Demo 2004 was an excellent conference -- I learned a lot and got to see many old and new friends. Ben and Mena Trott, from Six Apart Ltd. in San Mateo, California showed their newest Typepad tool for bloggers. It lets mobile bloggers -- "mobloggers" as they are called -- put their digital photos, along with audio and text, on their Web sites. (AP Photo by Roy Dabner).
Greg Reinacker of Newsgator (L) and I looked on as Doc Searles of Linux Journal showed us his blog on the big 17" laptop. Picture by Mitch Ratcliffe of RedHerring. There are also a couple of pictures from last year's Demo panel.
I could have spent a week seeing the demos and especially meeting and talking with the many entrepreneurs at the conference. Some conferences have long speeches. Demo has six minute demos and then plenty of time to chat with the CEO and CTO and marketing exec of the companies. I can't begin to do justice to the innovative products and services that I saw but I hope the following provides a glimpse of what was going on at Demo. (read more)
If you love technology, you have to love Demo. This year there were 58 companies on stage during the two day conference. Each demonstrator got six minutes to tell their story and show off their product. Here is a list of all the vendors with links to their sites. I didn't get to visit with all of them but I talked to quite a few. The following are some that I found particularly interesting. (read more)
Solved problems -- what to buy?
As I watched all of the demos in the afternoon session (most of them compelling), what kept going through my mind was that I was seeing almost a dozen companies address problems that my firm has -- issues with viruses, SPAM, unprotected computers coming on and off the network, securing confidential data, etc.
What was missing, however, was a holistic picture of where these solutions fit into my IT architecture and budget. In other words, how did one product relate to the next? Did they compete? Overlap? If so, where?
One of my friends made the comment that the way he would solve the problem would be to call his local Cisco rep and ask what he should buy. I found that to be an interesting comment -- give me one stop to solve these problems and the sale will be made -- at the potential risk that I might miss something. The problem is so complex, simplicity is as important as 100% coverage.
What I saw was technology being used to solve problems. I loved that. But what I need is an understanding of what I really want to buy and where it fits in to the overall solution that we provide to our employees. I couldn't tell if one product was more important than the other and how they would all work together.
I guess it means full-time employment for my Director of IT Services.
Where's The Money?
The four Demo panelists did a very nice job of explaining their points of view about blogging. They talked about how blogging can fit into one's personal life, benefit a small business, cope in a major corporation, and streamline the flow of information from blogs to your PC or handheld. Thirty minutes was not nearly enough time to explore all the issues and we wanted to allow some time for audience questions. Not surprisingly, both Bobby Orbach and Amy Wohl asked about how the business model for blogging and how blogging enables money making. Certainly these are fair questions. In fact there are many unanswered questions about blogging just as their were many about the Web ten years ago. Blogging provides new protocols for creating, distributing, publishing syndicating, and reading information. Is there money to be made from protocols? Probably not. Is there money in html or http? Not per se. The money comes from ecosystem; i.e. it comes from content, transactions, and commerce that will be facilitated in new ways using blogging. We are 2% of the way into what blogging has in store for us.
At the Demo lunch there were tent cards on a number of the tables indicating a subject matter from the conference so people could congregate and share. Buzz Bruggerman and Greg Reinacker and I sat at the "blogging" table. Doc Searles was there blogging on his Apple ibook with the 17" screen and G5 chip. We all engaged Dave Sifry, CEO of Technorati, to learn about how he is providing real-time searching of blogs. If you have any doubts about how fast blogging is growing, take a look at his site.
Are you blogging DEMO?
If you're keeping a weblog documenting DEMO, please post a comment on this post and we'll add you to the official blogroll.
Post to the Official Moblog
Have a camera phone and want to send a picture message to the official DEMO moblog that you see to the right of your screen? Visit Six Apart at booth #63 and we'll let you know just how to do it.
A plan for the teeth...
There is a saying in the latest Tom Clancy book which goes something like, "If you grab a tiger by the tail you better have a plan for the teeth."
Going up against Office? I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to take this on.
Brilliant or crazy? Certainly one of the two...
EverMore Software -- This will keep people happy who hate MSFT and want to use an alternative to Office. Is it wildly better? No. Is it powerful enough? It appears to be so. Most importantly this isn't a "feature-minus" product.
It does look a lot like Office, tho. That's good in that the average user will immediately know what to do. I wonder what Redmond will think.
AllenPort -- The network is the computer. And the data is local, too. Nice trick to integrate it with PDAs, etc. I don't know if that is enough to get me to move my company off of Exchange, Windows, et al. As for consumers, if you have Windows in the workplace, it is a big step to go to a different environment at home. Consumers like consistency.
The AM Continued -- Blogging Thoughts
Overall on Blogging -- It seems that most of these tools make it easier to post info on the Web in a personalized form. These are all products for sharing thoughts and integrating data, etc. Will blogging matter for the enterprise or will it be the kind of thing that Michael Doonseberry's daughter uses for communicating with friends? (See the ongoing Doonseberry comic -- a very funny commentary on Deanies, etc.)
I am not smart enough to know, yet.
Six Apart -- Clearly the highlight was how easy the photo from the phone with the audio got posted on the web. Very impressive. I'd want to understand more about how the company is a viable organization over time, but this was a pretty cool application of technology.
WaveMarket -- Pretty interesting integration of different media. But, whoa -- I am officially old. I can't relate. I'll ask my kids what they think. Once again, I have to wonder if I "get it."
Feedster -- I could see using this to help manage all the data I go through on a daily basis. The ability to get the data I want sent and delivered to me in whatever format I want is compelling. I also like the John Kerry application on the candidate's website.
I wonder what the long term barriers to entry are for the organization...