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Follow Techonomy

August 4, 2010

Today the Techonomy conference gets started in Lake Tahoe and even if you aren’t here you can follow everything going on at the event on Twitter and on a special Typepad blog donated for the event by Chris Alden and his team at Six Apart. The Open-First team has been working with closely with Techonomy founders Brent Schlender, David Kirkpatrick, Peter Petre, and Michael Christman for the past several months in order to make sure that there is a steady stream of updates during the event. Our work here is a great example of how we apply social technologies to an organization’s communications needs — building community at the same time that we foster openness and transparency. Of course a conference is an easy place to demonstrate the effectiveness of these technologies, nonetheless there are lessons here for every organization.

In helping Techonomy create the official blog for the conference (check in at we also wanted to make sure that it would be regularly updated with compelling perspectives on what was happening at the event. To this end we helped create the “blog squad,” recruiting a team of excellent writers to join the conference and write for the blog. These contributors include Gary A. Bolles (Co-founder and CEO, Xigi Inc.), Marshall Kirkpatrick (Co-Editor and Lead Writer, ReadWriteWeb), Chris Mooney (Author, The Republican War on Science), David Spark (Founder, Spark Media Solutions), and Brian L. Wang (Director of Research, Lifeboat Foundation and lecturer, Singularity University). In addition to these terrific authors Open-First will be helping curate content from attendees and observers, adding to the richness of the conversation by bringing as many voices together as possible.

In addition to the long form of the blog, we also see the short form of “tweets” as an important way for people to follow the activities here at Techonomy. We’ve created a special Twitter account for the event (follow at and in addition to coordinating constant updates from the conference we are also providing a “tweetorial” (or Twitter tutorial) for interested attendees of the conference. With 250 techonomists in attendance we hope we’ll have dozens of new Twitter users reporting on their own personal experiences and insights as the conference progresses. The goal of the one on one tutorials is to provide a hands on experience using Twitter from an experienced user, answering any questions and clearing up any confusions about how to use the service. Open-First’s terrific Cassie Kovacevich (@cassiekov ) has organized these sessions for attendees, a service we first offered in 2009 with the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Already there is an impressive list of Twitter users here at Techonomy including:

Amit Chatterjee @PostCarbonEcon
Andreas Weigend @aweigend
Andree McAfee @amcafee
Aydin Senkut @asenkut
Bernardo Huberman @bhuberman
Bill Gates @billgates
Bill Gross @Bill_Gross
Brendan Lewis @BPLewisJNPR
Brent Schlender @brentschlender
Cal Fore @SweatMonkey
Cameron Sinclair @CASINCLAIR
Charles Best @CharlesBest
Chris Alden @calden
Chris Hughes @chrishughes
Chris Mooney @Intersection_
Danah Boyd @danahboyd
Darell Hammond @DarellHammond
David Fenton @dfenton
David Kirkpatrick @davidkirkpatric
David Pakman @pakman
David Spark @dspark
Dean Kamen @deankamen
Doc Searls @dsearls
Eli Pariser @elipariser
Elliott Bisnow @Bisnow
Eric Schmidt @ericschmidt
Erik Brynjolfsson @erikbryn
Fay Feeney @fayfeeney
Fred Vogelstein @fvogelstein
Gary Bolles @gbolles
Gene Frantz @nGENEr
Gordon Orr @grodonorr
Gregory Marino @GregoryMarino
Hill Ferguson @hillferguson
Ian Gertler @IanGertler
Ina Fried @inafried
Jaime Teevan @jteevan
Jason Spero @speroman
Jay Giraud @revtechnologies
Jay Hallberg @jay_hallberg
Jeff Bezos @jeffbezos
Jeff Weiner @jweiner08
Jeffrey Fulgham @H2Osustain
Jessi Hempel @jessiwrites
Jigar Shah @indiantiger24
John Brockman @edge
John Doerr @johndoerr
John Hagel III @jhagel
John Markoff @markoff
Joichi Ito @Joi
Joseph Coughlin @josephcoughlin
Joseph Mercola @mercola
Julia Boorstin @JBoorstin
Justin Fox @foxjust
Kamran Elahian @KamranElahian
Kathy Bloomgarden @rfdarius
Katie Fehrenbacher @katiefehren
Kevin Kelly @kevin2kelly
Laura Merling @magicmerl
Maggie Shiels @maggieshiels
Maria Bartiromo @Bartiromo
Marshall Kirkpatrick @marshallk
Matt Cohler @mattcohler
Matthew Bishop @mattbish
Michael Wolf @michaelwolf212
Nicholas Negroponte @nnegroponte
Ory Okolloh @kenyanpundit
Padmasree Warrior @Padmasree
Peter Vander Auwera @peterran
Ping Fu @pfugeomagic
Prith Banerjee @Prithbanerjee
Reid Hoffman @quixotic
Rick Tetzeli @tetzeli
Rik Kirkland @rikthekirk
Robert Goldberg @robertgoldberg
Robert Lemelson @LemelsonFdn
Saar Gur @saarsaar
Saskia Sassen @saskiasassen
Shaifali Puri @swbconnect
Soumitra Dutta @soumitradutta
Steven Levy @stevenjay1
Steven Sprague @skswave
Stewart Aslop @Salsop
Sylvia Earle @bluerules
Ted Shelton @tshelton
Terra Terwillger @TerraT
Timothy Christin @redwing22
Wesley Boyd @wesboyd
Zach Klein @zachklein

