Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Getting Started With Fluidinfo is now out!

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Getting Started With Fluidinfo is now available in hardcopy and various eBook formats from O’Reilly. The authors, Nicholas Radcliffe (@njr) and Nicholas Tollervey (@ntoll), know Fluidinfo inside out, as you might hope. They’ve written multiple Fluidinfo client libraries, web applications, command line tools, visualizations, have written many blog posts about Fluidinfo, have imported tons of data into the system, and have both contributed to the design and architecture in many ways. The books is extremely well written. Both of the Nicholases are entertaining and clear writers.

The first chapter has a wonderful introduction and overview of Fluidinfo, and should be understandable by a broad audience. After that, things get more technical with a chapter on using Fish, a Fluidinfo shell, either from your shell command line or via Shell-fish, a web interface. Playing directly with Fluidinfo, adding to objects and running queries, is probably the best way to understand its (very simple!) data model. Then it’s on to programmatic access, using two Python libraries (one low level, one high level) and via Javascript. An example social book reader application is built from the ground up in Javascript. The book concludes with chapters on the REST API, advanced use of Fish, discussion of the special Fluidinfo about tag, and a description of the query language.

We hope you’ll grab a copy and come join us either on the fluidinfo-users or fluidinfo-discuss mailing lists, or on the #fluidinfo IRC channel on Freenode (chat right now with a web based client). We’ll be happy to say hi and to help get you going.

Speaking at Gluecon 2011 in Denver

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Gluecon 2011I’ll be speaking at Gluecon in Denver on May 25/26. The conference looks fantastic and there are lots of people going that I’m looking forward to catching up with. My talk (Thu May 26, 9:30am) is titled Evolution of inter-application data protocols via shared writable storage, with the following rather wordy abstract:

Cloud storage offers a variety of potential advantages: greater capacity, ease of scaling, lower cost of ownership, fewer operations staff, less hardware build-out, reduced responsibility for backups, etc. These are all straightforward and in a sense linear changes. There is another advantage though that is more interesting: the inherent value created when applications use shared storage. Shared storage holds the potential for unanticipated valuable operations, including search and mash-ups, that go beyond the linear value of isolated per-application storage. Shared storage also allows asynchronous inter-application communication based on data protocols that emphasize emergent agreed conventions rather than a priori rules. This is a sharp departure from inter-application communication via pre-specified synchronous remote procedure calls. In this talk I will elaborate on this point of view, with examples from evolutionary systems and discussion of Fluidinfo. I’ll argue that shared writable storage is the real promise of cloud storage, and show how it offers an approach to a class of problems which includes Tim O’Reilly’s oft-asked question “Where is the Web 2.0 address book?”

For a simpler description of what I mean by all this, read the pair of articles on the O’Reilly Radar site: Dancing out of time: Thoughts on asynchronous communication and Getting closer to the Web 2.0 address book. If you’re going to Gluecon, please say hi! If you’re not going and you’d like to, you can register here and use the discount code spkr12 to get 15% off.

Announcing a writable API for O’Reilly books and authors

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Today we’re excited to announce the release of a writable API for O’Reilly books and authors. There’s far too much news and information around this release to pack into a single blog post. Here’s a summary of what’s new today and where to find out more.

Here’s an extract from the press release:

General manager and publisher Joe Wikert is excited by the opportunities that a writable API provides to O’Reilly and other publishers. “It’s like LEGOs for publishing,” he says of the new malleability in his industry. “It’s as though we’ve been selling plastic children’s toys and the pieces were all glued together so customers could only use them the way we intended them to be used,” he adds. “Now we’ve decided to break the pieces into their component parts and let customers build whatever they want.”

Last but not least: if you want a modern, writable API for your data, drop us a line at info at fluidinfo com, and let’s talk.

Fluidinfo named as Tim O’Reilly’s favorite startup

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Image credit: The Guardian

Tim O’Reilly was interviewed by Jason Calacanis on stage on the opening day of SXSW last week. Jason asked Tim to name his favorite start-up and Tim nominated Fluidinfo! Thanks Tim πŸ™‚

You can read excerpts from the interview in A SXSW fireside chat with Tim O’Reilly and Jason Calacanis on the TechChi blog:

O’Reilly’s favorite startup is Terry Jones’ Fluidinfo “because I’m not sure it’s going to work. He’s got his teeth into something that is bigger than he is. He may be overwhelmed and he may not get it,” O’Reilly said.” That passion it’s kind of like the Wright Brothers that wanted to fly or Thomas Edison and the light bulb… It’s not the entrepreneur chasing the million bucks, it’s the entrepreneur chasing the big idea.”

The interview was also picked up in a Business Insider article: Tim O’Reilly’s Favorite Startup.

