We've just begun Day 2 of NetSquared's annual conference, hosted by Cisco Systems at their San Jose, CA conference center. The 350 or so attendees were drawn here by a call for proposals for social good in the form of mashups; the 21 project proposals with the most votes from NetSquared members have made it to the conference and are presenting their cases for funding. Later today everyone here will vote for their favorites, and the top votegetters will share $100,000 to fund their projects.
I don't plan to liveblog by session, as we did at the HASTAC II conference last week, but rather explore some of the themes that have been raised by mashup challenge members, conference attendees, and speakers.
Some of the mashup challenge tables at yesterday's "carnival":
The acquisition of swag continues
With that disclaimer, I'm now going to review one session that I attended yesterday (only because it was my favorite :] ). Hosted by Gail Williams of the WELL/Salon.com, one of the best special sessions so far was her "Using Flickr to Make Your Existing Community More Amazing, or to Create a New One." Gail began with a short history of photo hosts that also serve as social networks, and moved into the particular advantages of Flickr. In particular, those are 1) being well prepared for success (scaling, support, tiered membership system) and 2) offering multiple ways for users to find others with similar interests and make Flickr a true social network that will get people to sign on and stay on the site for long periods. Today, the power of Flickr is evident in the speed in which users upload photos of disasters so soon after they happen, often hours ahead of any media outlets, online or otherwise. Gail's example was the recent earthquake in China, and I noted this after last summer's steam pipe explosion in midtown Manhattan. She calls this, in some cases,"very disorganized organizing."
In discussing tips for increasing the usefulness of Flickr, Gail focused on access. Tagging and titling your photos helps more users to find them (she's even had fire hydrant enthusiasts find her in this way), but tagging in more than one language is even better, if you can do it. Also, using less common tags will distinguish your photos from the pack; "blue" isn't going to make your photo easily findable (I found almost 2 million Flickr photos holding that tag), but "cerulean" would be better (only 905 photos) and you can likely think of something even more unique than that.
The remainder of the session was devoted to the audience members' questions and feedback. I hesitate to even call us an "audience" because we were so engaged. I was able to share some of the work that HASTAC is doing with the Digital Media and Learning Competition's winners, and heard from many other projects, nascent and long-standing, from all over the world. I'm excited to get share these ideas with other folks at work, and also to do it on my own once I renew my Flickr Pro account.
Gail Williams leading the Flickr session