Open. Participatory. Distributed. Hackable. Special.

I ran into Mark Surman this morning and he reminded me about the upcoming Mozilla Drumbeat event in Toronto on April 24, 2010. I like the Drumbeat events. Get everyday people who use the Internet and web technologies involved in new ways to understand participate and take control of their lives.

At a practical level, Drumbeat community members use web technology to make things that improve and protect the open internet. They run local events where people propose and work on these practical projects. They encourage others to get involved. Mozilla helps find contributors, funds and advice for the most promising Drumbeat projects. It also directly leads a number of Drumbeat projects of its own.

It’s all about making and building. Getting regular people to understand the impact and the potential the open web as a generative tool on lives, careers and information. It’s about taking the tools, methods and techniques developed through the collaborative development process used at Mozilla and extending it to help support the open web (it reminds me of the evolution of Mozilla as described by my friend David Eaves). Check out Mark’s blog posts about Drumbeat or his presentation below

What are potential Drumbeat projects?

Some of my favourites of the currently submitted projects include:

Universal Subtitles

Universal SubtitlesSubtitles bridge linguistic and physical barriers to video. Help create an open lookup standard that lets any video client find matching subtitles in online databases, along with free and open source tools to enable users to easily create subtitles and translations, a Firefox extension that will look up and display matching subtitles, and an open community subtitle database.

Privacy Icons

This project has a very simple goal: to develop a series of graphical and machine- readable privacy icons that companies can use to convey important elements of their privacy policy to users and that developers can build applications on top of to enable users to make choices based on the disclosures in the policies.

You should check out the projects. Think about how you might get involved. And more importantly, who are those people that are peripheral to our little web technology community that you know that should be participating? Open government folks? Media company people? Real estate technologists? Teachers? Artists? Share Drumbeat with them. Invite them to join you. Invite them to participate.

DemoCamp Ramen Edition

Photo by frippy

It’s time again for DemoCamp. There are a few tickets remaining. But this is DemoCamp Ramen Edition. Why ramen? Well it’s pretty easy. The first is an homage to being ramen profitable. The last event with Gurbaksh Chahal was great, my only complaint was that by 9pm I was hungry. The great folks at Liberty Noodle have offered to help us out. They are providing take out boxes of noodles or rice as part of the DemoCamp registration. Hopefully this should make it more tenable to spend time watching a stellar line up of local startups and a keynote. This is all made possible by our friends at SIFE Ryerson, who have recently launched StartMeUpRyerson to be the SVASE of Canada, go have a peek.

April Dunford is keynoting.  April is one of my favourite marketers in the world. She has lived in big organizations (IBM, Nortel) and at small organizations (DataMirror, Infobright, VersePoint). She has a wicked grasp of customer development  and this #leanstartup thing. April has agreed to talk about the myths of product market fit. Well at least the challenges about figure out if you’ve got product-market fit and how to know when to begin to transition to go-to-market. This will be a must attend discussion for startups about products, marketing and corporate development. (Don’t worry if you miss April at DemoCamp, you can see Sean Ellis at MeshU).

There is an outstanding line up of startups:

I’ve seen a few of these demos, and they are fun. It’s exciting to get to see world-class technologies and startups here in Toronto (Ottawa and Montreal). I’m looking forward to hanging out with everyone, learning from April and watching the best demos.

We’ll be heading out for beers afterwards. We’re heading over to the Imperial Pub. And if you haven’t figured this out, let me help you, The Imperial Pub is a great place for a couple of beers, it’s not the place to go for dinner.

Toronto Tech Week 2.0

Wow, May 17-20, 2010 is shaping up to be Toronto Tech Week 2.0. It’s going to be a busy week, but like Social Media Week TO and Mobile Innovation Week. This has something for most of the industry. Coverage of engineering, clean tech, software, health, bio, policy, culture, news, participatory culture, entrepreneurship!

You can’t ask for a better set of conferences in Toronto. If we had Rudy’s BBQ, I’d be almost as excited as I am about SxSW.

Coworking in Toronto – Camaraderie

Yeah, independents, freelancers, emerging startups, web developers and others rejoice. You have a coworking option in Toronto again. After Indoor Playground “moved” in January 2008, Toronto has been lacking a general coworking space. (Yes I know about the Centre for Social Innovation, but it has mission-based selection criteria that helps create it’s ecosystem and not everyone qualifies). But today, Rachael and Wayne have announced the opening of Camaraderie. I provided some coverage over on StartupNorth, I’m hoping that we can again try to rally around a different office space model that is enabled by this emerging participatory culture.

