My third trip to the US is almost over, as I'm flying back to good old NZ tomorrow. I thought I'd write a quick post about my experiences from this trip. In particular about the 3 conferences I went to: Supernova, BloggerCon and Gnomedex. In reverse chronological order...
Gnomedex, in Seattle. It was a lot of fun and I think host Chris Pirillo (pictured at left) was a major reason why! The man is a human ball of energy and this rubbed off on the conference as a whole. The content was eclectic and fun, as were the party venues and the 'little things' - like the free food/drink, a place for us World Cup fans to hang out and watch the quarter finals, the cool quasi-Maori themed Gnomedex tee-shirts, and more. Sessions I enjoyed included Dave Dederer (part of the rock band Presidents of the United States) and Ethan Kaplan, who both discussed the music industry on the Web. Dederer opened by singing two songs from my favourite band of all time, The Velvet Underground. He sung 'We're gonna have a real good time together' and 'Waiting for The Man' :-) Most of the sessions were great - and a bit out-of-the-ordinary (e.g. Susan Mernit's talk), which is always a good thing IMHO. There was some fiery discussion in Blake Ross' session, about Firefox, but everybody ended up friends afterwards. Plus getting US Presidential nominee John Edwards to speak was a master stroke.The most enjoyable conference for me was
BloggerCon was great, although the turnout was surprisingly small. Perhaps due to the overlap with other events - including Supernova and a San Francisco Bar Camp. Nevertheless there was a nice community feel to BloggerCon and host Dave Winer made sure all the discussions were relevant and thought-provoking. The one issue I had with the "unconference" format was that it tended to favour the extroverted personalities in the crowd, which meant the same old people were doing the talking all the time. I guess it's up to us quiet thinkers to summon up the courage to pitch in, but maybe the Discussion Leaders could do a little more to encourage that to happen? An unconference should include the introverts too :-) Oh and BloggerCon was yet another conference where my friend and BBM boss Marc Canter fell asleep (pictured)!
Supernova in San Francisco had its moments, but at other times was a little disappointing. I felt that in too many cases, panelists and speakers talked mainly about their own products or companies. The Future of Search panel was the best illustration of this - the 5 panelists all talked about their own search products at every opportunity, which left me none the wiser about the future of search by the end. I really hope Kevin Werbach and his team addresses this issue for the next Supernova, because I really want to hear technical issues being discussed - I don't want product pitches. The panel called The Future of Desktops was more to my liking, as a lot of thought-provoking information came from that panel. Somewhat ironically then, one of my favourite moments of Supernova was Mike Arrington's Connected Innovators session - so I guess little 5-minute product spiels I can deal with :-) The Supernova backchannel was interesting too, with Valleywag (pictured) a prominent snarker, along with David Weinberger.
There are lots of other things I enjoyed about all 3 conferences (and stuff I've forgotten to mention I'm sure), but no time to go into it all. I want to thank all 3 of the conference organizers: Kevin Werbach, Dave Winer, Chris Pirillo and Ponzi. It's a lot of hard work to do conferences, so I've got to give big wraps to those people.
p.s. sorry about the lack of blog posts here recently. Once I'm home I'll get back to my normal blogging routine!