VRooM Boston 2009

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VRooM Boston 2009 was hosted by ProjectVRM and the Berkman Center in the John Chipman Gray Room in Pound Hall at Harvard Law School, on Monday-Tuesday 12-13 October, 2009.

As with earlier workshops, the purpose was to bring people together and make progress on any number of VRM topics and projects. It was an "unconference" on the open space model, with session topics chosen by participants. (Here is the Wikipedia page on open space.) The one exception was Getting Personal With Data: How Users Get Control and What They Do With It, described below.


The workshop was free. Participants registered through this EventBrite link.

Preliminary topics for sessions / discussion

  • VRM and Health Care
  • VRM hacks, so far
  • User-initiated terms of service
  • Where Personal informatics / self-tracking aligns with VRM (User control of data.)
  • Existing technologies and protocols VRM can use
  • Information Sharing Workgroup (Kantara initiative) (Previously Volunteered Personal Information Workgroup)
  • The Mine! Project
  • MINT
  • VRM and search
  • Personal Data Stores
  • VRM and open source
  • Scanaroo (and turning loyalty cards inside-out)
  • ListenLog
  • Emancipay
  • VRM and Identity (Information Cards, OpenID...)
  • VRM and Mobile
  • Personal RFPs
  • VRM evangelism
  • VRM and search
  • VRM and Real Estate

Open Space format

In open space workshops, topics are suggested by participants in the Agenda making session, which is attended by everybody. Participants write the title of their topic on a sheet of paper with a bold marker, add their name, then describe the topic to the group and post it on a large "spreadsheet" of times and session locations, which will be posted on the side of the room.

One person in each session took notes, either directly (or eventually) on the workshop wiki. At the end of each day somebody from each discussion session will report progress to the group. At the end of the second day everybody will discuss progress made and next steps.



Setup and Sessions

'Greetings and VRM overview by Doc Searls'

'Suggesting and choosing the day's session topics'

(Wiki note takers will fill in the sessions below.)

Session 1

  • Issues in P2P Data Storage and Exchange
  • 20,000 foot view of where VRM will thrive - What areas are ripe for VRM applications?

Session 2

  • Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and anonymity (is it important?)
  • Real estate - the need for buyer and seller-sided VRM apps

Wrap-up Reports from group sessions

Dinner on Monday Night

Monday's dinner at at 6:30 at Daedalus in Harvard Sq. (http://www.daedalusharvardsquare.com/)

  1. Doc Searls
  2. Keith Hopper
  3. Dean Landsman
  4. Renee Lloyd
  5. John Eckman
  6. Mary Ruddy
  7. Andy Oram
  8. Alexander Torrenegra
  9. Charles Andres
  10. Sean Bohan
  11. Bill Wendell


Panel: Getting Personal With Data: How Users Get Control and What They Do With It

Self-tracking and personal informatics are hot new new development categories, driven by the growing sense that primary responsibility for gathering personal data, integrating it, and putting it to use, belongs to individuals -- not to companies, governments or other organizations. Together these tools help individuals become both the point of integration for their own data, and the primary authority for what gets done with that data.

Self-tracking is how individuals collect data about themselves, while personal informatics is how individuals organize that data and put it to use. Together these tools inform individuals' relationships with themselves, with their social networks, with the organizations to which they belong -- and with sellers of all kinds.

Tools for self-tracking and personal informatics are new, already becoming popular, and in need of much thinkig about how personal data is gathered, stored and shared -- concerns that are near and dear to those who follow VRM.

Each panelist is either developing tools in these categories or has experience with new tools and the issues involved. Doc Searls, of the Berkman Center and ProjectVRM, will moderate the panel, and we expect discussion with participants (there will be no "audience" here) to be lively and informative.


Doc Searls - Berkman Center

Panelists & Their Projects

Ben Rubin - Zeo

Ben is the co-founder and CTO of Zeo Inc. Zeo has created and recently launched the world's first personal sleep coach.

Adriana Lukas - The Mine! Project

In addition to working on the Mine! project designed to turn individual user into a platform by helping him to capture, manage and share data on his own terms, she also runs VRM Hub in London and disrupts companies for living.

Tim Hwang - Web Ecology Project

In addition to the Web Ecology Project, Tim Founded ROFLCon and The Awesome Foundation, and Information Superhighway. He is working on a book on the mechanics of web culture and memes online.

Keith Hopper - ListenLog

Keith works on digital product strategy for NPR. He is the creator of NPRbackstory, was a contributing author for the book Collective Intelligence, and has done some other fun stuff.


(Wiki note takers will fill in the sessions below. The canonical session outline will be on the wall of the room during the workshop.)

Session 1

Session 2

  • Medialogging

Session 3

Research possibilities

ProjectVRM is classifed as a research project by the Berkman Center, and conducting research of some kind is part of ProjectVRM's charter. So we have a brief session near the end of the day to talk about the possibilities here, based on discussion during the last two days.

Reports from group sessions

Wrap-up and next steps


We have a the John Chipman Gray Room in Pound Hall (on the second floor) in Harvard Law School booked for both days. (Among other things, Gray said, "“It is a step for further advance to see what has been won from chaos already.") The room is the one over the bike racks on the south side of Pound Hall, which is on Massachusetts Avenue ("Mass Ave") next to the big construction project.

The room will have plenty of chairs and tables for group sessions.

Note: Parking is scarce and expensive in Cambridge. Public Transportation is best.

Here is a map of Harvard Law School, with the John Chipman Gray room highlighted.


The first workshop, also at Harvard, was called just VRMWorkshop, then VRM Workshop 2008. The second was called VRM West Coast Workshop 2009. We chose "VRM East Coast Workshop 2009" as a way to stay sort-of in compliance with that poor naming convention. The name "VRooM" was chosen by suggestion from the ProjectVRM mailing list.

The new workshop naming convention will be VRooM (location) (year). Until we come up with something else.