BlogOrlando Take-aways

“Well, what do you think? After seeing what an unconference is all about, do you want to go back to a regular conference event?”
Josh Hallett

That (paraphrased) quote came at the end of BlogOrlando, the one day event that took place in Orlando, Florida (duh) for a single day. I’ve been to a number of unconference style events and am continually surprised & impressed at how much fun they turn out to be. More importantly perhaps is the amount of seriously, actionable, usable knowledge I gain over more traditional conferences.

Huge thanks and kudos to Josh for his hard work. He and the volunteers, sponsors, and session leaders were remarkable. (Even if I missed out on my correctly sized shirt. Damn me and my procrastination) I can’t wait for next year!
Here’s a few of my random take-aways after the event.

I want to be an astronaut. Still.
Event organizer, Josh Hallett deserves some serious, serious credit for putting together an amazing event. He certainly had help, but he was an incredible host, tour guide, cruise director, and organizer. Where can I sign up for next year’s event?

One of the best parts of the trip was heading to Kennedy Space Center with 30+ bloggers & social media experts. Many geeky jokes were had, of course, but my life-long dream of becoming an astronaut was brought one step closer. I didn’t get to touch the Shuttle, which was disappointing. Clearly my expectations were set a little high. (Flickr photo gallery)

Singularity of Vision
The speaker line-up at the event was absolutely fantastic. (I wondered at one point how much the collective day rate of all the consultants there might be) When you get industry folks together, many of them have for years been on the same page about the industry, where things are going, and where problems/challenges exist. But interestingly, this event was unique because so many people were using the same words, ideas, and communication methods to share their thinking. This was more than a simple matter of blogging leading to extended use of the same phrases. Social media folks seem to honestly have come together on the key industry issues whether they meant to or not.

The world doesn’t start in the Valley
One of the speakers (Shel Israel?) mentioned something to the effect of “all the cool, new ideas start in Silicon Valley and move outward; by the time most people even hear about them, the Valley crowd has lost interest”.

First off – no, the cool ideas don’t all start in the Valley. Plenty of cool stuff originates elsewhere even if the Valley has a strong concentration. Secondly, some ideas might start in the Valley, but they grow up elsewhere. (See my comments about the unconference concept below)

“You want me to book a trip for what??”
Many hardcore unconference advocates will tell you that an event isn’t an unconference unless you plan the event on the morning of the event after everyone has already arrived. BlogOrlando had session topics and leaders set in place in advance. This had two effects:

  • It brought in out-of-towners in larger numbers than a typical unconference event. Rather than being a collection of locals, people showed up from as far as Canada.
  • It allowed for many more people than just “industry insiders” to see value and thus register.

I’ve wondered for a while if BarCamp events simply drive strictly local, “echo chamber” insider participation. Having seen the wonderful “structure in advance, solicit large levels of audience participation” model that BlogOrlando had, I’m inclined to say yes.Nikon ruled the day
Everywhere you turned there were Nikon DSLRs. This was especially true during the Space Center trip, where something like 20 of the 30+ people there were packing one. Nikon’s blogger outreach efforts were clearly having an impact.

“How do we get our colleagues/clients to participate”
One recurring theme throughout the day of the event from audience members was asking this question. Since I started doing community/social media work, I’ve heard this question more than any other, but nowhere near as many times in one day as BlogOrlando. Clearly this is one of the pivotal issues for this industry.

Chris Heuer Rocks.
Seriously, I’ve talked industry stuff with Chris quite a bit, especially of late. But his presentation at the end of the day made some absolutely brilliant points and did so in with some really cool visuals. I’m totally stealing some of his ideas.

Ideas are made for stealing
Speaking of stealing ideas, I made a smart ass comment to a fellow attendee who mentioned they liked something in my presentation and wanted to steal it for their own work. I said “That’s fine by me, ideas are made for stealing”. Probably the most insightful thing I’ve said all year… clearly Mom was wrong about smart ass comments never having any value.

Fun Video
Geoff posted a cool video of the Space Center visit. Have a watch!