Archive for February, 2006
I’m off to NewComm in just a few hours. It’s in Palo Alto, so if you want to hook up there or in San Francisco on Wednesday night, give me a shout.
In case anyone needs it, my cell is 506 921 0119.
Have a great week everyone :)
I met Will on Valentine’s Day last year in a pub in Vancouver. No, neither of us are gay :-p But, he made quite an impression. Hell, I even posted about it (and I don’t post often about meeting people).
Will is a great guy. I’ve never personally worked with him, but it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to find ‘good people’ these days, so when companies find them they should hang on. Tight.
Will has been working with Raincity Studios, a kickass new design firm on the west coast, for the last year (or whatnot). He has made somewhere around half a million dollars in sales and, while he enjoys it, feels that now is the time to move on.
I’m glad for him. It’s always good to see someone who is brave enough to take the next step!
Here’s what he’s looking for:
A great job with an awesome company, filled with people who “get it”. I can do the best work for firms that provide web services or are building web application products, work with open source (Drupal is my forte) or social software of any kind. I could also do good things for companies that want to stand apart in industries that need help figuring out Web 2.0 opportunities; such as media & entertainment.
I’d like to stay in Vancouver if possible (it rocks here). Willing to relocate to the Bay Area, Seattle or Toronto; but since I’m a self taught genius type it might be a bit difficult to get a work visa in the US. If your lawyers know how to figure that part out, then game on.
Drop him an email if you’re interested in a great worker, funny guy and all around genius helping you out with ‘sales, marketing or community management’!
Mark Evans, and friends, are organizing a blogging conference in Toronto.
This is awesome. Seriously. I love it.
They’re asking for general ideas, thoughts, advice, etc. As someone who’s done about a dozen blogging conferences (all but one as a speaker), I felt it’d be good to chime in. But, really, when have I felt it wasn’t good to chime in, eh? ;-)
Here are my initial thoughts:
1. Focus: Everyone’s mentioned this, but “web 2.0 / blogging” is just too vague. BlogOn was about high-end corporate blogging. Northern Voice was about the “blogging community”. NewComm will be about blogging as it relates to marketing, PR, etc. What will this conference be? Blogging as a business communication tool? Another NV-style conference? How to become a professional blogger? Focus is key.
2. Speakers: Get good ones. Personally I’d stay away from Scoble largely because every conference has him and there’s no differentiating factor there… But, maybe there’s a reason every conference has him too! Doc, Dave Winer, Tim Bray and Jory are all fantastic speakers in my opinion. Especially Doc and Tim (but that’s my personal preference).
3. Venue: Choose one that’s central enough to be convenient, cheap enough to work or partner with something like a University and offer free passes to 50 students or whatever in exchange for it.
4. Power and wifi: Darren mentioned this in the thread, and it’s really, really key. A conference without these is really, really bad. A blogging conference without these is insane. Power bars every 2 rows, under every seat. Wifi everywhere (and decent wifi at that, not just one netgear router).
5. Food: There needs to be decent food close by. NorthernVoice did this really well.
6. Non-conference events: Ask 3-4 people to lead some events that newbies can join in with. People who already have a social circle from other conferences will likely opt out, but those who are new to this will really, really appreciate it. Blog walks are good. Dinners are good. Trips to some local sights are good (better if you call ahead and arrange a discount).
7. Open sessions: While these can be difficult to manage, and VERY difficult to guarantee quality, having a few BoF or open discussions can really transform a conference from average to fantastic. Obviously the opposite can be true as well, so some management is best.
8. For speakers: While most small conferences can’t afford to pay speakers, make sure you set aside some money in the budget to ‘help’ speakers who may have hit a ‘famine’ spot in the typical speaker ‘feast or famine’ cycle. It happens. More often than most of us would like to admit. And having the option there allows us to decide if it’s really appropriate to go, instead of disqualifying ourselves immediately. For small conferences there is no need to cover all expenses, though the more you can the better. And any free / cheap / discounted rooms you can find, the better.
9. Wiki: A wiki is a fantastic way to allow other events to organize, to do ride organization, hotel room sharing, etc. Use it early. Use it well. Mention it A LOT.
10. Broadcasting: Having audio of the conference be broadcast is huge. Thankfully, there are lots and lots and lots of companies in Toronto that do this quite inexpensively. Some are better than others. Happy to put you guys in touch if you need it :) If you’re doing audio, having an official conference IRC channel is a great way for people outside to communicate with people inside. Gnomedex often does a great job of this, and it really opens the conference up to the world.
Also, think about sponsors and sponsorship packages early on. Lots of companies in Toronto would be into this, depending on the focus (Q9, iUpload, etc, have been known to sponsor these types of events, and the Star is always a sucker for anything that will get them in front of people). Consider doing an ‘expo’ if there are enough local companies (again, depending on focus). Either way, if this conference is going to happen in May, a lot of things need to be decided RIGHT NOW so you can lock down speakers and sponsors and venue ASAP. Once those are down, there is still a tonne of work to do organizing books, schedules, working with speakers on flights, finding partners, promoting it, finding volunteers for setup, etc.
Either way, guys, fantastic idea. I’d love to be involved any way I can, including speaking, organizing, advertising the conference (on b5′s blogs, at a huge discount), etc.
This conference really, really needs to happen. Please be aware of how much the Toronto blogging community is pumped about this. Please do us proud!
Update: For reference, here is a previous piece where I ranted about what is wrong with conferences.
