In recent years I’ve taken to avoiding conferences unless I find my way onto the agenda or some other active role. Too many conferences have become thinly and poorly veiled marketing exercises by sponsors who seem to believe that the participants cannot distinguish between substantive content and a sales pitch. Or perhaps don’t particularly care what participants think.
I broke my rule last week and decided to attend the Blogwell conference in Chicago, organized by Andy Sernovitz and the folks at GasPedal. Fortunately, Blogwell broke the rules as well and it proved to be a worthwhile afternoon that justified the investment of my time and attention. The conference design that made this work was trivially simple. The conference organizers collected eight users of blogs, Twitter, and other social media and let them share their stories. Some of them were good story tellers; some had useful lessons learned. A couple managed to combine both. But all did a good job of providing concrete reports from the field. There’s been a good deal of discussion during and after the conference on Twitter; the best way to track that is via Twitter Search.