A day in the future

I spent most of today at the San Jose Convention Center, attending the
ACM1: Beyond
Cyberspace Exhibition
. I’ve been to many trade shows at the
Convention Center — but this wasn’t just another trade show.

Oh, sure, Microsoft had a huge booth, showing all sorts of whizzy
software that’s not ready for primetime (and no, I’m not making a snide
reference to any version of Windows or Office, past, present, or future
— not this time, anyway). And IBM was there too, showing various
research projects like
Blue Eyes and

But those booths weren’t the most interesting things at the
Exposition, not by a long shot.

I was much more impressed by the more unusual presentations. Things
like Artabunga, which gives kids
a place to draw on the Web (and share what they’ve done). Or
FocalPoint 3D Audio, something I’d
dearly love to have available on my next conference cal. And
e-chalk, which captures a
blackboard session in realtime, along with the discussion going along
with it, and makes it sharable.

The University of California at Berkeley showed four research projects;
the two that interested me most were
Telegraph, which shows
how you can combine data from different Web sources to develop
information, knowledge, and, if you’re not careful, falsehoods; I also
Conversation Maps,
which might provide a way to deal with the mess of e-mail which makes up
my working day.

The best part of the conference, though, was seeing so many high school
and middle school students taking in the exhibits — not just wandering
through, either, but actively participating. And I enjoyed being
Fibonacci’d by the students at
Longfellow Middle
— though by the time I came through, they were getting very

I hope ACM does this again in another few years, when Jeffrey would be
ready to enjoy and appreciate it.