April 22, 2011

Scenes from the Where 2.0 mobile conference


GroupMe, Ditto, LocalMind & some other cool apps you may not have heard of

JD LasicaIcaught a fair chunk of the Where 2.0 conference yesterday in Santa Clara, Calif., plus part of Tuesday’s sessions. I think it’s fair to say this is the best annual gathering of thought leaders in the mobile space — people from the future who beam in to bring us up to speed on where this whole mobile revolution is taking us.

Here’s my modest Flickr photo set of 14 images.

I got to spend some time with two of the rock stars of the mobile world: Di-Ann Eisnor, VP Community of the cool beat-traffic-jams app Waze, and DJ Patil (another initial guy), former chief scientist of LinkedIn and now chief product officer of the hot startup Color, which recently raked in $41 million in venture backing.

I’m always impressed by the visual eye candy at Where 2.0 and this gathering was no exception. Check out the 90-second clip above, Waze Presents: An LA Traffic Story (music), which visually represents a 24-hour time lapse of traffic congestion, accidents, police activity and more in Los Angeles, based on the automatic GPS tracking in the Waze app as well as reports by Waze members. Fun!

Some other highlights from Where 2.0

Serendipity panel
Alexa Andrzejewski of Foodspotting, Jyri Engestrom of Ditto, Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze.

I didn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to, but here are a few other highlights and takeaways:

• Good to meet the folks behind SeeClickFix, a site that lets people report community problems to local government, and one that I’ve admired for some time.

“We’re getting to the point (where) almost everything can have a unique identifier associated with it — things, people, even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”
— Jyri Engeström, Ditto

• My favorite new toy: the GroupMe app, a group messaging service for ad hoc groups of friends, family, co-workers, college buddies. Says co-founder Steve Martocci: “It’s like a it’s like a reply all chat room on your phone. … This is a very intimate tool that’ll buzz everyone’s pocket.” Yowza!

• 40 percent of ratings on Yelp is coming in through mobile devices. Yelp now has 50 million unique visits per month in eight countries.

• One out of every 10 Israelis (not just drivers) uses Waze.

Localmind is a new service that allows you to send questions and receive answers about what is going on — right now — at places you care about. If it scales, this would be an awesome service.

• Loved this quote from Jyri Engeström of Ditto (just downloaded the app: “Looking to hang out? Find out what your friends are up to, have a conversation, or get a group together. Ditto makes it easy to get recommendations about restaurants, movies and things to do.”):

“A lot of the conversation that goes on at conferences like Where 2.0 is based on the assumption that we’re talking about places and buildings. But the resolution of social objects is getting higher and higher so we’re getting to the things scale and person scale, with almost everything being able to have a unique identifier associated with it — even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”

• Raffi Krikorian of Twitter: “People want to say ‘I’m in Vegas, baby!’ without giving away their exact location.” His hourlong talk about the different tiers of “local” was fascinating. I was also digging terms like “geohash.” And: “The holy grail of geo-location is to use some kind of GPS triangulation.” Follow him on Twitter at @raffi.

• Jack Abraham, Director of Local at eBay: “Any product that can be digitally distributed, will be.” He noted there were 465 million active IP addresses in 2009 and that number continues to balloon. Also: ecommerce still makes up only 5 percent of all commerce in the United States. Continue reading

April 20, 2011

Community Code-a-thon comes to SF on May 6-7


One Economy, SF Goodwill, SF Dept. of Tech, Code for America & Socialbrite team up to develop mobile apps for social good

JD LasicaSave the date! On May 6 and 7, several public-spirited organizations — One Economy, San Francisco Goodwill Industries, Code for America, Socialbrite as well as the City of San Francisco’s Department of Technology — are coming together to put on a Community Code-a-thon.

With the Where 2.0 mobile technology conference taking place down the road in Santa Clara, Calif., this week (I attended yesterday and will return tomorrow), it’s a good reminder that the best mobile applications fill a gap in the marketplace.

A code-a-thon is where local developers come together and spend the day hacking on different ideas that could be teased out into a full-fledged mobile application. Unlike some other code-a-thons you may have heard of, this one is all about creating public-purpose mobile apps that improve the lives of people in the community.

To see an example of how this works, take a look at the top apps that emerged from the hack-a-thon held in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday.

Doing most of the heavy lifting for this effort is Arthur Grau, the tech force of nature who’s behind nonprofit One Economy’s Applications for Good. The Bay Area gathering offers $1,000 in prizes to the winners.

Code-a-thon: Have geek credentials? You’re invited

Here are the details:

When: May 6, a Friday, pitch session and social mixer, 3-5 pm; May 7, a Saturday, offers a full day of coding, ending with judging and announcement of winners.

Where: SF Department of Technology, 1 S. Van Ness Ave.

Who: The Code-a-thon is open to all community-minded programmers. A few case studies will be shared in advance to inspire the developers with examples of how mobile apps could be made available to community organizations and nonprofits

Cost to participate: Free. Register on Eventbrite and see the full Agenda. Food and snacks will be made available.

Organizers: One Economy, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo & Marin Counties, Code for America, Socialbrite and the San Francisco Department of Technology. The daylong, developer-meets-community code event supports Applications for Good, One Economy’s national contest, launched in early 2011, where developers design public purpose mobile applications to help underserved Americans improve their lives. For this event, Code for America is expected to bring 10-12 developers.

Prizes: The day’s activities will offer seed prizes totalling $1,000 to engage developers to design and refine their work under the helpful eyes of experts in community and software development. It could lead to $50,000 in prizes to software developers who design applications that help families, find jobs, get healthy, improve education and build financial security in One Economy’s national contest, which runs through May 16 and is co-sponsored by AT&T. Other details are still being firmed up.

According to a Pew Research Center report, lower income households access the Internet at higher rates on mobile phones and devices because they do not have a computer at home. Those without computers and high speed Internet in the home are disproportionately people of color. African Americans and Latinos, with 87% owning smart or feature phones, are more likely to take advantage of a wide array of phone data functions.

Check out the Applications for Good website to see a rich best-of-apps catalog, needs and solutions pages.