January Washington DC OLPC Learning Club Meetup is Tonight

I’m excited because tonight is the January meetup of the Washington DC One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Learning Club meetup.  As you all know, OLPC is an initiative that I’m very passionate/excited about.

If you’re a OLPC fanboy like me or interested in learning more about the initiative, this is a great opportunity to come, meet like minded people, and get your questions answered.

I’m going to be giving a short talk (15 minutes) about some of the content initiatives that I’ve been apart of with OLPC.  Should be fun!

The event is at Greater DC Cares at  Greater DC Cares 1725 I (Eye) Street, NW, Street Level Entrance, SunTrust Conference Room, Washington, DC 20006.

WidgetDevCamp rocked Washington DC.

Friday night and all day Saturday Washington DC held the inaugural WidgetDevCamp

It was a gathering of local geeks to talk about the issues relating to widgets and other modular social applications ( like Facebook apps.)  There was also a lot of widget and social application hacking.

On Friday night we gathered to talk about the overall goal of the event, we discussed high level issues and uses related to widgets, and also brainstormed widgets we wanted to build. Before and after there was also lots of time to hang out and relax.  It was a good opportunity to get to know others who were interested in the space.  I think there were 50-60 people who were there on Friday night.

Bill Rubacky

On Saturday while only 30-40 people there, we had folks leading GREAT discussions.  There was everything from how to use widgets with the social graph, an overview of the Clearspring platform, widget best practices, desktop versus Web widgets, JavaScript vs. Flash vs. Flex for widgets, Facebook app development 101, and much more.  It was great!

Also we had a number of folks who spent a lot of time Saturday doing some coding.  We had guys writing widgets, Facebook apps, and some even playing with Google’s Android mobile platform.  At the end of the day on Saturday, we gave the different developers time to demo what they’d been hacking up and the demo’s caused some really great discussion too.

One conclusion that I walked away from the event with is that all too often people work on their various projects and home by themselves but they’ll have a TON more fun if they can do it with or around other people with like interests.  We need more co-working in Washington DC.  I’ll write more about this later.

If you’d like to have a WidgetDevCamp in your city, please e-mail me at justin AT clearspring DOT com.  I’d be happy to help however I can.

Note: First photo was taken by Jason Garber.  The second photo was taken by me.

Photos from WidgetDevCamp DC

UPDATE: You can see more photos at the WidgetDevCamp DC Flickr Group.  If you took photos of the event, please join the group and add the photos.

So WidgetDevCamp DC was this last weekend… it was awesome!  Here are some photos.  I’ll be writing more about it later.

IMG_0040 IMG_0035

IMG_0032 Peter talking about the social graph

IMG_0028 Mmmm donuts

Social Matchbox DC – Washington DC Tech Startup & Geek Speed Dating

 UPDATE: My apologies!  The event is on Monday not Tuesday.  Thanks John for the correction.

My good friend and recruiter extraordinaire Robert Neelbauer  along with one of his compadres is holding an event next Tuesday Monday called Social Matchbox DC.   It’s a job fair/meet and greet for local DC tech startups and local geeks.

I’m confident it will be a great event.  Unfortunately, I can’t be there but you should go, especially if you’re looking for a job.  A lot of local startups will be there… Razoo, Mixx, Webs (formerly Freewebs), Hotpads, Clearspring, Intridea Inc, CustomInk and others.

Widgets are The Future of The Comic Strip

Growing up, reading comic strips was my major reason to read the newspaper.  To this day, I still enjoy reading the comics within the Style section of the Washington Post.  Mainly, I read Garfield, Peanuts, and Dilbert.

But I have the feeling that the physical newspaper isn’t long for this world.  (I think my home town newspaper is getting small enough that it will qualify as a pamphlet.)

People are turning to the Web for their information.  Web applications like personalized home pages are becoming the view port into the world.  The Web can give me what I want… where I want it

If the comic strip wants to succeed, it needs to be modular so that its content  can be syndicated in whatever environment a user desires.

Well… Dilbert has done just that. There is now the Official Dilbert Widget.

You can post the Dilbert widget to your personalized home page, your social network, or your blog side bar easily. From within the widget, you can search view today’s comic strip (pane by pane) or you can view past comic strips.

