Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and Java
It was a nice weekend: I had dinner and went to a musical (The Full Monty at the RLT, quite good) with my parents, played some Heroscape with the kids, got a little work done and on Saturday I attended DCampSouth.
DCampSouth was a lot of fun. Thanks to Jackson Fox and friends for creating just the right environment for a barcamp experience. Here are a couple of notes on my experience.
The day started with a keynote by Thomas Vanderwal. He discussed how to design social software centered on the user, the person or the "person using" as he prefers to say since he dislikes the term user and it's negative connotations. I sensed that the term "developer" might have some negative connotation for Thomas and I felt tempted to ask him to refer to developers as people too, or "persons developing." Despite that developer vs. design guy tension, the talk as informative and full of good ideas. For example he stressed how important it is to provide a good experience for individual users and especially for the 1:1 connections between users since those are so valuable and nuanced. Too often, he said, developers and designers focus on the many and forget to focus on the one.
Vanderwal also talked about using tagging to help people navigate and self-organize corporate intranets. So I had to ask him what software folks are using for that. He mentioned an open source option Scuttle, DogEar from Lotus Connections and had high praise for ConnectBeam.
After the keynote, everybody gathered in the lobby to propose and pitch sessions. I was torn between Ruby Sinreich's Microformats session and Kim Ashley's Web behind the firewall session. I ended up in the Web 2.0 behind the firewall sessions where we discussed the difficulties of using blogs/wikis in a top-down control environment, the self-service nature of Web 2.0 tools and tagging for intranets, which everybody thought was a great idea -- especially the two guys in the room from the stealth startup ("Distruptive Monkey" I think they said).
Finally, I attended Jackson Fox's agile vs. web development session. I always thought web development was especially well suited to agile techniques, since you can deploy often and you get constant user feedback. Apparently, it's not that easy if you want to follow the various agile methodologies out there. I found Jackson's discussion of using agile methodologies at Lulu.com very interesting.
Overall DCampSouth was a nice way to spend a Saturday and thanks again to Jackson for that. We need more of the BarCamps around here.
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