It is hard to sit down and write a post with so many events going on all over the city. I’ll try to do a writeup for each day. Don’t expect an in depth analysis - we have enough bloggers around here. This is more of a personal record of what I’ve seen here in Austin.
Saturday morning started with a panel at the Hilton on ActivityStreams, which covered the story of web syndication, through RSS and ATOM and now with the news feed ever so popular in many social websites. The news feed, though, has no common standard; look at FriendFeed, which still has many already dead services under its list of supported sites, but doesn’t include newer ones. Facebook acquisition aside, it is just too expensive to code up a custom importer for every possible website, with no knowledge of how successful it will be (Should we spend time on supporting this site?).
ActivityStreams proposes a new set of elements, built on top of ATOM, which is already being adopted by many popular websites even though it is presently only at version 0.8. After going through some philosophy on lifestreams and their complexity, the result is that we can model most news feeds through a simple model: ACTOR + VERB + OBJECT + TARGET. How so? Think about a YouTube video comment you’ve just made. You are the actor (which is not to say the author, or uploader of the video - although we reuse the author element in ATOM for this), your action is “commenting” and object is your comment. The target, finally, is the YouTube video.
ActivityStreams is used by Google Buzz, and all sites that use it will be supported immediately by Buzz.
One final comment: Robert Scoble was present, and he livestreamed the session from his laptop to “The Internets” (as the panel put it, with a hint of annoyance at the interruption).
After that panel, it was off to the Radisson for a panel on the iPad: New Opportunities for Content Creators. The panel was made up of Raven Zachary from small society, Shervin Pishevar, Jason Grigsby and members of mainstream media publications. It was a most interesting panel, covering many new uses of the iPad as seen by the iPhone development community’s top contenders. This one deserves a whole new post of its own, which I will post later in the week.