FutureWeb open source panel discusses its evolution, growth, governance

30 04 2010

"The Future: Harnessing the Power of Open Source." From left to right: Chris DiBona, Brian Bouterse, Paul Jones. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

With Linux creator Red Hat just down the street from the Raleigh Convention Center, open source has been a huge part of the Web’s development, and the Future of Open Source Panel reiterated that fact.

Chaired by Red Hat Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Tom Rabon, the panel included three men with from diverse business and technology backgrounds:

Brian Bouterse – Research Associate, Secure Open Systems Initiative with NC State University and Networking and Systems Specialist, The Friday Institute

Chris DiBona – Open Source and Public Programs Manager, Google

Paul Jones – Director, ibilio.org

To show how far they’ve come, the panelists spoke about their first experiences with the Internet. Bouterse, the youngest of the panelists, first used the Internet as a 10-year-old and became fascinated by the “button with the little world” that took him outside of the AOL realm. DiBona first experienced the Internet through a Compuserve game and remembers arguing with a sevice provider for a faster connection.

Jones has a unique story in which he had Tim Berners-Lee demonstrate his protocol from his rejected paper when he visited Jones at the University of North Carolina.

“Had a couple of beers and then we installed it and it almost worked,” he said. “Then we had a couple of more beers and it did work.”

The panelists also spoke about the start of their involvement in open source. DiBona said he became involved with Linux in college and that “it’s really nice being able to control your own destiny.” Similarly, Bouterse said the availability of the Red Hat Linux tools gave him the access and ability to become interested.

On the other hand, Jones said he was given Unix by AT&T years ago, and then it was taken away. AT&T then issued a statement restricting any programmer who had seen Unix from working on other operating systems because they had been “mentally contaminated.” This restriction, of course, did not last very long.

The panelists then evaluated the state of open source in its growth and development. DiBona said he’d put it “at the knee,” and Bouterse said it was somewhere in between a toddler and a teenager. Jones said the base ideas were good, but not enough projects “fork” and take a creative turn.

Jones said strong intellectual property laws will continue to help the growth of open source because it will encourage people to create their own code rather than stealing from someone else. He compared open source to American literature in the country’s early days; publishers preferred to print British literature because it was not copyrighted or the copyright was not enforceable.

The panelists had differing views about the government’s role in open source. Bouterse said open source is the correct mechanism for transparency, while Jones emphasized the roles of procurement, bondable stock and availability, and drawing on subsidized intellectual endeavors.

When asked how the public could help sustain and grow open source, Bouterse advised people to get involved in any way they can. If they cannot create content, they can become users. If they do not become users, Bouterse advises them to “take a moment and recognize when you are benefiting from open source.”

Jones takes it one step futher, asking the public to honor content creators by attributing their work to encourage them to keep contributing.

“I wouldn’t want to live in a world without open source,” Bouterse said.

-by Rachel Cieri

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

Marc Rotenberg leads panel discussion on the future of privacy policies, education

30 04 2010
Annie Anton

Annie Anton discusses privacy and applications at the FutureWeb conference, part of WWW2010 in Raleigh.

Marc Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), led an interactive session this afternoon on the future of privacy and the Web. Panelists included Dave Hoffman of Intel, Anne Klinefelter of the UNC School of Law, Jolynn Dellinger of Data Privacy Day, Annie Anton of NC State and Woodrow Hartzog of UNC’s School of Mass Communication.

Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), led a lively and interactive session at FutureWeb on the future of privacy and the Web that touched on many aspects but mostly focused on social media and cloud computing.

Klinefelter addressed some policy issues from an educational standpoint. She said that readers’ privacy has long been a concern of librarians, but it is a problem that has been amplified online. Since books have gone digital with the invention of E-readers and tablets, people’s uses of content can be tracked and the information is not solely personal anymore.

“Some of the privacy settings can be surprising,” she said. “What’s really surprising is the way your data about your reading habits are being shared. You need to think about the way your data is being used. If it’s for commercial or governmental purposes you are being disempowered.”

