.

Even just being at Reboot and having some great conversations has helped me develop some more thoughts about Ambient Intimacy, in particular the economics of it within a network. I’ll be writing up some of those thoughts in the very near future.

UPDATE: if you’re reading this via RSS you may not be able to see the slides I’ve included above. Check them out on the blog or go see them on Slideshare.

Summertime is for speaking

well, it seems it is for me this year! Here’s what I’m up to:

Reboot 9.0 – I’m off to Copenhagen at the end of the month to go to Reboot for the first time. I’ve heard rave reviews of this conference and can’t wait to experience it myself. I’m going to be talking about Ambient Intimacy (in the middle of preparing the presentation right now and *really* enjoying it!)

Enterprise 2.0 – then in June, it’s off to Boston to talk about Social Project Management (Everything Big is Small Again) at Enterprise 2.0. I’m slated to for the ungodly timeslot of 8am which will probably work well with my jetlag, but I’m almost not expecting an audience! ;)

User Experience Week – come August, I’m terribly excited about going to Washington DC to be a part of Adaptive Path’s User Experience week, where I’m going to do an extended mix of the Washing Machine talk and tackle the exciting yet hairy question of how us designers can better engage with agile practices.

d.Construct – if I’d have known that I’d end up speaking in between Jared Spool and Peter Merholz, I probably would have thought twice about agreeing to speak at d.Construct… eh, who am I kidding, this is *the* conference in the UK that I’ve been most looking forward to going to, especially since this year’s theme is ‘Designing the User Experience’, I would have said yes just to make sure I got a ticket!

So, exciting times ahead! I’m putting in a bulk order for rescue remedy ;)

Hope to see you guys at one or more of these events!