Posts tagged 'Conference'

A Few Thoughts On The TechCrunch 50 Finalists

TechCrunch 50 Logo

Today was the first day of the 2nd annual Techcrunch 50 conference. The goal of the conference, dreamed up by entrepreneurs Micahel Arrington and Jason Calacanis, was to promote 50 great start-ups to the “industry’s most influential VCs, corporations, fellow entrepreneurs and press.” They also hoped to eliminate the fee for start-ups to present like other conferences.

Today they announced the 50 finalists where a few companies caught my eye right off the bat.

Fitbit Logo

Fitbit wants to make living a healthy lifestyle easier. The company is developing an “ultra-compact” wearable sensor that transmits various data (like calories burned, quality of sleep, number of steps, and distance) to it’s website for analysis. The wearer can track data and mark their progress as they strive to reach personal goals.

This product resonates with me. I’ve been trying to keep track of my health, like what I eat and how much I weigh, but it becomes tedious. A small, compact device that can do a lot of the tedious recording for me is certainly welcome.

Yammer Logo

Yammer is like Twitter for companies. Instead of answering “What are you doing?” Yammer wants you to answer “What are you working on?” The service is more secure than public micro-blogging services because you can only join a network if you have an approved e-mail domain. The hope is Yammer will be a central repository which can archived and searched will make everyone more productive.

I would find something like this useful to keep tabs on what projects my co-workers were working on without being a nosy micro-manager. The problem is older people don’t really get Twitter so it would be a tough sell to get everyone on bored. Younger works already update what they’re doing on Twitter and other micro-blogging services albeit a little more obscure.

Popego Logo

Out of all the websites of the Techcrunch 50 finalists that I visited, Popego looked the best. The service sounds vague according to the Techcrunch description: “Surfaces the most meaningful information from within your social graph based on your interests and other factors.”

Blah Girls Logo

Blah Girls probably had the biggest buzz of the bunch because it is being pitched by Ashton Kutcher. The premise is “a gossip site that features a group of animated teenage girls who provide opinions on what’s going on in the world of entertainment.” I’m curious to see an episode or two to see if it is worthy of joining my video podcast playlist.

Shryk Logo
Finally, the biggest WTF award goes to Shryk. How is their name pronounced? Shrike? Shreik? I have no idea. The goal of the company is something I can get behind however. They hope to promote financial literacy and good saving habits among teens/tweens with web based software built specifically for that age group.

Playce Logo

There are many more companies I didn’t have a chance to get to either for lack of time or because the company just sounded flat out stupid. Like PlaYce, which aims to go head-to-head with the often misunderstood Google Lively. Browser based virtual worlds seem like such a losing proposition.

It will be interesting to see who the Techcrunch50 judges pick as the most interesting startup of the conference.

Crunchbase links for the start-ups mentioned:

SocailDevCamp East Fall Edition Is Coming!

Social Dev Camp East Logo

I just got an e-mail today from Dave Troy, the SocialDevCamp East organizer, announcing the fall edition of SocialDevCamp East! Like last year, this unconference is taking place at the University of Baltimore’s Thumel Business Center Building. If it is anything like the first SocialDevCamp East then expect to meet lots of interesting people and sit in on a bunch of great talks.

So if I’ve piqued your interest and you’re free all day on Saturday November 1st, then I’ll see you there! If anyone from the DC area wants to go and needs a ride up to Baltimore then let me know. I’ve got a mini-van and live right next to the Glenmont metro station (red line).

Time and Place

Saturday, November 1, 2008
8:30am – 10:00pm
University of Baltimore
1420 Charles St.
Baltimore, MD

View Map

Other Resources

SocialDevCamp East Was All About The Future Of The Web

Picking session topics at SocialDevCamp East

The DC area is exploding with meetups and unconferences. First it was BarCamp DC in August, then PodCampDC at the end of April, and just this past weekend was SocialDevCamp East which took place in Baltimore. The latest unconference had an emphasis on the future of the web and many of the sessions were theory-heavy about topics that are the very bleeding edge of the next-generation Internet.

