IT Conversations News: September 4, 2005

(Hear the MP3 version with additional commentary in beautiful monophonic audio.)

News and Housekeeping

Not much new to report this week. We’re in the midst of a heavy-duty conference season, so we’re ramping up to 12-14 shows per week for the rest of the year. Yeah, I hear you. It’s too much for us, too. The volunteers of Team ITC have been doing an awesome job, but we’re stretched pretty thin. We can’t take on any new volunteers at the moment, unfortunately, because our content-management systems are a bit of a mess and our mentors can’t take on any more newbies for now.

However, I do want to tell you a bit about what’s coming up. There are some terrific conferences this fall, and you may want to try and attend one or more of them in the flesh so that you can experience the great networking that each of these provides.

  • Accelerating Change 2005. One of our most popular conferences from last year will be held in less than two weeks. Accelerating Change 2005 will be at Stanford University, September 16-18, and we’ve arranged for a $75 discount if you register with the code "AC2005-ITC" .
  • EuroOSCON. O’Reilly Media’s EuroOSCON is 17-20 October in Amsterdam, and through our contacts there, we’ve arranged for a 25% discount. Use the code "euos05itc."
  • Pop!Tech 2005. And our most popular of all events from last year, Pop!Tech, will be held again this year in Camden, Maine, October 16-19. Talk about rubbing elbows with some of the most influential people on the planet — this is the place to be.

And here are two requests for help we’ve received:

  • Nature Conservancy Wants Help. If you’re an expert in podcasting in the Washington, DC, area, the Nature Conservancy would like to hear from you. They sponsor lunchtime sessions on a variety of topics, and they’d like to have a podcaster come and tell them what this thing is all about. Interested? Just drop me a note at
  • Stringer Wanted. We need someont to record a great session at UC Berkeley on the evening of Tuesday, September 20, when Hank Barry, Pamela Samuelson and Denise Howell will will discussing the MGM v. Grokster case. Again, if you can help record this, let me know by email.

New Programs This Week

Listed in increasing order of listener rating.

  • Werner Vogels on Memory Lane (rated 2.8 by IT Conversations listeners) Now ten years old, and with 975,000 independent vendors, is one of the classic long-tail online companies. Its new CTO, Werner Vogels, talks openly with Halley Suitt about the company, its policies for making data available to others (while protecting customers’ privacy), and the state of search engines. Werner says that search is still in its infancy, but it’s like dancing bears: the novelty alone makes it look pretty good. He explains how they’ve used their customers’reviews to build a large-scale network of shared intelligence.
  • J.C. Herz – Military ETech (2.8) What does the military see in emerging technologies? The military wants to remix technologies to allow the soldiers on the edges to communicate with those in the center. J.C. Herz looks at two specific technologies that the military is attempting to remix into a viable reapplication of code for their benefit. It’s not always easily accomplished. Four misunderstood lines of code destroyed a missile during launch to the tune of $1 billion.
  • Andrew Zolli on Globeshakers (3.1) It’s another great series from IT Conversations: Globeshakers with Tim Zak. Here’s our first show. What are the major demographic forces driving the economies, the industries, the families and the ecologies of the 21st century? What emerging technologies hold promise in light of these grand challenges? Andrew Zolli, chief curator of Pop!Tech and prominent futurist, points to some key trends lurking over the horizon.
  • Distributed Business at Supernova 2005 (3.3) What is a distributed business – is it having employees from all corners of the globe, clients or consumers in many markets or suppliers from various areas? According to this panel from the 2005 Supernova conference, distributed business is all this and more. Learn how any business, large or small can take advantage of new technologies and philosophies to become more successful.
  • Nat Torkington and Tim O’Reilly – Open Source Trends (3.5) We kick off our coverage of OSCON with Nat and Tim bringing us up-to-date on the cool things happening in tech world: the commoditization of software, software as a service, and products that threaten to change the way the web works and influence the everyday lives of ordinary people.
  • David Rumsey – The Past and Future of Mapping (3.6) What do historical maps show and what do they hide? How were the cartographers over the centuries biased? How can these old maps be used, superimposed and blended with current maps to show the changes in topography over the centuries? How can old maps be "remixed" with current information to reveal interesting information about cities? David Rumsey talks about the evolution of maps over the centuries and how they can be used to reveal interesting information.
  • David Sretavan (3.8) On Biotech Nation, Moira spoke with Dr. David Sretavan, Professor of Opthamology and Physiology and Program in Neuroscience at UCSF. He told us how we might actually fuse severed nerve endings back together — nerve endings one-fiftieth the width of a human hair.
  • Robert Shelton (3.8) Moira also spoke with Robert Shelton, Managing Director for Innovation at Navigant Consulting and the co-author of "Making Innovation Work." While anyone can readily spot a breakthrough product and know that innovation has occurred, what can be puzzling is how it happens.
  • Leslie Berlin (3.8) Finally, Moira interviewed Leslie Berlin, Silicon Valley Archivist at Stanford University and author of "The Man Behind the Microchip" about the life of Robert Noyce, the man who co-invented the integrated circuit, the essential technology behind every little chip in your life today.

The O’Reilly Pick of the Week:

This week’s IT Conversations/O’Reilly Pick of the Week is a great session from last year:

  • RFID at SofTECH (3.5) RFID — Radio Frequency Identification — is transforming the way companies track inventory, artwork and even law briefs, but some fear it could be used for more "Orwellian" pursuits. A panel of leading technology developers and pioneer end-user corporations explores this promising and yet maligned emerging technology that both empowers consumers and raises privacy issues.

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