Session Suggestions

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What sessions do you want to offer, collaborate on, attend? Please include your name, and put new entries at the top of the page. If you see something that appeals to you, leave a comment so the organizer knows you're interested, or add +1 as a thumbs-up. We'll create the session schedule collaboratively on Friday evening, but this is the place to put forth ideas, find collaborators, and request sessions you want someone else to lead.


Envisioning: how, why, and to what effect?

Proposed by Lesley Carmichael

I’m interested in a roundtable discussion about envisioning: how to go about crafting a vision, how to scope it, how to link day-to-day efforts to it.

What kinds of contextual factors and trends cause you to shift, expand, change the way you envision? For example:

- Our technologies are enabling more and more incredible ways to make the world a better place every day. Does your vision expand apace?

- More people have mobile phones than electricity or clean drinking water. How do global inflection points affect the way you think about the potential of the work you do?

How do you share your vision with colleagues and stakeholders?

How do you keep the vision alive and relevant?


Bring Me A Higher Love (for computing, networks, and expressive capability)

Proposed by Gardner Campbell (Virginia Tech)

If we don't raise up a generation of professors and administrators who understand that "the computer is an instrument whose music is ideas" (Alan Kay), we will never even begin to explore the potential of computers and networks in higher education. Instead, we will proliferate "learning management systems" (sic) and other deadening mechanisms of Computer Aided Instruction. And we will remain unable to innovate our way past the structural obstacles of credit hours, departments, and the other management tools of industrial-age education. I'll share one idea I've been working on for several years as a way of breaking the impasse: the New Media Networked Faculty-Staff Development Seminar, a program that's in its third year and that has attracted participants from Virginia Tech, Baylor University, the University of Queensland, Rice, Whitman College, U-Cal Berkeley, Houston Community College, Tulane, and many others.


The 300 Year View

Proposed by William Etundi Jr.

The technology we build today holds the potential to have a multigenerational impact. As the pace of development increases and becomes endlessly interlinked, it's impossible to predict how our creations will evolve in the wild. This raises questions like: what are the anthropological consequences of the era we're in now? Where is it headed? What impact can regular folks have on shaping the course?

Some have proposed a Proactionary Principle to continually test technology under a set of basic principles, others have called for a Hippocratic Oath for development. Is it possible to establish a guiding principle for technology development with a long long long (long) view? Can it be written in a simple sentence? Can we write it now?

(All discussion, no presentation.)

+1 Lesley Carmichael


Extending the Internet Agenda

Proposed by Catherine Bracy and Anil Dash

We in the Internet community have spent a lot of time in the past few months clapping ourselves on the back for delaying SOPA/PIPA. Some think it was a decisive blow in the debate about whether the network has the power to re-energize the public sphere: SOPA/PIPA as proof case of network as democracy savior. But what did we really prove? Who are we really saving? How far can shutting down Wikipedia and Reddit really go? We’d like to explore the outcome of SOPA/PIPA: Round 1 from a more critical perspective and ask whether we can find a way to draw lessons from this victory that can be applied to policy areas that we in the networked community aren’t personally and viscerally drawn to (and don't have anything to do with the Net itself). For example, this talk from this year’s TED got a huge reaction from the audience. But has that energy from what’s got to be the most networked group of people in the world (aside from Foo Campers of course) been channeled into actually trying to fix the criminal justice system? Can it? How do we make sure the Equal Justice Initiative has as much opportunity to leverage the network as the Electronic Frontier Foundation? In short, can we ensure that Internet advocacy doesn’t only work for those of us who are already empowered?

+ 1 Fred Benenson

Gardner Campbell +1

Deep Dive on Do Not Track (DNT) Flag

Proposed by Fred Benenson

You've probably heard of the Do Not Track browser flag from the various headlines the specification has made over the last couple of weeks as various parties (Mozilla, EFF, Twitter, Google, etc.) have tried to reconcile their differing positions on end user browser privacy. But what does it mean for you? If you're running a web application, what are the things you should consider? How will it affect third party cookie tracking and analytics? I'm not an expert on this topic, but thats exactly why I'm interested in talking about it at foo camp.

+1 Matthew Rothenberg

How should we program?

