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An Invitation to Attend the 2nd O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

Tim O'Reilly.

Rael Dornfest

Hackers and other lead users are a great early warning system if you want to think about the future of technology. Because they are more capable with computers than most users, they do things today that everyone else will be doing in a couple of years.

Learning from these hackers is the premise behind O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference. Unlike some of our other topic-specific conferences, this one is really aimed at showcasing whatever the "alpha geeks" are playing with now. This conference will continue to explore the themes from past conferences, including peer-to-peer, web services, the idea of the "Internet operating system," Rendezvous and other mechanisms for ad hoc networking, and wireless. We'll also be looking at biological models for computing, lessons from complexity theory, and lots of other juicy ideas from the hacker noosphere.

But the conference isn't just for hackers. For investors and entrepreneurs, watching the alpha geeks is a lot like watching the water flow in a rainstorm before deciding where to dig your ditches. And for corporate CTOs and CIOs, it's a great way to assess potentially disruptive technologies and evaluate whether or not they belong in the workplace. For those concerned about government technology policy, it's a way to meet others who are trying to think through the long term implications of new technology.

What do people use computers for these days? The business applications paradigm that's held for the last 20 years has already shifted immensely. The first wave of change came with the Web, which allowed access to all kinds of data. The next challenge for application developers will be creating the new software and services for what we see as an emergent Internet operating system. The personal computer is becoming part of a larger mesh of computers and devices that come and go, with services that also come and go. Much as today's teenagers "rendezvous" via cell phone rather than plan a time and place for a meeting, tomorrow's applications will need to be prepared to work in a much more ad hoc environment.

We're entering a period of greater change for the computer industry than at any time since the early 1980s, when the personal computer broke computing out of the glass house and the spreadsheet transformed business forecasting. The Internet to date has been an add-on to the personal computer; we're just now entering the true Internet era. In addition to ubiquitous networking, increasingly broadband and increasingly wireless, we're facing an age of increasing miniaturization, where everything from disk drives to cameras are becoming part of the pervasive computing fabric that surrounds us. We need new user interface paradigms as well as new programming models.

O'Reilly's customers, the hackers and alpha geeks, are the ones who show us the shape of the future. The Emerging Technology Conference is a way for us to frame what they're showing us about new technologies into a coherent picture, think about the implications, and share it with interested -- and interesting -- parties. It's an amazingly high-energy event because everyone is learning from the other attendees, from the speakers, and from the exhibitors.

Join us in Santa Clara this April to explore what's new, invent what's needed, and connect with old and new partners.

Tim O'Reilly
Founder & President
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

Rael Dornfest
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc,
Program Chair, Emerging Technology Conference


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