Saturday 11 June 2005
BY NOW MANY READERS will have seen at least some of the emerging reports on the @media 2005 conference that just wrapped up here in London. I have a few passionate thoughts about the event that I’d like to share, including a bit for folks who couldn’t attend, too.
Compliments, Commendations, Celebrations
First, a big round of applause to Patrick Griffiths for taking such a bold risk putting on a conference of this nature. New to conference organization, Patrick did an amazing job and he deserves a great deal of respect for not only pulling off what might have been one of the most fun and informative events I’ve ever attended much less had the good fortune of speaking at. So thank you so very much Patrick and here’s to a successful future for @media!
Many accolades to the good folks who worked so hard to pull off logistics: Julian, Cindy, Jo, and many others from Kings College at the University of London. And last but not least, the hard-working servers and bartenders who put up with serving us wild and crazy standards geeks at the parties. Terrific job, everyone!
A Little WordPl@y
By now many have written and commented on our little WordPl@y meme, thought up by the ever witty Derek Featherstone. Here’s an explanation about that now that the event is over.
We each had to think of a word that we felt would be difficult for another speaker to put into his or her presentation. We wrote them on a slip of paper, shook ’em up in Joe Clark’s hat, and closed our eyes and picked. Then, we each had to use the word in some way in our presentations.
It was great fun and a good challenge to all of us as speakers. The attendees seemed to catch on and enjoy the joke, too. What was really great to see was just how each speaker incorporated their word. The one disappointment I had was that Robin Christopherson, who didn’t attend the speaker dinner where we worked up this bit of mischief, wasn’t in on the challenge. He’s a great speaker with a fine, dry wit, so I imagine he would have done well at the game. Next time!
Now some folks seem to get upset when memes like this emerge, claiming that it’s an “in” joke and so on. In many ways, that complaint is accurate, but I hope people can see why this sort of thing is so much fun, and not only for speakers, but for the audience as well. I’ve noticed that whenever conference speakers bond, they are able to provide a far more unified and relevant experience for delegates, as well as help to smooth out rough spots or modify the direction more easily as we will compare notes on audience skill level and so forth. Also, this sort of thing isn’t limited to just speakers, but delegates get involved too, just like the UI9 photo meme. At the risk of over-using my word, despite that this fun might appear to be very ego masturbatory, it’s all done with good intention.
Just how Veen used it in his presentation, I don’t know. I forgot to ask Douglas before he had to leave.
You Light Up My Life
While surely the quality of content and speaker selection has much to do with the success of an event, the real winning part of conferences is the hallway chatter, networking opportunities and hey, let’s face it: the parties. I speak at many, many events, and I consider myself extremely blessed to know and meet so many wonderful people across the world who share The Passion.
I have to say that @media2005 will always stand out for the absolute warmth and kindness of each attendee. There was a feeling in that room of incredible peer bonding, everyone was so warm, and interesting, and intelligent, and fun and I wish I could name each and every one of you. It was great to see people I’d met in the past and hadn’t had a chance to see in some time, a fantastic joy to finally meet people face to face with whom I’ve had email / IM relationships with over the years and finally, completely inspirational to engage with an entirely new group of people I can now count among my peers and most importantly, my friends.
For those who couldn’t attend this event, or others in the past, or even future ones due to economics or location or life responsibilities, I want to send you out some good thoughts too. As with conference memes, I’ve heard feelings of being left out and not in the “in crowd” from quite a few people, many of whom I deeply love and respect. I think many people do find that when they get to meet face to face, the “in crowd” thing goes away.
On thing I really appreciate about so many of the prominent figures on the Web is that they are completely accessible people. So if you can get to events like this in the future, please do, and even if you’re shy, try to reach out to someone and I promise we’ll reach right back. And if you can’t get to events like this, know this to be true: There is no real outside / inside thing. I believe it’s a misperception and I’d like to make sure I do everything in my power to make everyone feel like we’re all in this together.
No matter our differences or abilities, no matter what those stupid “A List” campaigns say the bottom line is we are doing important work that will outlast our lifetimes.
Let’s keep The Passion going, because with it, we will all help make the Web what we want and need it to be, and have so much fun in the process of doing so.
I love you all.