Converge South, Final Thoughts

Now that it’s a few days in the past I can look back on the weekend with a little more perspective. While you are there and a part of the excitement everything seems so powerful and profound. Sometimes a dispassionate reflection confirms that, and sometimes you realize you were just caught up in a moment.

Things that went right:

  • NC A&T was an inspired choice for a host. I enjoyed both the facilities and the people quite a bit.
  • Almost all the sessions I attended were great and there was a lot of energy in all the rooms. You could feel them buzzing, and I loved that.
  • The structured nightlife was a great democratizing force. Often in these things, the cool kids know where to go and most people don’t. If you are a weasel like me, you tend to find these things out but it is a great disparity in information. By having the BBQ and distinct clubs that people convened at, the pockets of cool were not there and it makes the whole thing better.
  • On top of that, all the music I saw rocked my world. Way to go, Jay Ovittore.
  • The food was great, and at least the breakout dinner I was at was fantastic.
  • The mix of people at most places from beginning to end was great. I had a good time talking to everyone, those I knew or knew of and those I was just meeting and just finding out about.
  • The BBQ was great, and I actually enjoyed the rain. I had an umbrella with me, I just never used it. I treated it like a Woodstock situation where getting our asses rained on together was a bonding experience.
  • Even though my thing is egalitarian and I think we are all in this together, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t get a big kick out of hanging out with Amanda and Mario from Rocketboom.
  • The guy driving the shuttle van was a trip!

Things that went wrong:

  • The podcasting session. Now we know this has to be split up into sub-sessions. I like the idea of making a main session about the higher level stuff of interest to the listeners, and then maybe smaller hands-on sessions for the gear heads (like me).
  • The network access at both the Biltmore and the school was hit or miss. The Biltmore was operational for me, but just barely. It was usable at the school, but a huge pain in the ass and required a big hurdle to connect the first time. I understand what the guy was saying about being compelled to protect the network by state law. Frankly, it might have been easier to bring in a temporary connection like you do for conventions than try to use what was already there, if that meant we could just connect to the damn thing.
  • Maps to the clubs would be helpful in the conference literature. I got lost, I saw other people wandering 2 blocks from where they wanted to be. I walked to the Flatiron in about the longest path you could take without turning your back to the joint. Thank you, random strangers that pointed me in the right direction.

Conclusions:

  • I came home from Bloggercon full of the holy fire, and wanting to do a conference in Myrtle Beach. However, this was much better than anything I could have slapped together and in reasonable driving distance as well. Instead, I think the better thing to do is to organize smaller meetups with an emphasis on “how do I get going on this?” Maybe a group that meets once a month at locations that move throughout the state – Myrtle Beach, Florence, Charleston, Columbia, etc. If we meet at a place with free wifi, those who know can help those who are learning. Bring your laptops and whatever audio equipment you have and we’ll make something work if you want to podcast. Bring your videocamera and teach me what you know. That sort of thing – rather than talk let’s do. Meeting in a big group with like minded people was fun, but I think taking this on the road will rise the tide better in the larger world.
  • For most of my youth and young adulthood, I was a self-proclaimed misanthrope. If pressed I’d say that I generally hated people, with just a few exceptions. I can’t claim that anymore, I have to admit that I love people. I felt verklempt most of the weekend with the power of people giving up a beautiful day to spend it talking to each other and me. Multiple times I teared up while talking to people about the power of empowering the audience. There was an energy that I don’t think anyone could deny and I’m extremely grateful that I was allowed to be part of it.
  • I’ve been hearing about how great Greensboro is for years, and I never quite bought it. I was slap wrong, it is indeed a great town!
  • To demonstrate the power of citizen media, I give the example of my meeting Jinni Hoggard for the first time. Even though I didn’t talk to her nearly enough, I felt like I knew her the second I shook her hand, following her struggles from a distance as I had. I hear a lot of academic blah blah blah on the subject, but knowing her story and that I could have missed her presence on the planet just brought out the power of citizen media and why it is important. All this talk of “bloggers in pajamas” vs reporters is pure horseshit. It’s about people and connection and thank God I got a chance to connect to her. Next time I’m going to monopolize some of her time.
  • More than anything similar I’ve ever attended, the end of the conference felt like a beginning of something much bigger.

That’s the end. Come talk to me, y’all.

7 Replies to “Converge South, Final Thoughts”

  1. “Verklempt” got me and you had me from then on. Sorry about the lack of maps for the clubs, but didn’t you just love finding your way around GSO? We’re already planning ConvergeAgainSouth and want to include you in the planning.

    You got me and now we got you. Happily.

  2. Glad you liked Greensboro. I lived in the area for four years, about four years ago! My ex-wife had family in Chapel Hill, and I had friends in southern VA. We were almost never home for very long on Saturday or Sunday, there was so much stuff to do!

    > I came home from Bloggercon full of the holy fire, and wanting to do
    > a conference in Myrtle Beach. However, this was much better than
    > anything I could have slapped together and in reasonable driving
    > distance as well. Instead, I think the better thing to do is to
    > organize smaller meetups with an emphasis on “how do I get going on
    > this?” Maybe a group that meets once a month at locations that move
    > throughout the state – Myrtle Beach, Florence, Charleston, Columbia,
    > etc.

    This sounds a lot like the bi-monthly or so “No Fluff – Just Stuff” one-to-two-day IT conferences that move around the USA. And a lot like a mobile MeetUp type thing (mobile as in it moves around, not as in Mobile, AL!)

    One thing that is sometimes frustrating about getting a Special Interest Group started in some cities, is that the knowledgeable people are sometimes elsewhere. People only come when someone they’ve heard about is coming to talk. Your idea might be a way to mitigate that problem, so that every city’s citizen media MeetUp group can have regular (at least quarterly) exciting events to attract attendees.

    Man, now I want to move to SC! 🙂

  3. Dear Mr. Genius (or may I call you Evil?), I too felt the emotional fire. The realization that we are not alone in our nerdness is quite moving. totally agree that we should meet more often.

    We should talk about setting up podcons. Think Ed would like that term? Ha!

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  5. OK, Dave, I take it back…. Myrtle Beach ain’t all that bad (I guess). Glad to have you on my porch – even early Sunday morn in my robe.

    Great comments on the Con, and I’ll make sure Jinni reads your sentiments.

  6. Thanks, y’all.

    DH, I just finished that pork. Delicious! Thanks for letting me carry some out. If I had a little more presence of mind, I’d have taken some footage of you that morning for my Converge South video. Now THAT would have been a sight to see. Y’all have carved out an amazing neighborhood and city there and I can’t wait to come experience it again.

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