Supernova 2008 – Part 1

Ppeople at a conferenceLast Sunday evening was a bad night for air travel for most all of the United States. I happened to be in Albany and had a flight to Cleveland connecting to San Francisco. It is a long story but the net is that a 4:15 PM departure from Albany ended up taking me to Newark and then to California arriving to the hotel at 5:45 AM. The bad part is that stories like this are not that uncommon these days. Airlines can’t control the weather and occasional maintenance issues are to be expected. The frustrating part is the lack of good communications on the ground at the airports and the lack of integrated systems resulting in getting different information — kiosk, overhead displays, ticket counter, at the gate, airline lounges — for the same flight. The gate display in Albany on Sunday at about 7:15 PM showed the 5:15 PM flight as being "On Time". Many of you have stories that can top this vignette — there are a number of my airline stories here in the blog.
This was the seventh year for the Supernova conference — I missed one of them a few years ago. The conference is run by Kevin Werbach who is a leading expert on the business, policy, and social implications of emerging Internet and communications technologies. Kevin has a good track record of anticipating key trends along the path to the Network Age. Supernova attracts CEOs, bloggers, entrepreneurs, academics, practitioners, visionaries, policy experts and industry thought leaders. Like all conferences, the best part is catching up with friends and colleagues and comparing points of view.
There are a couple of unique things about Supernova. It is the only conference that connects with one of the world’s foremost business schools — the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The other unique feature is how "connected" the attendees can become with the speakers and each other. Supernova offers a live video stream, an IRC channel, a twitter feed, live blogging, interviews, and a Yahoo Pipe to enable attendees and remote participants from all over the world — there were 400+ people from 15 countries in San Francisco — to all jump into the conversation.
This paragraph summarizes some of the key things that I think are most important of the many things discussed at Supernova. The mobile Internet is gaining a head of steam. The new iPhone coming in a few weeks plus a slew of iPhone killers plus a big push by Microsoft will accelerate mobile even faster. Social computing is mushrooming. There are serious discussions going on in the development community about how (not whether) to standardize identity, authorization, and applications across the various social networks in some sensible way. Privacy has always been an issue but as storage cost approaches zero, everything we say or do will be saved. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg. The telecommunications operators continue to consolidate and continue to offer poor customer service and a lack of choice. More on each of these topics to follow over the days ahead.