Gnomedex 10 day 2, the morning

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  • 9:05 a.m. - Bill Schrier (Seattle CTO): Chief Geek of City of Seattle. Current mayor used social media to help win his election. Always innovative in Seattle: carbon-free electric utility, Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, and newer startups. A Seattle company powers data.gov and data.seattle.gov. But that's just data: how do we turn it into information? That's what the Open Government Hackathon/Tinkerstorm will help today. Because governments shouldn't be the ones building applications with the data.
  • 9:15 a.m. - Amy Karlson (Microsoft Research): MR works like a big Computer Science department, Amy in the visualization and interaction field specifically. How do people interact with their different devices (e.g. mobile phone and desktop PC)? What are the time relationships, the changes of context, what tasks do they perform, and so on? Different people use their devices differently, but tend to be consistent in their own behaviour day to day. Web and email remain the dominant activities right now, frequently moving back and forth between them. Handing off activities from phone to PC to phone, etc. It looks like the activities on the two types of devices are similar and related, but the devices don't necessarily take that into account. We might not expect enough from them, because people have some synchronization, but not true continuation of tasks between devices. 75% of the domains people visit on their phones are the same as those they look at on their PCs. Our devices can be smarter about that, but it's not a simple problem making it a good experience. For instance, often we'll read an email on our phone but forget to follow up with it on the desktop, and that's a failure of design. Desktop and mobile apps designed similarly don't reflect how mobile and desktop computing are fundamentally different experiences, with different sources of interruption. How do users work around that (e.g. Mark as Unread, Save as Draft)? Interruptions can include network problems (no connection), output problems (small screens, rendering issues), input problems (too hard to type, certain input not possible), missing features (different mobile functionality), environmental distractions, cost-benefit tradeoffs. Some of these can be improved, but some are simply inherent in mobile computing, all of them are independent of the specific tasks involved, and each has its own level of frustration (e.g. network problems are more frustrating than most environmental interruptions, mapping and media problems are more frustrating than email problems). Interestingly, following up on the same device can be more frustrating than switching to another. Even with email, which works fairly well between devices, people are hacking together workarounds that computing systems should handle automatically. Tasks do span devices, so we need to design for migration between them. Mobile task interruptions are inevitable, so we need to design to resume those tasks. People deliberately suspend tasks, so we need to design tasks to be broken into travel-size chunks that are still productive. State syncing is not enough, because where things happened first are important. The cloud is the right away to go, but it doesn't solve all the problems.
  • 10:00 a.m. - Shauna Causey and Melody Biringer (@TechMavens): Women in top technology positions. Melody has been dealing with small women-run businesses where there's a lot of fear about technology and the online world. By contrast, Shauna has always worked with big companies, and was often the only woman at tech events. Working together with a team, they won first place at Startup Weekend. Decided to write a book, and asked people online for nominations of trailblazing women in technology. Tech Mavens was born, at least as an idea: a non-profit organization focused on women doing amazing things in tech. Women dominate on the social web, and own 40% of small businesses, but only 8% of venture-backed firms. Need a set of role models, which is what Tech Mavens can be. Launching the website right now, this second! Take a look to see what the current ideas are.
  • 11:00 a.m. - Larry Wu (SmartCup): Assembling trends into interesting food products. How do I think about product development? Society, Technology, Environment, Economic, Political (STEEP) factors influence behaviour. For example, the trend of humanizing pets leads to pets controlling human behaviour, and yields ideas for food for pets. You can trigger human behaviour around products if you understand what's driving it. Some trends today, for instance: artisan products (food, furniture, housing, etc.), cultural fusion (food and music), fingerprinting (personalization), health monitoring (self treatment using "light," "anti-oxidant," etc.), hyperlife (multitasking everything), memory marketing (retro cool, nostalgia), merit badges (collecting experiences like bungie jumping), ready-set-go (innovation met with convenience). Can you trigger more than one macro-trend with your product or service? Giving people something they don't know they want yet.
  • 11:30 a.m. - Scott Draves (@spot): Artist with a Ph.D. in computer science. Computer art, Electric Sheep screen savers, and beyond. Working on computer art since the '70s, showing us examples from 1991 of "patch-based texture synthesis," available at draves.org. Flame is an open-source visual language that initially took hours to render one frame with millions of variables, trying to make computers do unpredictable and surprising things: creates organic images, now used by amateurs, professionals, and even filmmakers. Bomb was an interactive visual-musical instrument 1995-2000, using audio and instrument input to create interactive music and visuals. Started commercializing artwork after that, which became Electric Sheep starting in 1999. Abstract animations based on the Flame code, working as a distributed supercomputer with other Electric Sheep users a la SETI@home, votes (yes or no) drive a genetic algorithm that evolves via Darwinian-style selection (adapting to please people), and which can also be edited manually. But bandwidth was a limit on resolution, it was taking too much time to maintain, and flashy-trashy sheep tended to win out over genuinely beautiful ones. Scott has now extracted, improved, and enhanced ones he considers beautiful and is selling them. Over time, his artwork has been getting slower, more like painting than television. Relationships (or mergers) between people and machines, but not necessarily negative ones. What is the source of creativity? It can be collective instead of solitary.
  • 12:00 p.m. - Alex and Scott Mueller: Sorry, missed this one.

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