What a great event. I can’t say enough good things about it. With more than double the attendees from last year, it still managed to work remarkably well as an unconference — in many ways even better than last year’s. Josh Hallett did a phenomenal job bringing a unique array of people together, scheduling a good balance of interesting activities that showed off the host city, creating opportunities for attendees to have meaningful conversations, and immersing us in thought about what we do for a couple of days. Josh created just the right environment for an unconference to unfold within.
Geoff Livingston and Jake McKee, who I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend in addition to so many other thoughtful people, wrote great descriptions of what made it all work so well. As I followed the links and comments in those this morning, I came across more from Joe Thornley, Alex Rudloff, and Laurie Mayers. I’ll add updates as I find more from attendees. My notes are below:
- On Thursday night I enjoyed meeting some new friends around the dinner table and spending time with those I now consider old friends, like Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells. Shel Israel and Joe Thornley had some interesting observations about the history of Orlando’s development. I also found out that back in Boston Shel knew a circle of writers and thinkers I met through my friend Doug McDermott, including David Nyhan, Paul McDermott and Marty Nolan. I deeply respect those guys and the values of professionalism, mutual respect and support, and shared dedication to do right that they live by. There’s a quote that appeared in David Nyhan’s obituary attributed to him a couple of years ago that is always rattling around in my head: “If you’re going to help someone, really help them.”
- It was also good to meet fellow Georgian Nik Wilets, and reconnect with Jim Hathaway, who I’d met last year at BlogOrlando and kept up with mostly via Facebook. And great to reconnect with Judson Collier as well.
- During his Keynote, Shel Israel made the point that PowerPoint can function as a means of command and control — that it can establish and preserve distance between an audience and a presenter. In the corporate world, I’ve seen way too many uses of traditional PowerPoint when a more straightforward and human(and brief) presentation and discussion would have accomplished so much more. I also agree with Jake that the message that all web technologies come from Silicon Valley was overstated, or maybe the emphasis was just put in the wrong place.
- I got a lot of tea and sympathy for my shattered but functional iPhone.
- In the WordPress session, as Mark Jaquith explained the idea of keeping the core set of functionality as tight as possible, he pointed out that WP developers fight feature bloat and eat their own dog food by implementing some core features as Plugins using their own Plugin API.
- I kept up my impeccable record of Orlando geotarditude as I took Tom Biro and Annie Heckenberger on a slightly wrong turn on the way to Kennedy Space Center. In case you’re keeping score, I also managed to get lost last year, with responsibility shared between myself and Andrea Weckerle on the way to Disney World. This time around, Tom co-piloted and got us back on course using Google Maps and the Helio Ocean GPS. And then, of course, I got lost several times again on the way back to the hotel. I blame construction.
- A couple hours before my own session at BlogOrlando, I published the final entry on Earthling. Although I’d been planning it for a few weeks and had published two more prior to that, it had a big effect on me emotionally. Between that and some projector issues, I had a hard time keeping my Product Blogging session on track. The audience more than picked up my slack, but there was some important setup material and lines of conversation I didn’t manage to get us to. I’ll probably return to that subject here to communicate some more specific thoughts.
- Thanks to everyone for their support during this time of transition for me as I spend my last few weeks at EarthLink and work through next steps.