Accelerating Change was well worth it.
Highlights (in no particular order)
1. Running over Helen Greiner's Roomba with a Segway and not causing any damage to me, the Roomba or the Seg! Note to manufacturers - I am available to do a testimonial for your next commercial! Also Helen's graciousness about the whole incident. (She also showed amazing grace under fire when her powerpoint through no fault of her own went klaflewy during her presentation.)
2. Exchanging brief hellos in Russian at SAP with Sergei Brin, the world's newest multi-billionaire.
3. Chatting with Steve Jurvetson about how his family came over from Estonia and got into the computer business: photography = photolithography = chips. This makes me wonder what new technologies originally devoted to artistic/amusement purposes (such as photography at the end of the 19th century) will form the foundation of the next global information network.
4. Meeting David Brin (not closely related to Sergei apparently) for the first time and having him swear several times that he has absolutely met me before. Time travel perhaps?
5. The debate between Brin and Templeton (from the EFF) on privacy and surveillance where a picture of a "panopticon" was flashed on the screen. A panopticon is a prison where the guards can look into every cell from a central command post, but the prisoners don't know when they're actually being watched since they can't see the guard. The panopticon was raised by Templeton as an example of the dangers of a surveillance society. Then it was revealed that the picture was taken by someone at Abu Grayb, the infamous Iraqi prison. Of course, the mistreatment that occurred at Abu Grayb was only revealed because of the prevalence of personal digital cameras amongst the U.S. soldiers, a form of inadvertent self-surveillance. Having everyone monitor everyone else is certainly more efficient and cost effective than the state doing it. The question is whether we all are comfortable with living in glass houses like in the 1920's novel "We" by the Russian writer, Zamyiatin. Fine if we are all exhibitionists, which we are not. Even the Abu Grayb pictures were originally meant for limited distribution. As David Brin sarcastically said about the Abu Grayb pictures - "Look at me, mom, I'm a torturer!" A state sponsored surveillance infrastructure which is monitored by the public would get around the problem of inadvertence but sounds too much like the Stasi in Communist East Germany though. My next read will definitely be Brin's "The Transparent Society".
6. Hearing the virtual world as company town principle from my article briefly mentioned on at least two occasions. (I kept quiet. It's fun lurking in physical space when people are discussing your work even if they don't get it quite right.)
7. Keith Halper from Kuma Reality games. I was skeptical at first about how interesting this would be, but it turned out to be fascinating from the point of view of the potential blurring of the distinction between news and fantasy, which Ted Koppel was so horrified about. Obviously, the technology is not there yet where we cannot easily distinguish between video footage of a real world event and a virtual re-creation of it. However, the time will arrive soon, given the amazing advances in virtual world technology and also the fact that combat zone footage tends to be rough, jerky and grainy anyway. Perhaps virtual world designers will eventually actually have to reduce their resolution to make it seem real! Maybe we will need meta-tags embedded in virtual recreations of real events that will certify which are faithful to reality and which are fictional. We have enough trouble already with selective editing, biased reporting, and filtering without introducing the problem of being uncertain whether the raw footage is fake or not.
8 - Cory's keynote speech about Second Life. The increasing prevalence of private islands in SL raises an interesting model for the coming metaverse. It certainly would solve most problems that game developers and others might have with freedom of speech in virtual worlds due to the virtual world as company town principle since it would not apply in private gated areas with a MMOG. But what about a company town within a company town?
9- John Smart's nightowl session - now I know what MEST compression is (mass-energy-space-time). I will definitely have to read his book on the singularity when it comes out.