Category Archives: Barcamp Atlanta

Barcamp 2 – Friday night continues – Where are the girls?

Next session I’m sitting in on is called “Where are the girls?”   A fair question for such a technology-focused event.   I’d say the event this year has more women than last year, and I think right now 90% of them are in this room (one of about 5 where presentations are going on concurrently).  I count 5 women including the moderator, and about 13 men.

Moderator is a social media researcher seeking funding for a new idea.   Applying through Y-combinator a new hatchery/ incubator for startups.

Last funding round a Y Combinator bbrought out 97 dudes and 3 women.   So the question asked is why?  Where are the women?  Are they not out there?  Do they not know where to look?  So the presentation is about where the women are, where the women are online, and what’s the future.

Stats show male students start earlier on computers, use them more for entertainment and get more comfortable with them earlier.  Computer games are a gateway drug for technology lifestyle.

Gender gap is closing – more women are using the web, but they use it differently. Doing different things influences impressions and behaviors.

Club penguin – virtual environment/game environment popular with 6-14 yr old girls.  Purchased by Disney for $350 Million!  The niche can pay off!

Confidence effects use. Anecdote given. Moderator asked a colleague what she used online, the colleague replied “my Internet usage is boring” — issue of confidence/attitude about Internet experience. Discussion of importance of positive reinforcement.

Discussion of Julia Alllyson – a successful online self promoter often categorized as “famous for being famous”

Lisa Brewster (aka “techslut”) – engineer photographer, web 2.0 entrepreneure and technology culture and geek sexuality — she sells T-shirts with cool startup names,   She has a company called Startup Schwag (maybe they’d like the Equation Arts logo?)

I want a T-shirt that says “I got tackled at Barcamp”

Sometimes the tool is valued more than the content.  Some sites aren’t “hard” but attract large followings of contributors and customers – Etsy is a great example.

Lesson – Get outside the normal developer peer group!  Get input from other circles – find out what other people use and you may gain insights for your concepts and ideas to reach not techie demographics (get outside the “hack shack”.

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Barcamp 2 – more from Friday night

Gave my talk on branding for startups.   Discussed the Three R’s of branding and some of the particular issues of note for a young company trying to get established in an Internet driven economy.

Then I went late to a talk on the Erlang programming language.  It was standing room only so live-blogging wasn’t practical.   Cool talk though.   The big idea here:  Erlang is massively scalable!  The rest was over my head 🙂

Now I’m in a talk on Bayesian algorithms for filtering – two groups combined for this talk, one interested in Bayesian analysis the other in AI and cognition (with a futurist spin).  Thought this would be a more philosophical discussion because of the AI, but the Bayesians have numbers on their side so the talk is getting into logic and algorithms.   Spam filtering is a popular problem for applying the power of Bayesian.  Basically by recognizing user behaviors and aggregating  behaviors across users and then create probabilities for saving and for scrubbing any particular message.   So Bayesian calculations get the probablities that score likelihood of scrub and likelihood of save.   Then another algorithm has to look at the balance between the scores to determine the final save/scrub decision.  The goal is to have a system that continues to learn over time to get better over time.  Surprise issue – you don’t want the system to learn too fast!  If it does the system can develop biases that might move you away from desirable result.   Learning at the right pace allows the system to aggregate enough scores to have more relevant outcomes.

What does this have to do with branding?   As I mentioned an hour or so ago, I’m indulging my nerdy roots and hanging out at Barcamp Atlanta.   The technology is driving everything these days.  And I believe in the long run these technologies will influence marketing and buying behaviors, just like the web has.

Moderating is discussing filtering large data sets – question now about qualifying market data as another use case.  Bayesian is good at putting info into buckets.  Not as good for mathematical evaluation.

Could you use Bayesian to create real estate recomendations? Start learning behavior for a home buyer? Could the home buyer train the system fast enough to make it useful infiltering a databse of 100000 homes?  (questions from Alan Pinstein)  The experts say yes, this is a good application for Bayesian approach.

Conversation is moving to relevance engines, but it is 10pm so time to change rooms.

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Barcamp 2 – the sequel

I can’t believe it has been a year since the first Atlanta Barcamp!  And for you folks saying “What’s Barcamp?”  You’ll just have to bear with me for a little while.  Yes, i’m a branding guy now, but I have nerdy roots and Barcamp is a wonderfully nerdy event.

Right now we are in the ATDC space at Ga Tech.  We’ve been fed some BBQ, sodas and beer and now the evening sessions are beginning.   The format is “unconference” or more appropriately ad hoc conference.  People sign up on a sheet to give presentations, and other people sign up to attend presentations.  The topics vary widely.  From heavy-duty coding topics, to business issues for developers and entrepreneurs, to fun things like demos with liquid nitrogen.   I’m sitting in on a session on pricing for independent consultants – generally meaning programmers for hire, but I’m sure much of it will be applicable for any consultant.

Brad Gilreath of is presenting.   Right now he is giving some of the nitty-gritty of a consultants life. Short and long projects, realities of working stamina, finding a balance, hiring help etc.

Oh and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m live-blogging this, meaning I’m writing on the fly while Brad talks, so the style of this post migt be a bit rough ’round the edges than my usual fare — and may get a bit techier.  As I said before, indulge me.

Big point – consultants need sleep too!   Even though the fear of not having a steady gig can turn you into a workaholic.   How much of your day is really usable, billable?

