LIFT 2008: Bruce SterlingLIFT 2008: Online Environments

First up, Bruce Sterling. "2008 is not going to be a pivotal year. It's a crap year."

"Even in the tech world, is it really exciting to watch Microsoft eat Yahoo!? It's an aging monopoly shoring up its position by feeding on the week. Microsoft is so boring Gates left - he'd rather cure malaria."

A phenomenon we will be confronted with in 2008: Carla Bruni! Sarkozy met her at a French tech summit, where DRM was discussed. Carla is an artist and a copyright owner. They are the product of an "internet policy romance".

[...Bruce rambles about them some more...]

"90% of success is showing up... surviving to see the future"

I found this one pretty disappointing, but I'm hoping it was intensely clever and I just didn't get it (wouldn't be the first time).

Next: Pierre, Bellanger, CEO Skyrock (French media group). "The social network: future of telecommunications".

Skyrock radio: 3.7m listeners/day, 13-24yo. blog platform, 2nd largest French site when measured by page views. First French-speaking social network. 21m accounts, 13.5m blogs, >500m posts, >1.7b comments. 90% of users are French-speaking. Aspiration: to be the worlds social network for kids (quite contended, that one).

He just said "netamorphosis". And Christ wept.

"Social networks are for mail what search is for the web" - cute.

All electronic exchanges hang off digital identity. Social network profiles rather than names are being used for this. Profiles are apparently enriched by personal data!

"value is shifting from bandwidth to code"

"the code is tomorrow's social network"

"the mobile phone is rapidly evolving into a pocket-sized internet terminal"

"the terminal is always on and always with you"

"What's the bridge between social networks and mobile? It's certainly not trying to put a web page on a mobile phone: it's instant messaging."

They're going to merge instant messaging and social networks into a "social messenger".

He just said "Social Operating System", moving from actually making any sense through to "chucking technical terms into a talk to sound a bit 2.0" IMHO.

Now mobiles are apparently good for controlling PCs - they'll be used as terminals. Fantastic idea - simultaneously giving the PC an awful input device and tethering the mobile to a single location, killing its primary advantage OVER EVERYTHING ELSE.

"mobile cloud computing - each mobile device is a server, and maybe a phone"

I don't know, perhaps I'm being a bit cruel (and kudos to anyone who can present well in a language other than their native tongue - I can barely converse in English) but this was trite-tastic and chock full of buzzwords.

I'm quite close to the topic having worked on several large mobile social software projects over the last few years, but this talk seemed quite vapid to me, I didn't get anything new from this talk. I'd expect a LIFT audience to have gotten the idea that social networking and mobile might have been brought together or have some relationship that predates current social networking hysteria.

Next: Jonathan Cabiria on Permeability: Real Life + Virtual Life = One Life

Psychologist, spent the last year looking at how participation in virtual worlds affects real life.

"The self is not something that one finds - it is something that one creates" - Thomas Szasz

We have many different identities (conscious and unconsciously) - evolutionarily speaking, for survival. If we present others with a facet of our identity they don't like, we get marginalised. If we don't fit in, we over-assert our identity ("fuck you, this is who I am"), or repress (cloak ourselves with an identity affect of the society to which they wish to belong) and hide.

Suppressing identities has severe psychological effects ("living an inauthentic life"). Virtual communities can assist here: finding a community of similar others affected self-esteem and translated back into the real world.

In our language we divide the real and virtual; but to some it's not real life or second life, it's all one life.

What does this mean for developers of social environments? We're always looking for ways to solidify our place in society.

Interesting talk, I wish it had been a bit longer and he'd gone into some recommendations for developers....

Next, Stephanie Booth: "Going solo, being a freelancer in a connected world".

2 years ago she was a middle-school teacher, left work. At first "people paid me for things that didn't feel like work". Started thinking about pricing, hired accountant. Realised she wasn't that great at negotiation. Trick to set day rates: work out monthly income desired, divide by number of days you will actually work. People don't pay for time, they pay for expertise. She's organising a conference for freelancers.

Can I write "sweet" without sounding patronising? Probably not. Shame.

Now Ewan McIntosh: "How social media creates social education"

Another former teacher. Works with Scottish govt on social media. Shows this video - notice lack of reaction from her mother in the background, who clearly doesn't care her daughter is breaking the world record :)

What makes good schools? Good teachers.

They started out with 20 teachers sharing their classroiom experiences, within a few months they had 350. They now have 1300 students and teachers blogging. They have kids doing video, podcasting, filmmaking, too. The community even created safety guidelines together (on a wiki?).

In 19th century, average audience for childrens work was 1 person. It's still the same - the teacher - despite advances elsewhere.