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If I was a town, I’d be San Luis Obispo

I attended the mostly-excellent Content2.0 conference yesterday at London’s RSA.

Marc Canter gave the opening keynote in which he introduced his new People Aggregator which formally launches next month at Gnomedex.

However one slide he gave was particularly resonating, which Marc describes in his pre-conference blog post:

Iā€™m gonna drop some new ideas – regarding the grey area that lies between Technology and Content. I call it San Luis Obispo – as that place is halfway between Silicon Vallery and Hollywood.

San Luis Obispo station

I’ve spent my entire professional career working for a media company with (arguably) the biggest Internet wing of any of its competitors. What Marc is talking about here is exactly what I’ve been thinking about for sometime ā€“ where, and what, are the opportunities for people like me who understand the Internet/Tech business and equally how to use it to leverage content to great effect?

Back to Marc’s People Aggregator, I’ve heard him speak about it before – with more technical details.

Although I’ve given him some stick about it’s slight unavoidable flaw of requiring you to share your passwords with a third-party, I still think its presence going to be more significant than many people realise at the moment.

Roll on Gnomedex, and roll on the People Aggregator!

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  1. Ben, I’m glad you found the day mostly-good. From the feedback it seems that the main sticking point was – apart from the view that there wasn’t sufficient time for more detailed debate (which we tried to programme for but it didn’t work out perfectly) – people saying that “it was too marketing focused” or “too techie” or (the perennial) “where are the business models”?

    I think this is largely due to the very diverse audience that we got along. I’ve been to 6 digital media-futures/innovation-type conferences this year and followed a lot of others online and i’ve noticed that people seem happiest when they’re mainly surrounded by people like themselves – geeks, marketers, bloggers, start-ups, mainstream publishers, etc. But that is the opposite of what Marc is driving at with his cool analogy here, and it’s the opposite of what NMK (where I work) were trying to do. We want folks to feel challenged, not comfortable. But it’s a big challenge to pull that off satisfactorily…

    And when you *do* bring these different people together, there’s a lot of anxiety, irritation and pain – and it’s not just because specialists have to make their ideas more accessible – but also because people hear stuff that they usually consider “not my area”.

    But the silo-based approach isn’t the way forward IMHO. And the UK still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of breaking out of this mindset.

    Still, we’ve also had lots of peole saying they loved all the new or different stuff and that’s what they found stimulating. So there is hope! Also, folks might find some useful coverage of Content 2.0 to comment on that was fired out by our blogger-in-residence for the day Mike Butcher (it’s all here

    BTW, I’m intrigued to see more of the People Aggregator too šŸ˜‰

  2. Ben Ben

    Thanks for your comment Deirdre,

    Being a techie who now has to think about product, marketing (and form now on, business model) I’m quite comfortable talking/debating/arguing with anyone from any camp on their field of expertise!

    But I agree, for many people they don’t want to venture out of their silo. Marketing people don’t tend to mix with techies, etc and it’s a very bad thing.

    There’s a lot of snobbery too – the techie’s are often seen as the “backroom boys” by many people for example.

    I also have to say I know I’m a bit snobbish towards marketing people at times because I’m very cynical of those who try to push products that are poor (I build/design products after all, and so I’m more up for building better products in the first place).

    However I think you guys organised a great conference and I think you should be pleased with the result!

  3. Thanks Ben. I know you’re a renaissance-typa-guy šŸ™‚

    The growings pains of this new era are going to get pretty intense alright! But it’s an inspiring and exciting time too. And I agree about developers having been (and often still) looked at as “backroom”.

    I think the thing is that those who cling onto that view need to be challenged directly – well, occasionally šŸ˜‰ – not just dismissed – and then more of them will start to be open minded. The rest – well, they’ll just be left behind. But there’s still a lot of mileage (and wages to be earned/pensions paid) in some sunset industries.

  4. Agreed. There is definitely this space between technology and content waiting to be filled and in many respects social media is the glue which is appearing to start to fill out that gap because it is a) content (user profiles, their content etc) b) enables user control c) that control is enabled by technology. Tech then becomes as much a media play as a technology one, because it confers competitive advantage. However, although I think Marc is a smart guy (and much, much smarter than me), I don’t think he gets his point across very well (having seen him speak or ‘speak out’ at three events recently). One thing that was touched on at C2.0 was what Canter clearly advocates – giving users back control of their data. That’s great. But did anyone else notice Alex Barnett from MSoft virtually say the same thing? Sure, now MSoft probably won’t do it the way Canter will. However, data portability could well become a real *marketing message* for MSN/Google/Yahoo – just like number portability made the mobile phone market tougher but ultimately more competitive, IMHO.

  5. Content 2.0 was good and so was the snippet of news on – a profile engine based on microformats. ergo Marcls work on structured blogging and MF’s.

    The best presentation came from Yahoo’s Bradley Horowitz on their supppot in flickr for mf’s _ hcard, geo, xfn etc. Alex Barnett is a big mf fan and microsoft are doing lots in this space with Live Clipboard as part of the Atlas Framework.

    JAILS – just another internet locked silo – like bebo, myspace and linked will disappear just as fast as they came when people realise they can manage and control their data and make it highly portable such as moving wishlists or reviews to different places. Add in SSE with gadgets and this is a very exciting space.

  6. It was an interesting conference, albeit with some interesting splits within the audience. The marketing folks finding it hard to utilise the space efficiently – buying space on blogs is hard – and the blogophiles conveniently ignoring the fact that someone has to pay the bills. Reminds me of early 2000. I’m sure it’ll get sorted as there’s a lot more common ground and realism across this Interweb thang than there used t be. And *so* many more users.

    Agree with Sam about the microformats – early days, but you’re right these are gonna be huge, as soon as the sites provide tools to make use of them easily.

    Ben, your comment about sharing passwords between sites is the key, I think, why Marc’s People Aggregator will run into problems about shared authentication across sites. Heaven alone knows what’ll happen when the data protection regulators in the EU and US wake up to what is going on.

    Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting!

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