So another Gnomedex comes and goes. 3 days in beautiful Seattle (every year the weather is awesome – which is nuts because we are inside all day).
When I describe the conference to my coworkers and clients (representatives from both groups showed up this year), I usually say:
This is the only conference I will pay for out of my own pocket – every year
Hands-down the most fun tech conference I have ever attended
Cool people, fun discussions, engaged crowd, a little controversy and a lot of laughs.
Chris and Ponzi throw an amazing 3 day party every year
This year the speaker list was kinda thin compared to year’s past. There were a couple of standouts, a couple of Gnomedex regulars and a few new faces. Some were good. Some were so-so. I missed some and caught some.
I have heard Guy Kawasaki speak before – he was fun, smart, glib (as usual). No great declarations or “a-ha! moments” – except for the fact that I am going to try to beat his record for starting up and shipping Truemors 🙂
Darren Barefoot, Gnomedex Alumnus, did an amazing job of connecting with all of these entrepreneur/business/marketing/social media-types that attended and yet did NOT talk about technology or ways to make money – he brought the Staceys of the world into focus. You can find the video of his post here
Derek Miller touched everyone there with his amazing story of courage and survival while surprising us with his great sense of humor and class. In three years of Gnomedex, I haven’t seen a standing ovation yet – his was deserved. I hope I get to shake his hand at Gnomedex 2008.
Brady’s IGNITE Seattle was fun – 5 presenters with 5 minutes each to give a presentation. I missed the IGNITE event at the CHAC (thanks Kevin!) but it was great to see Dave McClure and Deb Schultz do their thing onstage at Gnomedex.
SOYLENT, um, er, GNOMEDEX IS MADE OF PEOPLE!!!!!! The Hallway at Gnomedex, the Thursday Kickoff-Mixer, The Friday Cocktail Party, the Lunch Tables on Friday and Saturday. Gnomedex is an amazing event for meeting people. From discussing possible business, and meeting guys who you read every day, to finding amazing startups, Gnomedex is an incredible magnet for attracting cool people who GET SH!T DONE. Hanging out with Marc Canter from Broadband Mechanics, Robert Scoble from Podtech, David Geller from Eyejot, Nikolaj Nyholm from Polar Rose, Scott Rafer, Deb Schultz, Renee Blodgett, Mike Tan, the Sawickipedia, Dave Schappell from Teachstreet, Keith Teare, Angel Djambazov from PopShops.com, Adam MetzKarin K, Rachael Clarke, Shannon, the guys from Waggle Labs, Chris Brogan from Video on the Net,, Britt Raybould, Ed S, David Levitt, and a ton of others is really what makes Gnomedex special.
Michael Linton had a pretty interesting talk (for me), but lots of folks in Twitterland werent digging his talk. His slides on Open Money can be found here.
The Not So Great
Robert Steele – very entertaining early. As a fan of all things open (open source, open ID, open architecture, open hardware, etc) his talk started out fun. It went way long, the conversation kinda died (I dont think the Gnomedex crowd knew what to make of him). Someone asked him about aliens.
Sterling D. Allan – the energy guy. Was not a great speaker, had way too many slides, was all over the map, and didn’t really engage the crowd. Alt Energy and Eco-business are two topics I follow, and even I got bored with his presentation. Unlike Robert Steele (who had too many things for us to check out) Mr Allan didn’t really have something for the crowd to hang onto. We all kinda sat there waiting for the raffle for the Wii.
Mahalo Kerfuffle – Jason started off presenting a deck about pollution on the web and it turned into a pitch for his new Search Engine, Mahalo – which is where Dave Winer called foul. Now in the past Gnomedex has had presentations that crossed the line into pitches (specifically the Rubel Weatherbug commercial from a few years ago) and the crowd got rowdy. This is Gnomedex, sponsors don’t get speaking gigs for their money, pitches are kinda looked down on (not sure if they are banned). Was Jason or Dave wrong? I dunno. I was enjoying Jason’s presentation until he got into how Mahalo was going to solve the problem – he should have kept going, engaging the crowd in a dialog and closed with the Mahalo slide or a call for a BoF meeting in the side room to discuss.
The Wifi – it is never great at Gnomedex.
I missed a couple of sessions due to the great conversations I was having in the hallways, so I can’t give a complete report on every session like year’s past. This year was fun as usual (as opposed to business as usual). I have yet to go to any conference where everything is perfect, every session rocks, every mixer is fun. Gnomedex is more intimate, more personal, more interactive and Chris/Ponzi try really hard to mix things up. This year it didn’t work perfectly – but it was still great because of the people there.
Every year Chris starts the show with something to the effect of “you get out of Gnomedex what you put into it”. I got a lot out of it.
I have no doubt Chris and Ponzi will listen to the feedback from the crowd this year.
It was really great getting to meet you and I look forward to hanging with you some time in the near future. You’re clearly a really fun dude, and I’m glad Deb made us meet. (I never *really* say dude).
Pingback: Thoughts on Gnomedex and Video of My Talk
Sean — was great meeting you at Gnomedex — I totally agree on the two speakers (Robert Steele and Sterling Allan) — I personally didn’t think Jason’s Mahalo talk was that annoying… the hubbub was actually unwarranted IMO, but I think it’s good to remind speakers ahead of time what’s expected of them. I’m not sure that was conveyed given the overall state of the speakers:
a) be a great speaker (i.e. prepare, test you talk on other audiences or at least your co-workers, and bring some energy)
b) don’t just sell your company — it’s OK if you spend 10% of the time on your own thing, IMO, but if the % gets to 30-40% and doesn’t bring in competitors or other solutions, then thanks, but I’ll take the sales pitch somewhere else… like… maybe Google AdWords 🙂
c) make your materials available (before, during & after) — I don’t think this was a major issue, but it’s always nice to have them
Catch you next year 🙂
Dave – thanks for the comment. Agree on A, B and C. Chris will be putting the presentations on the site (or YouTube) but it is great when the speakers make their work available so you can follow up and learn more.