Second Hype

I spoke with a few people in the gaming industry lately, and there seems to be one dirty little secret these days: everybody talks about second life, but in reality it is very irrelevant and over hyped.

Second Life is the virtual world the media have chosen to make a point about how we-the-geeky-yet-friendly-little-people of the internet are turning to 3D to have a life. The problem is that Second Life is an ugly, hard to use and unfriendly game. It is the hotmail of online 3D games. People try it, companies open virtual offices to get some real life press coverage, but at the end of the day this thing is pretty much irrelevant.

Some say all this hype comes from the Try me virus. That’s exactly my story. I downloaded the game, suffered through the discovery process, tried to customize my avatar via one of the most painful and buggy interface ever. Then I ended up in the much-touted virtual press agency. And I was the only player there.

So my point is the following: don’t believe the hype, nobody won the 3D online world market yet. Second Life gets all the attention, millionaires, crappy political hijackings, and creative initiatives, is certainly occupied by passionate and smart people, but at the end of the day it is far from being the revolution we have been sold.

More info on the Guardian.

Ruby vs PHP vs Java

I am not that much involved in development anymore, but here is an interesting comparison between three of the most used Internet technologies you can choose from when you want to launch a service on the web.

Link

I am happy to have a few facts to move behind the war of religions that usually float around these decisions.

Arvetica

Two of Geneva’s brightest minds just started blogging on Arvetica.ch, their company’s website. Follow these guys, they are doing very interesting things, trying to help large organization understand and cope with the realities of our changing world.

Alex: I would suggest you stop saying “hu-hum” and “ok-ok” when you do video casts 😉

(Disclaimer: these guys are good friends of mine, and regularly pay me a coffee or two).

Looking for talented developer

I am looking for a web developer to join a project I want to launch in the coming months. If you:

• are open, motivated, creative, solution oriented and able to hack multiple things (interface, database, coding, etc..)
• have experience in website development
• are based in Geneva or in a nearby city (I think working 100% remotely will be hard on this project)
• are available starting in January 07 and for a two month period (to begin at least)
• are interested in teaming with myself and one of the best web guy in the web industry to embark in a new adventure

Then please contact me on laurent@ballpark.ch.
I have no preference in terms of technology, whatever you prefer (RoR, PHP) that works for mid-scale websites is fine.

Is Web overuse an addiction?

Can you sue your employer because you became addicted to sex chat rooms?

But cases […] which involve Internet misuse, may no longer be quite so simple, thanks to a growing debate over whether Internet abuse is a legitimate addiction, akin to alcoholism. Attorneys say recognition by a court […] that Internet abuse is an uncontrollable addiction, and not just a bad habit, could redefine the condition as a psychological impairment […]

That in turn would have far-reaching ramifications for how companies deal with workplace Internet use and abuse. For starters, businesses could be compelled to allow medical leave, provide counseling to, or make other accommodations for employees who can’t control Internet use.

Link (via Slashdot)

It seems hard to agree with this notion, but after all why would Internet be different than casinos and gambling, two widely recognized addictions. Maybe I need to invite a lawyer to the technological overload panel at LIFT07.

Blogging is probably peaking

Steve Rubel made an interesting collection of data about blogging, and says that it “may be peaking”. I would say it IS peaking.

I have long thought that blogs will very soon disappear. The word blog at least. The underlying principles of blogging will still be with us for years to come (the real revolution is micro-publication and micro-discussion) but get diluted in every single web page. Putting a special label on a website because it has comments and permalinks won’t make sense anymore when all website will propose these features right?

The same thing happened to the good old “homepage” if you remember well. Back in the 90s homepages were the personal web pages, a special kind of places on the web. Now that everybody has a homepage in very diverse forms (blog, mySpace profile, personal portal, squidoo lens, suprglu, whatever…) the word became meaningless and disappeared.

That’s why all the blogging consultants out there should rethink their title. Time to reinvent yourself again!

PS: Steve, my invitation still stands 😉

Update: Gartner says blogging will peak in 2007 (via Micropersuasion again)

Optimism

Bruce Sterling delivers his last column for Wired, and comes up with a final (and optimistic) prediction

The Internet, for instance, crawled out of a dank atomic fallout shelter to become the Mardi Gras parade of my generation. It was not a bolt of destructive lightning; it was the sun breaking through the clouds.