Mike Subelsky talked about Amazon’s EC2 web service.

The first session I went to was about Amazon’s web services specifically the EC2 service. The discussion, which was led by Mike Subelsky, revealed the possibilities for new products and services thanks to Amazon taking a lot of the cost and hassle of running server hardware out of the equation with their on-demand virtual server solution. System administration is foreign to me but I could see the benefit of Amazon’s web services.

Dr. Harry Chen discusses the Semantic web.

The Social Media and Semantic Web panel was a real thinker. This was the first time really diving into the nitty-gritty of the Semantic web, which will make the future Internet smarter and easier to manage with data being in a well structured, meaningful format. Dr. Harry Chen led the discussion (see his slides) with some valuable contributions from the crowd about where this web trend was heading. This gave me ideas about how U.S.News & World Report could add Semantic data to it’s upcoming data projects.

Bear, from Seesmic, adding to the Semantic web discussion.

Lunch was provided at SocialDevCamp East and consisted of a make-your-own sandwich buffet. It was probably one of the best spreads at any unconference I’ve been to. During lunch I chatted with Patti, the founder of a Baltimore area start-up called The site aims to help you and your friends find interesting local things, starting with Baltimore and eventually branching out to other areas. I also met Bear who is an infrastructure developer at Seesmic. He mentioned Seesmic is embracing the Semantic web by building FOAF and SPARQL into their API’s. They hope to make everything they can as open as possible which is really encouraging for the future of web video communication. He also gave me a Seesmic t-shirt. Nice!

Shashi knows the benefit of social media to companies.

After lunch I went to see what Shashi Bellamkonda from Network Solutions had to say about Selling the Value of Social Web to Management. Shashi is a very web social guy who I first met at PodCampDC. He cited how lots of companies are opening up direct communications with customers like Comcast with their ComcastCares twitter account. His main point was blogs/Facebook/Twitter are not another marketing avenue for companies to fill, but rather a way to expose the personality behind the company.

The final session was an intimate discussion about the popular JavaScript libraries that are out there. In attendance was Amy Hoy who is engaged to Thomas Fuchs the creator of Clearly she had a bias to Prototype but everyone else seemed to be into jQuery.

I had to duck out after the actual conference part was over so I missed the after party. I met a lot of interesting people who share the same passion for technology as me. Each time I go to one of these unconferences I come out with a bunch of ideas and new perspectives. I can’t wait until the next one which will probably be BarCampDC 2 sometime in the summer. And if you missed this one don’t fret as their are plans for another SocialDevCamp East in the fall.

Other SocialDevCamp East Recaps:

BarCamp DC Wrap Up

The large BarCamp DC Crowd

The first ever DC area BarCamp took place on Saturday, August 11th. A throng of area tech enthusiasts made their way to Fleishman-Hillard Inc. headquarters to partake in an unconference run entirely by it’s participants. There were so many interested attendees that many had to be turned away at the door. Wow! I guess the DC tech community has been secretly yearning for a BarCamp to pop up in the area. One of the attendees brought his son who has to be the youngest BarCamper ever.

Youngest BarCamper Ever

The session sign up process was intense as everyone shimmied around the largest conference room in the building trying to cast their vote for the topics that were of the most interest to them. The room for my presentation on Firebug was even packed which made me feel good to have people interested in what I had to say. Though I prepared slides in advance, I didn’t use them. Instead I just walked through the various features of the free Firefox extension and the group had an open discussion about tricks to using the tool. Many developers never realized all of the CSS powers Firebug has and vice versa for CSS designers about script debugging capabilities. Many people later gave me praise for my session. I’m glad people could actually walk away from the conference with something they could use.

My favorite session that I attended was The Facebook Platform given by Nick O’Neill. Here, Nick ran down all the numbers of Facebook application popularity and came to the conclusion that Facebook apps are the next big thing. It was crazy hearing about some of the more popular apps having 1 million+ users. He runs a blog called discussing anything and everything related to Facebook and Facebook applications.

