As you probably know, The Bride of Coturnix and I went to NYC last week to attend the 140conference organized by Jeff Pulver who I finally had a pleasure to meet in person.
The speaker line-up and the program schedule had to be slightly modified as a few people got stuck in Europe under the volcanic ash and could not come in time. But there were plenty of smart people in attendance who could readily jump in and join the panels in their place.
There were a total of about 1000 people the first day and only slightly fewer on the second day. There were only a handful people there who I’ve met before, e.g., Jay Rosen, Joe Trippi, Dave Winer (who must have left after his talk as I did not get to catch up with him at all), C.C. Chapman, and the only other ScienceOnline2010 attendee there – Cassie Rodenberg.
So, this was a great opportunity to meet new people, including several who I have followed online for a long time, e.g., Tommy Jenkins, Jeff Jarvis, Alex Howard, Susanna Speier, Steven
Anderson, Lauren Rae Bertolini, Mary Wells, Eric Sheninger and many others. Angela Shelton was too popular and busy for me to get to meet in person, but we communicated on Twitter during the meeting. As she is a NC native, perhaps it will be relatively easy to invite her for one of the future events in the Triangle – TEDx, or Ignite, or The Monti…
I have already posted a few videos from the conference (check them all under the 140conf category) and will post a few more later, but you can check them all out – they are collected here.
There was a palpable energy in the air, lots of excitement, and a bunch of excellent – both informative and inspiring – talks and panels. Unlike last year, there was nobody talking about science. I hope that is remedied next time (there is a 140conf somewhere in the world almost every month) and I have offered to do it myself if Jeff is interested for one of the upcoming events (perhaps the one in D.C.). One of the often heard words was ‘serendipity’ and attending the various sessions was an exercise in serendipity. I may not be interested in, and thus not following, what is happening in the areas of fashion, sports, real estate or comic strips, but listening to people from these industries, hearing how they deal with the changes that the real-time Web has brought, seeing some of their practices, was most definitely useful for me – I could use some of that thinking and see how to apply it to what I do.
Of course, as a conference organizer, I kept watching the little details behind the scenes, comparing how Jeff organized things to what we do at ScienceOnline, see what he did better than we do so we can adopt it for next year (as well as being happy about the details where we do it better already).
You already know my thinking about organizing and presenting at modern conferences, but this one also provoked an excellent new post about it, pointing the strengths and weaknesses of the 140conf model using tweets by Andy Carvin. See also another related post. What they did better than we do is have everything livestreamed and then have each talk/session segment cut separately almost immediatelly and placed online for everyone to see – this is something we’ll try to do better next year. On the other hand, we had kick-ass wifi (#2 requirement for a successful conference) provided by SignalShare, while wifi was very scatchy at 140conf, especially the first day with more people in the audience, and everyone trying to get online (many gave up on wifi on the second day so there was more juice left for others). Coffee (#1 requirement for a successful conference) was flowing on the second day, but it was on-and-off on the first day, so in the end Cassie Rodenberg and I had to go accross the street to get some mocha for ourselves.
All-in-all this was a great conference, a very fun and useful experience, and a great networking opportunity for me. I’ll try to go again when it is nearby (e.g., DC or NYC or Boston) as well as try to bring it to the Triangle if I can find a good local venue and local sponsors.
Aside from the conference, Bride Of Coturnix and I had some time to just wonder around NYC as we like to do every year. My brother happened to be in town at the same time so we got to see him twice, as well as some of his friends I have been hearing about for 20 years and have not managed to meet in person until this week. And we have met our friends for two dinners, including Arikia Millikan (and her awesome room-mate), Cassie Rodenberg, Stacy Baker, Maia Szalavitz, Nancy Parmalee, Alla Katsnelson, Arvind Says and Byron Roberts – that was great fun.
[Jay Rosen speaking at #140conf NYC 2010]
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