Thursday, March 25, 2010

East Bay Futurists Meeting Notes

This is a great meet-up that meets twice monthly in Oakland.

These are my notes from random discussion threads between Tom, Robin, Andy, Scott and myself. Feel free to edit and add context.  (There are links hiding behind many of the references - scroll over to find them)



Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking 
Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious 
The Hero with a Thousand Faces


Terminator re: post singularity robot
Colossus: The Forbin Project

TV shows:

Battlestar Galactica
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Alien Nation
Faulty Towers 


Foresight Institute
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence 




Fundamental Attribution Error, attribution theory

Government ideas:


Re: wikiarchy website idea
Design for America contest from Sunlight Foundation
Our goal is simple and straightforward -- to make government data more accessible and comprehensible to the American public. We hope to enliven and engage new communities -- just as we did with Apps for America 1 and 2 -- as partners and participants in making government information more engaging to the American public.
Debate graph on Government transparency

---I saw a demo at SF New Tech: Argument forum start-up: is neutral place on the Web where you go to have real-time arguments and debates on a variety of topics. Either argue on our carefully curated daily content by our editorial staff or add your own topics. Get a real feel of what the opposition thinks without fear of your point of view being deleted.

Oakland Businesses:

Oakland Technology Exchange - recycles computers for Oakland kids
Pandora Music Genome Project talked about how it sucks for rock music


Aaron Swartz
Aubrey de Grey
Paul Buchheit
Charles Stross

Crowdsourcing definition we tossed around to define "human distributed computing"
1. work items can be done in parallel independently
2. gestalt is not rigidly dependent on any individual element
3. work of single contributors does not stand alone

Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Wave at Google Campus

March 18, 2010

I attended the Hack and Hackers meetup on GoogleWave and the future of journalism at Google Campus.  This is the second time I've attended a meetup with this group.  Both times I have come away pleased with my experience and inspired by the piercing questions being asked, the interests and focus of many of the journalist types, and the commitment to the future and quality of journalism shared.  I don't label myself as either a hack or a hacker, but I consume and appreciate the art and talent required for both.

One of the things that I enjoy is the fact that this group does not "drink the kool aid" being poured by the tech companies presenting.  It felt like Google rolled out the red carpet to host this group; flew in members of the GoogleWave team from Australia (probably not just for this event - so thank you Burt Herman for coordinating this!), kept lots of support staff around to assist, clean up and direct us out, provided what looked like catered food (I don't partake) as well as beer and wine.  However, the participants could not be bought and were not impressed by GoogleWave.  A show of hands revealed that many had tried it before the event, but the questions asked of the presenters portrayed that not many had gone very deep with it.

Great questions included - what's all the different jargon being used?
Wave terminology
Wave is between owners and participants
blip = a unit of wave; an individual segment or posting within the wave
root blip = the original line/first line of the wave becomes the title to the wave
in line reply = new blip inside a blip
sibling blip = blips next to each other

extensions = robots or gadgets, visual collaboration toools
gadgets = ex. framed web page inside a wave
robots = supersmart nonhuman automations to augment and streamline abilities, work inside a wave and  provides integration to 3rd party sites, manage tasks, tags and searches
anonymous read - view only

a shortcut to move through the wave is to use the space bar

Proof that Googlewave is being utilized:
> 1 million people received invites and as many active users
There are 2-300 active developers and 50 user ready extensions

Here is the prezi presentation used

Wave to me!
Here's the thing - you'd have to gmail me first to inform me to go to wave to interact in real time with you

Need an invite to GoogleWave?
----> Comment below if you would like an invite - I got 2 at the event, and somewhere I have 10 more

SF New Tech

March 17, 2010 at Mighty
Here are the presenters:

Ilyssa Lu, Wokai San Francisco Chapter President Wokai is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that enables Chinese people to lift themselves from poverty. Wokai is Chinese for “I start,” demonstrating the commitment to helping the impoverished help themselves.…connects contributors worldwide with entrepreneurs in rural China to help them start businesses. All contributions made through Wokai will be perpetually used to help fund these entrepreneurs. The organization is headquartered in Oakland, California, bases core operations out of Beijing, and has active chapters in Beijing, Boston, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, NewYork, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Brian Burt, Founder & CEO  MaestroConference is a dynamic conference call service offering all the convenience of your current service, plus an array of unique features that enable you to facilitate your call just like a live workshop. Participants (up to 2,000) dial in from regular phone lines. You conduct the call from a computer using our simple web interface. You direct the action, create learning opportunities and inspire commitment — to turn your solos into symphonies. 


