I’m attended BloggerCon on Saturday and spent the entire day milling about with a fair percentage of the blogosphere’s brain trust. If there’s one thing I love about these kind of events, it’s the quality of the conversations that people have at these events. The vibe is that of an autistic four year old hopped up on sugar trying to stand still for two seconds.
Conversations here have this rushed, gasping quality – the participants are hemorrhaging ideas and running out of breath at the same time. The experience seems to almost cause physical pain for the person talking, as if their ability to push out the maximum number of ideas per syllable is being sabotaged by their own body’s inferior low-bandwidth design.
That said, not all everything was smiles, sunshine, and cerebral hemorrhages in bloggerland yesterday. One of the rules of the conference, that vendors are not allowed to pitch their products, caused a certain amount of difficulty during the day. One particular incident involved Dave Winer shutting down Bob Wyman (of PubSub) when he attempted to provide an explanation of some aspects of aggregation technology during Robert Scoble‘s “Information Overload” session. This was not especially well received by the audience (I actually left the session along with Paul Schreiber in protest), and served as a somewhat awkward point of discussion during the final wrap-up session. Dave Winer is to be commended for having the strength and courage to take the discussion on directly, especially given the fact that some of the attendees were not happy with Dave’s equally strong desire to bend the conference to his personal vision.
Inevitably, someone (Mike and Eleanor) got the bright idea that they could circumvent Dave’s control over the conference and hold a backchannel conference of their own. And include the vendors. This is especially ironic, given the origins of the conference: Dave Winer was sick of going to conferences where vendors dominated the discussion and the attendees could only have conversations in the hallway. No sooner that BloggerCon ended than a dozen or so of us wandered over to the backchannel conference, complete with just about every aggregator vendor eager to tell us what they were planning next and listen for user feedback. And if that wasn’t enough, Russell Beattie was screening Star Wars on his phone just to prove a point (it was amazingly watchable!).
All in all, an excellent experience. I have a number of other thoughts on the conference contents itself, especially with respect to Doc Searl’s “Making Money” session, but I’ll save them for another day until they’re fully baked. Besides, there’s plenty of excellent summaries of the conference sessions available out there. And if you’re really interested, you can listen to the conference yourself.
The one thing I would like to highlight is how much of the value of the conference came from the quality of conversation and connection between the participants. It’s funny – we live in a society where we close ourselves off more and more, but at the slightest inkling of a common interest the walls we erect between us come crashing down. While blogging is all about conversation and connection, we sometimes forget how important it is to just get away from the technology itself and be with real people. I’d like to thank everyone for making it a really enjoyable day and ask you to try to find a way to make these same connections in your everyday life. We don’t need a conference to make these connections happen. They should happen every day.