Archive for September, 2007
Sorry for the light blogging this week, I’m out at Digital ID World (living one of the other sides of my conference life). While I’ve been here, I’ve run into some folks that are coming to Defrag — namely, Doc Searls and Michael Barrett.
My conversation with Doc just served to up my own excitement level. As we talked through who is going to be there, all that we kept coming back to was how good a conversation this was going to be — serious thinkers, serious creators, real do-ers and probably some shakers as well.
Anyway - I’m pumped! Back in the Defrag HQ come tues late next week, so look for a pickup in blogging then….and don’t forget to register now!
I’m happy to report this morning that we’ve added two folks to the agenda that should make things even *more* interesting:
1. With DEMO coming up next week, it only seems appropriate to announce that Chris Shipley will be joining us at Defrag.
2. We’ve also added Bug Labs to the agenda — specifically to speak to the idea of “community-driven” gadgets.
Ooooh and we’re working on so much more — can ya smell what the Defrag has cookin’?
CNBC’s PowerLunch is in Denver today….and yet, I didn’t get the call to talk about one of Denver’s hottest tech conferences (ahem).
As far as I know, neither did Brad…
Okay, yes, I admit it. I listened to some really awful “hair metal” bands in the late 80s. And for days now, I’ve been wandering around the house humming “Rock Me” by Great White — and I could not figure out why this song just kept popping into my head.
This morning it hit me: Me.dium is doing their RockMe online music festival.
Hence, my whistling association. Damn you me.dium!
This is just too cool. Pete Warden went and created a Defrag facebook app — The Defrag Connector. It allows you to see which of your friends are going to Defrag, and to add the “I’m going” button to your profile.
Thanks Pete — can’t wait to meet at the conference!
…the details, that is.
As we wade into the miasma that is preparing all of the details for Defrag, I’m reminded again of the things that we will and *won’t* be doing:
We won’t be doing:
1. Conference bags: this is my call, as I’m just kinda sick of throwing another conference bag on a pile in my closet. Plus, while some bags are really nice *most* conference bags aren’t.
2. A “show guide”: you know these - the reams of paper, usually in a binder, that tells you the bio, photo and session description of every speaker. I know these have some utility at bigger shows, but at Defrag, we’re going to be dependent upon world-class Wifi (thanks Swisscomm!) and wikis, etc. Is this the Defrag version of “going green”?
3. Paper evaluations: Ahh yes, the ever-present “rate this session” sheet of paper that gets passed out. I guess I’m just reflecting myself here, but I *never* fill the papers out. Now, electronic systems — totally different (more on that in a second).
4. Spotty wifi: uh, no. I learned my lesson on that long ago. Our wifi will work. I say that with confidence because we’re using Swisscomm (Ismael from Office 2.0 con can testify to this) — they’re awesome. They cost more, and its worth it. Our wifi will rock.
5. Lack of involvement: If you show up expecting to sit passively, taking notes and not interacting, you’re in for a shock. Jerry’s sessions are guaranteed to get us all riled up and involved. Discussion is rule #1 and the primary mandate.
What we will be doing:
1. Conference Fleeces: EVERYONE is going to get a nice “defrag fleece” (co-sponsored by BEA - thanks!) - it *is* November in Denver, so it will either be 80 or 20 degrees outside. I’d rather give everyone something nice and useful, than another bag.
2. Post-show electronic evaluations: can you say “survey monkey?”
3. TONS of networking tools: we’ll be rolling out more ways for you to connect with other attendees that you can shake a stick at (just look at the sponsors).
4. Personal attention: everyone at Defrag is a VIP, and everyone will get treated as such. Our goal is to foster a community conversation. If you need something to make that happen that we’re not providing, let us know and our crack staff of hundreds (okay, 2 or 3) will hop right on it.
5. Discussion, disagreement, mutual respect and forward movement: I’ve always viewed Defrag as a place that a group of concerned folks will gather to move an issue forward.
6. Persistance: It *will not* end with the conference. Look for persistant wikis, etc that will document the event and continue afterwards.
7. Conversation: I don’t know much about how the conversations will go, but I *do know* that those that are there will leave saying, “holy cow, that was a great conversation I had with X!”
8. FREE Internet connectivity in your room: This is a personal pet peeve — I despise paying for hotel internet when I go to conferences. So what did we do? We had it written into our contract with the hotel — check into the Defrag room block and your room’ internet access is free. Amen.
What are we missing? What “normal” conference things should be scaled back or cut completely, and what should we be working toward? Let me know.
This is why I so badly wanted Brian Oberkirch at Defrag — he’s just damn smart! And while you’re digesting that, go read the pointer to Jyri’s post — I’m trying to find space to invite Jyri to Defrag.
There are TONS of good things to think about in those two posts.
Yes, today is National Talk like a Pirate Day 2007 — an event that a couple of guys came up with while talking Pirate slang on a racquetball court (true story). The date (september 19th) is actually one of those guy’s ex-wife’s birthday, so it just seemed appropriate to fire a broadside cannon into the yardarm, I guess.
In any case, while the rest of the country will make a pirate joke or two, folks in my neck of the woods will take this holiday fairly seriously (if by “seriously” you mean going to a pub and talking like a pirate for 3 hours). You see, in the sub-tropics, we actually have folks that still call themselves “pirates.” I point to my friend, “Big Mike,” (aptly named because he’s like 6′7″ and huge), also known as, “Mike the friendly pirate” (he has a shirt that says so).
So there you have it, while Silicon Valley basks in the afterglow of TechCrunch40, the real world is out here carryin’ on with serious business.