Klinefelter said Internet users should band together to protest, in order to achieve privacy settings on all personal online content. Without the implementation of fair and open policies, the consequences can include identity theft, access to financial records and the compromising of health records.

Marc Rotenberg

Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, leads expert panelists through a lively discussion of privacy issues.

The panelists discussed how social media can expose many layers of information people once kept private. Rotenberg asked audience members if they think employers have the right to look at political candidates’ Facebook pages. The majority of people raised their hands said they did not agree.

One audience member noted that a lot of the information on Facebook, such as that about religion, political opinion and sexuality, would not be legal to ask about during a formal job interview.

Antón, co-founder and director of ThePrivacyPlace.org, said most people have a reasonable expectation of privacy but don’t realize they have to set up specific privacy settings on Facebook to achieve that expectation. And age doesn’t matter, she said. “I don’t think this is a generational issue,” Antón said. “Some people know and some people don’t.”

Antón addressed further challenges of online privacy rights, including expectations of privacy on social networks. “A lot of people have a reasonable expectation of privacy but don’t understand they have to participate in setting things up so they can have that expectation of privacy,” she said.

There is a large percentage of the population that remains uninformed about privacy issues, though Anton doesn’t view it as a generational glitch. “Some people know, some people don’t – it’s as simple as that,” she said.

How do we express privacy policies more effectively? Antón said society needs to address issues such as Australia’s censorship controversy and consider how to balance privacy rights with national security and free speech.

Jolynn Dellinger of Data Privacy Day discusses a point about privacy education at the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010 in Raleigh.

Dellinger, of Data Privacy Day, spoke about the challenges to informing the general public about privacy rights.

“I’ve seen a disconnect between common knowledge and technology,” she said. “I think it’s fair to say a lot of people using Google and Facebook have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes, much less having real knowledge that will help them make informed decisions.”

Dellinger’s work related to Data Privacy Day tries to take education and put it into the hands of people to help with individual privacy practice. She said education is essential because it’s impossible to actively participate without an informed voice, adding that she hopes more tools on privacy education will be available in the future.

“There are people in big corporation that do care about privacy,” she said. “It’s trying to get those materials in the hands of people who can use them (such as educators).”

Woodrow Hartzog, formerly a clerk with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, spoke about privacy as “an umbrella term,” encompassing two issues: obscurity and confidentiality. There is a certain value that lies in obscurity that is only going to increase, he said.

Woodrow Hartzog says privacy is an umbrella term for "obscurity and confidentiality."

He compared the explosion of online content to the urbanization of cities, which allows people to become somewhat lost in the crowd.

“With this explosion of content on the Web we’ve moved to a place now where the Web is not just broadcast,” he said. “Now it’s this never-ending series of back alleys and there are invisible parts of the Web that do not show up in search engines.”

Hartzog noted that people can find ways to hide their blogs from search-engine results, and they can refrain from the real-time conversation, which is also more searchable today, with some content like that of Twitter being exposed even in a Google search. He said people should not be shy about requesting more confidentiality when they want it online.

The transparency of companies in confidentiality agreements is crucial when thinking about the future of privacy, he said.

David Hoffman of Intel concentrated his remarks on cloud computing and continued the discussion on privacy’s future by referencing the past. “I think cloud computing is somewhat like how we’ve been physically reaching the clouds (through commercial air travel) for the past 50 years,” he said. He noted that this aspect of human sharing – by storing information in remote databanks – “in the cloud” instead of on a local hard drive – is nothing new. But mass adoption of the cloud for storage of vast amounts of people’s most personal information is.

Our culture has developed to the point where we have a substantial reliance upon technology, along with a need to trust this technology – we trust it to be available and functional, to possess a certain measure of security assurance and trust that privacy will be respected, he said.