Fluidinfo voted Top Technology Company at LAUNCH in San Francisco

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Wow…. Fluidinfo was just voted “the clear winner” as Top Technology Company out of 100 start-ups in the LaunchPad at the LAUNCH conference in San Francisco!

Thanks to all the judges, especially to Robert Scoble, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Brian Alvey, Naval Ravikant and Mark Pesce. Mark said “Fluidinfo is totally crazy, but it’s the kind of crazy I love.” πŸ™‚

It’s weird, because 3 weeks ago I told Jason Calacanis, who suggested in email that we enter, that I didn’t think we should go up on stage at LAUNCH. We don’t (yet) do UI, and start-up events are heavily oriented towards sexy UI and ideas that can be explained in a couple of minutes. We were so busy already, it seemed like a recipe to do something mediocre if we threw together a demo. Instead I asked if we could just hang out in the LaunchPad with the 99 other start-ups and talk to people passing by. Today the judges went through the LaunchPad and talked to all the start-ups. Several told me we should go up on stage to do a 3 minute presentation, so I thought “why not?”, threw together some Keynote slides, opened some browser tabs (on the quick WeMet.At app written by Nicholas Tollervey in a few hours, and the increasingly great Fluidinfo Explorer (that link points at the ReadWriteWeb top-level namespace in Fluidinfo) written by Pier-Andre Parent, who we’ve never even met) and went for it.

The whole Fluidinfo team has been working really hard towards LAUNCH for the last 3 weeks. Everything at LAUNCH and recently announced on our blog has been built by all of us. It’s nice to win a prize, because after being funded we decided to be quiet, keep our heads down, build and train a team, and not even try to get people to use Fluidinfo until 2011. In January we began our first outward-facing efforts, building and releasing quite a few writable APIs. It’s still early days yet, and we have something very cool right around the corner.

Thanks to all the other great startups and the organizers at LAUNCH, especially Jason Calacanis, Tyler Crowley, and Jason Krute. Standing up for 20 hours and talking for about 30 was never so much fun!

Interview on writable book APIs & publishing at O’Reilly TOC

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Below is an interview I did yesterday with Mac Slocum at the O’Reilly TOC conference in New York. We discuss writable book APIs and why they matter, as well as talking about what that might mean for publishers, readers, and the publishing process in general. (You can also see the interview on YouTube.)

Watch live streaming video from oreillyconfs at

What the Post-It Note Can Teach Us About Apps and Data

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

On Feb 9th I gave a talk the the NYC Ignite event, titled “What the Post-It Note Can Teach Us About Apps and Data.” Below are my 20 slides (21 if you could image credits). These were advanced automatically every 15 seconds during the 5-minute talk. I’ll post a link to the video once it’s up.

While the topic may not seem to have anything to do with Fluidinfo, there is a very close connection. I’ll write about that another time.

Fluidinfo is a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Fluidinfo has been selected as a finalist in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield taking place today in New York.

Over 500 companies from around the world applied to present at TechCrunch Disrupt, and only 20 were accepted. We’ll be on stage fighting for the right to call ourselves the most disruptive start-up on the planet πŸ™‚

It’s quite an accomplishment and an honor to be selected as a finalist. The entry process wasn’t simple: a written application, a 5-minute video, a phone interview with TC CEO Heather Harde, a couple of hours talking and demoing to Erick Schonfeld, a written script of a presentation (with lots of suggestions from Erick), and several live rehearsals. Ben Siscovick of IA Ventures is kindly helping with the live presentation. And along the way I had to reluctantly pull out of giving a presentation at the NY Tech Meetup. Thanks to John Borthwick of Betaworks and to Todd Levy of for helping cover for me, and especially to Nate Westheimer the NYTM organizer for his understanding and support.

I’ve never really liked these startup competitions. They amount of time allotted to present always seems too little, and the audience too general. But more importantly, they’ve always seemed biased towards startups working on much simpler things, with snazzy UIs and demos – exactly the kind of thing we never had. But the theme of TechCrunch Disrupt was too irresistible to ignore. In the demo video I submitted, I told them I had no demo and that real disruption will not necessarily arrive with a UI. To their credit, TC bought it and were courageous enough to consider Fluidinfo further, and to finally accept us. Erick Schonfeld was very thoughtful, supportive, and encouraging in this.

Hopefully the presentation will be available online – if so I’ll post a link here. I’ve been thinking about it and working on it for some time. I’m on stage sometime after 2:15pm (EST) today.

I think it’s going to go well. Hopefully by the time you read this we wont have already been voted off the TC Disrupt island!