Proposed by Jeff Bezanson

What is a programming language? What should a language do and not do? Arguably, the task of programming (quite separate from what problems the programs want to solve) has undergone perhaps only two or three paradigm shifts, and they weren't as drastic as we might have hoped. Or, perhaps they are not fully realized yet. Can radically different approaches (e.g. non-textual programs, programming by example) succeed, and how far can they get? Another possible argument is that non-software things develop by increasingly becoming software, and programming is already pure software and so has nowhere to go ("no silver bullet"). I personally shy away from radical approaches and prefer to stay grounded in practical-today languages, but inching the state of the art ever forward.

+1 Avi Bryant

Joint Session Speed Dating

Proposed by Allen Downey (Olin College)

A session to generate session ideas: Participants pair up and spend n minutes (for small values of n) sharing interests and generating ideas for sessions to run together. Rotate and repeat. Then refine, filter and select.

Never Underestimate a Vegetarian Hippie Chick With a Race Car

Proposed by Leilani Munter (Carbon Free Girl)

For years I have used my race car to carry messages about various environmental issues (climate change, clean energy, rainforest conservation, ocean awareness, etc) to get mainstream America thinking by bringing these ideas to them at the racetrack, where they least expect it. Think the exact opposite of preaching to the choir. I have had some great success stories but I have also run into stumbling blocks along the way, and I am looking for big ideas from this unique group of Foo thinkers that will see my sport - and my message - in a new light. Seeking a new perspective and fresh ideas for my eco awareness project: the goal is to educate and engage 75 million race fans and inspire them to rethink their day to day habits for our planet. Help me do it. +1

There Are Only a Few Good Ideas

Proposed by Jeff Casimir (Jumpstart Lab)

I have this theory that's either obvious or stupid -- that there are only a few good ideas. The set is something like twenty or thirty, then the idea can be applied to multiple disciplines. For example, I see the ideas behind "The Lean Startup" in business to be the same as "Behavior-Driven Development" in software and "Understanding By Design" in education. With so much cross-disciplinary expertise at Foo, I'd love help finding the common threads between areas like these and mix in economics, politics, medicine, natural sciences, etc. +1 +1 Lesley Carmichael

Building Brian Eno's Black Box

Proposed by Dan Saffer

"Q: If I could give you a black box that could do anything, what would you have it do? Eno: I would love to have a box onto which I could offload choice making. A thing that makes choices about its outputs, and says to itself, This is a good output, reinforce that, or replay it, or feed it back in. I would love to have this machine stand for me. I could program this box to be my particular taste and interest in things."

How would we go about building such a box and what do we think it would do?

+1 Daniel Goroff (as this relates to probability, decision theory, & behavioral economics)
+1 Joe Zadeh

The New AI

Proposed by Kris Hammond (Narrative Science)

Work in Artificial Intelligence has gone through, shall we say, difficult times. It seems, however, that AI is in the midst of a rebuild using entirely new models based on the increased availability of large scale data for search and analysis. While IBM's Watson and its multiple micro-strategy approach is the most visible, it is only one of many approaches including Wolfram Alpha and much of what is happening in the world of BI and predictive analytics tools. I'm just looking to start a conversation about where AI can go based on a substrate of search against unstructured and analysis of structured data rather than the logic/fixed representation systems of the past.

+1 +1 Lesley Carmichael

Medieval Manuscript Culture - Anything Left to Learn?

Proposed by Alex Gillespie (University of Toronto)

I spend most of my days looking at books and other writing technologies that are at least 500 years old (usually in digital form) and thinking inane thoughts like, wow, that iPad thing is a reinvention of a medieval technology! So is that scroll bar, right there! But what about a de luxe codex with an ivory and glass paneled binding? Any equivalent...? I am basically interested to find out if there's anything left from pre-modern textual cultures that we haven't yet found a way to replicate or capitalize upon in our brave new digital world - I have a few thoughts, but only a few (some of them are about what a no-copyright world actually looks like). To help with the collaborative answer-getting, I can show people who come along a bunch of images of extremely pretty medieval books, though I promise not to digress into show and tell. New to Foo, I should say.