Hoffman said he is unsure of whether we are doing a satisfactory job of meeting these privacy expectations. “We’re heading to a global digital infrastructure,” he said. He described the key problems can that arise online include the fact that private information can be stolen or hacked and that the information stored in the cloud can be lost.

“We are now relying upon the cloud to such a degree that threats we don’t know about can create harm,” he said. “We trust it to be available, functional. We have a need to trust that our privacy will be respected.”

Hoffman noted that policy should be changed to compensate for new interactive technologies that allow for increased violation of privacy.

Klinefelter agreed that privacy laws need to have a second look.

“I would like the legislation – to have more an opt-in than an opt-out,” form of online privacy she said.

Antón said laws should changed to be compliant with software that can protect privacy, and Hartzog said he hopes to see revision in surveillance law.

– By Ashley Dischinger and Laura Smith


Video and more written FutureWeb coverage: http://bit.ly/imaginingtheinternet
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

Bob Young shares insights on future of publishing business model

30 04 2010

Bob Young admits that he could be playing golf for the rest of his life, but he won’t. And it’s not just because he’s a bad golfer.

Instead, he’ll be using his management insight from his management experience at RedHat to help authors publish and distribute their work, helping them overcome the Internet’s “terrible signal to noise ratio.”

According to this RedHat founder and Lulu.com CEO, as human communications and media change, all the rules on how to be successful change. He said everyone has deep expertise in very narrow field, and Lulu is dedicated to finding a way for the Internet to deliver this expertise.

The idea, he said, came from his time at RedHat. He compared the company and its competitors to David and Goliath, but not in the way one would expect.

“We are, in fact, Goliath because we have a bigger engineering team than Google or Microsoft can afford to employ,” he said, referring to the hundreds of programmers contributing to the open source code. “One-third of the contributions came from dedicated and enthusiastic amateurs. No way of compensating them because their no way of evaluating their contributions.”

Their compensation, he said, could come from recording their expertise on a platform like Lulu. He told one of his favorite stories of a retiring scientist publishing a text on timing differentials in subatomic particles, a topic the author said had an audience of 214 people, 170 of which the author knew personally.

“His work would have retired with him if he didn’t publish it,” Young said. “The future of publishing on internet – if this is going to work, you have to rethink the way it works.”

The company has done just that, eliminating the “author to agent to publisher to reader” separation. The site also employs a social mechanism to bring readers to the content they desire.

“We read books because someone told us to!” he said. “It is a social mechanism, how we choose the books we read.”

Social networks allow the readers to communicate their favorite books so their friends can find the most relevant content. He explained that his teenage daughter reads Harry Potter instead of a better, less popular fantasy story because she wants to read the same book as her friends, enhancing her social interactions.

In terms of electronic readers, which make up 10 percent of Lulu’s sales, Young sees it as just a matter of time before “dead tree readers” fall out of popularity. He does not see Lulu’s books as good candidates for an advertising-based electronic business model because they do not have big enough readership, but it could be a good business model for more popular titles.

He explained that Lulu’s economic model works because they print 2.5 million books a year, making the printing cost low, and they don’t print books until customers have ordered them.

He said he believes that libraries and newspapers have outdated business models and that they will have to adapt rapidly in order to survive.

“We could paint a model of the future, and there’s not a chance one thing will come true!” he said.

“Lulu is likely to be my last project,” Young said, noting that he will likely move on to share his management insight in one of the area’s universities.

-by Rachel Cieri

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

Carl Malamud explains rules for radicals

30 04 2010

Carl Malamud of public.resource.org discusses the rules for radicals. (Photo by Dan Rickershauser)

Day three of the FutureWeb conference, part of WWW2010, was started off with a keynote from Carl Malamud, the president and founder of public.resource.org and an advocate for the public domain.

He shared a brief history of his encounters with seven bureaucratic institutions over the years, as he fought to convince the government and some private institutions to put public information into the public domain.