FluidDB Weekend of Code

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Image: gui.tavares

Image: gui.tavares

Based extremely loosely on Google’s Summer of Code program, we’re pleased to announce the FluidDB Weekend of Code offer. Here’s the deal.

You have a go at writing a client-side library for the FluidDB HTTP API in a programming language for which no library currently exists (here’s the current list). We send you a new copy of the book of your choice for that language, plus a large pizza to keep you going. You release your code as open source, and we link to it & put your name up in lights on the libraries page.

So if you’d like to play around with a new programming language and want a fun project to tackle, why not have a go? There’s no formal commitment, and no strings attached. We’ll send you a book to help, and you get to keep it no matter what.

For example, there’s no Scala library yet. We’d love to have one, and would be delighted to send you a copy of the new Programming Scala book from O’Reilly. Or a copy of Erlang Programming, or maybe Real World Haskell takes your fancy. Or, write a library in Javascript, or C, etc. If there’s a book that can help you (even to learn some entirely other language), we’ll ship it. We’ll also be happy to help you if you join us in the #fluiddb channel on or sign up for the FluidDB-users mailing list.

Sound like fun? Send mail to info at fluidinfo com. We’ll probably just send one book per language, so please understand if we’ve already got someone working on your first choice. And if you already wrote a library, well thanks πŸ™‚ (seriously, feel free to ask for a book too; it’d be a pleasure).

Using FluidDB for storage in location-aware software applications

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I’m talking at the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) conference next week in Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare. The talk is at 14:30 on Sept 23rd in the geoweb stream, organized by Christopher Osborne. Christopher writes (and I am shameless enough to excerpt):

In the geoweb stream we have Terry Jones talking about the just released FluidDB, the database with the heart of a wiki, which looks like it might just be *the next big thing* on the internet. I was lucky enough to host him talk at #geomob in January, an attention grabbing speaker working on some amazing technology. Worth the ticket price alone.

I was also asked to join a panel on privacy and to submit a few paragraphs outlining a position for panel background. Below is what I submitted.

The area in which I may be able to contribute is in data storage. Each time you use an application (and of course sometimes when you’re not – e.g., just carrying your phone down the street in your pocket), you’re generating information. I’m always curious to know where that information winds up. Who owns it? Can I change it, delete it, share it, hide it from certain people, search on it, sell it? Most of those questions have not really been addressed in modern times – by which I mean since we started to use devices that are connected to networks, that use online storage etc. Gone (almost) are the days when you could have a truly private interaction with a piece of technology (a radio, a car, etc).

I don’t think there’s any clear conclusion here, yet. There are lots of tradeoffs involved – many people are willing – even happy – to give up huge amounts of information in exchange for some upside. But there’s a slowly growing awareness of what’s going on, and there are advances in tying information together server-side and these will enter the public consciousness over time. Physical location can tie a lot of things together, so I do think there’s something special about location in particular. Similarly, when using the web there’s a (URL) sense of location, and cookies are designed around that. Location ties things together on the web, with profound (at least in the economic sense) impact. We’re likely to see a similar thing, because everyone has a phone just like everyone has a web browser – only more so.

My particular expertise (to the extent that I have any) is in FluidDB, which we launched last month. FluidDB has an interesting model of information control. While its objects are not owned (you can think of them as concepts if you like), their pieces are. There’s a permissions model at the level of the tag (objects are made of tags). That means that a user can have their lat/long on an object in FluidDB and use the permissions model to control who can read it. Or you could have 2 sets of lat/long pairs, with different degrees of accuracy for different sets of friends or acquaintances.

FluidDB changes things for the application programmer. In the old world, the programmer was used to owning (or at least controlling) all data. When you write an application using FluidDB, you have a choice – you can let the user own some/all of the information the program is managing. That’s interesting because for the first time, I think, programmers are going to be faced with an explicit choice about who should own information. They have the ability to put the control into the hands of their users. (And the user can then be charged for the storage too.) If a user not only owns but controls their own data, they can do what they like with it. The answer to all my questions above (Can I change it, delete it, share it, hide it from certain people, search on it, sell it?) becomes Yes.

So, can we use FluidDB and storage architectures of a similar nature to move at least in part towards a world in which normal consumers have more control over their data? I think the answer is a qualified yes. Qualified because most users still don’t give a hoot, and because there are lots of tradeoffs, as mentioned above, the use of FluidDB being just one of them.

I hope that helps. I’ll try to stay away from generalities – feel free to stop me if I don’t. BTW, I’m very interested in the recent thinking of Jeff Jonas. See his latest blog post. I imagine you’ll find it highly relevant. He’ll be in London just after the AGI conf, on the 26th. Too bad, he’d have been an excellent panelist – apart from being a true expert he’s also highly entertaining!

If you’re going to the AGI conference, please say hi.