Another Interesting Day at Etech

Well, the second session-oriented day at etech is now over, and it’s time for me to write some of my notes.

I spend a good part of this morning’s presentations fiddling with setting up a socks proxy on my laptop (see http://www.randomfoo.net/blog/id/3908 for instructions) while listening to some keynotes. Brian Dear’s presentation of Demand was interesting, and a good feature concept. Overall, the approach it seems they took towards populating the set of Performers is to go all the way with user-entered data. Compared with the rest of the site, which is heavily influenced by data feeds, this is a bit of a different approach. I don’t doubt that the trickiness behind building an accurate “artist” term extractor is potentially a good reason to do so. Interesting in that regard was last.fm, who has to deal with matching all sorts of named mp3’s and mp3 id3 tags to a “real” performer in their database. It will be fascinating to see whether users adopt the feature and find it useful enough to justify the additional data entry.

My other interest in their feature is mostly to see whether industries adopt it as an accurate indicator in market research. Large promoters (such as SFX) are likely to be cautious with the data, and small promoters are not as likely to even care about market research. I do like the fact that it’s a grassroots-oriented feature. The big question on my mind is whether MySpace looks at it and integrates a Demand feature on their artist myspace pages before eventful becomes big enough to actually become an accurate sample of real-life local interest in performers. I attended some afternoon sessions of note, including Tom Coates’ presentation, during which I spent a great deal of time attempting to win Buzzword Bingo. No dice though, as Tom is pretty good about never mentioning “Monetization.” His presentation had useful advice about the importance of cleanness of URL’s and other good practices.

I stayed in the same room for Alex Russell’s presentation on push technologies for AJAX, which is used by a lot of “new” web 2.0 apps, even though technically it’s “old” technology. This talk was pretty heavy for me, as i’m quite new to this stuff, but I did pick up some good knowledge about when to know whether push tech is useful, and also some tips about what to look for in building a separate event-driven server platform. After the talk, there was some discussion about a joint effort between Yahoo and MS to build JSONRequest tech that passes data-only across maintained connections, so that should be interesting to watch.

I was at the data & charting presentation, which was good but ran long, and I would have liked to see the entire Technorati presentation that included some smart techniques about detecting splogs.

Sam Ruby’s talk about Neurotransmitters was a pretty whirlwind overview of ideas that Sam had about analogs between human knowledge of biology and human knowledge of web and programming idioms. Of regard was a mention of a possible GPL v3 that would require source disclosure of inclusive services, and a lot of interesting thought experiments which I won’t enumerate here for brevity, and also because I have to go to dinner soon. I really enjoyed his presentation and have a new mental model about networked applications.

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