Venice – January 2006

Early in January Vicky and I headed off to Venice for a long weekend, thanks to Elke for looking after the girls. It was lovely to have some time to ourselves to wander the streets (!), drink in the sights, drink up the prosecco and discover some new and remembered restaurants.

You can see the photos – a limited 30! – at the gallery. Do a slideshow so you can crack through them.

Photographically I was trying out an Xpan that I’d recently picked up as a rather trashed second-hand “bargain” from the Procentre. I was in a B&W mood (the weather was going to be overcast and rainy – just the thing for some grainy Tri-X). The ‘ManInTheShop’ suggested some Fuji NeoPan 1600 (a very fast B&W film) so I stuffed the bag with Tri-X and a couple of Neopans to try and we headed off. I’ll give some feedback once I’ve scanned in the panoramas…

We stayed at the Bauer and really liked it. We also found some great fooderies. Details shared after the jump…

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Future of Web Applications conference

The Future of Web Apps – Carson Systems conference

So, here I am at the lovely Kensington Town Hall. Lovely building – suprisingly well hidden, especially considering its bulk. A veritable Vogon Constructor Ship nestled in the midst of posh shopping.

This event has grown, grown, grown. From initial expectations of 1-200 people, we find 800 people in this fine hall, with an air of expectancy approaching that of a religious healing convention at the Latter Day Church of Web 2.0.

Some initial impressions:

1) 792 men, 8 women.
2) geek chic: pony tails out, shaved heads in. Less facial hair than in the late 90s. Some ‘glare’ issues from the back of the hall: combination of balding heads and gelled hair.
3) everyone has a laptop on their, ahem, lap. Ergonomics? What’s this doing for our posture? Our attention deficity disorders?
4) Given the power consumption on laptops, can this be a Carbon Neutral conference?
5) Mac laptops comprise over 50% of those in evidence.
6) the quality of presentations are stunning: no ‘Powerpoint Business Template #3’ in evidence. Is it all of the Macs, or have geeks discovered “design”? 🙂

Presentations were good: interesting people who’d done cool things.

Good format to the day: a series of 45m slots with 15 mins to stretch legs, chat, get coffee (aka “queue for 15 mins”). Kept things fresh.

I’ll link to the proceedings later, or you could just visit the conference site and look yourself 🙂

Bubble & Information Overload arguments in one…

Publishing 2.0 � Bubble 2.0 Is a Bubble in Media

Thanks to Ian Worley for this link. Overly long but some interesting points. Seems a rehash of the ‘too much info so we need a [trusted] gatekeeper’ theme. This has been batted around in publishing for aeons: intermediation (“value-added services”, “peer reviewing”) or disintermediation; aggregation versus imprimatur…

Scott Karp implies that in a world of too much info there’ll be a single point (“portal”??) that becomes the gatekeeper: the trusted pointer. This is analagous to saying that in the Kelkoo age the new retailers are Kelkoo, Pricerunner et al, and that retailers are pushed into the position of ‘wholesalers’ to these new mediators.

While there’s some truth in this perspective it rather ignores people’s desire to graze (for serendipitous discovery, to get a feel for the size/shape of a topic) and their serene, ad-proof ability to ignore and filter.

Think of a typical middle-of-the-road department store or high street. Humanoids exhibit in turns a wandering/browsing behaviour, and sharp-elbowed, “I’m on a mission” hunting of items.

Why would this behavioural flexibility cease in the face of too much information (as opposed to too much choice in shoes, colas or undifferentiated consumer non-durables)?

There are a number of scenarios which are predictable:
* people get bored of lots of search returns. They either go with the top returns (zipf’s law), use a new search engine or get better at searching.
* google loses its lustre. It’s already had a good run at being the good guy on the interwebnet… China, privacy, Freedom and Wall Street are all clouds on the horizon
* recommendation networks become more important as a source of information.

Same old, same old.

Venice: sinking and sewage

Last weekend Vicky and I spent a romantic (aka eating, sleeping, wandering) weekend in Venice. Further details to follow with some obligatory gondola photies.

Anyway, two topics of conversation needed some further research: 1) what was happening about Venice’s “sinking” (apart from Pizza Express donating 5p/pizza to some fund or other); 2) what were the sewage arrangements.

Interesting Thing of the Day: The Sinking City of Venice fortunately came to my aid, gorblessit.

Good answer on the “sinking city” + “rising sea level” combo. Plus a one-liner on the sewage (just rolls out to sea).

Can’t find any succinct arguments on the environmental concerns, so any links/hints appreciated.

Oh, here’s the latest on the costs/implementation dates from the beeb.