Microsoft Social Computing Symposium, V1 Comments

Before I hit the sack, here are a few notes about a few of the folks (and a photo of three) who attended Microsoft's first annual Social Computing Symposium dinner party tonight, March 29, 2004 at The Big Picture in Seattle. The place name is apropos.

Scoble:  I chatted with Robert about what-next and the law of perpetually accelerating good luck for quite awhile. We talked blog talk for awhile and traded stories of chance and planned encounters with exceptionally smart Microsoft executives (MSFT is blessed with smart executives). Robert is easy to like. He capped at out 1.5 glasses of wine and rode a longhorn smile for the rest of the night.

Clay Shirky: Younger than I expected, Clay was every bit as articulate, intelligent and outwardly well-mannered as you might expect from his blog posts. Of all the groups I dropped into at tonight's cocktail party, I most enjoyed my conversation with Clay, Joi Ito, and Lili Cheng (w/ honorable mention going to danah boyd). Although I did not attend the symposium itself, most of the attendees I queried this evening said they most enjoyed Clay's presentation earlier today.  Clay appears to bridge the considerable divide between academic attendees and the free market sound byte pirates like me;).

The social computing symposium is a curious mix of academics and entrepreneurs from companies like and Tribe and universities like Berkeley and MIT.

Joi Ito: I learned that in 1989 or '90, Joi produced a movie starring Charles Bronson, in Nebraska, with cornhusker grips and less than mainstream friends brought in from Chicago to assist in the production. Joi, if you can ever get over the insular culture of Hollywood, you simply must write and produce a movie about the experience you had making that movie.  I doubt you'd have any trouble getting the Cohen brothers to direct it.

Here's a photo of (left to right) Clay Shirky (professor, not monk), Joi Ito, and Lili Cheng:

Aye, the drinks really were that big.

Marc Canter: An exhuberant, old school programmer with one hell of an operatic voice. On request, he sang a song from Tristan and Isolde for me.  Dude, you had me on “Ich...”.

danah boyd: yes, she really does spell her name with no capitals and she speaks as breathlessly as she writes. danah drilled down on the clear divide that separates the symposium attendees between academia and the business world. The scholars disdain the entrepeneurs for failing to appreciate the subtle sublimity of their studious craft whilst the entrepreneurs scoff at the acadamecians for being hopelessly behind the times, at least as measured by the presence or absence of VC. danah is right to call for a forced merger of these two camps at the next symposium. Throw a pair of each into a room and don't let them come out until they recognize the importance and power of the other's contributions to the field of social computing.

Other amazing folks I chatted up, if only for a minute or two:

Elizabeth Churchill: Where were you when I was a freshman in college?
Judith Donath: Will be presenting at the symposium tomorrow on the applicability of signaling and games theory to online interactions. Wowser. Must Read Papers.
Barry Wellman and wife: drats, I failed to get your photos.
Jenny Preece: nice to see you again.

I look forward to seeing the actual symposium talks online.

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