Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

12 November 2008

DevLearn 08 Keynote: Tim O’Reilly

Clark @ 10:31 AM

Tim O’Reilly, Web 2.0 guru, talked to us about what web 2.0 is and led us to his implications for what we do.  He started off talking about tracking the ‘alpha geek’.  These are the folks who manage to thrive and innovate despite us, rather than because of us.  He’s essentially built O’Reilly on watching what these folks do, analyzing the underlying patterns, and figuring out what’s key.

He talked about the stories that Web 2.0 is about open source, or social, were surface  takes, and by looking at leading companies, e.g. Google, there was something else going on. It’s not just user-generated content, but mining user-generated data for value, and then adding value on top of it.  “Data is the intel inside.”

This led him to key competencies going forward being machine learning, statistics, and design.  It isn’t about well-structured data, but about finding the nuggets in messy data.  And it is about design as an “architecture of participation” that gets users to act in the ways you’d like.

His take home message was six points that boil down to watching your alpha geeks, and use them to help guide what you should be doing, to help others achieve their potential.  An inspiring message in a very geek-cred way :).

I concept-mapped it:


  1. Hi Clark, thanks for the concept map – very interesting. I think I might be one of those ‘alpha geeks’ Tim spoke about – and it is hard to gets things done in spite of everyone. Often it takes about 5 to 7 years for everyone else to catch up – but by then we’re on to other cool things so yes, take a moment to connect with a geek even f they aren’t ‘alpha’ ;)

    Comment by Vanessa — 12 November 2008 @ 10:54 AM

  2. This is cool. Would you mind if I took and mashed it up a little or at least used it to annotate my thoughts around the ideas on my blog or network?



    Comment by Lee — 12 November 2008 @ 1:26 PM

  3. Hi Clark: Love the map and the quotes from the O’Reilly talk this morning! What are you using to create your map?


    Comment by Stacy D. — 12 November 2008 @ 9:22 PM

  4. Vanessa, are you here at the conference? Lee, absolutely, be my guest. Stacy, I use OmniGraffle, it’s Mac only, however.

    BTW, subsequent thoughts: surprised we didn’t hear more Web 2.0, e.g. long tail; wanted more on competencies (machine learning conceptually, but not everyone needs statistical algorithms, leave that to the right people); and a little bit more ‘enterprise’. Could’ve done with less about the ‘alpha geek’, ok I get it…

    Great talk, but want more nuggets!

    Comment by Clark — 12 November 2008 @ 10:30 PM

  5. Clark, I agree. Too much ‘alpha geek’. I did get a bunch of good nuggets out of it though, and a couple new thoughts of my own. That’s always the mark of a good speaker to me–if someone can engage my brain well enough to spark idea genesis, they’ve nailed it. I’m hoping John Medina does a little more of that tomorrow and goes beyond the ideas in his Brain Rules book — how well he does in the first 30 minutes will determine how much I flirt with near-late arrival at SJC. ;-) Joe

    Comment by Joe Fournier — 13 November 2008 @ 11:28 PM

  6. […] Quinn’s Concept Map of a presentation by Tim O’Reilly.  Looking at his map, I found myself wondering of […]

    Pingback by 2¢ Worth » Can you Concept Me? — 15 November 2008 @ 6:00 AM

  7. Concept maps are a great tool. I’m don’t know what you used for your map but I recent discovered IHMC’s (Institute for Human & Machine Cognition) concept mapping tool Cmap. Very easy concept mapping tools to learn and use.

    Comment by steve — 25 November 2008 @ 3:34 AM

  8. Steve, I use OmniGraffle, but it’s Mac only. Cmap is a well-known tool (and free!). Semantica is an interesting tool for these purposes as well.

    Comment by Clark — 25 November 2008 @ 7:24 AM

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