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2003 O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference: An Early Warning System for the Future of Technology

January 14, 2003

Sebastopol, CA--What interests "alpha geeks" these days--and why should we care? "Hackers and other lead users are a great early warning system if you want to think about the future of technology," contends Tim O'Reilly, founder and president of O'Reilly & Associates. "They do things today that everyone else will be doing in a couple of years." Learning from hackers and showcasing what alpha geeks are playing with now is the premise behind the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, convening in Santa Clara, CA from April 22-25, 2003.

Adds O'Reilly, "This conference will continue to explore the themes from past conferences, including peer-to-peer, web services, the idea of the 'internet operating system,' Rendezvous and other mechanisms for ad hoc networking, and wireless. We'll also be looking at biological models for computing, lessons from complexity theory, and lots of other juicy ideas from the hacker noosphere. But the conference isn't just for hackers. For investors and entrepreneurs, watching the alpha geeks is a lot like watching the water flow in a rainstorm before deciding where to dig your ditches. And for corporate CTOs and CIOs, it's a great way to assess potentially disruptive technologies and evaluate whether or not they belong in the workplace. For those concerned about government technology policy, it's a way to meet others who are trying to think through the long term implications of new technology."

Speakers such as Howard Rheingold, Alan Kay, Clay Shirky, Eric Bonabeau, Tim O'Reilly, David S. Isenberg, Brewster Kahle, Dan Gillmor, Steven Johnson, David Weinberger, Meg Hourihan, Wendy Seltzer, and Ben Hammersley lead sessions and tutorials in the following tracks:

  • Rich Internet Applications: What happens when you turn web pages back into their underlying applications? How much more is the "Rich Internet Application" than simply taking the browser to the next level?

  • Social Software: The Social Software track explores work designed to support two-way communications in groups, from retrofitting broadcast mechanisms with conversational tools and publishing systems that treat community involvement as central to the integration of multimedia and/or mobility into the communal repertoire.

  • Untethered: This track cuts across several aspects of no-wire networks and systems, including community networking, location-based services, opportunistic equipment, wireless electricity, and the dangers of leaving portals open, however secure, to the outside world.

  • Hardware: Hardware hacks expand the machine in new and powerful ways, using cheap, off-the-shelf technology.

Other sessions investigate work in systems that use biological materials as computational tools, consider the nexus of personal digital rights management and legislated DRM, and study what the new business models will look like.

Concludes Program Chair Rael Dornfest, "O'Reilly's customers, the hackers and alpha geeks, are the ones who show us the shape of the future. The Emerging Technology Conference is a way for us to frame what they're showing us about new technologies into a coherent picture, think about the implications, and share it with interested--and interesting--parties. It's an amazingly high-energy event because everyone is learning from the other attendees, from the speakers, and from the exhibitors."

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