I had the extreme pleasure of spending the last number of days in Seattle with a few hundred of the coolest geeks on earth.
The conference mixes technology with social issues. We learn of ways people are using the power of the tubes to better their communities. The following is a short summary of some of my favorite presentations, but they were all good.
One of the advantages of attending tech conferences is that everything is recorded, streamed, tweeted and blogged. I highly recommend you take the time to watch some (or all) of the presentations when they become available. Each one was extremely relevant, thought provoking, touching and humorous.
Jay Grandin & Leah Nelson began their adventures online as funny video producers, making short films on YouTube like How To Shower: Women vs. Men and How To Conceal A Fart. They then decided to travel to Tanzania to help some street kids produce a Hip Hop album, they even filmed a movie called Bongo about it. For every 2,000 songs sold, a street kid has a roof over his head for one year.
Cyborg Anthropologist, Amber Case, spoke about the evolution of cyborgs. She showed us examples of people like Steve Mann who has created glasses to send and receive information online, so he can actually block out things he doesn’t want to see like advertisements on billboards. Every time I use my iPhone, TuneBuds and this computer now, I think about how they have become extensions of me. I am a cyborg. We all are.
Mark Horvath brought the house down by sharing stories about his and other people’s homelessness. While Mark was introducing us on stage to James, a Seattle (Nickelsville) tent-city resident, a hat was passed around the room. Together we collected $1,500 cash to help James get back on his feet. I hope he does.
Phil Plaitt, who writes Bad Astronomy, spoke about pessimism skepticism (oops, I wrote this too quickly). It was a fun presentation that made us all realize we are pessimists skeptics and that it’s actually a good thing. I ran into Phil waiting for the same flight home. He’s a great guy.
Drew Olanoff, a popular social media maven, was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer. Being the outgoing funny guy that he is, he has created a site called Blame Drew’s Cancer. The site aggregates Twitter tweets tagged with #blamedrewscancer and is linked with Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong campaign to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Go ahead and give it a try if you’re on Twitter. For example you could tweet, “I #blamedrewscancer that my coffee spilled in my lap.”
Micah Baldwin had a great presentation about building influence online, or How To Be Awesome. He had some wonderful insight in using the web to promote yourself and your business. Heck, I’m doing that right now aren’t I? Check out his slides.
Friends, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, spoke about their book, Trust Agents. Together they shared great examples of how to use the social web effectively and properly. Chris and Julien are both friends who I recommend you watch. They’re always outgoing and insightful.
These are just a few examples of how outstanding the quality of the conference was. My other highlights were the tweet up (thanks for coming if you were there), hallway, party, lunch, dinner, and walking down the road conversations that I had with so many of the wonderful attendees. I wish I could include your name here, but a) this post would become a massive list, and b) I would inevitably forget someone and then feel terrible when I realized it.
I want to personally thank Chris, Mona, Maya, Chris’ mom and dad (who help run the conference with him) and all of the Gnomedex volunteers and attendees for making this such an inspirational event. I’ll see you all next year.
Were you there? Which presentation did you enjoy the most?