+1 Dan Saffer


Your UI Makes Me Fat

Proposed by Kathy Sierra

Science paints a surprising, inconvenient picture of what happens to people who interact with our apps, books, courses, etc. Cognitive resources are scarce, precious, and deeply connected to quality of life. And we -- developers, educators, social media proponents -- are consuming those resources in an "engagement" arms race. While we're wondering how to scale our stuff, we can't forget the one thing that does NOT scale: a user's cognitive resources. And by "user", I also mean learners from k-12 and beyond. After two decades as a game developer and educator, I've had to face the hard truth that much of my work on "building engagement" was not a sustainable path for users/learners, and was in some cases harmful. But science has also given us useful tools to enrich people's lives (and health) and help create faster, better learning and skill building, if we stop trying to out-engage. We'll discuss the best tools (and reasons) to close cognitive leaks, deep vs. superficial motivation, the most effective ways to build expertise, and the ethics around behavior change.

+1 Damien stolarz
+1 Jeff Casimir
+1 Lorraine Yurshansky
+1 Gardner Campbell
+1 Lesley Carmichael

A Geek's Guide to the Patent Market

Proposed by Damien Stolarz (Software Patent Analyst, RPX Corp)

Patents are legal monopolies, granted in hopes of rewarding innovation. But software patents have created a minefield for the uninitiated, and non-practicing entities have "innovated" the ways in which patents can be monetized.

I'm here to spend about a few minutes on "patent literacy", and provide some rare insight into the cost of patent lawsuits, how patents are marketed, bought, and sold, and some of the approaches that have and have not worked in fighting trolls.

+1 +1

women + tech = win

Proposed by Cathryn Posey (Tech By Superwomen Founder / Adobe)

Why are women underrepresented in the tech industry? Let's explore the role mentorship plays, the gaps in the STEM pipeline and how to disrupt bias when it comes to pattern-matching for funding. I'm looking to moderate a solution-focused discussion on how we can make a stronger and more inclusive community, while expanding opportunities for women to ascend to leadership roles. This group will also look at the role men can and should play to open more doors for women in the industry. Engage, contribute and participate!

+1
+1 Jeff Casimir
+1 Lesley Carmichael

Access to Education for the 100%

Proposed by Andrew Ng (Stanford/Coursera), Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley), and Ken Goldberg (UC Berkeley).

In the past year over one million students have taken Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), with some courses attracting over a hundred thousand students. University professors are restructuring lectures into 10-15 minute video modules with interleaved quizzes. Assignments are restructured into automatically graded exercises and projects that provide instant feedback after student submissions---often allowing students to work until the concept is fully mastered (rather than the bad old common practice of submit and never look at it again). New student wikis encourage students to answer each others questions (and earn reputation points) and encourage peer teaching. Peer rating of questions and answers have made discussion management in these large classes manageable by the same number of instructors as needed to manage on-campus course offerings' discussion forums. Some, including Stanford president John Hennesy, claim a tsunami in higher education is coming. Join us for a discussion of the latest technologies and experiments, and the pros and cons.

Jeremy Howard +1
Pamela Fox +1
Ned Gulley +1
Kathy Sierra +1 (hoping you split this into two parts and do one each day, Andrew. Big topic, and you're in the thick of it)
Kristian Hammond +1
Lorraine Yurshansky +1
Joe Zadeh +1
Gardner Campbell +1

Cloud Robotics

Proposed by Ken Goldberg (UC Berkeley), Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley), and Andrew Ng (Stanford/Coursera).

An emerging generation of robots are more aware than oblivious, more social than solitary, and more like companions than tools. Last June, President Obama announced the National Robotics Initiative, earmarking over $70M for new research to explore how robots can enhance humans rather than replace them. Emerging advances in depth sensing (Kinect) are being combined with statistical robot learning to produce amazingly precise quad-rotor helicopter squads. Robots are being trained to assist surgeons and the African Robotics Network was established in May.