Camarderie - Coworking in Toronto

Camaraderie is a located at 102 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON. The doors are scheduled to open on Feb 15, 2010 and the space will be free until Feb 28, 2010. I’m hoping that many of the independents that are looking for a part-time, downtown coworking space will check out Camaraderie. The pictures of the space are still very raw.

The Building 102 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ONOpen WorkspaceKitchen AreaBoard Room

The Details

  • memberships will be $300/mo for unlimited use during business hours
  • we’ll work out keys later, but for now the space will be open 9:00am-6:00pm (or later)
  • free wifi, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate every day

Social Media Week + PowerPoint Karaoke

Eli Singer, the team at Entrinsic, and a supporting cast of  people & advisors have organized the first Social Media Week Toronto.

There is a great schedule of events that span the gamut of social media for companies large and small, not for profit, and local case studies. The schedule is a week with independently organized events. Some of the events I’m watching include:

PowerPoint Karaoke is one of my favorite social formats. It is just brilliant. I first saw it executed in 2006 at ETech. And I wrote about as an alternative format to DemoCamp. I’m stoked to see that my friends Tom & Jay are making the effort to make it happen in Toronto. Remember it’s a social event, it’s meant to be a way to have fun!

North by Northeast Interactive

If it feels like there is a push of activities in Toronto, there are.

You don’t need to attend every event, there is lots going on.

HoHoTO and DemoCamp

HoHoToLogo

It’s time for HoHoTO again.

Join us for #HoHoTO at The Mod Club. Last year, we raised $25,006.67. In the summer (for hoHOTo), we raised $13,317.87. That’s a total of $38,324.54 to date.

You can be proud of what you’ve done so far, Toronto – but why stop there? Each time you inspire us to do good, we want to do great. And we know we can, because you’ve taught us that we are part of an amazingly generous community. Since we first tweeted the idea for HoHoTo in December 2008, you’ve joined us and embraced our pet project as your project. 
Inspired by your support, we’re pushing ourselves further. This December, our goal – your goal – is to match the total amount raised so far in one night.

Target: $40,000. That’s a lot of money.

And a big thanks to the DemoCamp attendees. I made a donation to HoHoTO today with the registration money from DemoCamp Toronto. This means that the donation was made possible by the DemoCamp Toronto 24 attendees. I’ll be giving away the 12 tickets randomly to the attendees at DemoCamp. Thank you to every DemoCamp participant. To show my appreciation, here’s some link love.

Entrepreneur Week – Founders & Funders Social

Founders and Funders

I’m heading to Waterloo tomorrow afternoon to attend Founders & Funders Waterloo as. Iain Klugman and the Communitech mafia have done a great job on Entrepreneur Week. And I think Entrepreneur Week and the Waterloo scene is a great thing. I’m really excited to be participating in the social aspects. It’s also making me feel really guilty about my efforts in the Toronto community. It has been almost 18 months since the last Founders & Funders in Toronto (stay tuned or watch Founders & Funders or StartupNorth for updates).

velocity

I’ll be heading back to Waterloo in early December to view the Velocity Startup Day. Velocity seriously kicks ass. What a great opportunity for students to spend a term or two deeply immersed in entrepreneurship and technology. Velocity Startup is a great opportunity to:

  • Connect with VeloCity students displaying current business projects
  • Interact with other UW entrepreneurial students representing their projects at our exhibition
  • Inform students about your company/services
  • Talk to students who may be interested in working for your organization

Any startup should be heading for the day to find talent. Funders should be heading to see if there are any opportunities.

Details

What: VeloCity Start-up Day
When:Tuesday, December 1, 2009 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Where:Student Life Centre
200 University Ave West
Waterloo, ON   Canada

Waterloo’s Entrepreneur Week

I’m jealous of Waterloo Region. There I said it. And I love what’s going on in Toronto.

communitech

Iain Klugman and the team at Communitech are doing a fantastic job building mindshare making Waterloo the regional hub for technical entrepreneurship in Canada. I’m also a little biased. I’m a UWaterloo graduate. I participate in events like Entrepreneur Week, Founders and Funders and Strategic Partnering Day. I think that TechCapital and their staff have a great portfolio and are doing a great job engaging entrepreneurs and the community. Groups like Velocity are leading the charge for innovative entrepreneurship education. Waterloo is a great example of academic, corporate, community and startup engagement. It’s a functioning ecosystem.