Speaking of “serious business”: Nova has written a really nice piece about “the semantic web” and how to throw a rope around all of its moving parts. He comes up with a great phrase at the end, saying that “web 2.0″ may be about “collective intelligence,” but “web 3.0″ (ugh) is about connective intelligence.
I like that — I think it captures something essential that Defrag is trying to put a finger on. Read the whole thing, it is worth it.
First, let me begin this post by congratulating Mike and Jason on a sold-out show. As Don says, that’s always impressive for a first-time event. I’ve never actually met either Mike or Jason face to face — though Mike and I do have a failed attempt at getting a project off the ground (it was the fault of neither of us that it didn’t happen - long story).
In any case, I’ve been thinking about “demo-style” shows for some time, and so I was pretty interested to learn about the hand that Dave Winer played in getting the original Demo off the ground (never knew that backstory). I’ve actually been holding off on “sharing” my thoughts because for some time I’ve been thinking about doing this show. But, recently, I’ve basically decided that there are enough fish swimming in that pond.
However, seeing as how this week will be “all techcrunch40 all the time”, I thought I’d take the chance to spill the beans on what I was thinking.
Jason and Mike have stated pretty relentlessly that they started TechCrunch40 (originally 20) because they didn’t like the fact that startups had to pay to be at Demo (remember, they started the show *at* Demo). Essentially, it all began as a crusade to “level the playing field”, so that the stage was not limited to “only those that could afford it.” All of which is to say that TechCrunch40’s DNA is rooted in this urge to satisfy something for startups (and a noble urge that is).
Demo, on the other hand, has built its reputation on Chris (originally Stewart) thoroughly vetting startups (not that Jason and Mike didn’t, but you know what I mean) and having them launch their stuff at Demo — where the startups were paying for either A) the buzz/press that they could generate being at the event or B) the access to the VCs in the audience, as they were in search of funding.
Now, I’m *sure* that startups on stage at Demo will get the appropriate amount of attention. And I would bet that *some* of the startups at TechCrunch40 will get a lot of attention - though I do think that opening up the “demopit” to 100 companies really diminishes that value (and if I was a presenting startup, I’d really think so).
[sidenote: you could throw Web2.0's launchpad into this discussion as well, since they're now firmly in this game.]
The thing that I keep coming back to is *who* is actually providing the value to *both* of the these conferences?
Answer: the attendees. Specifically, the bloggers, press, analysts, evangelists and VCs that are giving the buzz, exposure, attention and funding to the companies presenting at the shows.
And yet, these people - the people that are providing value to the startups on-stage - are the ones that are being asked to pay a pretty high price for admission (ranging from 2495 at TechCrunch40 and Demo, up to 3495 at Web2.0).
All of that just sets me to wondering: Why?
Allow me to provide some answers:
1. Having the audience pay serves to vet the audience…ie, the great unspoken truth is that status *is* conferred upon those that pay 2500-3500 bucks to attend these shows. And I’m not knocking that - that’s a totally valid reason, let’s just put it right out front.
2. Nobody’s thought differently about it. ‘Twould seem strange, but it is possible.
3. In the case of TechCrunch40 especially, *somebody’s* gotta pay and if it ain’t the startups, then it must be the attendees.
All of which leads me to my “alternate” suggestion for a Demo-like show……
1. Make the startups pay - not a lot, not as much as Demo, but something — say 5-8k per startup. I’m sorry, but if you can’t raise 5-8k to get exposure for your startup, well, that alone is a vetting process.
2. Let the attendees (all of them) in for free, or very nearly free. Yep, you read that right. Go get a room that will hold 3-5k people, arrange for 70 startups over 2 days and then *open the doors* and let anyone who wants to come blog, publicize, cut deals, fund, analyze or write about things come.
(sidenote: I’ve run the numbers and an event like this is economically viable.)
I think that move alone is a *truly* disruptive move for “demo shows” because now we’re A) providing *maximum* buzz and coverage for the startups and B) we’re involving everyone that wants to be there.
Would it work? I don’t know. If I was convinced, you’d be hearing about a new show right now.
For the record (and so as to claim this idea a bit), I’ve always talked (with Brad and others) about calling a show like this “Elevator” — as in, “the elevator pitch.” In any case, that’s how I’d launch a “demo show” that’s really different from Web 2.0’s launchpad, TechCrunch40 or Demo.
Okay, enough of throwing ideas around. Today kicks off the “Big 3″ conferences for this fall: TechCrunch40, the Web 2.0 Summit, and (of course), Defrag.
(There’s your september, october and november - don’t forget to register.)
Bonus Link: I’m having a *really* hard time looking at the names of the TechCrunch40 companies and not flashing back to Bill Maher’s recent New Rules - go watch, but quoting what I’m thinking of:
“â€œThis week, Yahoo announced a deal with Bebo that will help it compete with Google. I had to wiki Bebo to find out itâ€™s kind of like Friendster and Woofie. Gosh, I hope they can all band together to save Fuzzelton village from the evil Snords. Grow up. If I want to see uncaring, money-making machines with cutesy names, I go to a strip club.â€
Paul Kedrosky (one of our advisory board members - okay, maybe this is only slightly unrelated) is laying out an over/under bet that a lawsuit of negligence regarding alcohol on a plane will result in alcohol not being served on flights anymore in five years or less.
Being the sporting gentleman that I am, I took the over.
The irony is that we agreed the wager’s pay-off is the loser buying drinks the next time we’re together more than five years from now (hopefully not on a plane).