I’m getting some kickback on the MySpace piece. I knew I would. It’s a big topic, and one that I’m probably not explaining properly.
So, I thought I’d share a silly joke that Shannon forwarded to me. Yes, guys, when your wife forwards you a joke you DO have to read it ;-)
A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, observing his wife turning back and forth, looking at herself in the mirror.
Since her birthday was not far off, he asked what she’d like to have for her Birthday.
I’d like to be six again, she replied, still looking in the mirror.
On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster… everything there was.
Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside downupside down.
He then took her to a McDonald’s where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake.
Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M’s. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted.
He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, Well Dear, what was it like being six again ??
Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.
I meant my DRESS SIZE, you dumb ass!!
The moral of the story: Even when a man IS listening, he is going to get it wrong!
Let me get two things out right up front, before I get entangled in them:
1. MySpace scares the hell out of me 2. I’ve spent a total of like 20 minutes on MySpace (and 15 of those was due to exploring K-Fed’s contacts, just for kicks and giggles)
That said, there has been a lot of conversation about MySpace recently – particularly among those of us who make our living in blogging. And y’know what? The more we talk about it, the more MySpace scares me. And, while I may not have as much personal experience as might seem appropriate for a post like this (see point #1), I have a lot of friends who live on MySpace, and I’ve been picking their brains for the last 3 months.
A quick rundown of the ‘facts’ (there are no MySpace tracking tools, so this is based solely on info MySpace is releasing about once every month or two):
MySpace is Bigger Than Blogging: There are more nearly as many MySpace accounts as blogs (about 30M vs about 100M. More of them are started every day than blogs (about 250,000 vs about 100,000). There are more posts per day being made on MySpace than on all blogs combined (about 1.5M vs about 1.4M).
MySpace is Accelerating Faster Than Blogging: Considering it is much newer than blogging, this should be obvious. While it is currently smaller than blogs, at the current rate of growth and acceleration, it will be larger than blogging by this summer. That is ALL of blogging.
MySpace’ers Network. Fast: It isn’t that unusual to find MySpace accounts with thousands of connections. While many (outside of MySpace) might think that these connections are useless, the truth is that they represent the ability for networks to form quickly, and when graphed they do show that certain people are more likely to connect nodes and groups of nodes than others.
Now, the real question is WHY does MySpace scare me. And, to me, the answer is: the same reason it should damned well scare anyone in business, technology or blogging.
MySpacers connect better than bloggers, get their friends into it better than bloggers, stay in touch more than bloggers, and form true sociological pods better than bloggers. MySpace is closer to the Google Grid than Google is. MySpace is the closest humanity has ever come to a central community or a central consciousness. MySpace’ers are the largest and most distributed network of human nodes ever created and sustained for more than a few days (tests on human networks of up to 10M people have been tried, but they ultimately fall apart, often faster than they can be created).
Beyond that, there are other reasons MySpace scares the hell out of me. Here are a few questions to try and show why:
1. When we eventually have 100M people (primarily 10-25) on MySpace, how does their culture affect other ‘cultures’ outside of MySpace? 2. When there are that many people, will MySpace’ers begin being elite? 3. When will businesses begin seriously targetting MySpace (some are already)? 4. How will businesses effectively engage in conversations with Spacers when so, so, so little of MySpace is broadcast oriented, and when Spacers do so little searching for new connections? 5. What happens if MySpace goes down? At what point do services like MySpace become so a part of the overall culture (due to people having spent years on there AS WELL as because a significant portion of the culture ‘lives’ there) that MySpace becomes a reflection of culture. If that happens, do we need to backup MySpace? Similarly, should we be backing up Google, as a point in time reflection of the web? 6. When will law-makers begin legislating MySpace? 7. How would MySpace’s networks reform if MySpace went down? What would be the impact on young people who are fragile and completely alone in the world apart from MySpace? 8. What kind of ecosystem can be built around MySpace (technology wise)?
I am dead serious when I say that MySpace scares the hell out of me. It is, as we watch, making blogging obsolete. The technical elite that rule blogging now will soon be completely dwarfed by the 20 somethings as they graduate, get jobs and begin to gain influence. Blogging’s end is coming, and its name is MySpace.
Give it 18-24 months, and MySpace will be the new desire of businesses everywhere. You thought journalists had it in for bloggers for being snivvly, write-in-pajamas, teen freaks? Just wait until they get ahold of MySpace.
While the community is incredibly fragmented now, it won’t take very many attack articles from journalists before Spacers begin coalescing their networks, realizing their power and using it.
The power of a community of 100M people (and, let’s face it, blogging isn’t really that much of a community overall). The need to support that many people, as a society, when their culture starts to become incredibly distinct. The need to preserve that culture is huge. Almost as huge as the need will become by some to try and dominate the culture.
Let’s be fair. In April, MySpace will become the most trafficked site on the planet. By the end of the year, MySpace will account for roughly 10% of all web traffic and, by the end of 2006 (if growth and acceleration curves maintain), it will account for about 40% (accounting for a plateau, because realistically we can’t have more people on MySpace than are on the entire web).
MySpace, I’m sure, rocks to the people who are in it. And similar, competing, services will grow up. Maybe the ecosystem will self-select to the point of making all of my fears a moot point.
But, what if it doesn’t. What if, eventually, every person between the ages of 13-25 has a MySpace account and is at least partially active on it to some degree. What happens to society, culture and them? How will business and the culture outside be affected by that? What is the impact on humanity if MySpace becomes intrinsically tied to the identity of an entire generation?
Yeah, MySpace scares me.