Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Tales from Syndicate conference - Tuesday: Sneaking out to catch the Star Wars geeks .......and dinner with the in-crowd

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 31, 2005

...the final prequel to the climactic pre-finale of the series recounting a week's epic adventures at the Syndicate conference in New York...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Time Out journalists and Star Wars geeks

It's Tuesday in New York city, the first day of the Syndicate conference, and it's almost lunch time. I run into my buddy Dave Galbraith, a co-author of RSS 1.0, co-founder of Moreover and now, the founder of the flickriscious Wists.com (is that enough plugs Dave?). With Dave is Buck Smith, channel dev manager from Moreover.

Buck suggests we skip out and visit the geeks lining up for the opening of the latest Star Wars prequel. We walk about six blocks to where the movie is scheduled but there are no geeks, just a few tents with British flags. There is a guy in a stormtrooper uniform on the corner, but it turns out to be a bunch of journalists from Time Out magazine raising money for charity and charging $5 per Polaroid pose with the stormtrooper.

Star-Wars-Geeks.jpgWe're reluctant to pay the $5 (and Dave is Scottish) but they sweeten the deal with “we'll throw in a couple of girls into the shoot.” In that case, fine, I say, and pay $20 for photos all around. But do we need to have the stormtrooper in the picture, I ask?

It's all for a good cause, I'm told. Unfortunately, I can't remember which one.

I suggest they also offer boys, just to be fair.

The 8,000 pound gorilla wants to make an announcement - NOW

I catch the RSS and advertising panel at Syndicate. Here is the writeup:

GoogleRilla.jpgIt got a little bit bizarre when one of the panelists, Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager at Google, announced AdSense for Feeds right in the middle of the panel discussion. He jumped up, ran over to the podium, forcing the moderator to scoot quickly out of the way, gave a ten-minute PowerPoint presentation, then sat down. Panel discussion resumed.

Afterwards, I asked him how it would stop people from grabbing other people's content and creating RSS feeds from it. He said Google would carefully monitor the feeds and the organizations that sign up.

Sounds a bit people-heavy to me - not the Google way, which is if it needs people, we are not interested. That's because it's not scalable if it is not machine-based. You can't scale to keep pace with the internet if you have to rely on adding people to handle these kinds of tasks, IMHO.

Syndicate organizers say nice things about SVW

I meet some of the Syndicate organizers and they are very happy at the turnout and also at the traffic SiliconValleyWatcher sent to their online site. They said most of it was from our readers, which is great news.

Dinner-conversation.jpgAnd it was the lunch panel organized by one of our sponsors, Nooked, SiliconValleyWatcher, and Jeremy Pepper, featuring A-list blogger Robert Scoble, Forrester's superstar analyst Charlene Li, InfoWorld's Jon Udell, Dave Galbraith, and EVP & Director of Worldwide Operations for Edelman David Dunne, that brought a lot of attention to Syndicate and brought out some of the media big guns.

The Syndicate organizers said they are planning another conference in San Francisco in November and I said we would be happy to help out again, in organizing panels, additional tracks, etc. After all, this is our backyard...


Carnivorous Bloggerati

Syndicate and Matt 030.jpgThe place to be Tuesday night was eating steak at Gallagher's Steak House with all the top digerati attending Syndicate, A-list bloggers, various fathers of internet standards, and a few flacks and hacks. It was organized by one of our sponsors, Nooked, and Nooked's flack, Jeremy Pepper.

I arrived a little late. I had stopped first to visit with my old friend Lauren Stein, who lives just a couple of blocks away in Hell's Kitchen. Lauren works as assistant vice president at Financial Dynamics but used to work in San Francisco at Outcast and Ruder Finn.

By the time we got to Gallagher's the Nooked dinner party had taken over at least three very long tables and were hard at work trying to drink their way through Nooked's marketing budget for the year. I remember chatting with Heidi Cohen for a long time, she had some interesting ideas about online marketing strategies.

It was good to see the same old crowd at these things: Marc Cantor holding court on his table, Fergus Burns tucking into his Guinness, Renee Blodgett hoping around in social gadfly mode, XML co-author Tim Bray looking dapper in his hat, and the rest of the gang...

Blog: Is it an online lie detector?

Truth Dial.jpgAt the dinner, I got into a discussion with Robert Scoble about whether it is possible for a journalist to write unbiased news stories even if that journalist is biased. I said it is possible.

He said he did not think it was possible and that if the news reporter revealed their bias, he would be able to better judge whether that news story was biased.

I said that was too much work, and that the danger was in introducing his (Scoble's) bias into the mix. Because he would adjust for revealed bias, which might not be there. (It is not difficult to write a fair and balanced story yet hold a personal opinion otherwise.)

Robert Scoble said that each time he doesn't tell the truth online, his readers find out. I said that maybe we could construct a type of “Turing test” to see if a truthful blog voice can be picked out from fraudulent scammers.

Would readers be able to spot who was lying and who was truthful, just by reading a blog post? I think it is possible and I would love to try this out. How about it Robert? Let's set up a few tests and see...

Find out what happened on Wednesday:Moderating two celebrity panels at Syndicate

Find out what happened Thursday. A bleary-eyed blogger on Wall Street

Find out what happened Friday. Blogger swagger in the heart of New York city

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