I think it’s wonderful. It’s on my iGoogle page.

And… Yes, the Official Dilbert Widget is powered by Clearspring Technologies. (Disclosure: I’m joining the staff at Clearspring.)

What do you think of the Dilbert Widget?  Have you installed it somewhere yet?  Could you make it better?  How could you take the future of publishing comic strips to an even better level?

Digg (Quietly) Releases a New iGoogle Widget

Digg's New iGoogle Widget

Google’s personalized home page service iGoogle is one of my viewports into the world.  It is also how I mainly interact with Digg.

I was pleasantly surprised today when I noticed that Digg had updated their iGoogle widget.

Before you could just get a listing of the recent top stories.  Now you can flip see the recent top news stories, images, or videos either separately or together.  There is even the little news story image, like on Digg. You can see your friends activity.  Finally, you can also select specific topics that you want to see.

I think this is a PERFECT example of a Web application letting you take the functionality you enjoy with you.  You use Digg in the comfort of an environment that makes sense for you.  In this case, it’s iGoogle… and a lot of people use iGoogle.

On a related note: why isn’t Digg blogging about this?  Fanboys can only be fanboys if they know what you’re doing.

The W3C Published The First Public Working Draft of HTML 5

HTML 5 just released its first public working draft

There was a lot of big news today in the world of Web standards.  Today the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the first public working draft of HTML 5.  It’s the next generation of thinking around the future of HTML, which is the lingua franca or building blocks of every Web site.

Some of HTML 5 is great… some of its meh… but it’s a start, which is AWESOME.

Yes, just to be clear… HTML 5 is far from done.  If you follow the timeline set forth by the chairs of the working group who have taken up this endeavor, this may be wrapping up in 2010.

But… what this first public working draft is is hopefully a starting point of even more community discussion and participating in what will be the future of the Web.

Now, just to warn you.  The HTML 5 specification draft is pretty heavy… as in the language is tough and if you were to print it off and drop it on your toe, you’d probably break your toe.  The main audience of the spec is browser makers (Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, Opera, etc.)

If you wanna work your way up to reading the spec, I’d recommend checking out the document “HTML 5 differences from HTML 4” which was also released today for first public working draft by the W3C.  You could also check out the A List Apart article written by Lachlan Hunt, “A Preview of HTML 5.

How Bad Timing Hurt Pownce

I have been a fan of the Web application Pownce ever since it was launched in private beta mid-2007 by the trio of Kevin Rose, Daniel Burka, and Leah Culver.  I was especially pumped when last night Pownce moved out of private beta and opened to the world.

But… I worry that the app has been doomed  from the start because of bad timing.

When Pownce was launched in mid 2007, it was described as a “way to send stuff to your friends.”  I later heard it described as a light weight e-mail or messaging service.  It’s for when my friends want to send me a cool Web site, image, file, YouTube video, invite me for coffee later, or ask me for quick feedback about something.  Makes sense to me.  I’m always sending that kind of stuff around.

Unfortunate for Pownce, when it launched, Twitter was just starting to pick up and get a lot of buzz.  Instead of getting judged for what it is/was, Pownce has been judged as a replacement for Twitter… that it has to be one or the other… not both.

You hear a lot of people say… “only if you could send messages to Pownce via SMS, like Twitter”.  Maybe if the timing were different more folks with use Pownce and see it for what it is.

Pownce is for communicating messages.  Twitter is for communicating my status.

And… to add insult to injury Twitter is beating Pownce around the school yard.  I hope that enough people use it now that its open and it will begin to get an upswing of users.

So… what do you think of Pownce and Twitter?

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO Laptops in Mongolia and Nepal

Mongolian Children using XO Laptops

I really love watching the new photos come in from the new places where One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is sending XO laptops.  The latest is Mongolia and Nepal.

Mongolia was a recipient of laptops through the Give One Get One program and a child in Nepal received a XO laptop through the gift of a generous donor.

These kids now have the ability to explore the opportunities that the world has to offer.

Your donations to OLPC are changing the world.  Keep it up.

(Above is an OLPC photo from Mongolia)