Nov 01, 2011 12:46 pm EDT   

Silver Bullet SFNT wrap: divorce 2.0, quake 3.9 and a world of APIs

(Tina Sjogren/story corrected Nov 01, 2011 06:36 pm EDT) San Francisco's SOMISSPO district, an industrial loft type area where SOMA meets Mission and Potrero Hill, gets pretty quiet past 5 pm. Live healthy, hack happy is the new mantra in disruptive tech which includes a good night's sleep for a sharp brain.

Only a Taco truck and a guard parked outside give away that something's up at Mighty. Step inside and the club is jumping. Music pumps from loudspeakers, a few hundred people stand around chatting, large projector screens show tweets to the event, a stage is lit, a digital timer is set.

Two hours of schmoozing later hero-organizer Myles prys people from the bar into the foldable chairs. It's showtime at SFNewTech.

For 5 minutes sharp startups on stage pitch the tech-hip crowd below who whistle and cat-call back in encouragement. After that another five minutes, now of torment, as the audience challenges: "how do you compare to such-and-such, where's the money?"

Following the selected 6 presentations, anyone gets a minute to announce jobs, call for contacts, or do an elevator-pitch aimed at the angel investors in place.

Presenters fly in from all over for this digital gold: Australia, London, France and Japan, but also Uruguay, Estonia, and Silicon Sauna (Finland).

Out of this digital soup future tech emerges, some of it will change the world.

If you want to be a part of it you're either here or, well, you are not. But don't fret. For some time now ExplorersWeb have done the trek for you.

Democratizing the cost of divorce

The latest event (October 20) was thrilling just by the 3.9 earthquake that annoyingly shook the projected computer screen during an interesting social-game tutorial featuring Mark Zuckerberg hunting for lawyers.

Often topic-specific (Social, API's, Xcommerce) this SFNT night was about cool apps and products in general, such as a site comparing attorney fees.

"Scrape is a dirty word, we crawl," said the rep, "a lot of semantics is going into this." To the audience question, "how do you find your own lawyers and how much do they cost?" the reply came fast and smug: "We are all attorneys (except for one, he's only a computer scientist) so we get it free."

Proposals for other similar verticals (accountants, psychologists) were eagerly noted and we learned that average hourly rates for divorce in SF is 33 bucks.

Thinglink from Finland hoped to get all grannies tagging and United layer not only offered free hosting (if they like your idea) on their servers but also informed us the Mighty is "building zone 4 construction" which is the highest rating in regards to the quake.

Two guys from Uruguay who built a very cool animation tool utilizing HTML5 for the iPad platform received two sets of news from a woman in the audience. One bad, "FYI, I'm patenting a similar feature for a client," and a second, great: "...but I know that Dreamworks are looking for something like this."

Next up is another Japan night, but here a skinny on an event a few weeks back, the hottest yet.


The big thing alongside OpenId (a conference packed with industry heavy lifters was recently held at Microsoft lab) and HTML5 (a full day event at the slick W on Market street was sold out) API allows web communities to share content between each other and the evening was jammed.

In brief, with API (application programming interface) content that is created in one place can be posted elsewhere. The general view in this crowd was that once we have realized that we can't do everything ourselves, we'll be reaching out and everybody will speak with API on social.

The event actually inspired ExWeb's recent poll. One of the sponsors kicked off by sharing with us the results of an online survey he had conducted asking people to vote on which social network are they most likely to drop first. You guessed it, FB won.

We remain lonely amid thousands of "friends" and privacy concerns make the younger increasingly unlike the like button. As for advertising: with all our activity and the dissection of our every move clicks remain low and social shopping unsuccessful (so far).

With API our tweets, blogs, searches and inquiries can become useful in new ways and interesting context, and of benefit to ourselves.

In a presentation by a challenger to LinkedIn, we were offered an example. You fill out which job you'd like to have in the future (mountain guide, say) and the network will propose to you people who have this position already. You'll get in contact with not more people you know but people you should know.

Feeding the media, companies such as Gigya believe identity will rule the web. Social comments, social login, ratings, etc can meassure how many people came from what social network, what products they bought etc.

Countless business models are built for the technology, but not just for "them". In a commission based model you can help people with similar interests to yours sell their products to your like-minded friends and your humble opinion will matter when media use API as "social plumbing behind the scene."

With all of its double edge, API has within it the seed of amazing things and that's why the Mighty in downtown San Francisco was packed. Expect to experience it soon at ExplorersWeb.

Ed note: story corrected Nov 01, 2011 06:36 pm EDT, the event is held at Mighty, not Mars Bar as earlier stated.

The Silver Bullet is an ExWeb mobile news room currently in Silicon Valley to cover tech news with an adventure edge.

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