Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day in Greensboro, most of it on the NC A&T campus attending ConvergeSouth. I am still trying to recover from the event, so this post is just a big Hello to everyone I met there and another post about buidling online communities inspired by the meeting will follow soon.
First, a big Thank You to the organizers of the event, Sue Polinsky, Ed Cone, Ben Hwang and JW. Great to see you all again! Great job!
Last year, I came in knowing only a few people. Two days later, I knew many more. This year, it was only one day long so it was hard to catch up with everyone I know, as well as meet new friends, and I am sorry I did not have more time to spend chatting with some of them.
I rode with Kirk Ross (former editor of Independent Weekly) on the way there and with Will Raymond on the way home, both times with great conversations in which I have learned a lot (including the fact that Will’s sister and I know each other well).
Of course, Billy was there – the Great Organizer of the Blogsoro community. He drove to the conference riding his biplane bycicle (featured in Make magazine) and just hadf it parked there in front of the building all day long. You can see a movie about Billy and his plane if you click on the link on top of this page.
I managed to at least say Hello to Dave and Jinny Hoggard, Stu, Mr.Sun, Roch, Jay, Sandy Carmany, Sam and David Wharton, Jeff aka Fecund Stench (the best internet handle ever!), Anglico, Dave Anonymoses, Lex, Jude Iddybud, Matt Gross, Pam Spaulding, ae, Mark Tosczak, Janet and Daniel Conover, Matt Hill Comer, George Entenman and Jill (if I forgot someone, I apologize – feel free to remind me in the comments). Many of them have posted their own thoughts on the meeting, as well as pictures and videos, so dig around their blogs for more. And you can see who else was there here.
The first morning session was on building online communities, wonderfully led by Elizabeth Edwards (and yes, I got another hug!). The biggest news from the meeting occured during this session as Mike Krempasky (the founder of Red State) all but endorsed Brad Miller for Congress, mainly for his fight for campaign finance and blogs, I guess, though who would ever want to vote for Vernon Robinson is going to remain forever a mystery to me. Southern Dem recorded the exchange which you can find on NCBlue:
One thing that I’ve certainly never done is endorse a Democrat. Ever. I am actually quite willing to say this when it comes to politics that we should (a little fuzzy) all just step back a little bit. If there’s an uglier time in Washington than right now, I don’t know. But Brad Miller ought to be re-elected.
(Here’s the picture of the two of them talking in the hall immediately afterwards. Also check the comments here)
The spirit of ConvergeSouth is wonderfullly non-partisan. We may bash each other in blog comments, but we enjoy each other’s company and have beer together in real life.
Anton liveblogged the lively and fun second session led by Maryam and Robert Scoble, who I managed to meet briefly afterwards.
The third session I attended was the one about the Facebook and other social software, moderated by Bill Wood who really impressed me with his thoughts on the topic. The best part of the session was the active participation of several students, real users of Facebook and MySpace. In the spirit of the unconference, I was really interested in hearing what they had to say instead of us old geezers pontificating to them. The session gave me a lot of food for thought, something I will have to ruminate on for a few days befor I turn it into a post here.
Also, the social networking showed its great real-life potential right there during the session. It took less than five minutes to match together people who have computers they don’t know what to do with, and people who need free computers to teach immigrants and refugees to read English.
As it apparently happens at every conference, a new blog got started right then and there.
Local media did not ignore the event either. You can read articles in News & Record and Yes Weekly.
After an afternoon chatting over beer with a bunch of bloggers, we had a great conversation at dinner in Ganache (great food – divine desserts!), with Elizabeth and Zak Exley, Austin Chandler, Anthony Piraino, Wendy Warren, Dan Rubin, Jim Buie, Cara Michelle, Lisa Scheer, Ed Cone, Kirk Ross and Will Raymond. Dan Rubin was a correspondent from Yugoslavia at the time when Milosevic was deposed, so we had a lot to talk about, as you can imagine.
Anton came prepared with a bunch of leaflets advertising the NC Science Blogging Conference which we gave out and left around the place for people to pick up. Several people showed great interest in it.
You can check out other peoples’ impressions here.
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