Mesh 2007 launched with a very lively discussion with Michael Arrington of TechCrunch as the keynote Connector talking about the evolution of TechCrunch from a hobby to a full-fledged business that recently hired a CEO to bring a level of stability to the operation. Mike provided many insights which will become the focus of a separate post later today.
Over lunch I had the opportunity to meet with Mike and discuss where he saw the real time conversation space evolving. As with many participants, he talks (and lusts for) applications that can embed voice; in particular, with Skype he would like to see a "naked Skype" that can be embedded within applications. Mike is also a big fan of Grand Central for its ability to organize our voice connections. As for mobile, Mike does not see VoIP as an enabling technology for mobile voice communications but rather agrees with my own mantra of putting the IM functionality onto a mobile device but use the underlying phone wireless service to minimize mobile phone resource usage.
The second session featured as keynote Connectors Tom Williams of GiveMeaning.com and Austin Hill, founder of Zero-Knowledge Systems. Both have sold their original companies and have devoted their activities to web-enabling social projects that harness the power of collective action via the Internet. A key theme of their discussion was that to translate "good intentions" into action requires not simply the desire to "do good" but to mobilize and inspire participants in a project through empowerment of the individual and direct participation. From Austin "Give people things they can do to make a difference." The challenge then becomes one of scaling a project to make a significant impact.
As an example Austin mentioned today’s launch of DarkGreenPC where an open source applet can be downloaded to your PC. To quote Austin: "DarkGreenPC is a non-profit, community organized open source project … where we are going enable people to optimize the power usage of their computers collectively and turn energy saving into a social activity." Austin’s claim was that with over 100 million participants, this project can result in power savings that would be equivalent to the power used by Switzerland for a whole year.
We concluded the morning with three "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" presentations by startups:
- Octopz: online collaboration technology for creative professionals
- DemoFuse: creating and maintaining interactive demo tours for websites
- FiveLimes: a place to seek out and sometimes purchase eco-friendly products and services
On to an afternoon of panel discussions.
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