I figured I'd finally sit down for a few minutes and put my thoughts together on this event. A few months ago, I asked the following question on LinkedIn's Q&A section:
Are there any Web 2.0 entrepenuers and creatives [in the greater Philadelphia area] doing anything attention-worthy?
I'd say I got my answer at BlogPhiladelphia. The event confirmed what I've always thought – there IS a lot going on here – just no one talks outside of their own little circles.
My assumptions prior to the event was that it would be hangers-on, companies trying to sell things, possibly a couple of VCs, and socially inept cat bloggers. In all, I expected a straight up marketing event, made to pimp Philly – not that there's anything wrong with that.
This was an event that constantly delivered. From the extremely useful information given by Mel "Toxic" Taylor regarding the creation of a media kit for your online property, the ad hoc brainstorming for blogger outreach for Lights of Liberty, the impassioned debate over the ethics of link-baiting and spider food, the utility of the unconference format, the accessibility of the Open Grid format, thoughts from rockstar-slash-revolutionary Alex Hillman, another indepth conversation on the mobile space (I was the guy with verbal diarrhea talking about the bandwidth gap and the iPhone), you couldn't help but be deeply engaged and wanting for more.
The reality of the event was that it was hyperlocal (I only counted 10 or so folks who weren't from the region), extremely focused and knowledgeable, on one of mutual respect and reciprocity.
The only personal regrets that I have are that I'm about a decade too old to be at the front of this – with two kids and a VERY pregnant wife, and a non-tech full time job, all while going to grad school (part time), I couldn't attend the various happy hours, where most of the networking and relationships were being formed. Although I've been seriously thinking of dabbling in entrepreneurial waters, my differing priorities and the number of people that I am obligated too in my own family keeps me from the brave and risky moves that some of these folks are doing, working without a net.
There were several things that could have been improved – some technology-related, some marketing issues, a few pressing real world blog vs. law vs. workplace conversations, and a few other issues. For example:
- There should be an open mailing list that was started in the lead up, as well as a place for participants to list their blogs and projects.
- Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook should have had groups set up for attendees to foster and continue relationships based on conference attendance.
- More of the sessions should have been documented (with Viddler) for instance – a video is so much more useful as a recap, especially since I stopped taking notes and started participating on the second day.
- Involvement and Outreach – Where were the political blogs, as well as the colleges and universitites?
- The WiFi was quite slow, and the acoustics of the room made it difficult to hear.
- Social Impact – I would have liked to have seen some discussion on the morals, ethics, obligations, liabilities, and culture of bloggers and the blogosphere.
- Network effect – we never really addressed it, but the feeling that I got was that we are a network of networks. What does that mean, and what can it be used for?
- And lastly, a vanity-slash-professional subject, that of New Media in the workplace. I sort of got brought up – I'd like to hear more.
I'll be coming back to this post over time, adding more.