Linux and Tweeters and Blogs (Oh My!)
There I was at a press announcement, blissfully scribbling away with my yellow No. 2 Ticonderoga, when I realized I was surrounded by THEM. That's right, BLOGGERS! The room rippled with new media types who were uploading the news directly to the web as fast as their thumbs could carry them. The speaker smiled as fifty cell cameras winked back at him. I had this strange premonition that I wouldn't be the first to file the story.
Another premonition was that this would be a memorable issue of the FPGA Developer. Sure enough, Sanjay Thatte of Mentor starts off the discussion with an analysis of how growing FPGA embedded functions have not only made the devices more useful, but more difficult to wield. He defines problem and solution in "The Need for Incremental FPGA Synthesis." Next Andy Haines of Synplicity joins in on spiraling ASIC and SoC costs and the millions of lines of code needed for product differentiation. He sees a multilayered answer in "Software Development Drives Prototyping for ASICs and SoCs." Then take a look at our regular features: news briefs, in-depth articles, and another summer book review. Page Down to enter in.
From my perspective, Intel Corporation had pulled off a PR coup by inviting a wide range of new media journalists. They had decided to make their Threading Building Blocks, a C++ template library that simplifies building multicore applications (see the Book Review), available as an open source project under the GNU General Public License complete with the runtime exception. A news conference designed for bloggers was a great way to spread the news rapidly within the open source community. And quickly building a critical mass of programmers capable of crafting multi-threaded applications seemed an inspired way to increase the demand for multi-core hardware.
Getting together was also a treat for the new media community. Many had read each other's posts, but never had the opportunity to meet in person. It was like a catered convention for Wild West gunslingers. And although they made me feel really, really old, it was great fun to listen in and take part in the discussions.
All a Twitter?
After everybody at my table had compared personal electronic devices (and yes, readers, I was wrong; they were certainly passionate about their phones if not the technology hidden within), they started comparing how they invested their time. The biggest revelation for me, other than how many times everyone had read The Silmarillion (record was eight), was the devotion by many to Tweeting (http://twitter.com/). Twitter proclaims itself to be "a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?" Started as a labor of love a year back, it's been spun out as its own business. Is there profit in chronicling your last five seconds? I don't know, but it's entertaining in moderation, and it just closed a round of venture funding.
Content or Community?
Another thing I realized is that most of our table saw the web differently than I do. I think of it most importantly as a staggering source of self-updating information. They seem to see it as an infinite fountain of communication. Key, perhaps, is that you can subscribe to a given source, getting their personal posts, tweets, and images instantaneously. A blogging evangelist across the table said he subscribed to seven hundred RSS feeds at a time. A tenth of that would bury me. I step carefully across the web searching for content. They seem to lunge out and embrace it without reservation, seeking . I don't know. Community? Identity? Self?
But as much as the group puzzled me, the individuals fascinated me. To my left, for example, Michael Larabel, founder and editor of Phoronix, an online Linux journal, saw technology as "enriching our lives in unimaginable ways." Fine, I thought and wondered if he was referring to "Smeller" or some other still fantasy site. He wasn't. Instead he referred to development projects he was engaged in and I was impressed. I saw problems, but also a chance for real social good if they succeeded. However, that story is under embargo. You'll have to blog it yourselves.
Does Editor Jim need a clue? Try something low baud rate, like a semaphore at: firstname.lastname@example.org.