iPhone, Co-Housing (With Wife-Swapping Jokes), Next Bus Info on Facebook, and Spying on Your Readers at DemoCamp Vancouver

After some initial confusion about the location of tonight's DemoCamp Vancouver, we all made it to the Irish Heather to hear about the iPhone, co-housing, a Facebook application for bus schedules, and tracking the movements of people while they visit a site. And then networking ensued, at least presumably, since I left after the demonstrations.

First a demonstration by a self-described fan-boy of Apple's iPhone, the latest status symbol among geeks and affiliated. I happen to think the iPhone is pretty awesome, so after someone said "it's just a phone!" I yelled towards the presenter, "what else can it do?", knowing full well it's a better looking but smaller (in disk space terms) version of the iPod than the current non-nano non-Shuffle versions. It was cool, and dude answered all the questions reasonably without going into hype overdrive.

Next up was a "presentation" about co-housing, which I think left people wondering why we should care about it. He started off with a joke about how people hear it's about wife-swapping and that yes, it's about wife-swapping. Stupidly thinking that this was a bombed joke that needed resuscitating, I blurted out something like "so tell us about wife-swapping". Yeah, real smooth, seeing as how my girlfriend was sitting across the table from me, among other women in the audience (though they were a distinct minority in the crowd). I know what my girlfriend thinks already, but Megan and Ariane, you were there, what did you think? Was it just an attempt to get a cheap laugh that failed, or is it negatively indicative of the type of events that have the word "Camp" in their title?

The co-housing presentation itself seemed to lead to more questions than answers. Usually, if I don't come out with more questions than answers, I give the presenter a lot of credit for raising them in my brain. In this case, however, I knew there would be a presenter on the subject, and came for that reason, but came away with two questions that a lot of audience members might have also come away with. I for one would have started right away attempting to answer 1) what is an intentional community and what are some examples and 2) how is co-housing really different than a strata, or is it? I came in with those questions, and left without an answer.

I'm no doubt getting the order wrong, but John Boxall presented on MyBus Vancouver, a Facebook application that shows you (and only you) bus schedules on your Facebook profile. I'm more interested in next bus information via SMS, since I'm not bringing my Facebook profile with me to the bus stop, but we were assured that the developers are making progress in re-igniting the service that does that. If TransLink would only open their data to an API...well, that's an argument that deserves its own series of blog posts.

Finally, Andre Charland got up to demonstrate RobotReplay, which tracks the movements of person visiting a website and records them for playback later by the website administrator. The goal is to figure out what people are clicking on and what they are typing in in order to make the experience better for current and future users. Or, it's a tool to spy on your readers, but I don't see how different that is than what Google Analytics or the various statistics packages many people unproblematically (and rightly so) use already. The demonstration itself could have had better examples or people navigating a site for a period longer than 10 seconds, but it's cool, lightweight tech and Andre knew his shit and addressed the concerns people had about privacy and future features.

This was a very well-documented event (with multiple video and still photographers), so I don't regret not bringing my camera.


Re: business plan. That's a simple one: the carriers are leaving money on the table. 100 people pay 1,000 for data services = 100,000. 100,000 people pay 20 for data services = 2,000,000 Simple. Doing some work on supply/demand curves to find a sweet spot would be interesting. That's not even taking into account potentially other services or increased subscriber base. Customer acquisitions costs are really high, so if a ton of people switched to the first provider to offer this....

Boris: I admit that I did know about your comment on your illustration of the unfairness of Canadian mobile data rates, but I'd love to see the argument made a little more prominently. Not that I would ever tell you what to write on your blog! :) (That's not a dig, I actually don't mind it when people suggest things to write on my own blog, and would like to encourage that more, but haven't figured out how.)

Two other incoming links, from my girlfriend Karen (no, I didn't put her up to it) and John Biehler. Both have comments about the DemoCamp worth reading, Karen a bit more at-length than John.

You've got questions? We've got answers. Or at least websites with info that may contribute towards answers. > 1) what is an intentional community and what are some examples Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) wikipedia entry on IC's directory of intentional communities > and 2) how is co-housing really different than a strata, or is it? I came in with those questions, and left without an answer. Wikipedia on cohousing IC wiki on Cohousing Canadian Cohousing Network strata title on wikipedia (for those of us in countries that use other terms like "condo" for the legal model) a short summarized answer on the latter: strata is a form of property ownership. Cohousing neighborhoods may use strata ownership, or lot models, or condo, or other form of legal division that links common space to privately owned areas and lets people obtain mortgages. Cohousing is a way of designing and living that promotes community interaction, from participation in the design process (and design incorporating a progression from public to private spaces, with emphasis on the former) to meals together to resident management by consensus. One last note re the "wife-swap" reference... I wonder if this was a reference to the TV show "Wife Swap," which featured a cohousing community in Colorado as part of a special "Husband Swap" edition. I hope to visit WindSong soon, and perhaps meet the speaker, Jonas. So far I've been to about 75 of the nearly 100 U.S. built cohousing neighborhoods, but none yet in Canada. Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach Planning for Sustainable Communities Berkeley, CA, USA (speaking of camps, I'm coincidentally at iPhoneDevCamp)

I agree with you about Robot Play...It seems like just a new way to sell analytics. The problem is that they seem to be implying that it's a replacement for a good usability study. Following the mouse movements is not the same as following eye movements and knowing the intentions of the visitor and being able to ask them questions about why they are clicking on some things and not others...etc. ----------- Support the Support the Melaleuca Foundation - Enhancing Lives, Restoring Hope

I'm kind of still bent on not caving to the pressure of joining Facebook :-)