TakeItOutside

Thanks to everyone who came along to TakeItOutside, and especially to the panellists. We hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.

I'm really worried someone's going to come back from the future to this pub and kill us all.
Matt "Yahoo Serious" Jones

Reports elsewhere:

Sunday 9th June, 12pm-7pm
The Dolphin pub, 47 Tonbridge St, London (map)

As part of Extreme Computing we're organising a series of roundtables in The Dolphin pub across the road from the main venue. So come along on the afternoon of Sunday 9th June, drink, chat and drink. For more info, email Phil.

12.30pm - 2.00pm Online Communities: The real world, only worse?
3.00pm - 4.30pm Chatbot++: Bot to the Future
5.00pm - 6.30pm Towards a Common-Place Web: online writing and social memory

Online Communities: The real world, only worse?

Are there only two ways out for online communities: loss of all-embracing innocence to become sinister masonesque cliques, or soul-destroying lowest-common-denominator dullness. How do you keep a community from being ruined by its members?

Is community in a commercial environment a lipservice bullshit or is it actually a "good thing". Can it compare with the loveliness of a ripped together sellotape and wire community held together by enthusiasts?

Chatbot++: Bot to the Future

Just when we're giving up on intelligent agents, along come the bots. Chat bots started out years ago as law enforcers on IRC, but recently they've been finding a variety of helpful roles, acting within chat communities to act as group memory or blogging assistants. They've also found a home on IM networks, with roles ranging from simple search bots to multi-talented buddies that also try and sell you things.

But is any of this genuinely useful, or are we just playing with toys? Does the rise of interoperability and the dream of the semantic web open up new opportunities? In what ways can bots complement online communities? Will bots become the digital butlers we've dreamed of, or are they doomed by the limitations of chat interfaces and the constantly-receding horizons of AI? And if they're going to be toys, what cool things can we make them do?

Towards a Common-Place Web: online writing and social memory

One of the memes to spring from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference was the idea of 'hypomnemata': writing as augmented memory, through notebooks, personal guides, and journals. We want to use an different term, and think in terms of the 'commonplace book', asking whether the Web offers a similar kind of 'common place' for writers, with the big difference that its public setting allows self-development to be turned into the development of communities.

Cory Doctorow describes his weblog as an 'outboard brain' that allows him to process information, but which also provides a point of contact and a sounding-board for others with similar interests. Other forms of Web-based writing use technologies that explicit encourage a shared writing space, from Slashdot and its followers through UBBs and workshops such as Alex Massie's Afterdinner, to the collaborative world of Wikis.

So, does writing for the Web bring the 'commons' to the common-place book? Does it encourage the growth of cross-border discussion or create gated communities? And how does writing for yourself relate to writing for others: who's the implied reader here? Let's get past the interminable blogs.vs.journalists debate and ask: just who is the Web being written for?

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