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Liveblogging a session at Iceweb 2006 (; )

Takes the stage at 2006.04.27 09:55.

Thank you all so very much. It is great honour and pleasure to be here in Iceland, what looks to be an amazingly beautiful and interesting country, and very welcoming. A very important time, I think, as the Web becomes more and more important in our day-to-day lives.

Give you a roadmap about the various things that are being spoken about. What does it mean to the working person? We’ll talk more about the philosophy, about what they mean to us as people working in the world. But before I get into any of that, I’m going to be a little bit aggressive, if you will, to ask for some volunteers in the audience to speak up about what you’ve been doing, what your job role is, what your challenges are, and why you are here. Hopefully you will volunteer – otherwise I will pick you out of the crowd and make you say it.

Picks on Einar. Is with E-business development at Glitnir. Started in New York, there for a year and a half.

Molly to Einar: This conference is part of your education, right? You were meant to put together a project-management event. It’s very rare and very progressive to think that a great Web conference is coming out of a school-based project.

How about a woman?

Woman: The challenge is how isolated we have been. There’s only one or two of us at a company, and we don’t get many chances to go to conferences like this. And yes, the hype. How do we apply what we’ve heard about in our work?

Molly: That is all of our challenge. Where does our work fit into this, especially when we have clients saying “The site needs Ajax” or “I want my site to be Web 2.0–ready.” How do you respond in a way that makes them happy and that actually satisfies the technical need? Hopefully the content of the next two days will do a good job about how you can answer those questions and how to work within these technologies and processes in a away that is good for you and for the client you are doing a job for.

[Man speaks, inaudible from the kool kidz’ kouches where I was seated.] Molly: When you say collecting the Iceland Web, you are collecting the Iceland Web online? Archiving. This is incredibly important. This is human history unfolding and it is very important that we have that.

Anybody here from government? education?

Woman from a university: The challenges are mainly keeping up with all these buzzwords and knowing what they mean. I can’t expect to teach them methods to describe users and to design, so I keep the technology a little bit aside. I think the methods will survive in ten years, but the technology is always changing.

Molly: That’s actually a very good perspective. We do recognize as we look at the last 13 years, we see that technology changes. This is a fact. We have to be very realistic about the fact that technology will not stay the same for the entirety of our careers. But I love the idea of setting best practices for the long term (separate from technology).

So “The State of the Web 2006.” I did a session last year, so when I was asked to reprise the same conversation, I wondered what had changed and what hadn’t. Many things had not changed. The buzzwords are still the same. We still hear Web 2.0, Ajax, microformats. But what do they mean and how do they affect us?

What I felt about Web 2.0 six months ago is very different from how I feel about it today. It’s a very philosophical discussion rather than technology. It’s more of a thoughtful thing.

State of confusion: We have a variety of these buzzwords. What do they mean to us? Very, very buzzworthy. But we can look at the hype. We’re working on it. We’re the people building it, and we have to look at it differently. There are undeniably changes that are happening in the way that we work and the way that the Web responds, and these changes are worthy of note even if we don’t call them Web 2.0.

Did we get to Web 2.0 and all of this stuff because it’s a new version of a software, a new thing, or because we’ve been doing our work steadily and slowly over the years and this is what happened in the natural maturation of the industry? It doesn’t matter. It does not matter what we call it. It matters what we do with it.

(Polls numbers of people here who call themselves designers, developers, back-end technologists, “content.”) Many different roles in our industry. What is our job? Understand the business, economic, and social issues within our industry. Really, we don’t have a lot of history in our industry; we have to make our own rules. This is one way to define how to be truly professional – to know what came before.

Then to keep ourselves current. Do these technologies empower us or not? WHat do you really do to keep current? Through trial and error. We have to make mistakes in order to figure out what we’re doing.

And keep an open mind.

So let’s break it down into very specific detail as to how we should look at Web 2.0.

Models: I’m a very modular thinker. I like to put things in boxes when I can. One of the first modules I put Web 2.0 in is the business model. The economic model. What is the social model – how do people interact and relate to Web 2.0? And of course the technical model.

Business: The first thing we have to say is: What do we sell? If you look at Web 1.0, before the dot-com bomb that happened in the States and around the world, there were a lot of people selling things that didn’t really have value. And also, what do we buy? We are not only the developers and the designers, we are also the users. The person developing the Web tends to be very Web-savvy. Very important questions to ask. How do we extend our ability to buy and sell via different modal platforms?

How do we invigorate the global economy? Yes, it is certainly about the national interest, but the Web is decidedly democratic. Here we have Iceland, a relatively remote place. At best it is remote and difficult to get to. Suddenly you have mechanism of bringing your culture and your language and everything you know in business to the world.

