MinneBar 2008

I spent most of Saturday hanging out at Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota campus at MinneBar 2008. I must say that the union has a pretty nice suite of conference rooms for gatherings like this.

I started the morning at Social Search for the Enterprise. Rich Hoeg from Honeywell discussed a nifty use of ConnectBeam to create an internal social bookmark store that integrates directly with Google search results. So when people go to look up a topic they get a page of Google results and an in-line column of internal Honeywell links. The internal information can also list similar tags and users, thus creating an instant community around a search topic. It was easy to see that this was much more effective than the skills directories or yellow pages that so many knowledge management efforts created in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Jonathan Dahl led an interesting discussion on Consulting for fun and profit. I liked the Jeopary format he used, it got a lot of audience participation.

Over the noon hour the big panel discussion was on the state of the state (of technical development in Minnesota). It had the usual rah-rah, we really are as smart as those people on the coast moments along with some exhortations to stop being afraid of risk and to get out there and form more startups. I thought the most salient point was that Minnesota has plenty of talented developers and designers but the networks between them aren’t as strong as they need to be. Another lack is business talent. Dan Grigsby called for product managers to become CEOs at startups. We shall see.

Curt Prins gave a rundown of the “7 Deadly Sins of Startup Marketing” from which I left early to see the tale end of the Distributed Teams panel.

Charles Gimon led a very interesting discussion about reputation. I’m not sure we were even able to define what reputation is, but we all agreed that it is transforming in the online world. I jotted down a bunch of interesting questions: do we have multiple reputations? how about reputations from inside and outside of networks/communities? is disemvowelling create liability for site owners because it is a type of editing? A couple of sites were mentioned: Naymze, iKarma, claim-id.

Jeramey Jannene talked about making money from blogging. He cited most of the typical ideas: stay focused, get ads, jobboards, sponsored posts, etc. I heard one person ask about investigative journalism techniques. Might be worthwhile as a niche blog topic.

Tim Erickson concluded the day with a discussion about E-Democracy and the challenges of online community building, outreach to under-served communities, and other miscellaneous topics.

I had a good time and had a chance to meet some very interesting people.