What's changing, what's ahead, and what will be the implications? One exciting new approach is Cloud Robotics: tapping into the Internet's vast and rapidly-expanding network of computing and data resources. Cloud Robotics has the potential to significantly improve robot performance by: 1) indexing libraries of annotated image models to provide semantic information, eg, mechanical properties to facilitate grasping, 2) providing access to massively parallel computation, eg, video processing, sample-based motion planning, advanced statistical robot learning and uncertainty modeling, 3) supporting on-demand sharing of data, sofware, trajectories, and dynamic control policies, 4) obtaining call-center human guidance when needed.

As Steve Cousins noted, "No robot is an island." Join us for a fun discussion of the latest technologies, future directions, and potential drawbacks.

Dan Saffer +1
Alexander Reben +1 I'd also love to discuss leveraging the "social cloud" of human intelligence.
+1
Bradski +1
Lorraine Yurshansky +1
Joe Zadeh +1

A new kind of college

Proposed by Allen Downey (Olin College)

The biggest cost of going to college is the opportunity cost of spending four years in college. But most colleges are in session for fewer than 30 weeks per year. With minimal compression, students could complete a four-year degree in two years, and enjoy about $150,000 in net present value. Also, students' time during the semester could be used more effectively if they worked in an office-like environment with dedicated space, instructors and team-mates available during work hours, and healthy work-life balance. My colleagues and I at Olin College are in a very early stage of creating a new college based on these ideas. You can read a working document about our plans [1], then come tell me what you think.


Beyond the quantified self - using feedback from self-tracking for improving performance

Proposed by Jeremy Howard

Quantified self is "a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical)." (definition: Wikipedia). Thus far there has been little study of how to use the feedback from this tracking to improve performance. I have over the last two years studied this in some detail in two contexts:

  • Self-tracking language acquisition performance based on a number of factors, as I described briefly in this lightning talk
  • Observing the power of feedback on predictive modelling performance in relation to the development of predictive models at Kaggle

In each case I have seen performance multiply through the feedback these methods provide. I'm also following work in related areas, such as the new cognitive ability feedback enabled by the Quantified Mind project. If you are interested in learning about techniques to improve your own cognitive abilities through self-tracking and feedback, or you have your own stories or ideas to discuss, come along and share, ask questions, and maybe have a drink or three!

Kristian Hammond +1
Allen Downey +1
Avi Bryant + 1
Joe Zadeh +1
Lesley Carmichael +1

Drinking Songs: Creating sustainability for small media organizations!

Proposed by Chloe Veltman

Small media organizations are struggling to get off the ground in a challenging journalism climate. As a John S Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford and a longtime arts journalist/singer based in San Francisco, I've been looking at immersive, multi-dimensional live journalism events as a model for enabling small media organizations to better engage their communities and generate revenue. The success of the first live event prototype I produced in May on the theme of "Drinking Songs" for VoiceBox, my weekly syndicated public radio and podcast series about the human voice and the best of the vocal music scene, as well as research I've carried out around other organizations working in the space, leads me to believe that interactive live media events could provide a powerful path to sustainability for small media outlets now and in the future. Let's crack open a beer and talk about these ideas during a session that will include audio and video footage from the VoiceBox Drinking Songs event. NB: Singing and drinking warmly encouraged.

Allen Downey +1

Creating a Space to Think in the City

Proposed by Julien Smith

There is no quiet space in the world anymore, and I want to fix it. I want to build a massive, worldwide chain of privately owned, civically-minded spaces which are post-religious, relaxation/thinking environments. Why? Parks are dirty and cities don't take care of them, churches are trying to sell you something, and zen centres are always closed when you want to go. There needs to be a place in which people can come freely, not be judged, and allowed to rest, think, or meditate.

Let's think this idea out and make it happen.

Peter Wang +1. Isn't this what art museums are for? People presumably want quiet places to rest, recharge, and be innervated. The latter requires elements that will inspire the psyche, across all manners of psyches...
Jeremy Howard +1. I wonder if the ideas Alain de Botton has raised in Atheism 2.0 might also be of interest in this discussion?

Open Source the Body

Proposed by Joe Betts-LaCroix

As biology becomes more and more an information science, the ways its problems are solved are becoming more and more dependent on the skills of information technologists (like you!) In order to reverse engineer then debug these bitter-sweet mortal homes in which we live and die (and to hopefully postpone the dying part), we now need a wave of information people to start learning biology and rubbing up against biologists so the mountains of un-analyzed data that modern tools are cranking out can be mined for upcoming cures, regenerative methods (and Nobel prizes). We did it for the internet with Linux and Apache, and I believe we'll do it for the body using comparably open tools.

