Converge South, Day 1, Morning

I’m here. I meant to get up at 4 AM and on the road by 5:30 AM but I slept until 4:50 and didn’t leave until about 6 AM. Still, I managed to get to the NC A&T campus, parked, registered and in the Jason Calacanis talk by 9:30. Had I got up on schedule, I’d have had it just right.

Calacanis is talking about Mahalo right now. The main thing I know about Mahalo is that my buddy Ray Slakinski works there and tried to talk me into taking a job there. Had I not just started my current gig about 6 months earlier and if they let me work from Myrtle Beach, I might well could have done it and been Jason’s employee right now.

JC quote: “It takes the same amount of time to try to build a small business or a big business. If you are trying to build a $1 million or $100 million or $1 billion business, you’ll spend 12 hours a day 7 days a week no matter what so you might as well go for the big score.”

I see across the room Ruby Sinreich and Brian Russell and Dan Conover and Janet Edens. I wish I had made it here with more shmooze time because I’d like to have chatted with them and also, I’d love coffee and a danish right now. I’m hungry and under-caffeinated.

Sitting down in the front is Billy Jones. Out front of the building is a big “Billy for Mayor” sign with a biplane bicycle. I love that guy!

This live blogging thing might not fly for long. I don’t have that much battery life. I might soon be sitting in the very back just for a little juice. By this afternoon, the conference might look like an airport terminal, everyone clustered around the power outlets for with their laptops and cellphones plugged in.

Coffee break is over, back on our heads. Mmmm, cheese danish! Now I’m watching Joe Killian, Will Bunch and my buddy Dan Conover talk about old print media and new media and the clashes betwixt and between. I’m sitting with Dan’s lovely wife Janet Edens, so I’ve really got my Conover fix working.

Will Bunch really sounds smart. Amazing, an old school print journalist whose response to new media is not to have an (Andrew) Keen-ing hissy fit screaming “You kids get your blogs off my lawn” but is instead making his craft work between both media and finding ways to make each amplify the other. Right on! He has written a book about this new hybrid new model, coming out in February.

Dan on blogging: “You are a better blogger today than when you made your first post. People that get into it underestimate how much time it takes, how hard it is to do well and they give up too easily.”

Will Bunch: “The culture of innovation is completely foreign to newspapers. … Why don’t newspaper articles have hyperlinks? Background is so important, it would be awesome to link to that and it would be a simple thing.”

Joe Killian: “There are Greensboro bloggers who think that we are sellouts for being in this room, for being way too mainstream. It’s like being too punk for the Ramones.”

Another power chug of coffee and back in the room. Jason Calcanis is sitting half in front of the side door so that he can get some juice. The theme as we go along is “People have the power, but their computers need more.”

Jason Calcanis at Converge South

Now I’m hearing Dan Conover moderate a panel with Chris Rabb and Ruby Sinreich. This isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse, so I’ve ended up farting around with Flickr much of the time. Chris Rabb is making a lot of good points about journalism and the black community. Sadly, this panel has fewer of the young black students in it compared to the previous two. That’s one thing I really like about this conference is that it isn’t so relentlessly Caucasian. Two years ago I really enjoyed talking with the A&T students. I wish more of them participated in the off campus things like the Friday barbecue. One of the common themes of this gig is “Don’t wait for permission, step up and do it.” Come on, kids, you are even invited to this so you should just show up.

Chris Rabb: “If I wanted to be rich tomorrow, I could do it. I could write a book about how black folk are lazy and Obama isn’t black enough. I would be paid ridiculously. The left just won’t do the same thing. The folks who are very progressive aren’t the best subjects for philanthropy.” … “I went to Yearly Kos and it was full of white people who suddenly realized how white it was. There are Republican conventions that have more people of color than this place.”

Others are also live blogging: Brian Russell (sitting right behind me) and Ben Hwang. More as I find them.

Ed Cone just stood up and challenged the panel on using the same “us and them horseshit as cable news” (in regards to entrenched media.) He wants to know how we can get beyond that and into something more useful. Says Mr. Rabb “I’m not about to change the mind of hardcore right-wingers, I’m still trying to get along with other progressives.”

Battery at 26%. Either I find an outlet soon or not much blogging between here and the hotel.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

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