Whether you are at the conference or not we hope you’ll enjoy the blog and Twitter coverage of the event. And become as engaged as we are in the mission of Techonomy!

Developer Satisfaction: Mobile Markets

July 21, 2010

A crucial part of any developer ecosystem has to do with the way in which developers reach the potential markets of application buyers and users. Understanding what developers need and want as they bring their products to market is just as important to the success of the overall program as the definition of the API or choice of development tools.

At Open-First one of our practice areas is building great development programs - we see this as one of the important new ways that companies engage with their markets. So it is especially interesting to us to understand the mindset of developers around this part of the ecosystem.

In order to benchmark the best (and worst) practices of developer programs we have established a survey of mobile application developers on a monthly basis in order to understand what they like and don’t like about the three major mobile application marketplaces: Nokia’s Ovi Store, Android Marketplace, and Apple’s AppStore. Our goal is to survey a minimum of 100 of the store’s “top” developers as defined by the store itself. Our first report is now available:

Ovi Store Continues to Improve but Significant Challenges Remain

In the coming months we will survey and compare results from Android developers (in August) and Apple developers (in September). Over time we hope to develop an understanding of how these programs compare to each other as well as how each is progressing — we’ll return to Ovi in October and continue to rotate through these three with a new report each month.

Techonomy 2010

July 6, 2010

Open-First is pleased to join HP as a launch partner for Techonomy 2010 to be held August 4th-6th. Event creators David Kirkpatrick, Brent Schlender, and Peter Petre have created a forum for exploring and promoting one of the most important ideas of our time — an idea that is a core part of the principles on which our company was founded — that we are in the age where technology and the economy become entwined:

techonomy (te-kän’-uh-mē) n. [tech(nology) + (ec)onomy]
organized activities related to the invention, development, production, distribution and consumption of technology-enhanced goods and services that a society uses to address the problem of scarcity and to enhance the quality of life.

The founders write on the Techonomy website that the conference “…draws its inspiration from the ‘creative capitalism’ of Bill Gates, the ‘eco-pragmatism’ of Stewart Brand, the ‘big history’ of David Christian, and Bill Joy’s recent work on the economics of large-scale innovation. Each thinker in his own way points to a new humanism founded on the old notion that invention is what we do as a species.”

At Open-First we wholeheartedly agree with the principles of techonomic thinking and believe that the “…rational, optimistic, forward-looking, technically savvy work ethic that celebrates technological achievement, human ingenuity, and sustainable living” is precisely what business and more broadly our society needs today.

We encourage you to follow the work of this band of techonomical thinkers as they progress in developing not only the conference but more importantly the ideas that inspired this event, ideas that can change the way we think and act in our lives, businesses, and as citizens.

SD Forum Visionary Awards

June 24, 2010

Open-First is proud to be a sponsor of the 2010 SDForum Visionary Awards, honoring industry leaders who have pioneered innovation and fostered the spirit of entrepreneurship. This year’s winners have been announced:

Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of LinkedIn and Partner at Greylock Partners
Reid Hoffman is executive chairman and a co-founder of LinkedIn—the world’s largest online business network with over 63 million members. Mr. Hoffman was LinkedIn’s founding CEO for the first four years before moving to a role as chairman in 2007 and president of the products division from 2007-2009. Continuing as executive chairman of LinkedIn, Mr. Hoffman joined Greylock Partners as a partner in 2009. Prior to Greylock, Mr. Hoffman invested in many significant companies including Facebook, Zynga, SixApart, Flickr,, Ning, Ironport and Digg. He is a director of a variety of Silicon Valley businesses and non-profits, including Mozilla, Shopkick, Six Apart, and Zynga. Prior to LinkedIn, Mr. Hoffman was Executive Vice President of PayPal. Mr. Hoffman joined the PayPal board of directors at the company’s founding. He graduated from Stanford University (where he won a Marshall Scholarship and a Dinkelspiel Award) with a Bachelor’s degree with distinction in symbolic systems and he has a Master’s degree in philosophy from Oxford University.

Arthur Patterson, Co-Founder Accel Partners
Arthur Patterson enjoys working with start-up entrepreneurial teams in Software and Services. As the lead investor he has helped management teams develop their companies into market defining leaders. IPO’s of such companies include: Actuate; MetroPCS; Portal Software; UUnet/MCI-WorldCom; and Veritas. He has also been a Director/Investor in many other information technology companies that became public companies. He is currently on the Boards of several private companies including: Aptana; Arcot Systems; Centrify; Coremetrics; Integral Development; Iron Planet; NewlineNoosh; NextG. Recent private exits include: Counterpane sold to BT; Rapt sold to Microsoft; and Savi Technology sold to Lockheed Martin. Prior to co-founding Accel Partners, Mr. Patterson was General Partner of Adler & Company. He started in venture capital at Citicorp Venture Capital. At Citicorp, he also managed a fund of publicly traded equities. Previously, Arthur worked in Washington for the International office of the U.S. Treasury Department - International Monetary, Trade and Development Policy. Mr. Patterson served as the President of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists and as Director of the National Venture Capital Association. He received an AB and an MBA from Harvard.

Brent Schlender, Executive-Director, Co-Founder Techonomy
Brent Schlender is co-founder of Techonomy, a site that explores technology’s relationship to the economy and celebrates innovative individuals and technological advances. Mr. Schlender has written extensively about high-tech industries, business strategy, management and leadership. He spent many years as a foreign correspondent for both FORTUNE and The Wall Street Journal in Latin America and Asia. He also co-developed a dramatic television series with Robert Altman and Garry Trudeau called Killer App and moonlighted playing saxophones in a Bay Area rhythm and blues band for 15 years. He is best known for his lengthy interviews and profiles of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Akio Morita, Bill Joy, John Chambers, Peter Drucker and other notable business leaders. Mr. Schlender holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Kansas.

Chris Shipley, Co-Founder & Analyst at Guidewire Group
Chris Shipley is chairman and CEO of Guidewire Group, Inc., a global analyst and advisory firm focused on early-stage technology companies. A leading technology and product analyst for 25 years, Ms. Shipley is dedicated to the success of technology entrepreneurs, focusing on identifying market opportunities and building value into the most promising young companies. As the executive producer of the renowned DEMO Conference from 1996 until September 2009, Ms. Shipley identified and helped bring to market more than 1,500 products, including WebEx, VMWare,, TiVo, Xfire, Ribbit and Ironport. Ms. Shipley has covered personal technology since 1984 and has worked as a writer and editor for a variety of technology and consumer media. She has won numerous awards for her writing and often has been cited as a leading influencer. She served as chairman and currently is on the board of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives, and is a board member and advisor to a number of early stage companies. Ms. Shipley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Literature and Communication Arts from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa.

Results of the Open-First Survey at WIF 2010

June 20, 2010

Speaking at last week’s World Innovation Forum in New York, Dr. Andreas Weigend outlined what the social data revolution is about and how these tools, methods, and data can contribute to innovation. In a survey completed by over 100 of the attendees after the talk, we had the opportunity to sample a cross-section of current thinking on data and innovation, with some expected and some surprising results.

The survey asked attendees three questions, what they felt was most interesting in the material that Dr. Weigend presented, how these ideas might be applied in their own companies, and what barriers they anticipated encountering in trying to implement these ideas.

Most attendees focused on the core tenant of the social data revolution: that people are willing to share information, indeed that Internet services we use every day are creating enormous pools of data. And that they are easily and inexpensively accessible and, if used properly, that they may be of enormous value to the enterprise. As one attendee put it, “you have opened my eyes widely to data and our digital air!”

While innovation was the primary topic of the conference and the talk, the importance of engagement with customers was another strong theme of the talk and one that was emphasized by many survey respondents. People’s willingness to share data is in part a function of the relationship that the company forges with them. And the balance of power in what Dr. Weigend calls “WE-business” is clearly shifting in favor of the consumer. One attendee put it this way, “…consumers have more power and control over companies than the companies themselves.”

A few clear action items came out of this talk for attendees. Armed with knowledge that vast amounts of valuable information are just a few keystrokes away, the majority of those surveyed stated that they intended to immediately look at how their companies collect, share, and use data in their innovation practices. One particular recommendation frequently cited was the suggestion to examine a company’s web logs in order to determine what search terms visitors are using both to arrive at the company’s site and, once there, what they are hoping to find.

One of Dr. Weigend’s messages that clearly stood out for attendees was that small steps could be taken quickly and inexpensively, and could be used to demonstrate value to the organization before larger investments had to be made. Showing the site and examples of social networking and viewpoint services gave attendees a set of clear starting points for their own investigation (a full list of sites shown during Dr. Weigend’s talk is listed at the bottom of this article).

Nonetheless, one of the most frequently cited barriers to getting started was a lack of resources, particularly money. This was overshadowed though by the enormous number of comments on how difficult it can be to get an organization to do something new, summed up by one attendee with the simple comment, “change is hard.” For innovators this is, of course, the recurring deep challenge we have in every organization and the perceived barrier of limited resources or perception of exposure to risk are often protective coloring for an organization that is resistant to change. Numerous comments to this point were made:

“Culturally we still have people who protect data rather than share.”

“We are still operating in the old cathedral-like style of consumer management”

“The ideas can be seen as scare and out of the realm of control.”

Overall, however, World Innovation Forum attendees participating in this survey were optimistic that small scale experiments can be done that help the organization recognize the benefits of the social data revolution, and begin to accept the changes that it brings. As one participant noted “We need to make the case of why sharing opens us up more as a company and provides us with greater opportunities.”

Ideas abounded on how to start these experiments. A number of people noted that a great way to start is with one local branch or group that may be more forward thinking. Another noted that listening in the hallways and the lunchrooms to the company’s own employees could provide a simple small scale example of the power of social data. And utilizing online tools to gather customer feedback that is already available is another example given of how an organization can inexpensively show how social data can change how we think and work.

List of tools, social networking, and viewpoint sites discussed in Dr. Weigend’s speech: - geolocation check-in - URL shortener - recommendation system - microblogging - online community
Oakland Crimespotting - geolocation crime mapping
datasf - open data for San Francisco
bigapps - open data for New York
fitbit - feedback data for behavioral change
levi’s - sharing opinions by “like” button - collective buying power
Nike running - feedback data for behavioral change
Nokia betalabs - concurrent engineering with consumers
My Starbucks Idea - product design with consumer input - product design with consumer input
Stack Overflow - QnA with feedback and review system - airlines’ seats reviews - airlines’ seats reviews - hotel rooms reviews

Market Engagement: A thoughtful example

June 16, 2010

For the past six months we’ve been working on an exciting project for Posit Science -– a cookbook called ThinkFood. Post Science sells software that helps us exercise our brains, improving memory and thinking. We came up with the ThinkFood project to help them engage with people interested in brain fitness. We suggested food as the topic since exercising our minds and eating the right foods both ultimately contribute to brain fitness. The result is a unique cookbook that features fifty recipes contributed by food bloggers around the globe. The project consists of two different parts – an online version of ThinkFood, and a hardcover book that will be available at the end of July. This is a great example of how a company can engage with a community by creating value for them — talking in this case about the core value proposition of brain fitness through the very accessible topic of food as opposed to the more complex proposition of software exercises.

The design of the program includes a “free Recipe of the Week” program, which distributes one recipe from ThinkFood to a subscriber’s email inbox every Wednesday for 50 weeks. The recipes are a diverse mix, which include snacks, appetizers, sides, salads, main courses and desserts. The online recipes also have exclusive bonus cooking tips, photos and videos from the bloggers. I encourage you to sign up for our Recipe of the Week program here The email program allows the company to cultivate the relationships they are creating with people interested in brain fitness, while continuing to deliver value to them.

For Posit Science the key insight was in recognizing that the large community of health conscious people would also be interested in the company’s core mission of brain fitness and that these people could be reached through a vehicle already familiar to them — recipes that are good, nutritious, and easy to prepare. To gauge the level of interest for this type of cookbook, Open-First discussed the idea among a small group of food bloggers. Based off their feedback about the project, and enthusiasm to participate, we moved forward with the cookbook and continued to include these bloggers in the development of the concept.

After identifying who we wanted to contribute to the book, the Open-First research team compiled a list of 350 food bloggers - taking style, personality, diversity and level of community engagement into consideration. We reached out to our top picks, bloggers we felt would be essential to the cookbook, and invited them to contribute a unique recipe using a brain-healthy ingredient from a list that we provided to them.

To ensure the quality of the recipes, we hired owner Dorothee Mitrani-Bell and her head chef at La Note Restaurant in Berkeley California. Over a week long period, chef Denise Ravizza prepared the dishes, taste-tested them with a group of foodies, and checked the recipes for content and ingredient flow. Open-First and Posit Science teams also began to edit them for content flow and consistency. We were very adamant about not losing the voice and personality of the blogger reflected in the recipes. You will also notice that each recipe has an anecdote from the blogger, which talks about their passion for food, inspiration for their recipe, and love for food blogging.

Jason Whalen from Agency Charlie designed and photographed the cookbook. It was extremely important for us to have a design that we could seamlessly integrate into our email program without compromising the beautiful images you get from a glossy book. Essentially we wanted the email version to look just as gorgeous as the book itself — and it does. We also wanted a home-printing option so the user could compile the recipes themselves to create their own book.

For the photographs, Jason Whalen and Open-First project head Cassie Kovacevich styled them with soft hues for the backdrop, vibrant colored foods, rich woods and timeless cooking tools. Here are some behind-the-scene photos from the three-day shoot:

World Innovation Forum

June 6, 2010

Our own Andreas Weigend will be speaking on Tuesday June 8th in New York City at the World Innovation Forum alongside Michael Porter, Blake Stone and others. Conference organizer’s HSM published this wonderful summary of Dr. Weigend’s thinking about the Social Data Revolution:

What is the social data revolution? It is the shift from a bricks and mortar, and even Web 1.0, world in which companies accumulate data about their customers intrusively, often accidentally, to an online world in which customers and potential customers openly and willingly leave and share data about themselves, whether on company websites where they have purchased products (C2B), with peers, i.e. other customers (C2C) or, ultimately, with the world (C2W) via social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Marketing in a Web 2.0 world means finding ways to understand this paradigm shift in consumer behavior and to take advantage of transformative ways to connect with their customers who are now, because of their ability to access the data left by others, in the driver’s seat of any given transaction.

Read the full post on HSM’s own blog Viva la (social data) Revolution


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