Present what's happening in the data-tech side of biology, directions this might go, and lead a discussion on how we can be part of it.

Bradski +1 Would like to discuss how to break the productivity bottleneck in medicine that has caused prices to spiral. How much do we really need doctors? Better ways to use all the wasted data.
Joe Zadeh +1

Technological Symbiosis & Parasitism

Proposed by Alexander Reben

This session will explore the ever blurring line between people and technology. Both the line that separates living beings from hardware and the line that separates thought from data. We will ask how our psychology affects our perception of devices and our predisposition to augment ourselves through symbiosis. We will discuss the parasitic nature of technology. Is technology human distraction or human evolution? Beginning presentation of prior research, upcoming trends and discussion questions, followed by discussion.

+1

Teaching Engineering to Artists

Proposed by Alexander Reben

How do you combine disciplines to foster cross collaboration?

Greg Borenstein +1. And how do you turn cutting edge research into tools that artists and designers can use to do meaningful cultural work and to make the world better?
Peter Wang +1. Engineering is a means (and a practice), not an ends. Art is very much a worthwhile end to which engineering can be applied. Just as painters need to understand some basic physics of light and the chemistry behind pigments and dyes in order to effectively achieve their vision, there are new tools for visual, mechanical, and auditory manipulation that can be (and should be) exploited by modern artists. Is the core challenge one of bringing horses to water, or making them drink? That is, do we need to *motivate* artists to learn engineering (which can be hard and is mostly a social thing), or do we need to figure out better more effective pedagogy for teaching engineering to non-math people?
Pamela Fox +1
Narciso Jaramillo +1
Allen Downey +1
Bradski +1
Joe Zadeh +1

The Future of Collaboration

Proposed by Alexander Reben

As more and more people become decentralized and remote, how can collaboration still be efficient with these constraints?

Andrew Ng +1.
Peter Wang +1.
Ken Goldberg +1.
Narciso Jaramillo +1
Pieter Abbeel +1
Lorraine Yurshansky +1
Avi Bryant + 1
Joe Zadeh +1
Lesley Carmichael +1

Rapid cooling of the human body by breathable liquid

Proposed by Charles Platt

It has been known for many years that a reduction in body temperature of around 3 degrees C after cardiac arrest will reduce the risk of subsequent brain damage following resuscitation. I wrote about the radical concept of achieving this with infusions of a chilled breathable perfluorocarbon liquid (using the lungs as a heat exchanger) in Discover magazine more than 10 years ago. The concept has been validated numerous times since then, using a series of portable battery-powered devices that I designed myself and built for a laboratory in California. I will provide photographs and possibly one of the actual devices.

Peter Wang +1. Is it safe to try out, or do I need to go into cardiac arrest first? :-)

Open as a competitive weapon

Proposed by Simon Wardley

There's a constant pattern of evolution which occurs to all business activities. Unfortunately we rarely see it because first we attempt to view change over time and secondly the term innovation is widely misused obscuring it. This pattern creates a cycle of change from chaotic to linear which results in constant explosions of industrial growth, varying rates of sustaining vs disruptive change, discrete economic phases (wonder, peace and war) and new forms of practice to co-evolve. This pattern can be traced back through history, seen at the macro scale in kondratiev waves, within localised industries and it is derived from user and supply competition. Our historical inability to deal with the pattern creates alignment issues within business, a yo-yo between extremes (push vs pull marketing, agile vs six sigma, networked vs hierarchical, listen vs don't listen to customers) and results in the evolution of organisations to more effectively deal with this (american system, fordism, web 2.0, next generation). The current set of practices which are diffusing includes the use of open source as a competitive weapon. From removing barriers to entry into an opponent’s market, to encouraging standardization around your practices, to developing ecosystems that strengthen your position (and overcome the limits of Porter's three strategies by enabling a company to be simultaneously innovative, efficient and customer focused), to spearheading a land grab for new sources of value, to destroying value around a source of revenue (tower and moat) to the far more simple support strategies such as cutting costs or recruiting talent. In this proposed session I'd like to hear / discuss examples of how open is being used as a weapon between companies. I'd be delighted to hear other FooCampers battle scars from open source to open hardware to open wetware to open data to open Gov to open education to open standards ... and on.