Toshio Meronek & Caitlin Wood, Co-Founders   

Where’s Lulu, a free online community where people with disabilities can get reliable information on accessibility, and provide that information to other users by reviewing their favorite (or least favorite) local businesses.    
George Coll, SVP of New Services, Sears Holdings ServiceLive is the first true online services marketplace, taking the headache and hassle out of home improvement and maintenance.  


Tim Hyer, Founder   

Rentcycle is the place to discover, compare and book goods for rent online.  We connect consumers with a community of over 30,000 rental businesses in the first online marketplace purely for rental goods.    


Gary Valan, Chief Argumentative Officer is neutral place on the Web where you go to have real-time arguments and debates on a variety of topics. Either argue on our carefully curated daily content by our editorial staff or add your own topics. Get a real feel of what the opposition thinks without fear of your point of view being deleted.   

Augusto Marietti, Business Sniper   

Mashape is a Dead Simple Mashup Engine that enables people to create web applications; without coding and in real time "almost". 

Dave Ingram, Founder   

I loved Freecycle but I stopped using it because I got too much email for irrelevant stuff.  Why couldn’t Freecycle be more like ebay; but for free stuff.  We set out to create a ‘better freecycle’ with images, a better search, location maps, feedback, alerts, and more.  Instead of ‘bidding’, you say you ‘want it’, then the giver chooses the winner on merit.     

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Product Camp 2010 Session Notes

Last week I gave an overview of P-camp 2010 at Yahoo campus.  Today I want to give details from notes of the sessions I attended.  (My full write up in SVPMA Journal)

10:00 Product Management in a Start-Up Environment (Adam Birch) @ Salon 7
Sophia Perl attended this one also. 

Proposed description:  How is product management different in start up versus a large established organization? Pros and Cons? What skills are more important in each type of organization.

We gathered outside of a classroom around a couple of tables.  There were not enough chairs for everyone.  Adam suggested a scenario and we broke into small groups to discuss how product management should respond.  The basic scenario:  The founder wants to start "The Guy Registry", an online detail lifestyle portal site to sell consumer products, electronics, gadgets specifically for men.  The founder is the head engineer, there is one finance person, 2 software engineers, 2 QA people, 1 QA intern, and you, the 1 product manager. There is $1 million of funding, a working alpha demo that is basically a wish list, a log in and a database.  The founder insists there is proof of concept.

We discussed as a big group questions to answer, i.e.
  • What steps necessary to get to Version 1.0
  • What tools, resources are free/affordable to implement
  • What experience is necessary
  • What is different in a start-up situation for product management 
In our cluster, several people had a lot to say at the beginning of the discussion and then walked away.  Points made:
  • Its important for product management to define the conversation, determine the priorities
  • Ask the difficult questions: What is the product, who is it for, how to reach the target, validate the assumptions
  • How to monetize immediately, how to validate the founder's assumptions
  • why do we need 3 QA out of the gate
Each group presented their recommendations afterwards.  There really wasn't enough time to go deep, but it was valuable to hear different perspectives and approaches.  The best take away I remember is to create different blogs that represent different target customer personas, populate the blogs with customer case stories and then use these to "blame" when making a case about different feature choices, directions and road map.

11:00 Use of Social Media for Product Marketing Research (Scott Gilbert) @ Classroom 3
Scott is a dynamic speaker and led an interactive session, drawing a lot of response from the audience.  He posted his slides and pdf of the session.  I didn't take notes because I was so engaged in the conversation. Scott referenced last year's P-Camp and Mike Lee's list of resources for conducting free market research using online social media tools. 

In a humorous tone, I took public credit for coining the term "continuous conversation" in reference to social media...Daniel Young doesn't attribute it to me on his blog when he states that "Senior marketing professionals need to adjust their mindset, and that of their organisation, to the new dynamics of social media and continuous conversation."

Cindy Alverez of Kissmetrics contributed some salient points to the discussion. 

1:15 Making Web 2.0 work for product management with Andrew Filev,
Many people followed the rule that it is okay to walk out and join another session if you're not getting value.  Andrew opened with a slide deck talking about Web 2.0 and then responded to participant questions.  He talked about integration between the desktop and the cloud and put a list on the board of different types of tools and companies that provide them.  
Microblogging:  twitter, yammer, mahalo
blogs: wordpress, blogspot
wikis: sharepoint, taligent, socialtext, confluence, jive
PM tools: xmind, pencil firefox add-onbasecamp
Helpdesk: Giva, Gemini for bug tracking
Virtual meetings: dimdim, gotomeeting
Issues: Jira, unfuddle

2:15  Product Strategy 101 with Sue Raisty-Egami
This truly was a foundation class in product management methodology tools.  I made a pitch for becoming a certified product manager, as I was surprised that participants were not familiar with the tools she "taught", such as Porter's 5 forces
Boston Consulting Group matrix, 
and a SWOT analysis.  Sue has an MBA, as well as 2 major PM certifications. Ajit Kulkarni posted detailed notes here.

