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Stick a Fork In It

Posted by sspielman on February 13, 2004 at 10:30 AM PST

We all know the feeling of post conference-idous, when you need to decompress from all of the exciting things you learned about and figure out what was real and what was just flat out cool. After attending ETech, I thought, why decompress when we can just continue to transform. This conference has been like the weather in the States in Denver, CO. For those of us who live here, we know it’s beautiful and sunny over 300 days a year, but everyone else thinks it is snowing all the time. It’s sort of the secret that you only want your good friends to know so that everyone doesn’t move here. It’s the same thing with ETech. This was such a great conference you almost don’t want to let the word out.

I caught the second keynote today that Bill Janeway of Warburg Pincus gave talking about alternative models of the venture investing process. Yes, this was a financial talk at a tech conference, but Tim O’Reilly was right. This isn’t just your everyday financial talk. It was quite interesting to see our industry presented this way. I won’t spend to much time recapping this, but it seems like the days of round financing are turning into the days of fully funded financing. The short of it is, that you actually have to have a viably business model to get the attention of the VC’s now. Imagine that. We’re in the midst (in case you haven’t noticed) of a shift from packaged applications to selling the service that the software provides.

Hopefully Bill’s slides will be online with the rest of the conference presentations. I highly recommend that you check it out if it’s there. Make sure that you take a look through the various presentations up there. While it’s not the same as being here, you’ll expand your horizons for sure.

Some session highlights from today:

GeoURL.org is a project about geospatial markup and distributed geographic annotation that has an open API that you can integrate into your own apps. Localfeeds.com picks up RSS feeds based on blogs in a certain area by using the GeoURL information. This is a great example of how the technology can be used to cause very real social concerns to take place. An email was shown from someone that wanted to make the GeoURL folks aware of the fact that people and governments can use this information to find people in oppressed countries and providing dictatorships with a tool to find and arrest these free-thinkers. There is an entire uncharted area that we are treading on here and people’s live can and will be tremendously affected. Another side effect of this is yet another form of spam, GeoSpam. Those spammers are the first to pick up on new technologies; to bad they can’t do something useful with it. Since every device has (or will have) an IP address as well as a Geo URL, every point of interest can be available and can have targeted advertising. The humorous map showing about 100 McDonald’s golden arches on a map display, to the point that you couldn’t even see the map, is both sad and true.

This brings us to another topic, geolocation on the internet and architectures for privacy and security. First, what is geolocation? It is a spatial location which might correspond to a person, a business, a parcel, but it can described in many ways. For example, a postal address, coordinate space, proximity to landmarks, or a place type (at a movie, on an airplane). Then there are also granularities like continent vs. country vs. city vs. intersection. Technologies being used include: manually entering your Lat/Lon, guess based on IP address (like how you get redirected to a regional server on some sites), GPS, cell towers for cell phones, and 802.11 base stations which will be here soon. The types of applications we’ll see (actually are already seeing today) that use geolocation information include stuff like -web apps employing geolocation, friend finder apps on the cell phone, voice over IP (VoIP) has requirements for location information, location based games, and of course some annoying advertising as you walk past a store to tell you what’s on sale.

While this conference has been a total blast (incase you couldn’t tell from my blogs…), the thing I liked best about it was the complete free flowing of energy and information. With a collection of alpha geeks like this, there could be room for some pretty bloated egos. But in fact, this was probably the best people networking conference I’ve attended (and I attend a lot). Everyone here was eager to exchange ideas, thoughts, and projects with others. There were so many business cards changing hands that you didn’t need to bother putting yours away. It was a great time. Now you understand why we tell people it snows all the time in Denver.

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