Peter Wang +1.
Jeremy Howard +1.
Michael Keating +1.
Narciso Jaramillo +1
Nadav Aharony +1
Kristian Hammond +1
Pieter Abbeel +1
Bradski +1


Evolution and business

Proposed by Simon Wardley

This is a before session to "open as a competitive weapon". It'll be purely to introduce a common language and framework and I'm happy to do this either late at night or early in the morning (before the sessions) for those who need it. This will be more of a presentation to cover the terms, so really isn't a normal FOO session. It'll cover the following areas :-

Cycle of Change [This work is characterised by weak hypothesis i.e it's backed by cause, correlation, prediction and thousands of data points]

  • The concepts of evolution (i.e. how activities evolve e.g. from the Parthian battery to Westinghouse and utility provision of electricity) as opposed to diffusion of instances (Rogers).
  • Why this creates a cycle of genesis and commoditisation (H.Simon and componentisation effects) and how this leads to creative destruction (Schumpeter)
  • Value chain and evolution … the battleground for any organisation.
  • How it's not just activities but practices that evolve and why this creates inertia to change and the three economic eras of peace, war and build.
  • Why one size never fits all and why we end up with opposites (agile vs six sigma, push vs pull, network vs hierarchical)
  • Kondratiev waves and the concepts of ages.
  • Why war and co-evolution of practice leads to new organisational forms (American system to Fordism to Web 2.0 to Next Generation).
  • The Next Generation practice - cell structure, ecosystem, focus on disruption (transient), change of practice (distributed, design for fail, chaos engine)

Common problems with organisations [This work is characterised by reasoned hypothesis - backed by cause, correlation and data but no tested prediction]

  • Profile of organisations and why industries are different.
  • Why structure is the cause of business alignment issues.
  • How ecosystem systems solve Porter's three strategies and may be linear / superlinear for innovation & customer focus.
  • Typical tactics for exploiting the battleground (value chain vs evolution).

Potential Future Management practices [This work is characterised by conjecture - backed by early cause and correlation, weak data and no tested prediction]

  • Future structure (pioneer, settler, town planners)
  • Open source as a weapon (standard strategies - insurgency, tower and moat, reducing barrier to entry, starving a market, land grab etc).


The Open Scooter Project

Proposed by Michael Keating

This session would explore the idea of Open in the context of an urban transportation service where not only the software and hardware could be open, but other parts of the value chain could be open as well. My company is a newly launched, shared electric scooter system so in addition to software and electronics it has vehicles (scooters), storage (parking), fueling (charging), a network it runs on (city streets), and various supporting features like licensing and laws (a sort of operating system). As much of the activity of our service occurs in public space or as a function of public policy, those aspects are already, in a sense, open, but we are wondering what other aspects of our business could be open (broadly) or open source (specifically) in ways that could help us grow. Since we are a for-profit business, this session relates to the questions in the proposed session on Open as a Competitive Weapon, however our competitors are mainly other forms of transportation as opposed to other companies. To serve as props for the conversation, I will have two of our networked electric scooters at FOO Camp for people to play with and discuss.


Beyond Gamification: The Emergent Academy

Proposed by Ned Gulley

Slides are here: [2]

For more than ten years we've been running a popular MATLAB programming contest built on the strange premise of openly sharing all code with your competitors. We wanted to grow this contest into something that people could play anytime, something that they could grow and modify themselves. In turning our contest into an always-on quiz game (called Cody), we realized we now have a test-driven learning platform in which instruction and assessment happen spontaneously and in the wild. It's changing how we think about coding. I want to share the curious story of how we got there and the exciting prospects for what happens next. Punchline: Enabling learners is valuable... enabling teachers is better still.

Allen Downey +1
Avi Bryant + 1
Gardner Campbell +1

I Did A Search For "Women" On This Page And Nothing Came Up: Metaphor?