Uh oh, he’s showing a spreadsheet – my eyes are too old and tired for that.  It is a calculator for types of activities and projects.   Discussing pressure applied by clients to make your work appear to be a commodity to drive prices down.

Spreadsheet buld “product factors” to trap client requirements.  Clarify scope, details and particulars. Map payment cycles – build in adjustments for lengthier payment cycles – cost of sitting waiting for your money should be figured into your pricing.

The whole idea here is to have a solid tool for building estimates for projects.   Understanding components and details help guide the discussion for more accurate pricing and heading off potential points of confusion before they become issues or disputes.

This approach could be used as a job auction tool.  Also potential for branding the tool for particular clients.   Weighted average factor pricing could be made tighter with input from accountant/economist.

It could also automatically build documentation for the statement of work.

Guideline – don’t get greedy!

Cool job Brad!

OK – now, depending on how many people signed up, I’m going to give a 1/2 hour on branding for startups.

Can’t blog and talk though 🙂

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Atlanta should skip Web 2.0

I love Atlanta. I’ve been here for almost 12 years and I think it is a great city. We’ve got millions of people,  great neighborhoods, great restaurants,  a major airport, lots of free wi-fi, plenty of diverse businesses, a healthy laptop per capita ratio in any coffee shop you should happen to wander into, but somehow I think that Atlanta is not living up to its potential as a great center for web innovation.   And I don’t think I am alone in this opinion.

I’m not saying there is no innovation here, but I think as a city we are a little behind the times.  I offer as example the reluctant adoption of Web 2.0 in Atlanta.  Web 2.0 as both  a term and a practice seems to have only grudgingly been accepted in the Atlanta business world.   Sure, there is a growing pool of adopters leading the charge at events like SoCon07 and 08, AWE, and Barcamp, but to call them early adopters would only be accurate in a geographically limited definition.  They’re early for Georgia, but not for the world.  I’d like to see that change.

I think Atlanta should skip Web 2.0.  Not skip as in miss, but skip as in skip ahead.  Instead of playing perpetual catch-up with innovation centers like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and NY, we should leap-frog those places and boldly invest in our time, money, thoughts and effort in redefining the context of the Internet.  The web has become the plumbing of our lives. Business is changing, marketing is changing, socializing is changing, lines are blurring, but we drag our feet and take incremental steps toward ideas that come to us from the west coast.

There are people in this town who would like to see Atlanta at the center of the discourse – a legitimate force in shaping our collective destinies through technology and its catalytic effect on human interaction.  And there is no reason why we can’t be, but we won’t get there by being a follower.  We need to figure out what Web 4.0 is, or 5.0, or maybe dare to embrace a term that isn’t Web x.x anything, but something new, something ambitious, something risky.  We might look silly, but we also may find a point of view, a value, a context that re-centers the discourse.

Let’s start talking.

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About my Barcamp Atlanta posts

This is just a quick note to anyone confused by the flurry of posts I’ve put online recently.  Barcamp Atlanta was a two day event hosted at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech.  It was a great event gather approximately 100 hundred computer programmers, technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors, sponsors, and web developers.  The format was to not have a format – anyone who came could sign up to lead a session and participation was highly encouraged.  Some sessions were very discussion-oriented, others were powerpoint-centric.  Lots of great information and smart people and a generous attitude toward sharing info.

I tried to capture in a few blog posts, a fraction of the information that washed over me in the sessions I attended.  The writing is rough and loose – a necessity of the situation (and my trying to keep up despite my tortoise-like typing speed).  I paraphrased heavily, quoted where I could, and opined here and there without remorse. One thing you should know is that I am not a subject matter expert in any of the areas that I blogged about, so I almost certainly got some things wrong – the mistakes are mine not the presenters and I welcome comments that will provide any appropriate corrections.

Many shout-outs are deserved by those who put this event together and to those who took the reins and led sessions.  And to the sponsors who fed us!  I don’t know ’em all, but here’s a few I can thank: Jeff,  Stephen, Sanjay, Cooper, Michael I., Logan, Mike  S., Rusty, Amber, Tim, Sandro, Dave, Lance, et al.   Thanks for a great weekend!

Now back to my usual blog topics of branding, marketing, social media, etc.

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Not-Live from Barcamp – Day 2 – Session 6 [for me] Future of Democracy – Social Media

Presenter: Tim Moenk

OK at this point I was getting tired — hitting the Barcamp ceiling for information absorption.  Also the room was packed and awkward for typing in so here’s a post-session recap:

Tim presents some thoughts on the quad-umverate of Social Software, Gaming, Law, and UI.  Basically he contends that the increasing wave of social media is causing fundamental changes in how we interact at a national and global level.  Game designers are becoming social architects, and that law is lagging behind the progress, but there are experiments to try and catch up in areas such as patents.  He also points out that we are capable of self-organizing in a reasonable manner as evidenced by events like Barcamp.

I personally think he raises some very interesting points and wish there had been room in the time allotted for some Q&A. It is a very meaty subject, but I do think Tim was stretching the term Law over not just laws, but also things like etiquette, and governance.  This made for some oversimplifications, IMHO, in some of his statements.  Nonetheless, I’d love the chance to follow up with Tim and talk more about how he sees these vectors impacting our collective futures.

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