Saturday, December 16, 2006

Web 2.0 day at Wesleyan! BarCampCONN?

Yesterday Bryan Alexander from NITLE came to Wesleyan University, and gave a full-day presentation on Web 2.0, I believe this is his SlideShare presentation, except for the title page of course:

About 40 instructional technologists and librarians from Connecticut College, Trinity College and Wesleyan University attended the full-day workshop. Bryan did a grea job presenting and linking together many concepts and processes in a rapidly-changing area. I don't know where he finds the energy for this, I'm usually out of gas after 90 minutes of teaching. The presentation was structured, but informal in that Bryan graciously allowed interruptions for comments or questions anytime. This worked better than a Q&A a the end, as we moved rapidly through many different Web 2.0 landscapes. Here is a link to the workshop wiki.

It was a day full of information, and probably started a lot of wheels spinning in the attendees' minds. My only regret was not asking Bryan, before the presentations, to explain the term "Long Tail" to the folks. It took me a while to figure out what it means, both socially and economically, and it might have helped others that don't know.

I spoke very briefly with Michael Roy, from Wesleyan, about a possible collaboration between our institutions to bring the first BarCamp to Connecticut next summer. This has been a fantasy of mine for a while, but I don't really have any ideas besides wouldn't it be neat! It obviously requires more than this, starting with it HAS to be successful, so "success" needs to be defined. What would be the goals of BarCampCONN (BarCampCT, or whatever), and why do it at all? After surfing through the post-analyses of a few BarCamps, I think it would be wiser to have a one-day the first time, as attendance often drops off the second day.

The first thing we would need, of course, is a cool logo, such as one of these:

Build an attractive logo and they will come? It reminds me of the early 70's when I was sailing on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. We'd sail from town to town with a bunch of musicians and environmentalists, have a festival, and make Stone Soup. We started with a big pot of boiling water on an open fire ashore, and put a clean stone in it. As people came by, they would throw different vegetables in the pot, with us keeping an eye on things. After a few hours we'd have a great soup for everyone to share, created communally. The soup would simmer and change throughout the day, as people came and went, added and ate different ingredients. Can an eye-catching logo be the cyber equivalent of the stone?

The Story of Stone Soup
Of course, we are not in a famine, we are all soldiers, and you can't buy a magic stone, you have to make one.

One reason to have a BarCampCONN would be that the "We is greater than the Me" (I'm borrowing this from someone else, but I forgot who!). There is something stimulating, reinvigorating and exciting about getting a bunch of people together to talk and do Web 2.0 stuff, and it seems safer than sky-diving. So, I'm going to try and go to one or two BarCamps this winter, and see what it's all about. Amsterdam or Paris would have been nice, but I missed them. Should I spend my team's entire remaining travel budget and put in a travel request to BarCamp Rome? Nah, it will be turned down, so I'll settle for something closer.

Thanks to Bryan and Wesleyan for a great day!


Anonymous said...

Frank Fulchiero said...

Thanks for reminding me that's where it all started, and that Chris Anderson coined the term. I have to admit I never read the original Wired article, just condensed versions of it, such as this.

I also like to use the graph of the "long tail" in a different way. I see the big popular mainstream web sites at the "tall end", and the millions of blogs and wikis out there, many with few readers, stretching out along the "low end", with say number of hits/day on the vertical axis. The horizontal axis would be number of sites. So, there are many more web sites with few hits than there are sites with many hits.

I may have interpreted the graph a bit differently than usual, but it makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the fine blogging, Frank! It was great seeing you there, too. (For readers who weren't there, Frank stole the show with brilliant comments, questions, and a great case study)

Good advice re: long tail. It's not cliched already?

I love the Stone Soup story, btw.

Frank Fulchiero said...

Thanks, you are too kind. I still have not figured out why I blog. There seems to be an innate need, on the part of many individuals, to create and develop a digital identity.

I surely was not trying to steal the show, and hope I did not. If I thought I would, I would have kept my mouth shut! I think that people that know the most often say the least, unfortunately.

We are going to support another class wiki for the spring semester, and I'll write a post on lessons learned and how they will affect our approach next time.