Proposed by Rachel Sklar

Half the population, not that you'd know it from who gets funded, who gets feted, who gets keynoted, who gets quoted. In 2012, year of Komen/Planned Parenthood, Sandra Fluke/Rush Limbaugh, Kleiner Perkins/appalling article in Forbes about Sheryl Sandberg & Kim Polese, and exciting new phrase "War On Women," does this merit acknowledgment? Yes I have an agenda. Part of is to one day never have to participate in a session like this again. (I do this a lot. It gets old.) I'd love to bring this up for discussion un-conference style, but even to have it occur to people is frankly enough.

Peter Wang: To be fair, a search for the word "men" only turns up one mention, which is in a paragraph with three instances of "women". </pedantic>

Programing for Digital Fabrication

Proposed by Jennifer Jacobs, MIT Media Lab

Programing for digital fabrication offers the possibility of new design strategies and creative methods, and can attract a broader variety of people to the world of coding. Codeable Objects is an open source programing framework that enables novice coders, designers, and artists to rapidly design, customize, and construct physical artifacts using geometric computation and digital fabrication. The methods employed allow the user to program a variety of structures and designs with simple code and geometry. When compiled, the framework generates tool paths based on the user’s specifications, which can be used in conjunction with digital fabrication tools to build the object. Come program and build your own laser cut lamp, while discussing the future of design for digital fabrication. Codeable Objects

Bradski +1

Hacking businesses using programming methodologies

Proposed by Oli Brooks, ValoBox.com

Software is faster and cheaper to build than ever. Open source, opinionated software frameworks (rails, backbone, django) have provided conventions and common building blocks for thousands of independent developers to build individual tools. I'm keen to explore whether the Foo Camp crew thinks the common API approach can be taken from code to the realm of inter business communication.

Is it possible to construct an opinionated framework which abstracts common communications in an industry? For example, if a manufacturer wants to use a new retailer they need to establish how they will deliver goods, invoice and share data. This is often manual or by creating specific data files for each channel. Where as if the manufacturer and a retailer built their communication layers on a common framework then setting up a new content delivery or sharing account information would just be a matter of adding some settings.

Once common standards are established, businesses could look at the efficiency of their industry using principles like DRY and single responsibility. In this way a publisher could be the only store of digital content and retail channels could delegate the delivery eliminating the need for complex synchronization.

Could this business communication framework be managed like an open source software framework with community documentation and feature pull requests?


New SciFi Novel

Proposed by Gary Bradski

I'd like to take some techno theme(s) and sketch out a SciFi novel around them. This may turn into a terrible "group think" but still fun, perhaps best done a little stoned. SciFi novels used to be Panglossian gushing about some great space opera future but now such novels are mostly dystopian dirges. The real world tends instead to stay poised on the ragged edge between the two. Let's call this real world edge of chaos "the creative edge". I'd like to bullet out a novel that takes some technology themes and pushes them towards a possible future on the creative edge ... with an appropriate literary twist ending.

For an example (which we needn't use): A sort of update of Brazil and 1984 might center around predictive marketing: "people like you also like X". In the same way that a machine can learn to predict your "free will" choices better than you in games like Rock-Paper-Sissors, it might also be that a machine can learn your real preferences for products, vacations, life choices and mates better than you can. The machine can make choices that make your happier than you can make for yourself. Imagine turning over all your free will to Google's revenue "optimized choices for you" (tm). Such a system would attempt to optimize your happiness subject to maximizing revenue. It would never make you too poor, that would be un-happy, but it would spend as much of your money as it could just above your personal "too poor" threshold. In such a world, everyone is happier. You come home, a new mountain bike sits in your living room (robotically delivered) "just what I wanted!!". But, our protagonist rebels against this system -- it has no soul. He tries to start a "back to free choice" movement and starts a kind of rebellion ... only to finally learn that the machine allowed this because that's what maximized his happiness with maximal acceptable revenue. In the end, he is a failed but somewhat famous social critic, somewhat happy but deeply hollow. His kids grow up in this new world knowing nothing else and ... happy. It's dystopian novel where everyone ends up happy.