How do we profit?

I don’t necessarily have answers to these things, but I certainly know the relevant questions.

Tim O’Reilly: “Drive usage, then figure out how to monetize it” [sic].” Build it and they will come. I’m not so sure I agree with him, but it’s a philosophical and optimistic viewpoint.

The economic model: It is a clean industry, a green industry. We aren’t taking down trees and using natural resources. We are not taking from the natural resources of the earth to do what we’re doing [like Iceland’s shiny new aluminum smelter?]. People know that you can build a technology centre without having the things that come with a heavy-industry centre. It’s also a comparatively inexpensive (industry). Even in the United States at the poorest level, we still have libraries that are free (and offer Internet access).

It’s very widely trusted. It is global in scope. It is massive in its potential. I have great hope and vision that the Web will rise to its greatest potential, a tool for humanity. With very few exceptions, it gives power to the individual as well as the many. How many people here are keeping blogs? (Maybe 20.) Empowerment for nations that are economically strong and economically challenged.

Pierre Omidyar: “eBay has 150 million customers. In the nicest terms, that’s 150 million people who have learned to trust strangers.” The Web is how we get information to the masses and have them trust us.

Social model: Social networks are strengthened via the online medium. Global barriers are softened as a result. In other words, people that I couldn’t even have imagined even existing across the world are now my friends. If you had talked to my mother in her time, that was a very difficult thing, because people and to travel or speak on the phone, and it was very expensive. We can be a collegiate group of people sharing information and softening these global barriers. I’ll be talking more today about internationalization and globalization.

Language and culture become emphasized. I do not think they become deëmphasized. Yes, this (conference) is being conducted in English because the majority of presenters are English-speaking. But it becomes clear that there are a vast majority of languages and cultures, which we get to see online. It softens differences and makes it more possible to communicate and solve problems.

I don’t think that the flavours of the world are going to be lost by the Web. These relationships enhance the ability to learn about other cultures, other ways of beings.

And a tool for positive social change on a global scale. If anything has kept me interested, since I started working in IT in 1988 and on the Web in 1993, it’s this. Fundamentally we are creating something that has the potential to change the world. I see it as a potential for great human advancement.

So that is the social model for Web 2.0 that I feel very strongly about.

(Quotes Kevin Kelly.)

The technical model: Technology and design for the Web are changing quickly. Mastery isn’t the necessary objective. The idea of mastering the Web or being a Web “master” is an impossible dream. What I do see as being a critical piece of being a successful person working on the Web is somebody who accepts in their being that they will always be learning.

Understanding what is and is not appropropriate for a given scenario (and communicating them to clients).

So those are my four models of Web 2.0.

Current topics in Web technology and design

Web standards. Worked with WaSP for over six years. Trying to do three important things – encourage designers and developers to adhere to standards; software developers to develop standards-compliant tools, to help you use the software better and have good-quality code coming out of that software; and the browser people. I feel very honoured and very fortunate to have spent the last year in working with the Web Standards Project and with Microsoft to prioritize issues with IE7. Not perfect, but far, far better than before.

“Structure” and “semantics” come up again and again. This comes up again and again – that we write our HTML to have meaning that corresponds to the content and not to the visuals. Some of us feel in the standards movement that we’ve got a lot of us on our side. The reality is that there is a lot of HTML markup that can really be improved. How many are following Web standards? Quite a few of you. That is very encouraging to see.

Not only are there standards, but arising from this community are best standards.

There is great attention to accessibility concerns. I am unfamiliar with the laws in Iceland, but around the world there are different laws to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities and special needs. Now, a decade-plus later, we don’t really have the purity of (Tim Berners-Lee’s) vision.

Consideration of growing platform options. This is also an issue of accessibility. It doesn’t matter who you are, what platform you’re using, you should be able to get to that information. This is part of the original vision.

If you think that you had browser problems now, just wait till you start working in the mobile Web, because user agents there are even more complicated. It takes a certain personality to work in the Web – you have to problem-solve for the rest of your career.

Internationalization: Putting the world into the concept of World Wide Web.

I sat in a room recently with a man who was completely blind who could not sign on to a page because the page had a very small JavaScript to validate the form entry. It took him nearly 45 minutes, after digging through the source code. That would work for him because he had technical skills, but it would not work for my 73-year-old mother.

(Much discussion of semantics, CSS, JavaScript technologies.)

Web 2.0 words: Business, network, society, transparency. Terms she prefers; Productivity, community, humanity, authenticity.

Ends 2006.04.27 10:58. Followed by an extro by Halli that noted that democracy led to Nazism.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.04.27 06:22. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2006/04/27/iceweb-molly1/

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