Here we are again at

by francine Hardaway on February 15, 2005

Here we are again at the Demo conference, where all good software products come to launch. Every year I come here and find some piece of software to download and experiment with. I found Grokker and Picasa that way, as well as some stuff I later deleted from my hard drive.

This year my favorite might be FiveAcross�s Bubbler, a product that spreads information like being at the water cooler. Bubbler is the fastest blogging engine in the world. It actually produced a blog entry about the Demo conference itself within a two-minute demonstration. Its Court Reporter feature is like instant messenger, and when you hit return, every line goes live on the Internet. Another difference between most blogging engines and Bubbler is that Bubbler can include pictures and audio at the same time.

This is the fifteenth year of Demo, and many old industry innovators are being honored. Indeed, one of the speakers at the first Demo introduced Visicalc, an early spreadsheet that was bested by Microsoft�s Excel.

This year, Demo is about security, search, and social software. Things have certainly changed in the last fifteen years. Instead of holding information privately, as we used to, learning how to share information has actually led to whole new business models. (This will eventually make old intellectual property laws irrelevant.)

Since the Internet, every year we have grown more and more connected. New media, such as video and audio, are fast becoming communication tools for ordinarily people. Being proficient at writing has been required of people in business for years, but now one also has to be proficient at audio (for podcasting) and video (web conferencing) in order to collaborate. The production values don�t have to be high, because these media are used only for online collaboration, and not sold as entertainment or education, but it�s still a constant learning process in this very connected world.

However, we are still going to have to figure out how to make audio and video easier for the general public to use before they take off like blogging did. Blogging, social software, and collaboration all came into their own this year , according to the conference�s producer, Chris Shipley.

All this blogging contributes to information overload, so there were several products, such as Pluck, Affini and Onfolio that collect and organize information found on the desktop and the web and allow you to find and access your own information quickly. Apparently, we are about to get very organized, and probably without paying for the privilege. Most of the products I saw are available free (for now).

One of the good new free products is ASAP Express from Convoq, a personal web conferencing system that allows users to conduct online meetings with file sharing, white boarding, and video conferencing. It can be downloaded from the web site.

Jambo Networks has a product that allows face-to-face networking if you share something in common and are within walking distance. If, for example, I�m in the airport waiting around, I can immediately find all the people who are Jambo users. I can then find out what I have in common with each of them, and make myself invisible to the ones with whom I have little in common. When I find someone I want to meet, I can send them a private message with a photo of myself. At the end of the chat session, the photo disappears.

If a match is nearby, the icon in the task bar changes from red to green. Jambo has a patent-pending process for syncing your device with any other wireless device without using the Internet or sending personal information. Currently partnering with Cornell Silicon Valley, and other university groups.

I was pretty impressed by Browster, a free plug-in for a browser that allows much quicker access to searched pages by preloading them into memory. Browster allows you to mouse over a link in a Google search or a blog, find out if it�s relevant or not, simply by mousing over the link and mousing out immediately if you want to. Page pre-loading cuts search time in half. The business model is pay for performance, like Google�s. But Browster is only available for Windows browsers.

And then there was Quicksites, which provides a professionally designed templated web site for small businesses. (Their demonstrators sang for five minutes, a parody of Bye-Bye Miss American Pie listing all the features and benefits of their product. It was truly the highlight of Tuesday for me.) At the end, people stood up and clapped, and I guarantee you it wasn�t for the concept of templatized web sites.

Demo is one of my favorite conferences. I�m gonna try Jambo and Pluck, and wish that I could try Browster.

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