IT Conversations News: December 29, 2005

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

New Programs Last Week

Listed in increasing order of listener rating.

  • Richard Monson-Haefel – The Rebel Platforms (rated 2.4 by listeners) For enterprise application development, the high-end "superplatforms" like J2EE and .NET aren’t the only choice. Developers can choose from the "rebel platforms," open-source platforms that don’t adhere to industry standards like J2EE or .NET. Burton Group analyst Richard Monson-Haefel describes the rebel platforms, compares then with superplatforms from Microsoft, SAP, IBM, Oracle, and BEA on criteria including flexibility, risk, lock-in, development complexity, and cost.
  • Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle (2.7) Hosts Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle introduce the themes of this year’s Web 2.0 Conference and look back at a year that has seen the term ‘Web 2.0’ rack up a vast number of citations on Google and become a common description for a range of new technology. If ‘Web 2.0’ is to fulfil its potential, the coming year must see a focus on substance rather than a cycle of hype.
  • Progress in Search – Accelerating Change 2005 (3.0) We all rely on search engines to find information we need on the internet, but they really are not as useful as they could be. Rather, it is like trying to have a conversation with a one-year old: you can’t ask the question you want to and you won’t get the answer you need. This debate from Accelerating Change 2005 brings together Ronald Kaplan and Marti Hearst, who discuss with moderator Sibley Verbeck what a conversational user interface might be and when we can expect it.
  • Local Search Faces Off – A Panel Discussion (3.3) The internet is increasingly becoming the first place most people turn to for information, including local material. The large players and independent companies are taking the local search market by storm, with new offerings and applications. John Battelle moderates this panel discussion about the current state of local search and the possibilities for the future.
  • Reinventing Media – Supernova 2005 (3.3) As the internet becomes a greater factor in our day-to-day lives, the role of all forms of media is rapidly changing. Dan Gillmor leads a diverse group of entrepreneurs to discuss the evolution of the internet from a platform for text and pictures into a platform for every sort of media.
  • Mitchell Baker – The Mozilla Foundation (3.3) With over 100 million downloads so far, Firefox is a huge success. Mitchell Baker and her team helped blaze the trail for commercial open source. She shares her insights on The Mozilla Foundation as an organization and the launch of Firefox. From the O’Reilly Media Open Source Convention (OSCON).
  • Josh Bancroft – Podcasting from Mobile Devices (3.7) To produce great podcasts you don’t need a lot of complex equipment or technical expertise. In this session from the first in-person Podcast Academy classes, Josh Bancroft tells how to get good results with a cellphone, PDA or MP3 player.
  • Drew Endy – Open Source Biology (3.8) Now that organisms can routinely be amended by changing their genetic structure, biologists face problems that are more familiar to software developers. Drew Endy argues that we need to adopt an open-source approach to DNA. In this entertaining talk he explains why, and what he is doing about it.
  • Mike Arbidge (4.0) On BioTech Nation, Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Genencore CEO, Mike Arbidge, who fills us in on biomass, the source for the ethanol that gets mixed with our gasoline.
  • Ray Kurzweil – When Humans Transcend Biology (4.1) Increasing technological advances are certainly making a global impact. However, one may very well ask how new technologies will change daily life. In this question and answer session, Dr. Moira Gunn of Tech Nation talks with Ray Kurzweil about the impact of technological change on large and small arenas of life. This is part 2, the Q&A session. It’s the unedited version of an earlier Tech Nation program.
  • Simon Singh (4.2) Moria also interviews Simon Singh, the author of "Big Bang – The origin of the Universe," who tells us why he chose to explain what scientists are saying, instead of being one himeslf.
  • Ze Frank at Pop!Tech (4.3) Ze Frank kicks off day two of Pop!Tech with his unique style of in-depth exploration of the mysterious art of airline safety card designs. Analyzing examples from the early days of air travel to extremely graphic graphics on Azerbijani Air, Ze makes sure you’ll never look at your personal floatation device the same way again.
  • John Barrow (4.4) Moira Gunn interviews John Barrow, a cosmologist and mathematician at Cambridge University. He’s followed up his "Book of Nothing" and "Theories of Everything," with a new entry: "The Infinite Book…A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless."
  • Todd Kuiken and Jesse Sullivan – Mind and Body (4.4) As director at the Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Dr. Todd Kuiken has found both a partner and a patient in Jesse Sullivan–a double amputee who has become the world’s first bionic man. This presentation at Pop!Tech shows Jesse as he is: a remarkable man, possessing the patience of Job and a remarkable spirit.

The O’Reilly Pick of the Week:

This week we have two IT Conversations/O’Reilly Picks of the Week:

  • Marc Smith – Catalyzing Collective Action on the Net (3.8) From 2004: This talk demonstrates several technologies and concepts that show promise as ways to enhance online communities, making them easier to discover and making it easier to select high-quality content, evaluate that content, and motivate others to contribute significant value. In short, these tools may catalyze collective action by highlighting participants’ histories and relationships.
  • Wil Wheaton at Gnomedex 4.0 (4.2) From 2004: You may know him as Cadet Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but inside the skin of an actor is a geek trying (successfully) to get out. He’s the author of the weblog,, and two books: Dancing Barefoot and Just a Geek. In this presentation recorded at Gnomedex 4.0, Wil reads original unexpurgated excerpts from his books, takes questions, and sits down for an interview with IT Conversations. It was one of the highlights of the weekend. Guaranteed to entertain, whether you’re a Star Trek fan or not.

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