Thats right. I am headed to SXSW.

I will be there from March 12 – March 18, and would love to meet up with everyone!

Want my contact info? Text micah to 50500. Not bringing cards. Follow me on twitter: @micah.

Want to see me speak? I mean on a specific topic? I am on a panel discussion entitled: Beyond Aggregation — Finding The Webs Best Content. I am joined by moderator Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, Gabe Rivera of TechMeme, Louis Gray of the famous and Melanie Baker of AideRSS.

It should be super interesting as we discuss how is good content found these days. After all, with 70 million blogs out there, how do you find the good stuff?

Im attending several parties, having several meetings (want to have one? Send me a tweet), and generally “doing SXSW right.”

SXSW, for me, is going to be an interesting time. A year ago, I was just getting into blogging and social media and working at Lijit, and learning about who was who and what was what. This year, I know a bit more, and know a lot more people.

I expect SXSW to be highly successful for Lijit and extremely fun for me.

Here are some articles I wrote after last year’s SXSW. I wonder what I will write after this one?

Wanna Know How to do SXSW? – I wrote about how a veteran transversed the halls of SXSW.

There Were Three Types of People at SXSW – My observations of SXSW 2008.

Here is a link to a lijit search of everything in my trusted network about SXSW. What a great way to discover new content, huh? :)

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Micah August 25th

3 Rules of Gnomedex 8.0

Yesterday morning, I got home from Gnomedex 8.0 and after 24 hours, I have finally been able to distill the conference. It was my first time attending Gnomedex, but not the first time hearing about it.

In 2000, I worked at a startup in San Francisco Bay Area. One of the developers suggested I check out a website called Lockergnome (really an email list), run by some dude named Chris Pirillo, because they had a lot of interesting Windows 95/98 stuff. He was really excited for Chris’ conference called Gnomedex.

“What’s with the gnomes?” I thought to myself. “Must be some developer thing.”

Fast forward to 2008. Im working at Lijit. My friend Jeremy Wright of b5media asks if I am going to Gnomedex. Aaron Brazell laments that he wont be able to make Gnomedex this year. Tara Anderson tells me about how Gnomedex last year was so successful for the company.

So I went.

Thank God I did.

Of the three, Gnomedex was the smallest. Which, of course, made it easier to talk to folks. But, where the difference was most evident was in the sessions themselves. Here is the main reason why Gnomedex was amazing:

There was, literally, no hallway conversation. Everyone was in the sessions.

So, my three rules of Gnomedex:

1) Prepare to feel dumb.

The dude who drives the Mars Rover spoke. Some guy spoke on Cyborgs. Someone else spoke on voice controlled joysticks.


But, none of the attendees made me feel stupid. Some would even sit with me and explain what was said on stage, and to be clear it wasnt all that heady. Ben Huh, presentation about the growth of Pet Holdings, Inc was amazing and funny. It was great to see someone apply real science to the concept of memes.

2) Prepare to be real.

The attendees’ bullshit meter is uncanny. Attendees walked out of sessions, confronted speakers, questioned presentation points. The rule of being real was in serious effect.

3) Prepare to be amazed.

Amazed by the speakers? sure. The attendees? sure. But mostly, the calmness of the proceedings. Everyone was there to enjoy themselves, interact and learn. Some learned more than others. Some interacted more. But, everyone was almost…well, as cliche as it is, familial. Chris’ wife and parents helped with the conference. There is a real respect and love for Chris that was evident in the room. And, more than any other conference I have attended, a real respect for each other.

Nice work Chris and Ponzi. But more so, nice work Gnomedex community. See you in ’09!

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For the past year or so, I have heard talk of an “unconference.” My response was usually the same: “What the hell is an unconference?” It seemed counter-intuitive. A bunch of people getting together, with a couple standing up and staying “I want to talk about blah.”

An agenda is then created, and sessions are presented much in the same way that a normal conference is run. Unconferences tend to be free or very, very cheap, and, usually, seem to be rather technical.

The first ones were called BarCamps (I believe), which reminds me of PubCon, which was started by some Search Engine Marketers that couldnt afford to go to the main search engine marketing show (Search Engine Strategies) in London, so met in a pub next to the conference hotel.

PubCon has now grown into a huge conference run by Brett Tabke of WebMasterWorld, so I suppose its not really an unconference anymore.

Why does all this matter?

Unconferences are no longer the counter culture of trade conferences. They happen everywhere and all the time. Even BlogHer had a unconference (where men could actually speak!).

It seems that people have realized that real power of conferences are the people, and by stripping away agendas and exhibit halls and $1000 entry fees, people are getting that access.

Today, I sit at id345’s coworking space (yes coworking still sucks), listening to people talk about iphone application development. I am blogging because 99.9% of the words uttered by these brilliant folks are passing right over my head (I understand: iphone, iphone app, business development, monetization and starbucks).

Some of the top names in Mac and iPhone development, like Bret Simmons, creator of NetNewsWireErica Sudan of TUAW, and Bill Dudney, who wrote several books on OS X development have swung by. I would have never met either of them if this was a traditional conference. (Even more impressive was Bill’s son, who has an iPhone app developed and on the way to the app store. I believe he is 10 years old.)

At the same time, there are iPhone Dev Camps going on in San Francisco, India, Austin, Portland, Chicago, London, Paris and Seattle. There is a ton of cross communication with Adobe (one of the sponsors) video collaboration products. Cost to the attendees? Zero.

On August 16th, I will be attending WordCamp. A unconference taking place in San Francisco and centered around WordPress has around 200 attendees registered. The agenda? Unknown. The people? Fantastic.

Repeat after me: Its the people. Its the people. Its the people.

What is Web 2.0? Its the people.

What is the social web? Its the people.

What the hell is an unconference? Its the people.

‘Nuff said.

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