Sure it’s not listed on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. Nor is it in Monocle’s Most livable cities. There’s a suburban feel and the need for a car. And depending on who you listen to the hospital quality has fallen over recent years. But the strong community groups, a world-class technical university that encourages industry participation, a wicked entrepreneurship community and advocacy group. But there is are great events like the Quantum2Cosmos and the Public Lectures from the Perimeter Institute. There is Janet Lynn’s Bistro and Langdon Hall (ok it’s Cambridge). It’s a great place to be an entrepreneur.

Make sure you try to attend Entrepreneur Week 2009 they have a great list of events including:

  • November 16, 2009 10:00am
    Chris Hughes
    , Founder of Facebook & Co-ordinator of My.BarackObama.com and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at General Catalyst
  • November 17, 2009 8:30am-10:30am
    Tim Bray, Founder of Open Text and Antartica Systems
    Ali Asaria, Founder of Well.ca

Should be a great week.

DemoCamp Toronto # 24 featuring Gary Vaynerchuk

crushit We’re really lucky to have Saul Colt working his ass off in Toronto. He’s done a great thing. He’s invited his friend Gary Vaynerchuk to come to Toronto and talk to startups about his book, Crush It, and entrepreneurship. That’s right, Gary Vaynerchuk in Toronto on December 3, 2009 for the next DemoCamp Toronto (which will be number 24 for anyone keeping track).

Gary is keynoting SxSW. Here’s your chance to see Gary without the trip to Austin. However, I strongly recommend the trip to Austin if for nothing other than the BBQ and the Shiner Bock.

The event is sponsored by Zoocasa, Saul Colt, Rogers Ventures, OCE, Microsoft BizSpark and StartupNorth are working together on this one.

I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet. Adding it to my queue along with Trust Agents, Six Pixels of Separation and a few other books.

DemoCamp Details

Building a city that thinks like the web

toronto-open

Today marks an interesting day in Toronto. Today Toronto joins Washington, D.C., Vancouver, San Francisco, New York City, Australia, and the US in opening city data to citizens, companies, and the world to improve the quality of life. It begins a great journey to creating a strong new economy in Toronto around an infrastructure of city data.

It’s the data, stupid

(I feel like I’ve said this before).

“More and more governments state that opening government data is their priority, from the U.S: to the UK, from Australia to Belgium. Application contests (or mashup or idea contests) to engage citizen developers in creating new and valuable applications that leverage government data” – Andrea DiMaio

David Eaves identifies that data is the infrastructure for the next economy. It is the baseline upon which applications, value, and wealth can be built. I’ve talked about the benefit of data collection and the value-added analysis services in relation to personal health care. Data is the backbone, it is the building blocks from which developers can begin to build new applications and new services.

Mark Surman provides a great vision for the role that data plays in the development of a city. Re-reading his post has me thinking about a couple of challenges that need to be overcome to continue to enable the opening of city data.

  1. Costs of open data
  2. Economics of contests

Costs of open data

I think there needs to be an active discussion with citizens, politicians and staff members that open data is not free. There are costs associated with the production, release, maintenance, and up keep of the data sets. Additionally there may be a “build it, and they will come” model of development. Open data is not a replacement for city procurement. The city will still need to purchase software and look for ways to innovate to improve citizens lives. Open data is a building block to enable citizens, companies and communities to create applications the enable under-served (or self-served) parts of the city.

Economics of contests

Many of these cities have elected to host contests to encourage and incent local application developers to build upon the data sets.

I’m curious at the effectiveness of contests to engage the developer community and create a sustainable ecosystem. There is no question about the initial effectiveness as a tactic to create value. Apps for Democracy has shown a very strong contribution to the citizens, companies and communities of the District of Columbia.

“A $50,000 dollar investment in changing processes and offering prize money has so far yielded $2.3M in value. That’s a 46 times return on investment in one year.” – David Eaves

I’m curious about decay rate for contests. My feeling is that it is similar to the Chatter of the New Cycle. Where the contest and the data sets spike and then flow through the developer sphere just like news flows through blogosphere. 

news-cycle

I could be totally wrong, Sunlight Labs API shows a steady growth of the number of API calls. Apps for America 2 drew 46 submissions versus 44 for Apps for America, only a 5% growth in the number of submissions. (You might value measure of the applications as increasing with the increased API calls). More interestingly there are only 3 repeat submitters: ForumOne Communications; Jeremy Ashkenas; and Todd Fine in an initial pass of submitters. It’s actually highly probable that the number of repeat submitters is higher given submissions are often submitted with the name of the product or project.

Sustainable economies

Next I need to spend some time looking at sustainable digital ecosystems and economies. Looking at Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon for examples of engaging developers and creating an ecosystem for developers.

Any suggestions for reading would be appreciated.