Gnomedex is run by uber-geek Chris Pirillo and his extensive network of family and friends. And that is what makes Gnomedex so different from other conferences — it’s personal. I never met Chris before and he came right up to me and introduced himself at the first break.
The sessions themselves have been variable, but for the most part, gratifying (I’ve included links to the individual video sessions). I showed up late but was able to catch Danny Sullivan’s “Search Life Meets Real Life” which sparked a healthy debate about privacy in the backchannel. Danny shared that he doesn’t mention his kids’ names in his posts (ditto for me) but then discovered that his friends will write publicly about doing something with Danny and his family, or post pictures online with the names of his kids in the description. In the end, I think there’s very little that remains truly private unless you it happens behind closed doors with nobody around to witness it. Otherwise, consider everything fair game to be captured, documented, indexed. All the more reason for us to demand and develop that procedures be put in place so that we can trust players like Google.
Mark Bao, a 16 year old entrepreneur who has sold three Facebook apps took the stage after lunch with Francine Hardaway for “Meet Generation Y“. Francine stole the show, starting off by taking off jackets and tops to reflect her changing work persona and setting the stage for how her Boomer generation didn’t grow up with technologies like The Internet, cell phones, or even fax machines. I’ve seen many Gen Y” sessions but this one took the cake because of Francine’s interview style and questions, and because Mark Bao is so atypical of his generation, and yet so representative.
Beth Kanter gave a rousing presentation “How To Use Social Media For Social Causes” on how she leverages personal networks and social media to raise money for social causes. It struck me that non-profits can and should activate and energize their base of loyal supporters to bring the cause to their own networks. At the end her speech, she urged Gnomedexers to spread the word to help send a Cambodian student to college. No surprise: thousands of dollars were raised in just a few minutes. Call it the “geek ATM”, but personal fundraising doesn’t work without that personal appeal. Just watch Beth’s presentation, see how much of herself she puts into it. You can’t help but be moved to act.
On that note, what can companies and brands learn from social cause fundraising? Viral and word of mouth campaigns often rely on buzz and flash to spread. What if they could instead put more passion and personality into the “call to action”? Can a company excite the passion and conviction, that personal connection that Beth can? I don’t think a company could — but *people* at a company could.
Brady Forrest closed out the day with Ignite Seattle, where a person gets 5 minutes and 20 slides to say whatever they want. It was a mix of self-expression, technology, and art and a great way to end the day. Starting off was Scotto Moore with a captivating “fairy tale” and ended up with wherethehellismatt’s Matt dancing on stage.
Starved, I headed out to dinner with Brady and Pathable’s Shelly Farnham for dinner. On the way, I tweeted where we were eating and to my delight, An Bui (anwith1n) showed up at our table. I was thrilled to meet her, and it turned out that An is also a fan of Shelly’s work. We all headed out to Gnomedex party at The Showbox, where An proceeded to introduce me to her extensive Seattle network. And she wasn’t even attending Gnomedex!
It’s these perspectives and experiences that I value so much. Deep conversations with people like Geoff Livingston and Adam Metz, or meeting people like Marshall Kirkpatrick for the first time after following them online for so long.
With that, I’m heading off to Gnomedex Day 2.