Day 1 at Defrag turned out to be well worth the trip out here. With approximately 250 people in attendance it is the perfect size to meet pretty much everyone and wtih people like Doc Searls, Brad Feld, Phil Windley, Andrew McAfee, Esther Dyson, and Jeff Clavier in attendance, well you are certain to have some good hallway conversations.
Dave Weinberger opened with a keynote that was insightful and philosophical, my favorite takeways were that "links are not information, links do what information doesn't" and ""words are not carriers of meaning, but pointers to shared understanding" (UPDATE: read Dave's comment on this). What I found fascinating about Weinberger's keynote is that he makes the web and what we are doing with it meaningful in a big picture kind of way.
The panel discussion that followed the keynote featured Jerry Michalski, JP Rangaswami, Joshua Schachter, and our own JB Holston. This discussion covered a lot of ground but one thing that caught my attention was how there is a tension in enterprise organizations between open vs. closed, and young vs. old. It's nothing new to suggest that there is a generational divide that dictates ideology and tools.
Dan Farber posted a summary of the first two keynote sessions.
Michael Barrett has a presentation on security which can be summed up as "web 1.0 security is broken and web 2.0 just adds more stuff that will break". Phil Windley captured the presentation in an appropriately named This Stuff Scares the Hell Out of Me post.
We had an open session slot on the agenda where we broke up into working groups to discuss various topics, such as who owns the data, and platforms, which I participated in. The platform open session was interesting because it illustrated the dramatically evolving nature of what it means to be a platform. One thing we all agreed on is that platforms don't declare themselves to be a platform, what happens is that success with customers creates the conditions by which a application evolves to be a platform.
There was a lot more going on in the platform open session, which could have spawned several blog posts but one thing is clear, the platform game is changing and if you want to play in that world you had better understand the new world order.
Next up was a vendor presentation from BEA, which is a sponsor of the conference. All speculation about their future aside, I really like their Aqualogic product line but wonder if the evolving nature of portals chips away at their market opportunity outside of the large enterprise segment.
I moderated a panel on enterprise mashups with Adam Gross from Salesforce.com and John Crupi from Jackbe. We covered a wide range of topics related to enterprise mashups, including security/governance, APIs, monetization, start page apps, social networking, and user interfaces. I enjoyed this discussion and I believe we may be on the cusp of delivering some cool mashup capabilities to enterprise users.
My mashup panel would have had a larger audience were I not going up against another panel on "social networking the enterprise". It's pretty tough to compete with that session right now so we had maybe 40 people in it, however at the end a couple of guys from a company doing mashups came up to me and commented that we covered some good topics not normally talked about in mashup presentations so I'll take that as a success.
We next had a sponsor challenge from NewsGator CTO Greg Reinacker, who I thought did a great job presenting RSS in the enterprise. He's actually very funny, you should book him as a speaker at your next conference.
A highlight of the day is Dick Hardt fragging identity at defrag. It was a new presentation and, as would be expected, very good. I'm sure a slideshare version or video will be up in due time. Esther Dyson gave a presentation about stuff that was way to deep for me to appreciate.
Doc Searls gave a very entertaining presentation on "customer reach vs. vendor grasp", which can be summed up as how little control over your personal profile data you really don't have. Doc is insightful and pointed in his presentation, which like Weinberger, usually takes days of thought to fully grasp. Smart people like Doc think at a different clock rate.
One slide that said a lot more than the words allowed: "we lost more than our identities at the end of the Enlightenment, jobs replaced crafts". Doc makes an important point about identity should mean something more than a name and attributes, identity should reflect a transactional relationship between systems and people.
Lastly, Doc's project around Vendor Relationship Management (project VRM) addresses the way in which we interact with companies. VRM is misnamed though given that in enterprise software circles the term has been used for years and means something completely different, although upon second thought it's really the same thing with different players (b2b instead of b2c)
Last up today is Ross Mayfield, who had great news this week about Socialtext raising more money and getting a new CEO. Ross is never at a loss for entertaining presentation titles is closing out the day with "What to do in Denver when your corporation is dead". I'm running out of battery so I'll have to deprive you of Ross' wisdom for now.
PS- Here's some images on Flickr taken through the day.
--- Jeff Nolan is VP Corporate Development for NewsGator.