3:15 Story Craft with Dennis Britton and Amy Lightholder
Dennis and Amy demonstrated the process of writing stories through interaction with the participants. We used someone's real business example to practice writing stories.  Dennis suggested participating with the Bay Area Agile Project Leadership Network to learn more about Agile and get free training and experience.  Dennis referenced the book, Software by Numbers,  "Incremental Funding Methodology (IFM), an ROI-informed approach to software development in which software is developed and delivered in carefully prioritized chunks of customer valued functionality. These chunks are known as Minimum Marketable Features or MMFs."

He said that story formats are required for Agile Teams.  Story is defined in Extreme Programming as "a reminder to have a conversation."  You have to communicate feature requirements in increments that are easy to build.  Human nature fills in the blanks that are left open.  Developers love to build.  They think that "if you didn't put it down on paper, its not important."  Stories should be implementation free.  You need to know the developers and the distributed team to understand their approach, language, even culture and learning style - visuals communicate.  

An epic is an entire story that needs to be decomposed  Applications are small detailed stories.  A thin slice is a different story for each behavior - not a feature which is too ambiguous.  Acceptance criteria  are specific instances which define "done".  

The story format is:
As a (user)
I want (activity)
So that I can (get benefit)

Agile principles are to delay commitment to the last responsible moment, like in the military because you don't have all the information.  

Tools mentioned:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bay Area's Real-time Web Meet-up with Jeff Clavier from SoftTech VC

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thanks to Bill Flitter of Pheedo for hosting this meet up!

We met at Pheedo's very convenient and comfortable Oakland office location. Bill did a great job of moderating and keeping everything right on time. Someone was filming, t-shirts were wrapped with ribbons on the table, and there were no glitches with technology.

Four different early stage start-ups gave 10 minute presentations to the audience of more than 20 people crammed into the boardroom.

After each presentation and questions, Jeff Clavier, Founder and Managing Partner of SoftTech VC, provided feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the presentation and business concept. Talk about being on the hot seat! I, of course, asked some pertinent questions of the presenters, and of Jeff as well. It's quite an honor to be in a small group setting with so much ambition, smarts, potential and money focused on customer driven product development!

The presenters were:

Pamela Swingley of RememberItNow "B2C and B2B eHealth Patient-centric platform" for reminding people to take their medications. Very nicely designed presentation and beautiful website - really! She's bootstrapped this endeavor with her own money and marketing skills, inspired by her aging father, family and neighbors' needs to keep track of their med timing to stay healthy. I think she has some stiff competition, but its a big need.
Alex Sherstinsky and Eugene Mandel of Mustexist jumped right into talking about content marketing and curation by experts on Twitter. It looks like they "crowdsource" content from Twitter organized around subject matter experts which they call "mavens" and repurpose that content to propogate their customers' sites with that desired relevant content. Got a lot of insight into their product iteration and thinking from their blog. I've added their "Journalism twitter feed" widget on this blog on the right side. ====>

Xavier Damman of Publitweet went next. I recognized Xavier from the Hack and Hackers meetup at Freshout last month. Publitweet reposts your twitter feeds into readable text so it looks more like a Facebook entry, including graphics, and lets you easily email and forward the tweet to people not on twitter. "Curate and publish any Twitter List on your website in a user friendly way." This is really a sweet tool. Their office is in the same building as Twitter, so they apparently can collaborate, since Twitter is a platform that encourages developers building applications. They are targeting publishers with readers who aren't on twitter and have signed up several European papers. Previous to this, they developed Listimonkey.

The last presenter talked about a stealth mode start up product for commercial real estate agents. He opened by laying the foundation for the real time web. He defined relevant web as "pertinent, applicable and operative content for interested parties who want it". The offering acquires, edits and delivers real time market data so users can monetize it.

Jeff was quite generous in providing direct feedback and insights into what it takes to grab an investor's interest. He talked about his own investment portfolio and laid out the time frame and considerations for how much money is required to get to the next funding milestone in an 18 month runway. His investments include mint and plancast. He also suggested VentureHacks, Business Week's top 25 Angels (put together by YouNoodle) and Crunchbase as good sources of up to date deals by investors.

Also met Stacy Bond of Audioluxe and Patrick Reilly of

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bay Area Collective Intelligence MeetUp

Sunday, March 14, 2010
Here are some of my personal take aways - as I don't take notes at informal events to document the overall discussion, but rather to remember details I want to follow up on and reference later.

