Last week I attended Etch in San Diego. The theme was “the attention economy” and whilst there wasn’t a huge amount about the attention economy there wasn’t much about Web 2.0 which was good. In fact it was pretty much dismissed by all as hype and most of the conference was about the nuts and blots of the future architecture of the client.
There were a number of high level talks and they were kicked off By Tim O’reilly talking about the symbiosis of users and technology both explicitly (Mturk) and implicit (Google links). A number of follow on speakers came back to this theme which I thought interesting and powerful. The most attention grabbing of these was the Web 3.0 talk on Second Life. The way that people and the second life virtual world interacted was very powerful allowing things like real estate, teaching, game development and even coding to be undertaken in a virtual world.
Then there were a number of talks which I would group into the four areas of the edge architecture:
This was a major theme at the conference being covered in the talks on The Musical myware which was a really great description of Lastfm, Root Markets: Applications for the New Attention Economy covering the storage of personalization information and Ambient Findability about taxonomies vs tagging. The Attention Focusing Strategies talk had 4 excellent discovery patterns and I particularly liked the quick look at storytelling as a discovery strategy. I think we will hear a lot more about this in the future.
There was a lot of discussion around Micro formats in talks such as Microformats and The Data Dump: Fun with Graphs and Charts . A breathtaking demo of the use of Micro formats in a really simple context was given by Ray Ozzie in Simple Bridge-building where he showed how a small script on a web page enables copy and paste which with the appropriate micro formats provided the ability to do some really amazing applications on the web. This type of demo was repeated a number of times by other talks but none had the elegant simplicity of Ray’s. There was also a good overview of content patterns in Native to a Web of Data: Designing a Part of the Aggregate Web where we had an amusing buzzword bingo at http://bingo.scrumjax.com/
The collaboration area was discussed in a number of the social based talks such as the really excellent Shut Up! No, *You* Shut Up: A Pattern Language for Moderation Strategies and When Do We Get the Events We Want where I liked the idea of event demand generation.
Whilst I strongly believe that the personalization, identity, relationship attention and other Meta data belong to the user and should be held primarily on their machine (with delegation to other third party system as appropriate) it does make for a difficult business model. This was covered by the The Economics of Attention: A Layman's View of the Economic Model of Attention talk.
Following on from these four areas there were a huge number of talks about the client composition platform and architectures such as Do-it-yourself IT: Sponsored by IBM using a Wiki, Unconventional Thoughts About AJAX, and Expressive Applications .
Two interesting talks in this area were Enterprise Ajax for a Spectrum of Solutions about building development tools in Ajax and Building Apps for the Business Web about building an ISV platform on top of a SaaS system.
All in all an interesting conference which rather nicely confirmed the edge architecture work I have been doing. It was a bit of a curates egg with some talks being excellent and very thought provoking and some being sales or generalizations which were not very useful.