OK, you get the idea. I can easily generate a bunch of other themes to go on. Let's choose one and explore the future via group think.

+1 Lesley Carmichael


Medium Data

Proposed by Avi Bryant

There's been a lot of interest recently in "big data" technologies like Hadoop, which work well for multi-TB datasets and above, distributed over a cluster and stored on disk. We've always had tools like R and Python for "small data" that will fit in RAM on a single machine - these days, that means 10s of GB. But what about data sets that fall in the middle - say, a few hundred GB, which will fit in RAM when distributed over a small number of machines? How much of the pain we experience with both Hadoop and R could be improved by tools and frameworks that target this middle ground?


Open Identifier Systems: Why are researchers and regulators so far behind the retailers?

Proposed by Daniel Goroff

You cannot search, link, or aggregate things very well unless you know how to identify each one of them. If you read a scientific paper, shouldn’t you be able to find the datasets referenced? Or if you study publication patterns, shouldn’t you be able to disambiguate authors? And if you trade in or regulate financial markets, shouldn’t you be able to identify counterparties, banks, and corporations, with all their hidden shells and subsidiaries? (See, for example, the report released today from the Financial Stability Board to the G20.) Those UPC bar codes have revolutionized retailing in the private sector. How do we build more systems like that for the public good?

Whither Robotics

Proposed by Gary Bradski

OK, kinda boring, but something I think about as I struggle to replace human workers with robots to increase my player level, hit threshold and earn Silicon Valley gold points: As physical automation via robots ripples through society, what kind of economy/society can we have to avoid an increasingly stark have-havenot situation for people? When most production and distribution is automated, how do people earn a living or find a purpose? How do you even have a "society" when there is no need or occasion to socialize since products can be made and delivered all without human intervention? What's a "corporation" when corporations don't need, and in fact are hampered by, human ownership? I'm a firm believer, as a matter of irrational faith, that "it will all work out somehow", but getting to somehow can be painful. This is more an exploration of what the "how" might/should look like.

Open Device Data

Proposed by Rob Faludi

Device data is information from the physical world. Open data is information that's intended to be shared with everyone. But is it useful to publish, for example, "air quality data" if you don't describe how you got it in the first place? I'd like to form a group that discusses a definition for useable device data, one that focuses on what makes data good. If data is going to be widely shared we should be able to trust that we've got all the facts we need so that we're not misled. We should have information on how sensors were calibrated, where were they placed, what the spatial and temporal sampling resolution was, whether any was data scrubbed from the set and why. We should also know who sponsored and supervised the project. In this discussion we'll talk about issues like data completeness, documentation of methodologies, proper attribution, long term feed persistence and especially ethics. All results can be shared as a draft proposal.

Right now there's several projects underway around open data. Some declare a bill of rights to declare that public space data be shared openly, completely and immediately. Others focus on the anonymity of personally-identifiable information, while several more focus on formats and standards. All of these projects come with the unspoken assumption that data itself is useful, that numbers will inherently provide benefits. They'll be helped by having a definition for good...no great data. This discussion can be a first step, and a whole lot of fun.

Toby Joe Boudreaux +1

3D Input - Fad or Fab?

Proposed by Tim Thompson

(all discussion and brainstorming)

3D input devices (Kinect, Leap Motion) are all the rage. Will they be an intermittent fad (like 3D video), or will they be transformative (like the mouse)?

Gardner Campbell +1
Toby Joe Boudreaux +1


Mobile phones as behavioral sensors: Both a goldmine and a minefield.

Proposed by Nadav Aharony

Today's smartphones are robust sensing devices that can know us better than we know ourselves. Think about the three things you always take with you when you leave home: Your keys, your wallet, and your phone. Together, our smartphones can measure millions of data streams, that can be used to give us profound insights into our lives, our environment, and our communities. There are still many challenges that are part of unlocking this great potential (or danger, as some might say). Orthogonal from technical issues like battery life, accuracy and so on, are topics of privacy, ethics, and data ownership and control.

How do we navigate between the great [societal | business | scientific | personal] potential and the ethical issues? Between a magical experience and a creepy one? How can we do useful data collection while respecting the users?

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