Web Wednesday canoodling

Web Wednesday, July 2nd @ Q97 - the Interview portion
Napoleon Biggs and Chris Justice during the sofa interview portion of the evening.

I decided to take a “work” (if you can call it work) day in the dwindling days of my time here in Hong Kong by attending the monthly Web Wednesday social-mixer-type last night. Thanks to Napoleon Biggs, the organizer, and everyone I spoke to at the event for making me feel welcome and right at home. A rundown of the people I got to talking to…

Socialutions – Henry Oh and Rodney Lloyd gave me a hearty welcome as I staked out a spot early at the Q97 Lounge, and were incredibly gracious in welcoming me with an introduction to the (brief) history of the Web Wednesday event and the social media startup and research scene in Hong Kong. It turns out we had lots of common research interests around privacy and Creative Commons in common. I can’t wait to learn more about their project when they launch in October (conveniently, at Web Wednesday).

Isobar – Christine and Ben, who work at Isobar Global, a digital advertising firm based out of London. Christine had some great stories to share from her experiences in Washington, D.C., and I tried to explain what little had managed to stick to my head about James Sherrett’s AdHack, the crowd-sourced advertising concept site.

StarTV Digital Technology Team – Wilson, Kelly and Justin. The three members of his team cover web happenings first for mainstream television, then shifted back to web formats such as video podcasts and content for mobile phones, for StarTV, a major channel in Asia Pacific, and somewhere in that some web development occurs as well. It is interesting to see how and where TV-for-web and newer web video projects (like that of Amber MacArthur) intersect and contrast. I also gave them a pointer to Spark, the CBC’s collaborative podcast/radio show, as an example of crowdsourcing a media production.

Charged Magazine – Jay Oatway, the editor of this magazine looking at trends and developments in mobile content and applications, turns out to have spent time in Vancouver, and we had an awesome time cataloguing what makes Vancouver and Hong Kong each such unique and dynamic places. His reflections on living and working in Hong Kong was awesome to hear, as I am always interested in other people’s experiences of this highly multi-faceted city. He’s also got an intriguing journey from doing print magazine work, to blogging, to his current gig.

Hong Kong Phooey – Victor Cheung introduced himself to me as Hong Kong’s first tech blogger. He’s now got a new gig blogging for Lifestyles, and was warm in sharing his experience with me writing his general tech blog. He also blog for CNET Asia. I’m not quite a gadgety-mobile type, but now I know where to go if I ever stop agonizing over my electronics footprint and decide to splurge on a new-to-me phone.

Hyperfactory – Howard and Mei Yee shared with me a bit about their augmented reality projects, which incorporate various mobile data capabilities in transactions blurring on and offline worlds. Reminded me of Phillip Jeffrey‘s blogging about what he calls Alternate Reality Games, such as The Lost Ring, the game from McDonald’s that has captured his attention of late. Mei Yee also surprised me by citing Air Canada as an example of a Canadian company engaging with the mobile platform. Admittedly, this area’s not my forté – maybe I’ve internalized too much of the frustration by those who live with this stuff. (Reading too much Wireless North?)

I couldn’t help but gab a bit about that spaduncular 3G Jesusphone, especially since people have been throwing fits and writing petitions over the packages offered by Rogers back in Canada. This is Hong Kong, after all, in the heart of the Asian cradle of mobile telephony civilization, and it seemed like every other person I spoke to at this event and the person standing next to them were working with mobiles in some capacity, covering the scene, reviewing devices or doing augmented reality.

My initial impression, from a distance, was that it had a somewhat DemoCamp-ish feel, but I actually heard someone say that the event was being “taken over” by techie geeks and who conveyed through that short statement some tiny bit of resentment towards the development. This is a marked difference from the events I attended in Toronto, which were, IIRC, proudly geeky while still wanting to have something for everybody. I can certainly think of instances when it was perceived as a hindrance or a deterrent…but I perhaps Canadians were just too polite to complain as directly about it. Instead of perceiving the attendance of geeks as a negative thing, maybe there are ways to incorporate their participation in ways that don’t seem like such a drag as it was to at least this one individual I spoke to.

That said, Hong Kong is definitely diverse enough to support these sorts of events with the geeks, who (I assume?) have comparable social events. I think the experience in Vancouver and Toronto has been that there has been some value to participants in the mixing – really, how else could CaseCamp and TransitCamp have emerged otherwise? – though I have no doubt that at various statements, similar sentiments about the event direction have been expressed by attendees there. Perhaps there’s also a caveat in there somewhere about Web Wednesday not being completely analogous to the local BarCamp as well.

I just finished reading yesterday John Graham’s essay on Cities and Ambition, and it even came up as a topic of conversation with Jay. The differences definitely manifest in this sort of social gathering, where people are trading more than ever in their shared assumptions, aspirations and values embodied by the fact of their common location.

For myself, I’ll continue working on my being such a networking lightweight (or at least do more research prior so I have a better idea of who I need to talk to, instead of just getting lucky). Also, will work in better questions that work upwards in concepts, rather than downwards in detail, because there are few people who do something that I have details on. Finally, a little more bravery in taking pictures of people I spoke to – still a little picture-shy when it comes to people, but the lighting was also brutal, even with the low-light lens. (My meagre contributions can be seen in the Web Wednesday Flickr pool.)

One Trackback

  1. By Bookmarks about Crowdsourcing on August 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by mcttogo on 2008-07-28 Web Wednesday canoodling http://www.countablyinfinite.ca/blog/2008/07/web-wednesday-canoodling/ – bookmarked by 2 members […]

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