Thoughts on Gnomedex 2006 Day 1

For reasons related to work, I spent yesterday NOT attending Gnomedex but I did manage to make the dinner and get together afterwards. There was a large Vancouver contingent there. All of the usual suspects – Boris Mann, Darren Barefoot and his lovely wife Julia, Andre Charland from e-business Applications, and the entire Qumana crew (Ianiv – the bugs are still here in Qumana’s text editor – I’ll show you later today!), and many more.

Since I didn’t have the pleasure of sitting in the sessions over the day, I polled my fellow dinner mates to find out what the highlights of the day were for them. There were two themes that kept coming up again and again in all of the conversations. They were surprisingly similar and focused so obviously they were the keys to the day.
Portable identity: People want to be able to move their identities with them from service to service (which is currently difficult as there are few established micro-formats for identity and very little done well overall in the identity space MySpace has 67 million members. Many of the old users want to migrate their data from MySpace to other services. Or from FaceBook to Myspace. Or from LavaLife to ____. Or from eBay to _____. Or from (you get the point).

There is a potential business opportunity in acting as a conduit for people to move their blogs / dating profiles / social profiles from any system to any system (or better yet – to keep them synced). There are an increasing number of services all of which have conflicting formats and no way to exchange data. Users can’t move their blogs from Blogger to WordPress (without losing their permalinks which are key to their online history) without HUGE pain. This could be done automatically though.

Attention trust and attention data portability and value: (I also refer to this as usage pattern data) is worth more than the content that people bring to the site. (The other buzzword for this is “database of intentions” – don’t you love this 2.0 buzzword bingo?) The reality is that what people do on your site and how they interact with it is key to: product development, increased revenues, increased profitability, and increased customer retention. Amazon does this extremely well inside their algorithm. There is a phrase called “algorithms as rockstars” which means in plain English, the algorithm that Amazon employs is worth 10X more than the really bad (and very simple) algorithm that Barnes and Noble uses to decide where to place other products and recommendations. This has been known for a while. Much of the value in that algorithm is derived from usage pattern data.

On to Day 2!