Future of Web Apps Summit — Day 1

Following are some highlights from my notes after the first day of the Future of Web Apps Summit in San Francisco. Overall, its been a great experience, with a nice synergy of speakers and useful presentations/tips. Here’s a bit o jerky to chew on:

Dick Hardt of Sxip opened with an entertaining, metaphor-filled powerpoint. In a nutshell, we all need to develop a “V1agra” app — one that enables the user to do what they otherwise are unable to do. Smart and secure, yet marketable use of identity seems to be the Sxip pitch, as the information collected in an Internet users multiple accounts and usernames help “predict future behavior based on what people have done in the past.

Next, Kevin Rose presented a little Digg history lesson, and then treated us to some apps and widgets in development (as well as some blog plug-ins that is slowly rolling out, i.e. at feedburner).

Rose touched on themes that were repeated throughout the afternoon — “keep it simple and rewarding,” “destroy the garbage.” Stamen is incubating a number of new features for Digg.

He credited the “Inside LiveJournal’s Backend” PDF as an inspiration and door opener.

That’s it for now — I’m off to an open-bar shindig hosted by the fine folks at Google especially for Summit attendees. More breakdown to come… Technorati’s Tantek Çelik was kind enough to post his entire presentation on Microformats at his Web site. Check it out.

Great photos of all speakers and the laptop-infested geek scene at flickr and also these gems at Laughing Squid.

Project Censored’s Top 25 of ’07 Released

Further cementing 2006’s reputation as one of the most messed up years in written history, Project Censored‘s new 2007 list reads even more shockingly than last year‘s.

The entire top 25 with context and updates are here. The Top 10:

#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo
#6 Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
# 7 US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
#8 Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act
#9 The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall
#10 Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Apologizes; Is Not lonelygirl15

mark zuckerberg, facebokThe 22-year-old proprietor of the infectiously popular Facebook, the two-year-old social networking Web site for the college set, apologized this morning, for what I — and others — felt was merely exposing the obvious.

Zuckerberg and his staffers will take part in a chat Saturday at 4 p.m. ET in a Facebook group he started last week addressing net neutrality and the upcoming election: “Free Flow of Information on the Internet.”

Nobody but the 9 million + Facebook members appear to matter, however, as the majority of the social network watching blogosphere has become wholly obsessed (as before it was only moderately obsessed) with the mystery of lonelygirl15, now playing in a USAToday (popcandy blog) and L.A. Times near you.

Thanks Staci @ PaidContent for the heads up.

The Facebook Lesson

22-year-old Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg delivered the lesson of the year to college (and some high school) campuses nationwide on Tuesday when he unveiled a revamped version of his superpopular, 2-year-old social networking Web site Facebook.com. The addition of a time-stamped “mini-feed” on each member’s page detailing their Facebook mentions and activities has sparked an uproar (that’s the WSJ’s word) as Generation C is slapped with a reality check: there are no secrets on the Internet.

The Washingon Post bumped the issue to page A01, declaring:

Such a strong reaction in defense of privacy is rare among the teenage and twenty-something generation, which grew up in the era of public disclosure in the form of blogs, videosharing and reality television.

But no longer can Paris Hilton sneak away from a DUI arrest without TMZ on her tail and never again will a Swift Boat hoax turn the tide on an election. Everything is out on the table, and practically everyone is watching. Future presidents are already leaving their paper trail on sites like Facebook. I must congratulate Zuckerberg for providing the 9 million mostly college students who use Facebook the opportunity to look in the mirror and see firsthand just what happens when post content, photos and personal information is posted haphazardly on the Internet. Who knows his true intentions — there is clearly no privacy violated in making it easier for users to read and create the content they signed up for. Tech marketing guru Ed Kohler agrees. So does VC Fred Wilson.

In March, Zuckerberg turned down a $750 million buyout offer and told BusinessWeek he thought Facebook was worth at least $2 billion. 85% of all college students use Facebook, according to TechCrunch, which has prompted university officials to state: “we’ve got alot of catching up to do” as far as keeping tabs on their students. It just got a bit easier — and to be honest, anyone on Facebook could have already been kept track of using RSS.

I spoke to several undergrads today in an Investigative Reporting class and most were shaken by the turn of events. Very few if any in the 14-person class had used MySpace, flickr, or even del.icio.us. But they all use Facebook. The student editors of the Daily Trojan penned a column this week echoing the Facebook wake-up-call: “[B]eyond this lies a simple issue of privacy: How much of your most personal information do you want accessible to anyone who goes, or went, to USC?”

More than anything else, the Facebook lesson helps define how important issues of privacy and of checks and balances on information sharing are as we move forward in the digital age.

UPDATE: Dave Winer chimes in: “Facebook did good. But Facebook also did bad..
More:
A Day Without Facebook protest blog
Facebook User Groups: Students for Changing the Post Mini-Feed World, The Coalition to Stop Facebook, Stalker Edition
USAToday blog asks: “Has Facebook turned into Big Brother?”
IvyLeak: “WSJ Sends Embedded Journalists to Cover Impending Facebook Coup”

Webzines: The Birth of e-Cit. Journalism

Thumbing through Chicago Magazine, of all things, I found an excellent article (written by David Bernstein) profiling Jamie Kalven, son of a prominent First Amendment scholar who found himself fighting his own press-rights battle this summer as the first Chicago-area journalist to be served a subpoena by the City of Chicago in recent history.

Since 2001, Kalven has published the Webzine “View From the Ground,” a fine collection of journalism that should have been — but never was — published in the mainstream media.

Kalven has been documenting his observations and those of the residents of Stateway Gardens, arguably the most decrepit of South Side projects and at this point almost completely torn down. He has not been shy about openly criticizing gang or police conduct, most notably the conduct of a group of plainclothes officers known as the Skullcaps.

Now that a case charging members of the Skullcaps has gone to court, city attorneys subpoenaed Kalven for his notes, which he is protesting on First Amendment grounds. In July, a judge denied the motion for Kalven to submit his papers.

Coincidentally (or, perhaps not) as many as 8 elite Special Operations officers stripped of their powers this week, reportedly for involvement in various thefts in and around Stateway Gardens.

An investigation into a corrupt police force in Chicago? Who woulda thunk?
This is a great story, the only must-read I’ve ever seen in Chicago Mag to be honest — also highly recommended is Kalven’s “Webzine,” View From the Ground.