Addicted to novelty since 2001

Tech Camp Wrap-Up

Just a few notes about yesterday’s successful Tech Camp. It had just enough organization–sessions were fluid and lively. The facility–the Northside Civic Centre–was great, though it’s in a pretty grim neighbourhood on Dublin’s northside. Here are some photos from the event.

Two sessions I enjoyed in particular were the aforementioned spiel on Digital Rights Ireland, and Gavin Byrne’s session.

Gavin’s an IT guy at the Centre itself for Near FM radio. One of their outreach programs involves delivering Internet access to ‘sheltered housing projects’, mostly seniors who aren’t particularly mobile. They’ve whipped up this van with a huge antenna. They drive it around to local neighbourhoods, and wheel out some laptops on a cart for people to use. The antenna needs a line-of-sight with the antenna on top of the Centre, and they’ve got a range of three or four kilometres. Compared to all the geeky tech-talk of the rest of the day, the van represents a real improvement in normal humans’ lives.

Gavin also talked a bit about the podcasting they do at the radio station. He noted, interestingly, that this, as far as he can tell, is the first podcast in the Irish language.

Though my speaker’s notes on Web 2.0 marketing are on the Tech Camp wiki, I thought I’d dump them here as well [more].


  • Introduction – briefly, who I am, what the talk is about, based heaviloy on source materials above, ask questions at any time
  • I’ll talk for 15-20 minutes, then we’ll have a discussion or Q & A, or just sit awkwardly and stare at each other.

What is Web 2.0?

  • Surrounded by hype
  • Lots of claims and counter-claims being made, VC money being thrown around, fear that we’re blowing a new bubble
  • Like many buzzwords (‘interactivity’ is a good example’), defining Web 2.0 is tricky. However, as Chris Anderson argues, “the lack of a crisp definition is a feature, not a bug”. We’re living in an increasingly heterogeneous world (see also television–it’s much harder to define what we watch on TV these days).
  • Here’s a working set of characteristics, based heavily on Tim O’Reilly’s recent, seminal essay ( We can use these to judge the Web 2.0ness of an organization:
    • Service-oriented, typically acting as intermediaries between users, or between users and data (eBay, Flickr, even Skype)
    • User-generated content is king! There’s value in hard-to-create data sources, especially when users add to them.
    • They feel bloggy–for example, they feature RSS feeds for every part of the application. No surprise, as blogs are sort of Web 2.0 by themselves.
    • Rich, dynamic user interfaces that offer unprecedented levels of control (usually powered by AJAX). I found Nirvana in Flickr when I could edit titles and descriptions on the fly.
    • Development process reflects the open source philosophy–“all bugs are shallow” and “release early and release often”
    • Open, hackable APIs–co-opt users as developers (Flickr, Google Maps, Amazon, etc)
    • Software services available to more than just the PC. See iTunes and TiVo.

Does Web 2.0 Change Marketing?

  • Yes, profoundly.
  • The audience, particularly the early adopters, are more informed and networked than ever before. What’s the top-selling CD player in North America? It used to be Sony, now it’s CyberHome. Who’s heard of CyberHome? Find the Wired article I can’t!
  • That collective intelligence is a blessing and curse:
    • Users will help you develop the product — Flickr is the classic example.
    • On the other hand, you can’t lie anymore.
    • “Good marketing, bad product beats bad marketing, good product” is no longer true. No amount of marketing dollars will beat a better competitor.
  • We must depend much more on “word of mouth” or viral marketing.

What Now?

  • The product is the message. So, make undeniably cool products.
  • Be flexible.
  • Give up control. You are what your users say you are–you can’t control the message or your brand anymore.
  • Be aware of unexpected user groups. Who’d have expected the convergence of blogging and knitting?
  • User contributions will follow the 80/20 (or more like 90/10) rule. However, the early adopters probably aren’t the only users you want, so design stupid-simple interfaces.
  • Enable user feedback mechanisms — blogs, forums. Be creative–Movable Type has comments associated with each chunk of documentation.

Word of Mouse

  • Embrace the blogosphere.
  • The difference between word of mouth and word of mouse is that the latter has a more compelling speaker-audience ratio. A “maven” (from The Tipping Point) might tell 10 people through email and face-to-face meetings. A blogger might tell 20 or 50 or 5000, and their story is effectively permanent.
  • For every Web 2.0 application I can think of, there’s a huge union in the Venn diagram of early adopters and bloggers.
  • Pitch bloggers (carefully)
    • Lead with the link
    • Write an informal email
    • Read their blog first. Learn their attitudes and opinions both to your industry, your type of service, and to being pitched.
    • It’s tricky to identify popular blogs in a given field.
  • Enable word of mouse from design forward. For example, enable users to mash-up, organize and display their data any way they want.
  • Provide URLs for everything.
  • Everyone must spend time involved in engaging with the community. Evangelize instead of advertise.

How to Spend Your Money

  • Build buzz.
  • Your public relations now extends on a continuum from mainstream media to smalltime bloggers.
  • Advertising never worked very well, and is pretty ineffective. The only place it may still be useful are in particularly niche markets.
  • Create great, succint collaterol.
  • Spend money on tech-savvy, great communicators. People who are drinking the koolaid and can reach out to the community and interact with it without looking like flacks. These people need to be involved at, if not Day 1, then Day 3 or 4.

2 Responses to “Tech Camp Wrap-Up”

  1. Patrick Dinnen

    In the speaking notes you ask ‘Who’s heard of CyberHome? Find the Wired article I can’t!’. I think this might be the article you want, talks about CyberHome (who?) knocking Sony off as the number 1 DVD-seller.

    Unless of course that was not a literal request but a Web 2.0 joke too subtle for my Web 1.9 brain.

    Interesting notes btw, helps separate the hype from the Web 2.0 substance, difficult though it is to pin down I think there is some substance there.

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