One Web Day was Tuesday and only know do I find the time to write about it. I apologise for that as I'm sure there were thousands of you just dying to hear what the heck we did with all that bandwidth!!!
First things first: due to the very short timeframe in organising this event, we got very little traction in Amsterdam. Effectively, only one guy (Dirk) was going to attend, and he had fiber in his home. So he stayed home and participated from his home.
In Paris, we had a little more traction, through essentially three sources: twitter, the Odébit show where I was speaking that day and announced the event, and La Cantine themselves who posted an announcement. At the peak of attendance there were 10 people, and 8 out of 10 stayed until the end. Not bad for a last-minute shoestring organisation.
I will be writing more in-depth about La Cantine soon, but let's just say at this stage that it's a hi-tech collaboration space where people can come to work in good connectivity conditions (you can take yearly subscriptions for a desk) and where tech related events are organised. The venue is comfortable and the technical capabilities are state of the art.
Attendees in Paris were a mix of profiles, from four young tech
warriors (more on them later) to a couple of consultants, the CTO of a
next generation healthcare company and people working for various local government broadband projects.
As soon as we arrived, we plugged my eeePC onto the fibered up LAN and projected onto a really big screen for all participants to "see". We then shot up VSee to establish the video bridge with Amsterdam which went really smoothly. In fact, it went too smoothly for our tastes: a video communication is hardly the limiting factor for a 50/50+ fiber connection. We started by opening a second video feed in Paris from another PC and calling Chris from VSee in Boston so that we actually had four feeds going on at the same time.
Then we started messing around in various ways. The fun thing about VSee is that it allows you to share all kinds of applications over the network, including your full desktop. At various times we had some of the following funky (and absurd) things happening:
- The desktop from my eeePC shared with all other participants. Sounds trivial until you remember that on that desktop were the three video screens from the three ongoing videocommunications. Therefore, instead of having three simultaneous video feeds the others actually had 6 plus the desktop feed. For the most part, the quality wasn't degraded.
- One of the participants in Paris shared a HD video movie with all of us. I couldn't see it because my eeePC has a low-grade video card, but all the others could see the movie relatively smoothly. Again, 3 simultaneous video communications plus a broadcast video feed.
- In parallel to all this, the tech wizkids were livecasting video feeds to a site whose name now escapes me both from their own webcams and from mobile devices. Of course, it only took us so long to share that particular desktop page between all of us, thus adding a couple of live video streams to the mix.
- At one point, Dirk pushed his own connection like crazy but downloading multiple ubuntu distros at the same time. He was sharing his bandwidth measuremeant app so we could see his download peaking at around 60+Mb/s for a few minutes. We shared some files but didn't try and share a full ubuntu distro which, looking back, we should have...
Essentially we messed around and talked about fiber, internet and apps for close to three hours. I wanted to do video-interviews, but unfortunately, I realised (a bit too late) that the battery from my zi6 was dead. Shame on me.
We left La Cantine around 10PM and the old guys went for dinner in a nearby restaurant. The discussions continued apace for a couple of hours. The time came for the waiter to kick us out, and he said we were only allowed to come back if we would talk about something else!
All in all, considering the terrible lack of preparation, I thought this was a pretty successful operation. I again want to thank La Cantine for hosting us, Dirk and Citynet in Amsterdam and Chris and VSee in Boston for making it possible.
If we organise a similar event again (next year for sure, but maybe even earlier) I will try and prepare some more specific "exercices" for us to test the limitations of our available fiber connections. I will also try and recruit many more participants around the world.
I'll keep you posted!