The rest of the sessions were documented fairly thoroughly on the wiki as well as on Flickr. One thing I noticed was 95% of the attendees had Mac laptops and Canon digital cameras. This was also the largest gathering of iPhones outside of an Apple store and for the first time I got to play with one. On an unrelated note: it turns out my fingers are too big to type on the little tiny keyboard. I’m glad I skipped out on the whole iPhone craze.

Look At All Of Those Macs

After the conference everyone headed over to Cafe Asia for the BaCamp after party. I sat with Jared Goralnick from, Spencer Holleman, and Charlie Park. We discussed everything from podcasting to holding bunnies for ransom. It was good to meet some other tech related friends in the area.

I had a blast at BarCamp DC and can’t wait until they hold another one (I think I heard the next one would be in January), hopefully in a bigger space. I already know what my next topic will be. Another cool feature would be a group-wide chat channel so other BarCamp DC attendees could find others at the conference with the same specific interests. Hey, some of us are a little bashful in face-to-face settings. A big thanks goes out to the organizers for putting the event together.

BarCamp DC Coming In 5 Days

BarCamp DC Logo
What is BarCamp?
BarCamp DC is an ad-hoc unconference and is part of the larger BarCamp movement. While there are topics suggested for discussion, there is no set agenda until everyone gathers. Attendees are required to participate to some degree: either by giving a presentation, demo, etc. or by facilitating a group discussion. Topics are flexible, as well.

When is BarCamp?
The first DC area BarCamp will be on Saturday, August 11th, starting at 9:30am and ending whenever people get sick of being there. There is an opening party on Friday, August 10th, at 8pm.

Where is BarCamp?
Fleishman Hillard Inc.
1615 L St NW, 20036
Recommended Metro Stops: Farragut North (red), Farragut West (blue/orange), McPherson Square (blue/orange)
Buses: S1, S2, S4, Circulator, 80, D1, D3, D5, D6, L2, 38B, N2, N4, N6, 42, 52, 53, 54, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36

What can I learn at Barcamp?
You can learn about the following from your peers:

  • WCAG 2.0 Will Make Your Life Easier by JustinThorp
  • Microformats as APIs by JasonGarber
  • Open Rails Session by Bill Kocik
  • The Live-Coding Intro to Rails by KevinLawver
  • Rails Scaling and Performance by KevinLawver
  • Community Building in Drupal by Michael Haggerty
  • CRM Systems Integration in Drupal by Michael Haggerty
  • Blog design by Jesse Thomas
  • Ethics and Word of Mouth Marketing in the 2.0 World by Holly Samee
  • Irregular intervals: grid systems fifty years on by David Ramos
  • Open Democracy by Matt Bradley, Jeremy Carbaugh (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Using Firebug: Web Development Inside the Browser by Russell Heimlich
  • Trace-Driven Design: How an Architecture Practice Makes Web Application Design Better by John Athayde
  • Widget distribution and analytics by Will Meyer
  • Ruby: A Crash Course (“Hello World” to Metaprogramming) by Nikolas Coukouma
  • Fantastic Web Typography For Everyone by Nathan Herald
  • DOM Scripting (how can I be amazing, fast?) with the new Dojo by Matt Bowen
  • Accessible Forms by John F Croston III
  • User Experience Design: a discussion on why the hell designers do what they do by Samantha Warren
  • Alternative Web App Structures by Brock Wilcox
  • Failing the Joel Test by Matt Lester
  • Developing on the Facebook Platform by Zvi Band
  • Let’s design a dream set-top box for Miro by Ross Karchner
  • Stump the Chump: CSS Edition (bring real-world CSS problems / screenshots of troublesome layouts / etc. and we’ll solve them {or die trying}) by Charlie Park
  • Web Application Security (and why it matters to YOU!) by Doug Wilson and Mark Bristow

That’s right, you can look forward to a presentation by yours truly about Firebug.

Is there more information?

Now for the rest of this week I need to prepare for my little presentation. I will be blogging from the event but if you happen to be there feel free to drop by and say hi.