A Different Conference Experience

Today I attended an “emarketng” conference hosted by the city’s major college – by their business school actually – which I suppose would be the nearest local competitor to where I work. 

I’ve never felt so alone! So helpless! The opening keynote by Mitch Joel was fantastic, bang-on and inspiring.  It home when he described his job as the type where his wife had to ask him every few months what he did again and how they paid for their house when he spent some much time on Facebook? I’m not sure anyone in my family or social networks knows quite what I do for a living, or how I keep dog food in the bowl. 

One or two times a year, I pop on a plane to somewhere random in the United States and within a few hours I’m sharing apps and drinks with a group of people who know what I do.  For a collective 6 to 8 days a year, I’m surrounded by the warm hug of people who know what Twitter is and are passionate about the size & content of the display picture used on a Facebook Page. 

These semi-annual occasions are conferences for web professionals and marketers in higher education.  Today, I attended a conference for professionals on the topic of e-Marketing in my hometown.  That warm sense of co-nerdiness was missing.  Although the keynote was fantastic, it was in a room without wifi or cell service – in fact, there was no wifi all day! When I was able to get reception, I tweeted to the world – hello, is anyone here? – and got no response.  This was a far cry from last October’s HighEdWeb conference, where the session rooms were bursting with silent online conversation. 

It was a very different experience.  I’m glad I went – it is important to support the web and social media community of business people here so that hopefully it will take off running.  I have no idea why the community of local social media professionals and gurus were not in attendance.  Last year at Podcamp London, we actually were able to trend the conference on Twitter! But today, in the same city, the feeds were quiet.

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