Met today with 5 other people interested in discussing Government via Collective Intelligence. This was an informal, unstructured meeting with no agenda other than an open sharing of minds.
Since I'm currently working on documenting what I'm calling the "crowdsourcing ecosystem", I shared my 3 different mindmap visuals at the beginning with 2 other people. I am doing market research in testing how much recognition there is about the terminology, as well as how much interest there is about the details, and my potential business idea. This was quite valuable feedback for me, as the more I present my thinking, the more I come away with to add to the maps as well as to develop the potential product. (customer driven product validation)

Authors/Books Mentioned:
MIT Collective Intelligence Center Handbook of Collective Intelligence
Daniel Suarez - The Daemon
Anthony Pagden - Worlds At War
Neal Stephenson - The Diamond Age

Robin Hanson Futarchy
Monica Anderson Artificial Intuition

The Corporation the film and Campaign 4 Corporate Harm Reduction
Raven's Progressive Matrices - test of intelligence
Neotopia - comic book
Project Artaud - artist collective

Michael, Nate and I began by discussing the founding father's intentions, the corporation as a person, and the 14th amendment. We were joined by 2 people coming from the Artificial Intelligence meetup and went back to how crowdsourcing is a subset of collective intelligence, with a brief history of mechanical turk as "artificial artificial intelligence". We never agreed on a definitive definition of collective intelligence, but did discuss how captcha works to assist google in digitizing old books that are being scanned. We bandied about politics, power, voting systems,
state seccession movements, theoretical consensus techniques, deferring to experts, deconstructing institutions and replacing them with 5 year models, efficiency of meetups...

I invite you to comment and expand upon these notes! Thanks again Michael for hosting. I look forward to the next discussion.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Silicon Valley P-Camp 2010 Report

This past sunny Saturday, March 13, I attended “Silicon Valley P-Camp 2010” along with roughtly 550 attendees comprised of other product managers, product marketing managers, bloggers, vendors, sponsors, speakers and others interested in product management issues. Held at Yahoo Campus in Sunnyvale, this was the third annual P-Camp for Product Managers and Product Marketers. P-Camp is the world’s largest free get-together of product managers based loosely on the successful Bar Camp and Open Space formats. I was excited to be surrounded by colleagues who share my interests in developing software, products, technology, methodology, trends and related issues.
The schedule for the morning sessions was confirmed ahead of time. Preregistered participants including thought leaders from all over the country proposed more than 70 different session topics. Uservoice enabled collective intelligence to determine which presentations would be scheduled for the two morning sessions. Participants voted online for favorites and commented on the subjects they were most interested in. Starting quite early for a Saturday morning, we got in two 45 minute sessions before lunch. I attended Product Management in a Start-Up Environment hosted by Adam Birch and Use of Social Media for Product Marketing Research with Scott Gilbert. In the first, we collaborated in small groups to identify the critical steps, resources and deliverables vital to a PM’s ability to hit the ground running that establish credibility and momentum from day one. In the second session, Scott encouraged a lively audience discussion of case studies, questions and answers about how social media is currently being implemented by PMs.
Of course, the event included the customary souvenir white t-shirt covered with more than 15 sponsor logos on the back as well as an abundance of deli sandwiches, soda, chips and cookies for lunch thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, including the Silicon Valley Product Managers Association.
The afternoon agenda was created in a real-time Agile manner by attendees with the world’s largest dot voting experience ever undertaken. The volunteer team was quite efficient in posting the finalized schedules. During the lunch break, sponsor donated books, software, trainings and other desirable items were raffled off. Throughout the day, 34 different sessions took place.
After lunch, I attended Making Web 2.0 work for product management with Andrew Filev, Product Strategy with Sue Raisty-Egami, and Agile Story Craft with Dennis Britton and Amy Lightholder.
This was the kind of professional event chock full of networking opportunities, educational insights, and information that will take some time to digest. Session content and notes are being captured on a wiki. I was delighted to meet face to face the bloggers and Product Management celebrities who have been tirelessly promoting critical visibility of product management in the industry.
Thank you Silicon Valley Product Managers Association, Rich Mironov and the 25 other volunteers who handled all the logistics and promotion for an excellent event. Not only did I come away with new information, I got to validate some product ideas, and recognize how much I enjoy the challenges of product management. Next P-Camp I’ll be presenting!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Silicon Valley P-Camp 2010: March 13, 2010

So excited to be attending

the Third Annual P-Camp
for Product Managers and Product Marketers

will post my report at the end of the day!