Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for March 10th, 2009

Sessions and Keynotes to attend at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2009

I generally attend only a few sessions at most conferences – especially most multi-track conferences with many keynotes and speakers, conferences such as SXSWi and Web 2.0 Ezpo. Instead my usually way of “working” such a conference is to spend most of my time talking with people in the hallways or in blogger or press lounges – attending the occasional “big” keynote, a friend’s panel (or less often a panel or session with a speaker I really want to meet). 

In part this is because most of the time I could be a speaker at such events – and often I have as much (or more) experience as most of the speakers, not to mention in many cases the speakers are friends and will be talking about topics we likely have gone over privately months earlier.

But this is not uniformly the case and this year I am looking forward a number of the sessions at Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. Here is a short list of a few of the sessions I personally find of interest – these are in no particular order and by no means are complete – as new sessions and tracks continue to be announced my actual plans will definitely change. 

And a reminder – Use code websf09trt12 at online registration for 30% off any registration package!

Technical Sessions:

Drizzle – rethinking mySQL for the web – 1:30 pm on Thursday April 2nd. Brian Aker from mySQL will talk about Drizzle which is a fork of mySQL designed for multi-core, cloud computing applications. Since I am both thinking of and working on a number of cloud based applications myself as well as advising companies who may also, this is of a great deal of interest to me. Both to see if it may help as I design my own solutions – but equally to be well informed about an emerging development in a core component of much application development – the database, which has not seen a great deal of innovation to keep up with the pace of changing applications and use cases (i.e. web 2.0, web services based, cloud deployed applications). I’m also curious if and how they are solving for the needs of applications which have to scale very highly very quickly (i.e. in response to a Twitter, Digg or other rapid spike in interest and users)

Visualizing a web of data 11:00am on Thursday April 2nd. Michal Migurski of Stamen Design will talk about approaches to visualise the torrent of data available on the Internet (and as a result of the Internet). I am always interested in hearing (and seeing) the latest visualizations of large quanities of data. In my own conference organizing I have always had speakers who spoke about various visualization efforts around showing large, complex datasets. While I am not a designer myself, I am deeply interseted in the challenge of visualizing data in ways that are both accurate and which can assist in making sense of that data, ways which help see patterns, trends and potential issues. All while keeping an eye out for issues of scale or hidden assumptions which might make false patterns or cause people to draw errant conclusions. 

From AD-versity comes Opportunity 2;40pm Wednesday April 1st. My friend Scott Rafer of Lookery and Ted Cadogan of OpenX will speak about the current state of the online advertising market. Since my main project for the past year has been working on getting an Ad network started (slowly and fitfully at times) this is a topic of great interest to me.

Meet the New Boss – The FCC, Net Neutrality and Web 2.0 1:30pm on Thursday April 2nd. Unfortunately scheduled againzt another session I want to also attend (which happens often) but this is a chance to hear from Bill Maher of Morrison & Foerester [full disclosure – MoFo is a past client of mine] talk about the changes at the FCC and what recent rulings and new ground rules have been established which impact many Web 2.0 businesses. This is the type of detailed and vital discussion which I really enjoy hearing at conferences – not sexy and perhaps at times a bit dull, but done well it is a chance to hear a real, up to date expert distill a lot of information into a consise and digestible form – and then a chance to ask follow up questions to explore issues which are raised. 

And finally pretty much the entire Marketing and Community track  which is a chance to hear from a mix of many of my friends as well as many others whom I know of but haven’t yet met in person speak about the current state of marketing and community online. Since this is an area I spend a great deal of time working in and thinking about – indeed much of my own consulting practice today is related to advising startups around Social Media related issues, this is a track of sessions which interest me greatly. Plus unlike many recent conferences this is a series of talks by friends of mine which I haven’t actually heard before – Scott Monty of Ford Motors talking about their brand engagement, Tara Hunt talking about Wuffie (and her new book & job at Intuit) and much much more. If I had to pick, I think this may be the strongest track at Web 2.0 – and it will definitely be my default track during timeslots I don’t otherwise have a session I want to attend. 

And a few other parts of Web 2.0 Expo I will be attending:

The Heather Gold Show keynote on Friday April 3rd morning at 8:55am. My friend Heather Gold’s shows are always interesting and engaging – each is different but each is also a chance to hear great, diverse guests peak in a casual almost Oprah like manner and format. 

Douglass Rushkoff’s Keynote on Thursday April 2nd at 8:55am. Douglass is another friend of mine and his talks are always engaging and interesting. He and I don’t always agree on everything – but he is one speaker I will block out time to listen to, confident it will be engaging and challenging – even if I don’t agree with him on every point. 

