Monthly Archives: September 2006

Future of Web Apps Notes

I attended the Future of Web Apps conference here in SF this week. Here are my notes. I found it really interesting how presenters, each representing their own companies and interests, spoke to the audience in an "Aw shucks" way, as if to say, ‘we’re all just trying to do cool meaningful stuff on the web,’ which was really different from the tone speakers at traditional trade or even nonprofit conferences take. At most events the people in suits appropriate the tone of ‘expert’ and I often find them condescending. I imagine this has something to do with the shift in communication style between boomers, who traditionally are the experts in most fields, and the 20 and 30 something year olds, who are driving innovation on the web. 

Specifically, Tom Coates of Yahoo spoke about social software with a certain humility that said, “Yahoo’s definitely developing killer applications in this space, but I recognize that there’s people beyond our firewall that are doing incredibly smart things too, and we’d like to collaborate with you." At least that’s how I heard it.<span> </span>Considering the event was made up of pretty much all white males (only a handful of woman in the entire crowd, and not a single female speaker or presenter. And I won’t even bother mentioning how vanilla the crowd was), the event had much to live up to in the way of diversity of community and point-of-view, but overall I was impressed by the content presented and am excited about learning that developers are beginning to explore how some of the tools and behaviors that have been coming out of web 2.0 on the consumer side, will be influencing the way enterprise grade systems wil be built. I imagine that nonprofits will benefit from upcoming developments in this space.  One last random note.  I appreciated the way the organizer and the speakers treated the crowd as if we we’re all intelligent enough to figure out how to find a place to eat. Instead of serving us some fancy salmon lunch, they simply didn’t serve lunch at all, and gave people an opportunity to mingle with one another in the pretty neighborhood surrounding the Palace of Fine Arts. This kept the conference entry fee low ($200). I’m noticing the shift to a more casual style of gathering at events I’ve attended over the last year. I’m liking it.


I spent last night reading a book I keep hearing about called, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszenthmihalyi.  Here are some random quotes from my reading last night.  I hope to add my notes here over the weekend.

MC developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of what he calls flow:

"..the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it."

* Flow experience has proven to be a universal human phenomenon as reported by women in Korea, adults in Thailand and India.

The Roots of Discontent
"What would really satisfy people is not getting slim or rich, but feeling good about their lives."

"How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depends directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences."

"Each of us has a picture, however vague, of what we would like to accomplish before we die.  How close we get to attaining this goal becomes the measure for the quality of our lives.  If it remains beyond reach, we grow resentful or resigned; if it is at least in part achieved, we experience a sense of happiness and satisfaction." 

The Shields of Culture:

"The [cultural] shields that have worked in the past- the order that religion, patriotism, ethnic traditions, and habits instilled by social classes used to provide- are no longer effective for increasing numbers of people who feel exposed to harsh winds of chaos.  The lack of inner order manifests itself  in the subjective conditions that some call ontological anxiety, or existential dread.  Basically, it is a fear of being, a feeling that there is no meaning to life and that existence is not worth going on with."

The Limits of Consciousness
"…the information we allow into consciousness….is, in fact, what determines the content and the quality of life."

Attention as Psychic Energy
"Because attention determines what will or will not appear in consciousness…it is useful to think of it as psychic energy.  Attention is like energy in that without no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated.  We create ourselves by how we invest this energy.  Memories, thoughts, and feelings are all shaped by how we use it.  And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.


Not better, just different

I don’t know Calacanis, but I like what I’m reading, because it’s honest and transparent and most of all, refreshingly ballsy. 


Bread + Beauty @ Nest.