[…] So mark my last little act of prediction in this space: I don’t have a poll or a single shred of evidence to back it up, but I believe more good things are in store, and some are bound to come from the tangled, ubiquitous, personal, and possibly unpredictable Net.

Link

That’s the feelings I have been having for a while – I made my LIFT06 closing remarks around the optimism I was getting from the people in the room – and it is good to see a major player pass the same message in a more powerful way.

The phone of the future

The economist is brainstorming about the phone of the future. Good food for thought.

• Chances are that phones will not only look very different – they may not even be seen. They may be hidden in jewellery or accessories, or even embedded in the body.
• In a decade’s time a typical phone will have enough storage capacity to be able to video its user’s entire life.
• Researchers at Nokia speculate that within a decade, the cost of storage will have fallen so far that it might be possible to store every piece of music ever recorded in a single chip that could be included in each phone.
• Tiny projectors inside handsets could allow walls, tabletops or screens made of flexible materials to be used as displays while on the move.
• Today’s earpieces may give way to smaller devices hidden in earrings or worn as minuscule patches on the skin near the ear.
• Voice may turn out to be an interim technology. Researchers are developing sensors that pick up the subtle changes in the larynx and mouth when words are formed, even if there is little or no air going through the windpipe. So future phones might simply be able to lip-read using a sensor hidden in your collar.
• Today the idea of “approximeeting” – arranging to meet someone without making firm plans about time or place, and then finalising details via mobile phone while out and about – is commonplace.
• The ability to superimpose images and sound upon reality means that future phones will create layers on our world.

Link from Bruno Giussani’s blog.

Back to bloglines

I just put all my feeds back on bloglines, after Google Reader drove me nuts for the fiftieth time with it’s horrible interface, lack of reactivity, and overall feeling. For some reason I don’t feel in control when reading my feeds there, things are not happening when and how I expect them.

One big problem I have with the river of news style: Technorati keeps on sending me the same info again and again. I get 100 updates a day from the LeWeb3 participants list (am I the only one by the way?) and my reader doesn’t recognize it is the same post over and over again.

In bloglines I can simply jump to the next feed. In Google Reader I can’t as feeds are mixed (yes, I’m pretty sure it’s a setting buried somewhere, but I am no power user mind you ;). I also feel like feed management is catastrophic and that I don’t need 90% of what is displayed around the core information.

I will of course give a try to Google Reader’s next version – I am more than pleased with all the Google apps I have used over time – but this time it is back to the old ways.

Lessons from Le Web 3

I can’t sit at a conference and not try to find a few lessons to bring back to my own gig. I was at Le Web 3, a conference that had some highs and now well publicized lows. Here are the few thoughts I gathered:

• 1000 people aren’t that bad
I always thought that going above 500 (the number of seats we have at LIFT this year) was a bad idea. It’s not that bad after all. 1000 people didn’t feel like too much, and you could pretty much bump into anybody you wanted to meet. I guess that, more than the number of attendees (below a conceivable level), continuous presence is more important than anything. That is why we ask the LIFT speakers to be with us for the whole conference and not leave right after their speech.

• Food is really important
Period. I am upgrading the traiteur order for LIFT as we speak.

• Flat is a two-sided concept
The world is flat we say. Lesser-known speakers should be treated like rock star speakers. When someone is on stage, let them finish their sentence even if a former prime minister enters the room. The big guys can wait 2 minutes. Respect is a bidirectional thing.

• Star speakers are a double-edged sword
Le Web and LIFT get a lot of attention these days as the “higher” spheres of business and politics start to acknowledge the influential nature of bloggers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Get a big name and the cameras move in! Yes, our ideas are getting mainstream coverage! But a potentially constructive situation might very well turn into a look-at-me-I-am-the-only-politician-speaking-to-this-cool-crowd-I-don’t-care-about.

• Conference organizer is a low profile job
And you better be ready to live with it. Many think my job consists in booking plane tickets and hotels, while I actually see myself as the editor in chief of some sort of giant brainstorm. It is frustrating, and I am not even talking about the easy critics you invariably get. So there is a temptation to strive for more visibility, to show up on stage and try to be on the pictures. The problem is that attendees don’t come to see me but the result of my work, and I have to live with it. I think a conference brings enough indirect returns that you should forget the direct ones.