OK. The number of Northern Voice posts on my blog today is just silly. I'll just be editing this post to manage that...
Robert Scoble's keynote was ok. Less interesting, than Tim (to me), but still interesting. He talked about his perceived role inside Microsoft as the listener-of-weblogs. Dave Winer tried to phone him during the keynote, and got dissed pretty quicky (Mark Canter tried to get Scoble to answer the call in order to find out wtf happened between him and Adam Cury :-). OK. So Scoble "reads" 1000 rss feeds. Well, he subscribes to them. I still have doubts that he actually reads them in a meaningful way. (update: Robert commented on this post - he actually does read his feeds!) If he does, then he can't have time for literally anything else. I was surprised and impressed about how candid he was about non-MS products. He was talking about word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, and described Firefox's incredible adoption. He said "How did people hear about Firefox? It wasn't from the New York Times. It was when someone said to them 'Hey, there's a new browser that can get rid of these nasty pop-ups!' "
Stephen Downes is on stage now, talking about how he is against the concept of "the long tail" in weblogs. "Those who trumpet the long tail are in the unique position of not being part of it. Preferential attachment occurs because there is a shortage in something - hence the power law. (shortage of money, time, whatever). Online, the shortage is of attention or time, so we actually need the preferential attachment of "A-list" (and B-list, etc...) to help find what we need. Lots of Downesian intellectual quotes and stuff, but "meaning is use" sorta meaning that tags/folksonomies oversimplify because they don't encapsulate the real meaning of a piece of content - that there is an additional power law long tail wrt the popularity of tags applied by people that that piece of content. Not sure that I agree with him that this is a problem. I see the power law at play with tag frequency as one of the main benefits... You get both quasi-authoritative (popular) tags, as well as quirky and personalized (less popular tags).
Interesting discourse between Marc Canter and Stephen on the long tail. I think I'm in Marc's camp on this one. Tags are what you make of them. The long tail is a Good Thing. We just need to figure out a way to navigate and mine it.
(aside: it was pretty cool that Marc's family was at the conference, with his daughters freely roaming the sessions, and hopping up into daddy's lap during his panel session)
Cool. Just found a SubEthaEdit shared document for notes... (provide link to Richard's and Cyprian's copies of the notes when they are posted...)