Stewart Butterfield at WebVisions 2005

15 July, 2005

"Why We (Still) Love the Web"
First got on the net as a Phish-head
-got in an argument about earthquakes, went to a gopher site through dial-up to, eventually, answer the question
-#why: random discussion group, community
-learning html
-myForm.theTexArea.value = "holy shit!"
-found a community amogst web-heads
5k web award:
-design within constraints (5k for the whole site)
5k is: 250x160 pixel static
-850 words of english
-smaller bit map image
-a possibility space of size 2^40,960 (more than the number of milliseconds since the big bang x the number of atoms in the universe)
==> network of relationship makes a small number of things much richer
ASCII is the first system of constraints on top of the possiblity space
second one is HTML (. . .CSS. . .JavaScript. . .), etc. Possibility space starts to get smaller, the scale of chess moves
more constraints (human level):
-what makes sense (linguistically)
-what is useful
-what is beautiful
"Design is the successive application of constraints until only a unique product is left." -- Richard Pew
History of the web:
-post for a fixed document
-dynamically rendered content on the screen from criteria
-->started simple, gradual step by step removing of constraints
Constraints that people create for themselves
-music: meter and key
-architecture: engineering and client demands
-poetry: meter
-experimentation: friction against conventional constraints
-Christian Bok: a book using only one vowel per chapter
-slide shows
-squared circle animation
-fibonacci sequence from squared circle "pixels"
-giant high res poster (limited number of images from each user: collaborative)
Children's play:
-spontaneous: one person runs and then the other runs
-with rules: role playing, 'I'm the mommy you're the daddy'
-children can't stop playing
-adults only play when given permission
-children play at edge of what's possible for them, testing pain, fear, etc.
"The web is our playground"
-Flickr social network diagram
-"our" means a bunch of different things: your local (1st gen.) social network, whole larger 'community of interest', or whole web
-web is a possibility space in 2^n dimensions where n is reaaaaaaaaaaaally big
-that's a big playground
Question: Game Neverending?
-orginal Ludicorp project
-light weight web-based game
-instant messaging type tool that allowed you to move an avatar around
-client side interface got ahead of the server-side, used it to make Flickr in their spare time, Flickr took over the company
-"massively multiplayer photo sharing"
Question: what makes a person get hooked on Flickr?
-unpredictable: United Arab Emirates has a super-large percentage
-photos are an excuse for social interaction (like golf or bridge)
-arbitrary rule set within which 'purposeless play' can take place
Question: why beta? will the real version be totally awesome?
-the original version was radically different
-only constant was the profile page
-orginally you had to swap photos in real time over an IM client (from Game Neverending story)
-once we're sure it's stable we'll take beta off
Question: What do you do with Flickr?
-watch photos from contacts (300-400)
-aggregation of other people's lives
-improved relationship, knowledge of their lives
-presence tool
-get Nikon D70 photo tips
Question: Talk about the history to open the API?
-create a venue for interaction through whatever tool you desire
-to do a lot of tactical stuff (organizr, inline editing) we had to refresh individual chunks rather than a whole page, therefore they got api hooks, and so, why not make them public?
-trust that people can get their photos back without having to develop the desktop tool
-couldn't make all the apps we wanted but didn't have times, so let users do them
-25% of the site traffic is from API calls
Question: video?
-still figuring out how to do it: short form video from web cams and cameras
-it's a pain in the butt (format war)
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