He is arguably the world’s foremost public domain advocate, and his message was aimed at equipping everyone in the room with the tools to save, swap, share, negotiate and thrive doing it.

“I hope to leave you with some rules for radicals,” he said proposing, in essence, a how-to guide for fighting off nay-sayers, getting the opposition on your side of the ring and rallying public support. The tips were framed around his personal efforts to move documents of public ownership and importance to be widely accessible on the web, and available for free. It’s a task that often meant elbowing off institutions that were turning a profit on what was technically public property.

His tales of working with bureaucracies ranged from working with the International Telecommunication Union in the early 90s to release the Blue Book, an essential resource for the development of the Internet that laid out telecommunication standards, to his more recent struggles to get video of historic importance available on YouTube. The tips were framed around his personal efforts to move documents of public ownership and importance to be widely accessible on the web, and available for free. It’s a task that often meant elbowing off institutions that were turning a profit on what was technically public property.

Malamud reminisced about the early days of the Internet, merrily name-dropping in tales about his encounters with the early initiators of the standards and protocols of today’s highly evolved networks – including his experience seeing Tim Berners-Lee give one of the first demonstrations of the Web.

“There was the Internet, and then there were respectable networks,” he joked as he discussed an early Internet that was based on open standards with no king.

He shared anecdotes about the winding path of permissions he took to getting to the point where he has digitized hundreds of government films for the Internet Archive and YouTube. He has also published a 5-million-page crawl of the Government Printing Office.

Along the way he shared …

Carl Malamud’s RULES for RADICALS

Rule 1: Call everything you do an experiment.

“Word started to trickle back that maybe the Internet was bigger than previously thought,” Malamud said.Getting the antiquated file of the Blue Book into a usable form took some effort. And who knew that putting the book online would consume practically all of the bandwidth the National Science Foundation had at the time? http://resource.org/itu.int/index.html

Rule 2: When the authorities fire the gun, run as fast as you can that way, when they get that queesy feeling, it’s too late to stop.

When the congressional overseers of the SEC gave the green light to make EDGAR data accessible on the web, a number of players quickly aligned to make the dream possible. http://resource.org/sec.gov/index.html

“If code is law then law is code,” he said. “It has to be open source.”

Malamud described how he did a lot of the “future is here demos” when researching the Internet in the early 1990’s.

He worked with Steve Wolff of the National Science Foundation to receive an NSF grant. Ninety days after receiving the grant, the first server was up and running. It ran for a year and a half. By mid 1995 there were 50,000 people a day using the service, Malamud said.

Rule 3: Eyeballs rule, build up a user base and you will have more leverage.

“Build up a user base and you have more leverage than you would just blowing smoke,” Malamud said. When Malamud worked to get the SEC to take responsibility for putting the EDGAR database online, it certainly helped that 50,000 people a day were using the service. And having those users fill the inboxes of News Gingrich, Al Gore and the chairman of the SEC helped to prove the importance of having the EDGAR database in the public domain. http://resource.org/sec.gov/index.html

Rule 4: When you achieve you objective don’t be afraid to turn on a dime and be nice.

It might take some stern words, straight-arming and threats to get people to comply with open source requests, but once you get there be nice to the organizations you’re working with. A few years later, Google bought YouTube for 1.5 million and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) developed in Washington, DC, which allows for access to approximately over 3 million publications covering 350 subject areas.

“The nice thing about the government” Malamud said…. “is that for the most part, it is public domain.”

Rule 5: Keep asking and keep rephrasing the question until they can say, “yes.”

When the National Technical Information Service was charging rates like $50 for a 29-minute government-owned VHS video, Malamud called foul. He soon found that by law the NTIS had to cover their costs, and low demand for the videos were the culprit for the unreasonable fees. He was able to work a deal where the government would loan his group FedFlicks the tapes, they would digitize it and put it in the public domain, and then return the VHS to the government. A simple solution that just took a few tries to arrive at. http://resource.org/ntis.gov/

Rule 6: When you get the microphone, make your point clearly.

Malamud described the importance of open source.

“We write down the rules that citizen must obey,” he said. “How can we be citizens of law if that isn’t open source?”

It took some work to show government officials that they were getting royally duped by a deal made with Amazon to distribute government videos. When Malamud laid things out clearly during a congressional testimony, he was able to get politicians to supporting putting the videos in the public domain.

Rule 7: Get standing. Have some skin in the game and a reason that you are at the table. If there’s something clearly wrong that can be documented, the government has to talk to you.

Rule 8: Get the bureaucrats to fight with you.

Some people might have started shaking in their boots when the Oregon legislature sent a take-down notice for publishing their state statutes online. They claimed it violated copyright because the state sold a print edition of the statues and Malamud’s website was threatening their revenue stream. http://resource.org/oregon.gov/

Rule 9: Look for overreaching, something that’s truly nuts.

Since state statutes can’t be copyrighted, Oregon eventually came around and voted to waive the actions about copyright. http://resource.org/oregon.gov/

Rule 10: Don’t be afraid to fail.

Malamud closed his talk by telling the tale of Thomas Edison who reportedly failed 10,000 times before he got the lightbulb to work. “I have not failed,” Edison said, “I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

“Fail often. And don’t forget to question authority,” Malamud concluded.

By Olivia Hubert-Allen and Laura Smith

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/


30 04 2010

The final day of the FutureWeb conference at WWW2010 in Raleigh features the following schedule: JOIN US

Marc Rotenberg

Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center is a moderator and key speaker at Day Three of FutureWeb.



FutureWeb attendees invited to attend the WWW2010 KEYNOTE BY CARL MALAMUD, president and founder of public.resource.org.

10-10:30 – Coffee break

10:30-12 – Concurrent sessions run in two rooms:

ROOM 304 – A SPECIAL SESSION with a keynote by BOB YOUNG of Lulu.com on the FUTURE OF PRINT PUBLISHING (including a follow-up Future of the Web interview session with Young led by Rainie).


12-1:30 – Lunch on your own

1:30-3 – Concurrent sessions in two rooms:



3-3:30 – Coffee Break

3:30-5 – Concurrent sessions in two rooms:

ROOM 402 – A SPECIAL SESSION in which LEE RAINIE interviews MARC ROTENBERG about the future of the Web,

ROOM 304 – THE FUTURE OF LEARNING IS THE FUTURE OF THE WEB (organized by CATHY DAVIDSON of Duke University, HASTAC and the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition; including LAURENT DUBOISMARK ANTHONY NEALNEGAR MOTTAHEDEH and TONY O’DRISCOLL).

Rainie, Searls interview: The future of open source, innovation, and value

30 04 2010

In the last session of the second day, Lee Rainie sat down with Doc Searls, the Linux Journal senior editor, and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman center. Searls is part of the Pew’s closest network, and has praised the Pew Research Center from early on.

Lee Rainie, left, interviews Doc Searls in a special session of FutureWeb. (Photo: Dan Anderson, Elon University)

Searls briefly discussed how he got into the Linux community, and said the appeal came from his observation that the Internet empowered individuals as much as it empowered larger organizations. He also talked of the connection between the Internet and construction, saying he had the inkling that “the language of writing code was the language of construction.”

Throughout the interview, Searls continued to relate the Net to construction and geology. He sees the Internet as the foundation for web ‘construction’ sites. “Buildings come and go, but the geology doesn’t, and the geology is the Net,” Searls said.

As a “correctly-labeled ‘Techno-uptopian,’” Searls maintained his optimism for the future of the Internet throughout the majority of the talk. When Rainie asked what he believes threatens innovation, Searls responded by saying that the originality of human beings could be endless. He elaborated by discussing some of his exciting initiatives, such as the Listen Log, which allows users to log what the listen to. In terms of public radio and other radio, Searls loves the idea of “giving people a way to see what it is they value.”

Rainie then moved to a question about the notion of property, and what the current world has wrong with its very definition.

“Intellectual property is an oxymoron,” Searls said. “We would not have the Internet now if people had asserted intellectual property control.”

Searls explained value beyond the physical realm, and how morality can play a role in the creation of this value. He contrasted two morality principles: the exchange, where one item is traded for another; and the relationship, where there is no transaction taking place, and there is no price put on love.

According to Searls, the Internet falls in the second category, where it is something so inherently generous, yet no transaction is taking place.

Rainie challenged this generosity concept, and asked the normally optimistic Searls what worries him for the future. He discussed global warming prospects and the notion of running out of Earth’s vital elements.

He compared our long-term state to the condition of ants with a hill on the sidewalk, metaphorically implying that eventually someone will step on (us).

“I hope the Internet will help us see that,” he said.

– By Katie Roberts

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

Journalism facing tough times panel says

30 04 2010

The FutureWeb Future of Media panel.

Journalism is in the most tumultuous time in history according to the panelists from the FutureWeb session on the future of the media.

The panel was led by ibiblio creator Paul Jones and included Penny Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at University of North Carolina, Michael Clemente, senior VP of news for FOX News, Sam Matheny, general manager of News Over Wireless at CBC New Media Group,  Dan Conover and Doc Searls, Berkman Center Fellow at Harvard.

One of the hot topics discussed by the panel was the role the mobile phones and the mobile Web play in how consumers receive and disseminate information.

“Mobile will be for the next five to ten years the place where the majority of the innovation is coming from,” Maheny said.

One of the biggest examples of this idea is the iPhone, he said.

“People buy the iPhone with the phone being the afterthought.”

He also noted this stems from the need to obtain information on a rapid pace.

“People will always want access to info faster and easier than they can get it,” he said.

What this is doing to journalism, is lessening it, Clemente said.

“There’s more information out there than ever, ever been before but there’s less journalism,” he said. Clemente attributed this to a rush for journalists to be the first to get their story out and use the Internet as the platform to do so.

Print newspapers are part of the dwindling aspect of journalism as well, the panelists agreed.

Abernathy said this problem stems from the revenue side and the attempt at paywalls and their affects. In addition, there is a conflict with newspapers trying to preserve the traditional print model, she said.

Education for student journalists is another obstacle an audience member noted.

According to moderator Paul Jones, student journalists are now being required to learn and understand concepts such as data mining, data visualization, citizen journalism and storytelling.

“The key challenge will be for (student) journalists to provide the time to do that work,” Matheny said in reference to the programs such as Flash that take a more extensive amount of time to learn.

In terms of citizen journalism, Abernathy said it won’t save journalism.

Searls said there is not a rift between bloggers and journalism. “I think bloggers are journalists,” he said.

Conover said the major question is what is good.

“Today I don’t know what’s good anymore,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re making the world better, sometimes I think we’re making society sicker…We have people who are horrendously misinformed.”

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:

FutureWeb YouTube channel:

Flickr photos:

David Burney leads panel discussion on interactivity, changing business models of the Web

30 04 2010

According to David Burney, the Web has made a mess of business.  In a panel discussion Wednesday, Burney and four other speakers from various backgrounds explored the likely directions business is headed.

David Burney moderates a panel discussion on the future of interactivity and the Web. (Photo: Dan Anderson, Elon University)

The Web has changed business models.  In the 20th century, business was implemented top-down.  Everything was very linear, about control.  Now, the world is networked.  Businesses are non-linear, concerned with freedom and transparency in their operations.  While the 20th century model was about structure, this model is about culture.

The new take on business because of the Web begins with culture.  “This culture is build around satisfying customers’ needs, wants and values,” Burney said.  Groups of people who are customers interconnect and engage the company and tell them how to innovate, which then drives the creation of the brand.

“When groups of people interconnect and see how its going, they see that the business value increases and begins the circle that begins again as culture becomes richer and deeper,” Burney said.

Customer services is the new marketing

In the past, customer services killed conversation between companies and clients, said Keith Messick of Get Satisfaction.  People crave conversation and the opportunity to get involved.

In the past couple of years there has been a shift where service is moved to the front end of the business model.  Customers have massive influence businesses should engage as advocates because their stories are more credible than anything the business can say.

Becky Minervino of McKinney said that business is about finding insight, but the tools have changed and social media is the new way for companies to communicate with their customers.

“We should pay attention to this and start behaving differently.  It sounded intimidating nine times out of ten. Often there was a hesitancy to give up some control and participate,” Minervino said.  Giving up control, however, is part of the new business model and allows more open conversations.

Strategists deal in an interactive space

According to Steven Keith, an independent designer, there are three things that have, and will continue to have, the greatest impact on interactivity: technology, budget and speed.

“(Technology) has an impact on design and what you build with your strategies,” Keith said.  Budget sets the tempo for the type of project, and speed “has everything to do with how we’re designing things,” he said.

Additionally, this interactive space means more communication between the company and the customer.

In the past, the company communicated its message to its customers who simply listened.  Today, because of the Web, the customers listen to the company message coming from multiple employees within the company.

“And then all of the sudden customer got a mouth and the web enabled that,” Chris Grams of New Kind said.

The Web is closely linked with the ability to customers to communicate with companies, and vice versa.  The future of the Web will determine just how much stronger this communication grows as more and more companies allow their customers to have a bigger say in innovating and the brand.

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

danah boyd talks social networking, data interpretation with Lee Rainie

30 04 2010

Lee Rainie interviewed social networks researcher danah boyd on the future of the Web for a special session at this afternoon’s FutureWeb conference. They discussed the way in which institutions are handling data, bad actors in marketing, socioeconomic factors in

Social networks researcher danah boyd speaks with Lee Rainie in a special interview session at FutureWeb. (Photo: Dan Anderson, Elon University)

technology and how teens are navigating the social networking environment.

Rainie introduced boyd as “the number one reference for social networks- she’s been our teacher for a long time on this stuff.”

danah first addressed an issue she touched on in her keynote speech earlier this morning: the way in which institutions are handling data. She cited pleaserobme.com as a reminder of how much data is available on the Internet.

“Many people take this site seriously, but it’s really just trying to make a delightful point about privacy,” boyd said. “It’s kind of an experiment that really gets to the heart of that.”

When asked about instances of data misuse in the marketing community, boyd said most of the misuses are unintentional. Still, she said it is this level of naïveté that gets us into trouble the most. The challenge is that each company and each researcher means well, but they aren’t necessarily considering the consequences of how they are using data. Instead, the public has to start thinking like hackers in order to anticipate unintended costs.

A conference attendee posed the question of whether one can ever take full account of the data’s context and fully understand it. boyd’s responded with her number one principle in analyzing data: “Know the data you’re working with, and don’t make claims that go beyond that.”

boyd says this is a prime opportunity to work with social scientists.

“We should be doing multi-prong questioning instead of waiting for people to come out with reports,” boyd said.

She acknowledged that a downside to easily accessible data is the potential for misinterpretation. The defense, she said, is to consider how data you are about to distribute could get misinterpreted, and how you will be accountable for it.

Ethical questions arise when considering data misinterpretation. We need to find a way to actively engage ethical practices, which become ways to think through a process, she said.

boyd also addressed the question of ways in which teenagers are navigating the online environment, and how their behaviors differ from older generations.

“Teenagers are looking to understand the world around them, “boyd said. “They come to social media with the understanding that friendship is driven through publicly accessible information. It’s important to them that friends can see them, but those who hold power over them cannot.”

This is nothing new, she said. Previous generations of teenagers valued the same principles, but instead of trying to keep parents out of their rooms, teens are now trying to keep them out of their online environments.