Jeff Veen’s Keynote on Friday Aptil 3rd at 10:15am. Jeff Veen is a highly respected designer, formerly of Google, and someone whom I have met many times here in San Francisco, however I have actually never had a chance to hear him talk about his work – I’m looking forward to this opportunity to hear what he is thinking about these days post-Google. 

Ignite at DNA Lounge on Wednesday April 1st at 7:30pm. This year, for the first time I will even try to submit my own talk in time to potentially be among the speakers at Ignite. Past Ignite events have been among my favorite evening networking/tech events ever – the format forces people to distill their talks down, removing the cruft and getting to the heart of the story and point they want to make – in nearly every case the result is a better, more engaging talk. However in past years I have been negligent in submitting my own talks to Ignite – this year i hope to make up for that and will be submitting my own talk.

And of course I’ll wander through the booths, attend (and perhaps host) the Birds of  Feather sessions in the evenings, as well as the many parties – official and unofficial. There will be a bunch of other things that I will almost certainly attend – but this is the rough outline of the talks and sessions which most interest me at the moment – and which I feel are particular highlights of this year’s show – which is, I think, a highly impressive show schedule indeed!

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, networks, San Francisco, web2.0 | 2 Comments »

March conferences – SXSWi & Web 2.0 Expo SF

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2009

I will be attending two major conferences this month – SXSWi in Austin and then at the end of the month Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. I almost decided not to attend SXSWi this year, due to the current economic situation, but I am attending because, as I noted in a conversation just this week, nearly 100% of ALL my business opportunities come from in person networking

Occasionally this is immediate – I attended a one day conference years ago in NYC where I met a future client during a lunch roundtable, spoke with him briefly during a break, then met with him after the conference and closed a 5 figure consulting project to start nearly immediately the next day. 


More typically conversations and interactions at a conference lead to follow meetings and emails, to discussions, to introductions and in turn these turn into very real business. What makes SXSWi so valuable is that it is long, it is insanely social, and as a result it offers a nearly endless opportunity to network – dozens of chances to grab coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner, or to get pulled into a hallway conversation. Not to mention some of the best parties of any tech conference (especially if, as I do, you know most of the party organizers and can get into them with VIP passes).  

But I don’t drink very much – so for me these parties are mostly an excuse to get to know people in a casual, laid back manner, to engage socially with people whom I may later work with (or more likely refer others to and occasionally get referrals from). 

For me this year at SXSWi I will be focusing on two main things. 

  1. Promoting tbnl. I will have a basic web presense for tbnl before SXSWi and at SXSWi I will be looking for subscribers, advertisers, supporters/sponsors, and most importantly great writers and content sources. I’ll be following up with the dozens of writer friends whom I will see at SXSWi and will be asking them to submit a story (fiction or non-fiction) to tbnl. 
  2. Expanding my consulting practice. In 2009 I am looking to do more significent consulting engagements, especially paid work helping startups (or large more established companies) explore their business strategy and opportunities – especially focused on how technology & social media can help. I am one part McKinsey and one part a tech system integrator/custom architect sprinkled with more than a bit of social media expertise (since 1991). 

I will be arriving in Austin on Friday March 13th in the afternoon and will be in town until the evening of Thursday March 19th. If you are in Austin and want to meet up and grab coffee follow me on Twitter (@rycaut) and feel free to dm me or call me directly. 

Web 2.0 Expo

This will be my third year attending the Web 2.0 Expo which will be held March 31st to April 3rd at the Moscone Center West here in San Francisco. I’m one of the official blog partners for Web 2.0 Expo and will be covering the conference both here and at my other blog on Branding – Slow Brand

As a blog partner I can offer you my readers a discount – Use code websf09trt12 at online registration for 30% off any registration package.

I am really looking forward to Web 2.0 Expo this year, in part because the “buzz” about Web 2.0 is muted at the moment due to the economy, what I’m looking forward to seeing is who is still standing, what they are working on and launching, and how the general audiance is approaching the current changes in the economy. I am a huge believer in the transformative power of the web and especially the revoluation represented by Web 2.0. 

I am also a believer that downturns, such as right now, are some of the best times to start a company. All of the necessary parts are cheaper and more available – from office space to employees to partners and service providers. All are more willing to negotiate and more willing to devote themselves to helping you succeed. In turn it is a great time to build relationships – helping people make money in the current economy will result in very real and significent rewards in the future. 

For myself I am looking at a lot of opportunities at the moment – advising startups as well as dusting off technologies and ideas I have had in the past and seeing if there are ways to implement and launch them in today’s economy to be positioned strongly for the future.

So I hope you can join me at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco at the end of the month – I will probably be organizing a dinner or two during the conference as well as other meetups and like SXSWi I’m always happy to grab coffee and meet up with readers.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, San Francisco, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »