Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for March, 2007

How to deauthorize a dead computer for iTunes

Posted by shannonclark on March 27, 2007

Or yet another in the set of things you may need to do when your laptop gives up the digital ghost.

Apple does not hide the information on how to do this, but neither do they make it all that obvious to find. Here is the direct link to their support page on deauthorization.

In essence – on a machine with iTunes, go to the iTunes store, login with your account (note, if you are using a friend’s computer be sure to log out of their account first), select the “view account” option, then there will be an option to “deauthorize all” – select this and ALL of your authorized computers will be deauthorized.

This means that if you have to take this route, you will need to then RE-authorize each of your other machines.

A better solution – if you have the chance before your computer dies (or you recycle it/sell it/give it away) be sure to open up iTunes on that machine, connected to the Internet, and deauthorize JUST that machine.

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks, mac | 129 Comments »

Using Parallels to backup your laptop

Posted by shannonclark on March 26, 2007

As my posts of this past weekend describe, this weekend my laptop of many years started crashing on a regular and ongoing basis. From this modern day catastrophe, however, besides a great new laptop that is on its way to me, I learned how to use Parallels to backup your laptop – something I should have done months ago when I first purchased Parallels.

In the recently released version of Parallels there is a fantastic program called the “Transporter“. What this program allows you to do is to create a virtual image of an existing system.

To do this the “transporter agent” has to be installed on that target computer (a process that you should do before, not after as in my case, the system starts to crash. Once installed you can run the transporter program either on the target computer (creating an image on an attached disk or network location) or you can run it on another machine with the transporter software installed.

In my case I installed the agent on my laptop and ran it, then ran the transporter program on my iMac. It took over night, but the program created a virtual drive image of the then current state of my laptop.

All I then had to do was to boot up the virtual image and my laptop was now running inside of my iMac.

However, there is one further detail that has to be noted. When you do this with a Microsoft system (as my laptop was – it ran Windows XP sp 2) you will be prompted to activate Windows again as the hardware configuration will have changed considerably.

IF you will be running BOTH the laptop and the virtual image – you will most likely have to purchase a separate license of Windows for the virtual image (unless you have a site license already). In my case since my laptop is now most likely on its way to be recycled (or if not recycled then perhaps repurposed into a linux box if the system level hardware issues can be fixed) I was able to call Microsoft via their activation line and after talking with the support person obtain a new key for my new installation (tied to my old key). As I am now in essence running only the one instance on indeed new hardware this worked for me. Your results, however, may vary.

However license issues aside, I would highly recommend thinking about using Parallels as a backup method, especially suited for multi-platform homes or businesses. By transforming my laptop image into a virtual machine I have complete and total access to everything that was on my laptop from within my iMac desktop. Not just to the data (which I had already mostly synced) but to all of my applications, cached data, tools and customizations.

One of my first acts on getting my new laptop will be to look at how to incorporate Parallels into that new system in some capacity – I’m then going to look at whether it is possible to use the transporter to do some form of modern incremental backups. If it is then there may be many ways to automate this process – and to ensure that my laptop, probably while it charges overnight may also be being backed up into a potentially live and working system available on my home network.

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks, mac, working | Leave a Comment »

Shopping for a laptop – and why it sucks

Posted by shannonclark on March 24, 2007

I am a highly technical individual. My first computer (that I bought myself) was a serious, unix workstation (a NeXT Cube to be precise). My computers are extensions of me, the tools I use to create, to participate, to communicate and interact via.

For most of today, while my dying ThinkPad T40 is being imaged into a new life as a virtual machine running via Parallels on my iMac desktop, I have been shopping for a new laptop.

This process is too hard

I’ve looked at about a dozen different websites from a direct computer makers to large resellers (,, many others) and even knowing a great deal about computers – I’m left feeling lost, confused, befuddled, uncertain what to buy, unclear even what my options are – let alone how to compare or decide between various options.

At most websites, before I can even look at laptop options, I have to first select between: Home and Home Office; Small Business; Large Enterprise; Government and often other options as well. Each choice the leads me to a radically different site – usually presenting information in very different ways, and often selling entirely different systems (or offering different configuration options).

Now I do, in fact, work from my home.

But in my actual use and needs, I am perhaps closer to, actually I don’t know – none of the categories really capture what I truly need in a computer. I need a tool – as simple, yet as powerful as possible. By “simple” I mean – I don’t want Microsoft Works, random audio or 60 day trial software cluttering up my system. By power I mean I may end up booting into multiple OSes (and/or running others via VM software). At times I may need to compile code, may run semi-arcane tools like X11, may even need to have a locally running web server (and perhaps database server) to demo my applications on (without relying on a network connection).

Furthermore, unlike many other “power” users of systems, I also need most of the features of serious business travelers – I want to actually carry my laptop. And since I walk or try to nearly 4-5 miles most days, every pound I carry matters (especially to my shoulders). I also relish having the freedom of a system that could run on a cross country flight (so at a minimum reliably run for 5+ hours with 7-8 hours being even better). I’m happy to achieve that via an extended battery, possibly even via a second installed battery (though with that I’d rather be able to get to 10+ hours of use).

So getting back to the experience of shopping – with my rather complex (and highly technical) needs, I have found that any site that first requires me to identify myself via broad categories will generally be horrible throughout the shopping experience. Of the major brands, Lenovo (IBM), Toshiba, and Apple fared well on this front. Dell, HP/Compaq, Sony and others not nearly as well. But even Apple has its flaws.

Now onto the shopping experience(s). Pretty much all horrible.

Quick – do you know the difference between the Intel Core 2 Duo mobile processor, the Intel Centrino Core 2 Duo mobile processor, and the Intel Core Duo mobile processor? (don’t try looking to Intel’s website for much help – they list at least 40+ different processors just a mobile options – with different lists depending on where you start looking.

Second quick test – look for laptops on any site out there. Your choice – almost NO site can pass my simple checklist.


Okay as quickly as possible find the following about the systems:

  1. Weight of the laptop (bonus for weight as configured + power adapter)
  2. Battery life (Bonus for clear answers as to what additional battery options exist and what they add)
  3. Screen resolution (note – not just screen size, the actual native number of pixels. And no WXGA etc isn’t all that useful). And an aside, have you noticed how hard it is still to get a laptop with at least 1400 x 1050 screen resolution?
  4. Basic system details – processor, installed memory, hd size, graphics card w/memory
  5. OS installed (bonus for Linux & Vista compatibility)
  6. Slightly advanced system details – internal microphone? built-in speakers? camera? # of USB 2.0 ports? firewire ports? memory card readers? Express card slot(s)? PC Card slots?
  7. Exact wifi compatibility (i.e. a/b/g/n/?)
  8. if built-in WWAN capabilities – EXACTLY which carrier and what contract requirements are implied?
  9. The precise terms of the warranty including how to get it to at least 3 years, On-site repair, with FULL coverage (i.e. will replace the screen even in the case of accidental damage)

If you can find all that – even after deep searching – you are better than I (I’ve gotten, mostly, answers to these questions – but only after very very painstaking efforts – and I’m still not 100% certain in most cases).

Really great companies would also have options not of “this piece of crap software or that piece” but more like “neither – and please don’t charge me”.

And don’t even get me started on how annoying it is to look at buying a full license of, probably, Windows Vista, when I have TWO full licenses to Windows Vista Ultimate which Microsoft gave me for attending one of their launch events. (and they gave me two licenses to Microsoft Office 2007 as well)

Not that I really want to run Vista – but it seems unlikely that I’ll buy a new machine at the moment and not get Vista whether I want it or not.

Posted in customer service, digital bedouin, economics, Entrepreneurship, geeks, mac, mobile, tablet pc, working | 3 Comments »

The death of a laptop and what to buy next?

Posted by shannonclark on March 23, 2007

So today has been highly unproductive for me (though thankfully not so for my business partner so we are still making rapid progress towards launch). Since a few days ago my laptop has suddenly taken to halting completely, to blue screening repeatedly with page faults and other fun error messages, and in general showing signs of serious, perhaps fatal errors.

I have tried more than the usual fixes – repeated chkdsk’s, updated antivirus/spyware scans, running in various “safe” modes – and yet the problems keep repeating. One error dump generated the not so helpful information from Microsoft that it “might” be a memory problem (however further testing of memory didn’t show any faults there) – I did remove my extra 1gb just in case, and the machine promptly froze on reboot.

So late this evening I am trying yet another tact – to at least keep my functional use of the system (if not the hardware) – I am attempting to convert my removed laptop harddrive into a Parallels virtual computer on my iMac desktop.

This is, however, easier said than done. If my laptop were still booting and running safely, I could (in theory) achieve this effect by downloading and installing the Parallels Transporter software on the PC, and then running it – sending the image either to an attached USB drive, or directly to my mac over the network. However as my machine is now booting unreliably – and I’ve already removed the hd and put it into a spare external USB disk enclosure, this option is not ideal. (not to mention that in Windows XP Safe Mode with networking WIFI doesn’t appear to work – so I would have to connect via cable to download the software, then disconnect, connect via a local switch to my iMac and then try to run the Transporter software (and hope that my laptop doesn’t halt or crash while moving some 50 gb or so of data).

So with that as the current last resort what I am trying first is a bit complicated – but may yet save (at least part) of the day.

I have connected my old laptop HD to my iMac via a firewire cable.

I am now creating a READ ONLY image of the windows XP partition on the iMac (I tried to create a read/write image but that failed – I think due to disk errors).

When (hopefully) this process is completed, I will then CONVERT the READ ONLY image into a read/write image.

According to at least one website, I can then RENAME that .dmg file to a .hdd file – and thus fool Parallels into reading it in and using it to create a virtual computer running Windows XP with all my data & applications installed.

At least that is the plan.

Now you may be asking – why go through all this bother? (haven’t even gotten to what I will be buying next – have not idea about that at the moment).

1. My current printer, a Panasonic network duplex printer does not have any mac drivers – this means only my (now dying) laptop can print. It is a great printer so I do not really want to replace it (but if all this fails may have to)

2. My laptop has my Outlook files (archives are on a seperate NTSF formated HD more on that in a moment) which contain all my work for the past 7+ years (not to mention all my contacts – though they are also mostly replicated to Google Gmail and Plaxo)

3. My iPod is currently configured to work with my laptop (which means it is formated for the PC)

4. All of my media files are in iTunes on my laptop (organized there – 110gb of them are, however, on a separate external HD).

5. My podcatcher (and thus podcast history) is on the laptop – and I have not found anything usable for the mac (and no – iTunes does not cut it for me). By “usable” I mean – a podcatcher that organizes each podcast into a SEPARATE playlist inside of iTunes, automates the REMOVAL of podcasts based on my action (in my current case rating them 1 star), does NOT change the id3 tags, does NOT put podcasts into iTunes as “podcasts” – which means they are no longer manageable via the normal tools (smart lists etc in particular), and critically because I do also still use my Shuffle does NOT mark all the podcasts as “do not shuffle” – a “feature” I find useless as it means I can’t put those such files onto the shuffle! Not to mention iTunes apparent tendency (for me at least) to not download the full file often – and not to give you ANY way to manage or redownload old episodes if something has failed).

6. I have multiple external drives that are formated as NTFS disks, this means that while my iMac can READ those drives, it cannot WRITE to them – thus while they are perhaps useful as archives, they would be rendered useless as places to write unless I have a windows machine running (and yes, perhaps installing Vista on my iMac under Parallels might work – if I can also get the USB drivers etc working well)

So all this leaves me with a few concerns about what to get next. One option is to buy a large laptop HD and try to figure out a way to migrate my data from my current (failing) HD to the newer HD and see if that is all it takes to make my laptop purr again – but that assumes the only problem is the HD – possible, but if there is a motherboard or memory problem (with the built-in, on motherboard memory) then that just means I end up with an extra large laptop HD and have wasted a bunch of time (and yes, I do already have a USB/firewire case where the drive could find a home).

Another option is to buy a used laptop identical to my old T40 and swap stuff around (however my T40 was a rare model – had a much higher res screen than most and a larger HD etc).

A more likely option is to buy a new PC laptop. Which then leads to lots of questions. Do I buy a current version of my ThinkPad (now from Lenovo)? (however the current versions while with faster processors do not necessarily have the same or better screens, or get anywhere near my battery performance – my current laptop can easily get 6+ hours of work out of my extended life battery – and when new could top 7 even approach 8 hours).

Do I get a tablet PC (though still there are very very few models that have a high screen resolution (1400 x 1000 is my bare minimum acceptable screen resolution for a laptop)?

Or do I think about getting a Mac laptop. Yes all the “cool” kids have them (and many conference goers etc) – but I have a number of serious complaints.

1. NO multiple button or NON-trackpad options in the keypad. The ThinkPad keyboard + mouse stick is perhaps the best laptop layout and keyboard I have ever used – and I use the right mouse option (even on my Mac) EVERY SINGLE DAY.

2. Screen resolutions that are just about but slightly worse than my current laptop on the 15″ model (1400 x 900) – better on the 17″ – however see my next point on weight.

3. Weights that are no better than my current 5.5lbs for my ThinkPad – and MUCH worse with the 17″ model (which approaches 7lbs with power adapter). I walk nearly 4-5 miles most days – every extra pound matters heavily to my back (yes, pun intended).

4. Battery life that while okay does not approach my ThinkPad’s 6-7hrs easily.

On the upside – yes a camera would be neat, and yes Mac software runs great (but as noted above, I still don’t have replacements for many things I use every day – so would have to commit to running Parallels frequently at a minimum). The cost is a factor – though tablet options I looked at do approach over 3k with all my features, extra batteries and 3+ year (on-site!) warranty.

So tomorrow (well later today) I will start looking at other non-ThinkPad options (though I have to be careful that they don’t leave out basic items like the microphone my ex-girlfriends Fujitsu did not have built-in – Skype’s usefulness without a built-in mic is much diminished.).

Suggestions or other options are welcome (and heck – Microsoft, if you are reading this and want to send me a free laptop to play with – I will for a while, though I do admit to be reluctant to move to Vista for any number of reasons (not the least of which is I suspect my printer may fail in Vista).

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, mac, tablet pc, web2.0, working | 1 Comment »

Post Mobile MeshWalk – first thoughts and thanks

Posted by shannonclark on March 21, 2007

So I am home from the Mobile MeshWalk. A few quick thoughts and thanks – I will be blogging a great deal more as the media from the MeshWalk is uploaded and more participants have had a chance to write their own blogs and thoughts on the day.

First a huge thanks to everyone at France Telcom/Orange who helped with the coordination of the Mobile MeshWalk and the financial sponsorship of the costs of today.

Thanks to everyone to came and participated – whether at the end of the day for the closing party, in the morning for the design crawl, or for all who participated in the whole event!

Thanks to Twitter, who in the midst of their massive hype and growth, rolled out a cool new group feature for us today.  [a meshwalk group – anyone who followed meshwalk could then send a message with meshwalk at the start and have it sent to everyone else following meshwalk]

And finally thanks to everyone at RubyRed Labs (now Satisfaction), Frog Design SF, and fuse project! Your generosity with your time this morning in hosting the 40+ participants and in presenting some of what you have learned, worked on, and thought about the mobile space is fantastic.

Though I was suffering from a serious cold today, I had the real pleasure of meeting an incredibly diverse and smart group of people who participated in the Mobile MeshWalk. With participants from France, Japan and China (the first who flew here for the Mobile MeshWalk, the other two who live in the bay area at the moment) as well as from all across the bay area and a few from New York and other states – we had a great mix. Participants included many designers, a number of entrepreneurs, but also representatives of multiple cell phone manufacturers, many different international carriers, researchers and media.

More than any specific topic, a MeshWalk is about connections – about shared experiences and of seeing the world via showing it to others. The act of talking to people while walking with them, as more than one participant mentioned to me tonight, is very different than how we engage in more traditional business or networking environments. For one thing, as people are walking you can easily and comfortably walk alongside them, listen in, and naturally join a conversation – and as importantly, leave that conversation comfortably when you wish.

The morning started off with sprinkles and a bit of rain – but for those who stuck with it after our delicious lunchboxes from Mistral – the sun came out and over the course of the MeshWalk, we shed our coats and sweaters as the walk progressed towards the Palace of Fine Arts.

In the next few days I will be focused on the upcoming launch of my new firm NELA. As the media from the Mobile MeshWalk is posted online we will be asking everyone (myself included) to use that media corpus as a starting point for telling stories – illustrating the conversations sparked by the day, or telling new ones inspired by the images as well as the experience. I will try to link to all of these stories here – as well as on the MeshWalk wiki

Thanks again to everyone for a great day – and to new (and old) friends!

Posted in meshforum, meshwalk, mobile, networks, San Francisco | 2 Comments »

Fray Cafe, SXSW, my untold story

Posted by shannonclark on March 15, 2007

At SXSW I attended my friend Eric Rice’s Fray Cafe party. I arrived late, having had the pleasure of eating BBQ at Stubbs with a bunch of interesting people (Steve Garfield, the team, and many others) so when I signed up to tell a story I was the 18th person on the list, after my friend Sarah Dopp in fact.

I signed up not actually having a specific story in mind. I should probably explain, the idea of Fray Cafe (which Eric did not start but has been moderating for many years) is for people to get up on stage and tell a story in under five minutes. Any story – mostly true (at least the evening I was there) and on any topic in any tone they want. Many were amusing, the format lends itself to something akin to standup comedy, but many too were very heartfelt. A few were by people who are clearly practiced in the art of telling stories on stage, complete with visual gestures, sound effects and stage presence. Others were delivered in a simple tone from a stationary, static position. The audience listended to all and reacted appropriately.

Having not had the chance to tell my story live, here is the blog version of what I at the end had decided to talk about, inspired in part by a brief email I had read while watching the Fray Cafe performers.

Today I am going to tell a story about one of the most important books of my life. It is a story of why I have two copies of this book, three if you include my collection of the originals that became the book. It is also the story of how (and perhaps to a degree why) I started organizing events. It involves lots of substances – though not taken by me. It is also very geeky – yet the two main people (not I) were also editors at Playboy.

But first, a bit of a background and explanation to set the scene. It is the late 80’s, 1989 to be precise, and I am in high school. A high school sophomore, extremely geeky – seriously I was the captain of my school’s chess club. At the high school science fiction and fantasy club that year we decided to have a small gaming convention, we pulled it off in the spring but only barely. Held it in one of the high school lunch rooms one Saturday morning and mostly it was just the science fiction and fantasy club and the gaming club (who were mostly the same people) who came and played games.

The next year, however, we decided to hold a full, “real” science fiction convention. I and my friend Dwight Sora did most of the organizing and planning. It was conversation with my father that resulted in the name of the convention – OPCON – still running 19 years later! In the course of organizing this, my second event (and by far the largest thing I had tried to that point) I learned a great deal about how to inspire people to help – and how to coordinate lots of people working on their own goals towards a larger end.

All that aside I also got to meet one of my heros.

That summer I had bought a book which became one of my still all time favorite books. One of the few books I have reread a number of times, and still one of the more impactful books I have encountered.

The book – The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

Now I’m sure that many of you have read it, but for those who have not (and haven’t yet looked at the wikipedia page), I will explain what the Illuminatus Trilogy is, and why I love it.

It is the penultimate paranoid conspiracy book. It ranges in time and space, from conspiracy to conspiracy, and though written in a stream of consciousness style in many places is also seriously humorous. It freely mixes the real and the pseudo-real, the long rumored and the patently false. It celebrates the 60’s and drug experimentation – yet is written in a way that even a teatotaller such as myself (I’ve since allowed myself to have an occasional cider or glass of wine – but nothing else) can follow and appreciate the experiences.

But most seriously – it is a great book. I think a work of literature – as well as lots and lots of fun to read – and the puzzle – of what is “real” and what is not (each chapter is often preceded by quotes – some from real books, many from non-existent ones). In some ways it echoes Don Delillo’s Mao book – though I believe it was written long before his book.

If you have played the card game Illuminati from Steve Jackson Games – it was inspired by this book.

Anyway, to explain, that summer I read the Illuminatus Trilogy – a thick book of over 1000 pages and promptly suggested it to all my friends as well. We all loved it. I continued by finding and reading the many additional books that Robert Anton Wilson had written as sequels (of a sort) to the book.

While we were planning OPCON, we started researching authors who lived in Illinois. I wanted OPCON to be a “real” science fiction convention (though having not at that point actually attended a science fiction convention – I was mostly going on what I would have wanted to see myself – probably as good a starting point as anything). So this meant that we had to have authors, as well as games. Stores selling stuff, movies for people to view, food to buy and eat etc. And we managed it – lots of local stores selling stuff. Local restaurants selling food, Lots of games for people to play, movies running all throughout the con, a display of things from the library of the club and personal collections, and indeed a track of local authors reading and signing.

Among the authors – Robert Shea.

Turns out he lived just north of Oak Park. We contacted him and he was excited about coming – only problem was that he needed a ride.

So that is how, having read his book and been a great fan, I found myself sitting at his kitchen table, drinking iced tea, and then later talking with him on the drive down to the convention.

It was, perhaps, my first experience of getting to know someone famous, a multiply published author, in a personal, human way. Robert Shea was an inspiration to me – in his life he had been an editor at Playboy (where he met Robert Anton Wilson and where they wrote what became the Illuminatus Trilogy). After that he went on to write a number of other books and to become a leader of the Libertarian Party.

But what I appreciated in that moment, of sitting at his kitchen table, meeting his family, was the human, personal reality of the author – and the respect with which he talked to us – a pair of gangly teenage geeks and fans.

His talk at OPCON that year, as it turns out,  led to many other things for Robert Shea. He was invited to speak at the upcoming Worldcon in Chicago (1991) and later to be the master of ceremonies and guest of honor at Capricon a local Chicago convention. In the audience at OPCON were, it turns out, a number of the people running the Worldcon in Chicago. They came because they lived just a few blocks away and had read about OPCON in the local Oak Park community newsletter.

At OPCON I had my copy, well read, of the Illuminatus Trilogy signed, along with a number of other books by Robert Shea, still among my treasured possessions.

Dwight and I were invited to volunteer at the Worldcon in 1991. It was there that I met Robert Anton Wilson. As I have blogged about in the past, I heard a panel at Chicon that included Robert Anton Wilson, Philip Jose Farmer, “some guy from Tor”, Robert Shea, and Timothy Leary. It was on “High Weirdness”  – and no, I don’t think the pun on “high” was accidental in the least. Robert Anton Wilson was, perhaps, among the few people to have probably done more experimentation (at least documented) than even Timothy Leary.

After that panel, I got a different copy of the Illuminatus Trilogy signed by Robert Anton Wilson (and yes, now I regret not getting the same copy signed).

I was reminded of this because, after a long struggle, Robert Anton Wilson died on Jan 11 of this year (2007).

Though I was a fan, and I had paid attention to his battle with disease when it was noted by many people online, including BoingBoing, and as a result a lot of money was raised by his many fans to allow him to live out his final days without financial concerns, I had not realized that he had died.

But minutes ago, while I was standing in the back of the cafe, checking my email on my phone, I read an email to a mailing list I am on which noted that today (March 11th 2007) was the 2 month anniversary of Robert Anton Wilson’s death.

I did not make it to the convention where Robert Shea was the guest of honor. A few months later, he died so I missed my final opportunity to talk with him, to get to know him even better.

But the memory of that iced tea in his kitchen lingers on.

As do the stories he told of how they wrote the book – each writing a chapter, trying to write the other into a cliffhanger that couldn’t be written out of, always trying to one-up and top the other. A process that was so back and forth that they could no longer remember who had written which chapters, or created which characters.

For me it was a vital and early lesson about the one on one connections that can be formed, about the humanness of our heroes, about the connectedness of the world (and yes this is a theme conspiracy nuts take to the extreme), about the role (both good and bad) of clubs and organizations, and about the power of ideas and connections to change the world.

I also deeply appreciated the non-Christian, atheistic perspective that pervades the work – and though I am not precisely a Libertarian, I do have some strong sympathy with their politics – and certainly that is part of why.

But mostly it was that glass of iced tea.

Posted in geeks, reading | 2 Comments »

Going to SXSW

Posted by shannonclark on March 9, 2007

I am going to SXSW!

At the very last, possible minute. I booked my flight for tomorrow – but only just (an overnight flight leaving SFO just after midnight). I booked my hotel room for the weekend – found one in downtown Austin + found a friend also going to SXSW to share most of the nights.

So I will be in Austin TX (for my first time ever) for the Interactive side of SXSW. I’ll attend panels, parties, get some bbq. Twitter away I suspect. I’ll be using to watch for parties.

If you are going to be at SXSW as well – send me a twitter, leave a comment here, call me or email me. Suggestions for where to eat, what to see, who to meet, which panels to catch (or miss) are all welcome. I will also try to get to some of BarCamp Austin which is happening at the same time.

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks, mobile, web2.0 | 1 Comment »

PodTech:Shannon Clark on Mobile Identity

Posted by shannonclark on March 7, 2007

An interview I did at the recent Mobile Identity Workshop organized by Doc Searls here in San Francisco.

[podtech content=]

Posted in digital bedouin, economics, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshwalk, mobile, networks | 1 Comment »

What is a MeshWalk?

Posted by shannonclark on March 6, 2007

On March 20th I am organizing a Mobile MeshWalk in San Francisco.

An obvious question is “What is a MeshWalk?”

The short answer – a conference which is held in motion, outside, documented and captured digitally.

To answer that in more detail, some background. For over a decade I have been participating in and helping organize events in Open Space. First as a member of the Chicago Company of Friends, and later for a wide range of groups and businesses. While I have not been as deeply involved as many friends of mine (my good friend Michael Herman for example runs one of the leading websites on Open Space and teaches & consults in Open Space around the globe).

Each year, at least a day of MeshForum, the conference on the study of Networks which I run each year, is held in Open Space.

At MeshForum 2006 the last day was in Open Space. After a productive morning of discussions and sessions, we broke as a group for lunch and walked together from the space we were in (thanks to Ruby Red Labs and Adaptive Path) to South Park where we purchased sandwiches and continued our discussions while eating seated outdoors. Photos from this lunch are among the many shots from MeshForum available on Flickr.

The tone of the day was changed by these conversations held outdoors. Something simple about being outside, in the fresh air, in public, yet still talking about important professional matters.

I took note and began to design a full event format based on this simple insight. After Gnomedex in Seattle last year I held the first formal MeshWalk. We met for coffee at the first Starbucks in Pike’s Place Market and then as a group walked through Seattle to the top of Queen Anne where we stopped for a great brunch, then walked back down the hill. The conversations from that walk were wide ranging but by far the best which we had held at a fantastic conference. Our focus there was on our takeaways from Gnomedex, what we each were going to do next, and how we could help each other. You can listen to a part of the conversations from that first MeshWalk on the Queso Compuesto podcast which was posted by Giovanni Gallucci, one of the participants.

So, with that as the background, what makes an event a MeshWalk?

1. The event starts with everyone together – preferably sharing a light snack/breakfast/coffee. Brief introductions are made as a large group – and the outline of the MeshWalk is presented. Everyone receives a “hipster PDA” (i.e. notecards & binder clip) along with a pen. Participants have been encouraged to bring digital cameras and lightweight digital recording gear – but discouraged from bringing laptops, heavy bags etc.

2. For the walk the format is “Appreciative Inquiry” – which means that as one person talks the others in that group listen and only ask questions – in an appreciative manner. The role of speaker then rotates through the small group. As people walk, groups of 3-5 people naturally form.

3. Every 30 minutes or so, the MeshWalk naturally reaches a pause point. Often some large, usually public space, where the group reforms, some larger conversations may occur and then when everyone regroups, new small groups may form as the MeshWalk continues. The idea is that over the course of the MeshWalk you will change who you are talking with from time to time – and that these frequent pauses give everyone a chance to regroup and decide on the next leg of the walk.

4. The exact path of the MeshWalk is fluid – and not set in advance – but some major waypoints and destinations may be set in advance – to give the walk some destinations to reach and a broad outline of where the walk will reach.

5. The MeshWalk includes a group meal. Either at the end, or in the middle (or both) – the act of breaking bread together as well as walking together is a core part of the MeshWalk experience.

6. Everything said on the MeshWalk is done so in public – so a MeshWalk is a time to talk in a public way. The expectation is that conversations will be recorded, that the participants and the area around the MeshWalk will be captured in photos, in audio recordings, and in video.

There is no “walk leader” in a MeshWalk – though there is often a primary organizer. The role of the organizer is the handle the logistics, to set the tone, to help facilitate the experience – but the MeshWalk is “led” by each of the participants. While you can enjoy a MeshWalk in silence, you are enouraged to speak as well as to listen. In a way, a MeshWalk is a fully participatory event – everyone has a chance to talk and be listened to, to engage around a broad topic and to explore it as part of a group over the course of the MeshWalk.

The larger group conversations at a MeshWalk are chances to bring together the multiple smaller group discussions – and to share the world around the MeshWalk with each other.

For as the MeshWalk is about the people – it is also about the world (often a city) around the MeshWalk as well. Participants are encouraged to show that world to each other – to actively view the world and share it with each other.

Posted in geeks, meshforum, meshwalk, mobile, networks | 4 Comments »

Mobile MeshWalk March 20th in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 6, 2007

On March 20th here in San Francisco a Mobile MeshWalk will be held. The focus of the MeshWalk will be the future of Mobile Marketing and Media. In the morning we will have a Design Crawl of a number of SF Design firms with offices near South Park. After a group lunch (probably at the nearby Ferry Plaza) we will spend the afternoon walking through San Francisco, while having small group discussions about the role of commercial messages in a mobile context. And of course we will end the day with a party, drinks, and time to share our day’s experiences.

France Telcom (owners of Orange in Europe) has signed on as the lead sponsor – thanks to them all participants will receive breakfast, lunch  and drinks.

My interest in holding the Mobile MeshWalk arises out of two things. One, my MeshForum conference at which I first conceived the idea of this format for holding an event. And two, my new mobile application startup. For NELA I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to include commercial speech inside of a mostly mobile context application. It is my strong bet with NELA that done well, such messages can be valuable to both the users of the service AND to the companies presenting their messages, brands and information. (and thus, of course, financially valuable to NELA as well).

In the next few weeks both here and at and at I will be exploring a range of issues related to the Mobile MeshWalk. Many of these issues I will also address on the Wiki for the MeshWalk as well.

If you are in the Bay Area (or can get here) for the MeshWalk on March 20th I encourage you to do so. It will be an amazing day of conversations and discussions.

If your company is interested in participating in the Mobile MeshWalk please contact me asap (shannon.clark AT works well). Either as a host during the Design Crawl, as an additional sponsor, or in some other capacity.

I am also available to organize similar events – either public ones such as the Mobile MeshWalk, or private. Contact me for the details, costs etc.

Posted in digital bedouin, economics, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshforum, meshwalk, mobile, networks, photos, podcasts, San Francisco, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »