Live Pictures from Podcamp Atlanta 2007

Amber Rhea at Podcamp Atlanta 2007 I’m definitely not a real-time blogger, but I can take pictures. It’s actually very cool as people are taking pictures and uploading them as the conference is running and they are showing them on the overhead from time to time. Here you can see my Podcamp Atlanta 2007 pictures on Flickr. And you can see other people’s Podcamp Atlanta pictures:

I’m going to Podcamp Atlanta!

Amber Rhea pitching Podcamp Atlanta to the Atlanta PHP User Group as Robert Swarthout looks on. Well, yes as I’ve already said, I’m not a super-timely blogger. I should have blogged this long ago, but ah well. Anyway, Amber Rhea of The Georgia Podcast Network organized a Podcamp here in Atlanta for this weekend March 16-18 2007 at Emory University. An as of yesterday when I asked, Amber said that she had 185 people registered! Wow. Another event like SoCon07; I can’t wait!

But this one is going to be special for me as I get to hold my first discussion on Saturday about User-Centered URL Design. What’s that got to do with Podcasting, you ask? I’m not sure either, but Amber assurred me that attendees would be interested. :-) But seriously, podcasters has many of the same issues to address that everyone publishing on the web should consider including usable URLs for their audio files as well as the website that hosts them.

I look forward to some likely discussions!

Energy in Atlanta: Finally at SoCon07!

I’ve never really blogged before about Atlanta because (except for this) I’ve never felt there was much interesting happening here, at least not from the perspective of things that interest me to blog about. But that’s finally changing!

I’ve been in Atlanta for most of my life, and my professional career has spanned exactly 20 years next month. I’ve also been in the entrepreneurial high-tech side of things but for the most part have always felt on the outside looking in. Sure there has been a lot of high-tech companies focused on serving our fortune 500 crowd, and there are tons of real estate entrepreneurs. However, I’ve never felt like there have been others interested in developer and web-related startups like I have always been. That is until now! SoCon07 Entrepreneur Breakout moderated by Jeff Haynie with Michael Mealling asking a question a Josh Watts of Blue Violin in the immediate foreground

Several weeks ago (okay, I’ve never been a timely blogger…) I attended an unconference called SoCon07 put on by Sherry Heyl, Leonard Witt, Jeff Haynie, Josh Hallett, James Harris, and Jonas Luster (if I missed or overcredited anyone, I apologize in advance.)

The event was actually incredible. Held in the nether regions of Atlanta (okay, that’s OTP a few miles) at Kennesaw State University. There were somewhere over 200 people in attendance, and the Friday night before there was a dinner held for any interested attendees. It was incredibly rewarding to get to meet so many other bright and passionate people interested in web-oriented startups and/or social media here in my good ole’ hometown of Atlanta, GA!

I’m going to shout out for a handful of other people I’ve met recently who were at SoCon07. Someone I had met socially last year, Grayson Daughters of The Spacey Gracy Review/blog and Producer and one of the Personalities for the TrueGritz satire site was busy doin her thang.

And then there was Amber Rhea and Rusty Tanton of the Georgia Podcast Network as well as the organizers of PodCamp Atlanta. And of course my good friend Eric Winter of Webicus. As well as many others I just met and whom I hope to soon get to know better.

The White Man’s Web 2.0 Club

Badge for San Francisco Future of Web Apps September 2006After attending The Future Of Web Apps, I looked around for fellow attendee bloggers and while searching found Chris Messina’s post about the lack of diversity in the speaker lineup.  Several commenters then started getting riled up to the level of a virtual lynch mob with comments like:

Damned if I’m going to give hundreds of dollars to conference organizers who couldn’t get off their butt and mix things up a bit.

In interest of full disclosure, I do need to point out that I am a white male. OTOH, anyone who knows me well knows that I really seek out diversity, especially in my personal life, and that generally the type of people I least like spending time around are white males! But as I already posted, I loved this show. And I think the Carson did an excellent job with such a small staff, so I posted this comment:

I agree in principle with this post, but I have a different view of it (which is ironic, because I would normally be pushing hard for diversity.) I found this conference to be one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended, and I lost count at 50 conferences in my professional life.

It was also by far the best value at $147.50/day (and I even got a special offer for a 15% discount!) Lastly, his company is tiny (3 people?) and they are attempting to do a tremendous number of things for such a small company. I have seen many other conferences run by much larger companies do a much worse job in almost every area so I was AMAZED at how damn good this conference actually was, white man or not.

Could they have done a better job in diversity? Hell yeah. Did they do an incredible job in what they did? ABSOLUTELY! Did Ryan come across on stage as being sincere about wanting to address concerns and constantly do a better job? It appeared so to me. Were they probably overwhelmed by getting the conference implemented and possibly had the stress of organizing it cause them to accidently overlook some idealistic and feel good but hard to implement aspects? Probably. Do you think, now that it has been made a point that they will look to improve the situation in advance and do a better job of recruiting diversity for their next conference? Almost definitely.

So I would propose that before you collect up a lynch mob for this one oversight (”She turned me into a Newt!” “A Newt?!?” “Well…I got better.”), maybe you could consider this post and thread a suggestion for improvement that I’m sure Ryan & Co will see, and then give them the benefit of the doubt until and unless they fail next time. Fair?

A little while later I got an email from someone at Carson thanking me for my comments and saying:

You got it bang on the money, except that we are a 75% female company, soon to be an 80% female company ….

So I took the opportunity in reply to give my suggestions both to address this issue and also generally to improve the conference, as follows:

Thanks for writing. You are welcome.  You guys did an excellent job, as you know my opinion already.

Suggestions:

  1. Ask the community to nominate speakers via a forum, and then use some kind of poll software to let the community vote on who gets to speak with the caveat that not everyone voted for will accept or be able to so they should vote on a larger pool than you actually need.  That will also cause the community to notify the speakers and make your job of contacting them a lot easier.  If the community nominates 90% white male when you announce in advance you are looking for diversity, well then…
  2. Have a conference that ONLY has people other than White Males speak. Enage the community that is bitching about this to help you promote the conference.  Have this conference in Atlanta at The Fox Theatre: I can help; I live across the street. :)  This could offer a serious challenge to the community to put their money where their mouth is. Get them all to do referrals and then we can track who has the most referrals and shame the vocal ones who have few or no referrals.  If you don’t do this, I might. :)   BTW, here is a list of women speakers in tech.
  3. The worse part of your conference (for me) was lack of person-to-person networking opportunities.  It was totally hit & miss. Some thoughts (admittedly random):
    • Set up a tagging system in advance for attendees where they can tag both their involvments (what they work on), their experience, their attributes (who they work for, their title, etc.) and their interests for the conference.
    • Announce meeting locations (you could call them "A", "B", "C" or use some other naming system) so people could coordinate in advance to meet or coordinate during the event to meet. 
      Have the system make suggestions on who they should meet based on their tags in order to kick start the meeting process.
    • Set up "birds of a feather" sessions for 1/2 day based on the interest tags where people could gather to meet each other. Appoint moderaters who would announce ground rules, keep things going, get everyone to say who they are.
  4. Similar to #3, I wanted a chance to talk to some of the speakers offline but I could never find them afterwards. Schedule a time and place where the speakers would be available after their talk for people who want to meet them.
  5. I loved the laminated badges, EXCEPT!  It was almost impossible to figure out who was who.  Maybe use landscape format and for their name and company make the type
    REALLY BIG

    so that we don’t have to feel like we are staring a people or have them think we are staring at them to figure out who they are and what company they work for.

  6. Have an area where vendors can exhibit using tables only, and don’t charge them much to be there ($500?) Have rules that disallow everything but computers, handouts, and swag (i.e. no booths, even desktop ones.)  Get them a wired connection. :)
  7. Create a clear and obvious signal when the sessions will be restarting. I found myself many times in a break and not realizing that sessions had started again.

 

P.S. While writing the email I googled to find Chris’ post and instead came across Mike Monteiro’s rant entitled The Future of White Male Apps. I was going to leave a similar comment there as well, but stupid VOX evidently won’t let me leave a comment unless I have a membership, and when I "requested an invitation" it told me that I would get one "as soon as we have a spot available." Sheesh! And to think I previously got an invite, tried it, misunderstood how it was handling things, and then deleted the account!

UPDATEChris Messina saw this post and offered me an invite to VOX so I could comment on Mike Monteiro’s post. Thanks Chris!

Microformats: hCard

One of the things I learned more about at The Future of Web Apps was Microformats.  The talk on Microformats was given by Tantek Çelik who is CTO of Technorati and it was easily one of the more interesting concepts covered at the conference (to me, at least.) I probably appreciated it so much because Microformats potentially solve so many different problems that I have been pondering of late.

I had previously heard about , but I didn’t quite grok how cool they were until Tantek’s presentation.

Anyway below is my hCard, assuming I did it correctly. If anyone knows how to tell, I appreciate it you could let me know if it is correct and if not, why not (Note: I used hCard creator but I added a URL to "org" and I also put "(w)" and "(c)" after my phone numbers and I don’t know if that is kosher.)

 



Carson Workshop’s “Future of Web Apps” Conference was Incredible!

Place of the Fine Arts; inside and out The past two days I attended Carson Workshop’s "The Future of Web Apps" presented at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and I must say it was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in years!  Every one of the speakers was excellent each providing invaluable insight, and the energy level was just electric! 

I really liked the venure too; an ~800 seat auditorium where the entire single-track conference was held. It had so much better feel than getting stuffed into lots of little breakout rooms at a hotel or a convention center.

Not everything was perfect, i.e. not enough networking opportunities, flaky WiFi, and no exhibit hall, but at $2951 for two days the event was otherwise so incredible that I feel really bad2 even mentioning any negatives! OTOH, Ryan Carson was made fully aware of those problems by people other than me and I get the sense that next time it will be corrected.

Lastly, Ryan announced plans to publish online the audio ala T.E.D. for each presentation which the presenter the agrees, which Ryan definitely encouraged! That’s a very "Creative Commons" approach, and oh so right for a Web 2.0 conference (or any other future conference, for that matter.)

Maybe I had such a good time because I was burned out on 12+ years of Microsoft-oriented conferences and just needed something new.

Whatever the case; Bravo Carson, you definitely made a fan!  If you get a chance to attend one of there future conferences on a subject of interest to you, don’t hesitate, don’t think about it; just do it! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Footnotes

  1. The $295 price was also so very in line with the ethos of "Web 2.0"; created high value for little money, and benefitting from the goodwill that creates. I so totally feel like they practice what they preach at Carson!
  2. Of course if it had been a Microsoft TechEd for $1000+ I was have been totally pissy about any lack of perfection, but not at $295 for the quality that Carson delivered!

East Coast Web 2.0 Conference Sept 20th 2006

The New New Internet ConferenceWow. Looks like I’m going to be headed to the "Web 2.0 Conference for Business" in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia (near DC) next week. I’m psyched! Like I said previously, the Microsoft conferences are passe; the energy these days can be found with the Web 2.0 crowd!

The conference is a little pricy at $595 for a one day event, but it is uniquely on the East coast, and it looks like it’s going to be pretty interesting. Lots of the "A" list players from Web 2.0 like Michael Arrington of TechCrunch and Dion Hinchcliffe of ZDNet as well as Hinchcliffe & Company will be there, as well as cool tools like JackBe and the ever present Google and Microsoft plus lots of other. Check it out!

P.S. I’m blogging this while in San Francisco getting ready for tomorrow’s much less pricey "The Future of Web Apps" conference at $295 for two days.

The Future of Web Apps Conference in San Fran: Extra Seat for $200:

 

Hey all! I’ve got an extra seat at "The Future of Web Apps" conference I’m attending next week Wednesday/Thursday September 13/14 in San Francisco if anyone is interested. The conference price is $295, but I’ll let it go for $200. Post a comment here on the blog if you want it.

Off to Microsoft TechEd San Diego 2004

Well, I’m off tomorrow morning to San Diego for Microsoft TechEd San Diego  May 2004 tomorrow to meet with some vendors and partners, and to say hello to old friends and new. San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the world, so I’m sure I’ll have a great time just being there.  However, I doubt I’ll have the time or energy to update my blog while I’m there (I’ll be a Mission Beach instead….I wish!)

Also, I’d love to meet any .NET bloggers who will be at the show.  If you get this and will be at the show, track me down on my cell phone at (redacted ;-).  I’m taking my video camera with me, so I’m looking to use up some film on some good stories. :-)

Great People and Old Friends at VS Connections

I just got back from the Visual Studio Connections conference in Orlando, Florida for a few days. I went down for a few meetings, and had a really great time.  

I meet Robert Green who on Monday night previewed a free set of soon to be released components called the VBPowerPack. Robert and I talked about why VS 2005 may actually even be better and easier for the newbie than VB6. And I met Joe Binder the program manager for the very cool “My“ namespace feature, who sold me even more on the feature.

I had a nice long chat with one of the nicer guys in the industry, Alex Homer, author of *ton* of books on ASP, ADO, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and more, and he told me about the three (3!) book projects on which he’s currently working. His Advanced ASP.NET sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to get a copy.

I had a chance to talk briefly with Rocky Lhotka, another one of the nicest guys in the industry and another hugely prolific ASP/.NET writer, and he did his best to get the concept of SOA thru my thick skull. But rather than give you his explanation, which was great, I’ll give him the chance to first blog about it. I finally met Markus Egger whose Code Magazine just keeps getting better and better.  I also finally met Steve Smith of AspAlliance, but somehow we got our wires crossed and never got a chance to talk; sorry about that Steve. Hope to see you at the next show.

I had a nice long catch-up chat with Shirley Brothers, president and founder of the Connections Conferences. I’ve been a hermit for a lot of reasons and we hadn’t spoken in probably four years. Penton acquired her company over three years ago and it turned out to be a great acquisition. I’m really happy for her because it so often turns out to be a nightmare for the acquired. Anyway, her conferences keep getting more attendees each year, and the attendees, speakers, and vendors I spoke with were really positive.  Rene Garcia, president of SoftwareFX and a leading vendor of one of Xtras.Net said he loved it.  One thing’s for sure; Shirley knows how to pick the venue! The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort beats the heck out most conference hotels I’ve been to over the years.

I had a really nice dinner Monday with Kathleen Dollard, MVP and author of Code Generation in Microsoft .NET, and later on Tuesday we talked about many fine philosphical points, at least a few of which did involve programming and code generation! And then there’s one of the most consistently positive people in the .NET world: Don Kiely. They ran him ragged with three sessions [UPATE: make that five sessions!] but he still kept smiling.

So much for the name dropping. :)  Traveling can be a real pain, but whenever I go to Microsoft-oriented developer conferences I’m always surrounded by great people and lots of old friends.  This time was no different.