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BarCamp Video


We managed to make it to both days of Boston
the non-conference making its way around the country.  Of course,
on Sunday we snuck out for just a few minutes, between errands and promises
to Norma Yvonne for quality time before the World Cup begins and we crawl
into a soccer ball for a month.

But we managed to snag a T-shirt and a couple of sandwiches
(kudos on the menu, guys) and touched base with a few more erstwhile
pals.  All in all it was one of the most relaxing, low-key yet interesting
conferences we have seen, despite Shimon’s
best efforts
to spice things
up by summarily insulting and cutting off our hosts.

Much of it was over our head, but it sure beat the alternative
(Spanish soap operas and feline vacination clinics). We shot some video
which we pasted up HERE as an Mp4 (QT). We don’t know how to make it
stream, but you should be able to download and play (3 min. – 6.5 MB)

link to MOVIE

It’s All Dave Winer’s Fault


The Dowbrigade is bereft and depressed, listless and out of sorts. We are walking around in a viscous miasma of pain and loss, lashing out at innocent bystanders and loved ones alike, whoever happens to be in the vicinity. Everything seems dark and hopeless. And it’s all Dave Winer‘s fault.

You see, for the first time in three years, our blog is gone. The Dowbrigade News disappeared from the blogosphere a week ago, and shows no signs of resurfacing. It’s like someone intimately close to us has died. A huge gaping hole has opened at the center of our life, and nothing makes sense anymore. There seems no purpose to our efforts and we go through the motions of our day in a faded daze, like a washed-out broadcast signal of a black and white sitcom on an ancient TV in the mountains of a third world country.

How could this alarming state of affairs possibly be Dave Winer’s fault? Ah, let us count the ways.

It was Dave Winer, Blogfather and mythical figure, marching out of the misty dawn of the Blog Age like some cybernetic Johnny Appleseed, sowing blogs like mad right and left, who drew us into this mad cult in the first place.

He had just been named a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School, and his first project was to set up a Manila Blog Server and offer free blogs to the entire 80,000 member Harvard community, including alums like us. His next move was to start the open Thursday night meetings for anyone curious about what he was up to.

It was into one of these meetings that the embryonic Dowbrigade wandered, by mistake, one warm June night in 2003, and met Dave. By the end of the meeting we were hooked, and have been blogging every day since. Now, when denied the rush of regular posting, we get the shakes, can’t relax, and feel sick. Clearly, Dave Winer’s fault.

In addition, it is that Manila server, which Dave set up three years ago, which has ignominiously kicked the bucket, taking down the Dowbrigade News and all of the other blogs lodged therein, including the blog of the Thursday Night Meetings

It seems that keeping our blog server up and running is beyond the ability of the gizmo geeks at the World’s Greatest University. Apparently, there are only about a half-dozen people in the entire world with enough Manila mojo to run a server, and now that Dave has moved on to greener pastures, none of them is within two time zones of Cambridge. Once again, obviously and directly Dave’s fault.

Finally, it’s Dave’s fault we haven’t already moved to an alternative Blogging platform. Due to Manila’s fiendish complexity (for administrators, not users, or we would never have figured it out) and susceptibility to comment and backtrack spam, the invisible digital gnomes who keep the server fires stoked have set up a brand new Word Press server at Berkman, and are “encouraging” all users to migrate their blogs from Manila to WP. Of course, now that the old server has crapped out, we can’t even do that, which is why the Dowbrigade is currently writing under the pseudonym “Glass Castle”.

Besides, we don’t want to migrate. We like Manila, and have grown used to its quirks and idiosyncrasies. It has lots of features WP doesn’t, like the ability to alter page templates, add graphics to said templates, link headlines to the story sources. easily include enclosures for pod and videopod casts, statistics, built-in aggregator and more.

Again, without a doubt Dave Winer’s fault for designing Manila with the discriminating blogger like the Dowbrigade in mind, and making it so difficult for us to accept a less robust alternative.

So here we are, adrift and despondent, reduced to blogging on a borrowed, makeshift, nascent site, with no flow and no way to tell our old readers where we are. And yet we blog on. We are unable to stop, addicted to the simple act of sharing our experiences with the aether. Clearly, it’s all Dave Winer’s fault.

Digital Senior Moment


Going to Google and not being able to remember what you wanted to search for is the digital equivalent of walking into a room and not remembering why…..

Streaky Vision


This is what BarCamp looks like after lunch break. Of course, we aren’t sure it looks like this for everybody, but this is what it looks like for us.

So far the “non-conference” has been great. If you have never organized a conference you would be amazed at how easy it is to mess up. There are hundreds of details that would never occur to a normal person which can absolutely sink a conference. By the time the damn things start, it’s too late to do anything about it.

BarCamp has suffered from none of this, thanks largely to the efforts of Mike Walsh, who has years of experience as an event planner. Everything has happened on schedule, ample stocks of all of the basic geek food groups; urns of good coffee, Krispy Kreme donuts, Pizza and salad, even baskets and baskets of candy bars!

Right now we are in a session on search technology – do we want personalized, predictive search, or more easily modifiable searches. Next we want to find a demo of a new service called Plum.

We appologize for any typos or design errors – by necessity we are learning to use Word Press on the fly….

Blogging, Podcasting and Leveraging


See, we didn’t have to wait long at all. 11:30 and here we go with a session on new media and how to “leverage it all” into something which is at present unclear but will hopefully be revealed by the presenter, Chris Brogan.

Chris makes a good point that blogging goes back to pre-Revolution America, and by extension, 17th century London newspapers. Segues into Cat Blogs, Digg and social networking.