Click here to watch boyd explain why some teens opt out of participating in social networks.

Relating this example back to her ethics discussion, boyd questioned whether parents have the right to look at their children’s information online, just because it is accessible. She said instead, parents should think about how to help their teenagers by simply asking them questions and guiding them accordingly.

boyd’s research on teenagers has also provided insight into socioeconomic factors that effect the way they engage in technology.

“I’ve learned the hard way that talking about socioeconomic factors is the best way to really put the bulls eye on you,” she said.

Her research has revealed divisions between the use of MySpace and Facebook and they way the sites are talked about in terms of class. She found discrepancies in the language that is used on the sites in accordance with the socioeconomic status of the users.

“My role as an ethnographer is to start with the people and then go up from there,” she said. “I have to actually observe what’s happening so you can see the diversity in what’s going on.”

When asked about her insights into how people navigate social networks, successfully and unsuccessfully, she referred to the philosophic discussion on “publics.” We live in multiple publics, each with a certain logic, and we engage in each differently, she said.

Networked publics challenge people in the ways that we deal with it every day, all day. The blurring between public and private, and the challenges of the “invisible public” are altering the way that people navigate online forums.

“(Publics navigation of social networks) will be unstable for a really long time,” boyd said. “It really becomes a big challenge.”

By Ashley Dischinger

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

Web analytics need to be better understood, panel says

29 04 2010

Panelists discuss the future of web analytics

The panelists in the FutureWeb session on web analytics may have given the audience quite a surprise when most agreed that analytics is somewhat failing in today’s society.

Panelists included Nathaniel Lin, president for advanced analytics at Aspen Marketing Services, John Lovett, senior partner at strategy firm Web Analytics Demystified, Phil Mui, senior product manager for Google Analytics and Bob Page, VP, analytics platform at eBay. Michael Rappa, founder and director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics, moderated the panel.

“With the advent of much cheaper of storing data…everyone wants to keep everything because it’s possible,” Page said. “Not because it’s useful but because it’s possible.”

Page said businesses need to understand how to use analytics better.

“Most people think data itself is a byproduct of what we do,” he said… “There’s a disconnect between the data and the business value of the data.”

In turn, Mui said analytics need to be easier to use for businesses.

“When people hear the word analytics, they think of tools and technologies,” he said. “If you focus on the technologies, you’re looking at it from the wrong end…If only an IT person can use a tool (and marketers can’t)…then we are not putting the tool at the easiest access level where it can be used for influencing business outcome.”

The panelists agreed the rise of social media has also played a role in how web analytics is used.

“In many ways social media is new lipstick,” Page said…”It’s a new vehicle for having a two way conversation with customers.”

But the ways businesses utilize social media can be dangerous, Lovett said.

“Many organizations don’t have a strategy for social media.” he said. He described how business create Facebook and Twitter pages but don’t understand how to use the data they receive from those platforms.

“I think that web analytics, to a certain extent, needs to get easier for the masses,” Lovett said.

Lovett also said there is a problem with web analytics and standardization.

“To a large extent, I think web analytics has failed,” he said. “All the measures don’t mean a lot, there’s not standardization…You can’t get insight out of it.”

Page said a lot of it has to do with the dismissal of collaboration among people.

“I don’t think this is a technology problem,” Page said. “People don’t want to think, they want the answer.. For all the sharing that goes on in the analytics community, there’s not a lot of sharing.”

Lovett also said there is a lack of confidence when it comes to web analytics.

“If we want analytics to rise up to the sea level of an organization…there has to be a huge amount of confidence behind that data,” he said.

Web analytics is making progress though, Lin said.

“You can now slice and dice data,” he said… “If you can apply this data…and be creative…over time you can make it simpler.”

He said consumers need to start realizing the importance of data and it should not just be used to observe market trends. Otherwise, he said, the demand for data will grow in the coming years.

Page’s reaction?

“The world’s going to get worse,” he said. “Analytics is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/