More WWW2007 Thoughts

Highlight: wisdom from Dick Hardt (“don’t use the ‘I’ word unless it’s as an adjective or an adverb.”) Very deep.

Lowlight: The whole idea of “Web History.” Ok ok — I know this is actually a good idea, but something at me just bristles at the whole thing. I mean, do we really need Web History yet? Can’t it wait until after I’m dead? I did visit the exhibit briefly and I added some important (to me) dates into their timeline. In seeing what others have added, it occurred to me that the history of the Web is actually quite fragmented and quite personal. Sure — there are some key influential events and decisions, but especially with the rise and fall of the dot-coms, it’s all about stories of individual success and failure, and more often than not really bizarre individuals.

Anyway, the real highlight of the week for me was the MobEA V (Mobile Emerging Applications) workshop which I helped put together with Rittwik Jana. This workshop focused on the role of the mobile Web in developing regions. We had great presentations from a number of attendees, including Ken Banks, the ubiquitous Charles McCathieNevile (he also presented at Mobile Monday London this week on Mobile Widgets — this guy gets around more than I do), and Galit Zadok. Most interesting presentation of the day had to have been from Krithi Ramamritham at IIT Bombay covering what they have done with the Almost All Questions Answered project (aAQUA). Among other things, this Web-based system allows rural farmers to send in agricultural questions (sometimes accompanied by digital photos) and get them answered by domain experts as well as their peers. Very cool stuff. The whole workshop was like a firehose of information — I hope to publish some notes soon. I’m also looking forward to working with Stephane Boyera over at W3C on this topic as they ramp up their initiative on this important topic.

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