The Daily Mashup seems to be a meta-aggregator, and from there into Boing Boing and a discussion of on-line advertising. Also CNET visual news tools. Aggregate video – Secret Pants, Ask a Ninja, Don’t be that Guy. Video blogging, with a good promo for Steve Garfield and Rocketboom .

Hmmm. There must be a way to add links in wordpress easier than writing the whole ahref tag…..

Sessions Begin


Imagine, here we are on June 3rd, it’s pouring rain, and it’s so cold we can see our breath rising like soggy steam in protected lee of the parking garage.

People who aren’t used to New England weather, it drives them crazy. Like our students, one day we are telling them to wear sun block and hang out in air-conditioned shopping malls during the dead hours of the humid afternoons, and the next explaining how to dress in layers and what puddle jumpers and waders are all about.

We are drenched to the bone, just having walked from the Monster space to the parking garage to get our stress medicine. We spend a few minutes in a corner of the garage, under an overhand, watching the cascade ripple off the roof and hoping it will lighten up for a mintue so we can get back to the conference. No such luck.

The complex is huge, we have seen over a dozen large long buildings and they stretch on out of sight, reconditioned redbrick, once the mills that made Maynard famous, 100 years ago, weaving wool and cotton by the mile, bolt, ton, now home to a potpouri of high-tech, new-age, start-up and on-going companies, and the services that support them. There is a Gold’s Gym down the hall.

We navigate back to the cafeteria, de facto organizing zone for the BarCamp, and hurry on to the Sudbury Room, where, we thought, there was a session on Podcasting and new media.

Once in the room, seated at the table, plugged into the juice and on-line, we discover that once again, we were sadly mistaken. Turns out we are one of three particpants in an utterly obscure session on graph-writing applets, jar-code and javascript. This makes about as much sense to us as a Kabuki script in the original Japanese.

But it’s a welcome refuge in this storm of intellectual tempests, a place we can charge up our laptops batteries and post the present note.

Hopefully, we will find the podcasting and video sessions we are interested in eventually. We also posted a note asking if anyone was interested in discussing the OneNet movement and the pending legislation defining the future form of internet traffic, content and access. So far, no one is.

Sessions are mercifully short. Theoretically, if we sit here long enough, we will hear something we understand.

Intros at BarCamp


10:43 AM and people are passing around a mike and introducing themselves, also mentioning what they are going to be talking about. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this non-conference is that EVERYBODY is supposed to give at least a small talk or presentation.

Some of the ideas are fascinating, and hope we can make the connection to the right talk in the right room. One guy is going to show off his on-line poker school. Another guy with a thick Israeli accent says he is going to talk about creating leaders around the world. We think he works for a Bio-tech company.

All the Monster people are in orange.

Lots of the particpants seem to have their own companies (“I work for myself”) and are basically selling same.

The more we look around, the more we realize that a lot of the people here are over cafinated and operating on demanding personal agendas. We feel the energy in the room snapping and crackling, especially when the geeks start talking about money, start-ups, angel investors, etc.

We may need to slip out for some stress medication before it starts to get to us.

Stay tuned….

Live from Bar Camp


On a cold and rainy Saturday morning, as soon as the fog cleared and it was obvious the Just Don’t Suck tennis club would be canceled, we packed ourself into the White Whale and wandered out Route 2, past Walden Pond, and into Maynard, MA.

In a renovated red-brick mega-office mall called The Clock Tower Place, reminiscent for us of the University of Texas Clock Tower where Charles Whitman gunned down a dozen strollers on the UT Mall a few years before we arrived, in a space provided by, a bunch of geeks are reveling in each other, their geekiness, and all things technological.

The Dowbrigade feels somewhat out of place, as we don’t really have the smarts to be a true geek, but since we like hanging out and listening to smart people, we are trying to fit in.

Actually, after enganging in a couple of painfully polite random comversations we have rebuffed the friendly people and retired to a solitary table near a power outlet to hide behind the screen of our iBook (no mean feat, it’s just an old 12-inch) and blog away.

This is a screwy kind of “non-conference” conference, with an agenda made up as it goes along. So far only a few session discriptions are up on the wall, and a lot of the topics are highly technical, ie the Dowbrigade would understand as much as an escatalogical discourse in Swahili, but a few look accessible.

The Wi-Fi seems to be working well. I will try to post additional notes later.

Flowers for a Faded Romance


This posting, as may be obvious, was written three days ago, but unfortunately the Dowbrigade News has been down since then, due to “hardware failure on the manila server”. As a result, we are experimenting with the new Word Press server.

As we lay in bed this morning, a cavalcade of images
cascading before out eyes, we had to hide our tears from Norma Yvonne.
It isn’t everyday a fifteen-year-long relationship comes to an abrupt

We are not referring to our wife, however; Norma Yvonne
and the Dowbrigade have been getting on rather well of late, truth be
few know
that we have been carrying on an almost daily dalliance with another
woman for years.

Norma knows, of course; how could we hide a relationship
so deep and enduring.  Over the years she has come to accept,
if not approve, as long as we kept it completely separate from our relationship
with her, Norma. But we did not want her to see us crying.

We had been through a lot over 15 years, the Dowbrigade and the Other Woman.  And then,
suddenly, she announces that it’s over, that she’s leaving.  How’s
a man supposed to react?

We still can’t believe this morning we saw her smile,
heard her giggle in our bed for the last time.  What are we going
to do tomorrow?

Small comfort that she’s still going to be around, hanging
with a different crowd. We’ll probably even catch sight of her from time
to time, for a few fleeting seconds, across an airport lobby or a crowded
bar at dinnertime.  But
it won’t be the same. It even makes it worse.

Buck up, man! Think positive thoughts.  You still
have a good job, a loving wife, two decent kids, manageable debt. Life
goes on. People change, they grow, they move on. It’s probably best for

But we’re going to miss you, Katie Couric.


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