Car Sharing, Comic Book Art, and Intellectual Jazz

by Jon Follett

Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Better off TED?
Richard Saul Wurman is re-inventing the conference format for the 21st century with his follow up to the wildly popular TED conferences. The new venture, WWW.WWW, is billed as "Intellectual Jazz" and will have no presentations, schedules, or tickets. Instead, two high-level thinkers from related fields will discuss a topic presented to them at the time of the conference. The conversations will be streamed live, and also available via a cross-platform tablet application. Through this new endeavor, Wurman hopes we will find "an energetic exploration of the lost art of conversing". Whether this new format will light up the imaginations of the business elite, and catch on as readily as TED did, only time will tell. But Wurman is, no doubt, changing the rules of the conference game yet again. Fast Company's Co.Design blog features a piece on the WWW.WWW conference, which will debut in 2012.

You Ought to Be in LinkedIn Ads
This week, LinkedIn hit the third rail of social networking, by automatically opting 100 million of its users into a social advertising program and letting them know as an afterthought, via a blog post no less. Essentially, LinkedIn's privacy policy shenanigans allowed third-party companies to use the photos of people following their company in their ads on the network.

As could be expected, people reacted poorly to the news, and with growing unrest among its users as well as increasing attention from the media, LinkedIn bowed to the pressure and changed their policy. But LinkedIn has now shown it, like Facebook, cares little for the privacy concerns of its users. With trust at a premium in the social network space, this was a major misstep from the only business player.

Honoring the Art of the Comic Book
As comic book stories continue to provide ample fuel for Hollywood blockbusters, and original comic artwork fetches hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, the once belittled genre continues to prove its worth in the commercial realm. The latest triumph of comic art can be found in perhaps an unexpected area, the fine art book. This week, the Art and Design section of the New York Times features a great piece on how some of the greatest comic book artists of all time are being honored in hard back: "Art Books Elevate Picassos of Pulp". For those of us design geeks with a comic book fetish, this means a lot more money spent on Amazon.

Developers Wanted
The three-way fight for developer devotion between Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ is just getting started. Without third-party developers creating great apps for their social ecosystems, the big three networks won't stand a chance of long term success. After all, what good is it to be connected with all of your friends, if you can't do something fun with them? Granted, Google+ is still at its earliest stages, and Twitter has had a bumpy relationship with its third-party devs. The Facebook lead is substantial, but their platform dominance is not assured by any means.

To start shoring up its developer relations, this week Twitter released Bootstrap, an open source toolkit to help with the development of Web applications, on GitHub. Bootstrap includes "base CSS and HTML for typography, forms, buttons, tables, grids, navigation and more". With Google+ soon to be launching its application developer platform, ReadWriteWeb features an interesting article on what the network needs to do to win developers' hearts.

The Share Is On
Whether it's due to the tumultuous economy, the desire for a greener future, or just the New England urge to re-use what we've got, the Boston area has become a hotbed of car sharing. Starting with ZipCar, the Cambridge, Massachusetts company that started the "wheels when you need them" revolution a decade ago, and now with RelayRides, the "neighbor-to-neighbor" car sharing service, also founded in Cambridge, we've got a jump on the next big thing in transportation. The Boston Globe's Innovation Economy blog has a great piece on RelayRides expansion into Boston and San Francisco.

Topics: ZipCar, facebook, TED, RelayRides, privacy, richard saul wurman, Analysis, google plus, Blog, twitter, innovation