The analog still rules. My takeaway from #140conf NYC 2012

140conf The State of Now

140conf The State of Now

The #140conf was held last week at the 92Y in New York City. We were there.

It seems like every year, going to the conference is like being at Woodstock; the one in 1969, not the fake ones that tried to recreated the magic. At some point in the future, my ability to say “I was there” will stop and define a moment of time.

When you find yourself in a room filled with geeks, the point of view tends to change somewhat where the technology begins to get worshipped far more than the humanity that created and used it. I guess that is human nature to see your point of view as holding an answer to problems but most of life acts as a potentiometer, not a switch. Sometimes what you know or can bring to the table is in the off position or dialed back really far. Other times, it is full-on. Wisdom is in knowing the difference and being able to apply it correctly.

As I was listening to each of the talks, I realized that no matter how great all this twitter and facebook connection stuff is, nothing happened until someone with a belly button cared enough to reach out and touch; using “old media” like a telephone or television or in some cases, a letter scratched out with a pen. Then — and only then — did the wheels turn and the train start moving forward.

To hug a friend during a chance meeting in the hallway; to hear music created with the tips of ones fingers; to extend a hand to an old gentleman climbing the few stairs to the entrance of the building; to feel your butt fall asleep even as the sessions went on; to hear the clamber of the trade show right outside the door, competing with the speaker on stage, to feel your stomach growl. These are the things that are most memorable even though they maybe shouldn’t be. These are the things that have almost nothing to do with the digital marvels that brought us all together in that one place.

Yet it is the digital marvels that we use to justify why we are there.

The more we immerse ourselves in this digital stuff, the more we crave analog contact. Eventually, it will be this very thing, this very messy analog that digital was supposed to bring order to which will once again define us.

* * *

My pick of the 2012 conference is Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt). His presentation* was the right mix of excitement and skill without dipping into the overly-exuberant. He lives and breathes his message and attempts to infect every student, every teacher, every one of us in the audience with an enthusiasm for learning. His story is also told with an analog pivot, a phone call. Read his story, watch the video below and then make something happen in your school, even something really small. But I dare you to just sit there afterwards.

One frustrating note: The speaker who came after him Andrew Rasiej (@Rasiej) wrongly concluded that education in America would be better if every student had access to an iPad.

NOOO!!

In one sentence, he negated the entire point of Kevin’s presentation.

Every student should have access to teachers like Kevin. It is Kevin who is the variable here, not the iPad. I’ll bet Kevin would have been just as effective motivating kids to get excited about music with a couple buckets, some string and a gum wrapper. How very, very sad this was so very wrongly interpreted.

Invest in people first; invest in the analog and the digital will follow. The people you invest in will see and use digital in creative ways. If you just invest in the digital, you will turn students into robot users, not creators.

Kevin’s presentation is between 1:47 and 2:06 below. Kevin’s “conclusion” follows briefly afterward.



Video streaming by Ustream | 140conf Day 1, Session 1

*The harmonica app is awesome, but as an accomplished player of the real thing, I got bored. The banjo tuner was fun only it that is annoyed @chirn9980 when I claimed to be able to play a foggy mountain breakdown in the key of G. He claimed it was just a tuner and I was an idiot. It was still fun.

I can’t make it to @140conf NYC, so I’m sending my editor

I’m backing out of the @140conf #NYC at the last minute and sending my ne’er-do-well editor, @gerardmclean in my place. This is what the bum .. err, I mean hobo.. looks like so if you see him lurking the hallways, stop him and say hello. He will probably be in the back of the hall making trouble.

Feel free to frisk him while you’re at it; I haven’t been paid in years and sure could use some cash. I’m certain the man is loaded.

Three things I learned at #140conf NYC

To say that I learned three new things at the #140conf (June 15-16, 2011 in NYC) might be stretching things a bit. Perhaps I mean to say that three of my observations and assumptions about human behavior have been affirmed.

Before I start at the 140conf, I need to back up a little to a few days before I left. I had hoped to travel with just my MacBook Air, but had not yet found the time to synch up my user account, preferences, email — everything that makes the Mac a useful road machine. I started the Migration Assistant and figured it would take a couple hours to synch up from a Time Machine backup only to discover after an hour of “prep” time, it would take over twelve hours over WiFi. So, I stuck in a USB drive and found out I would only save an hour or so.

What?!!??!! Grrr….. I have collected far too much stuff. Too bad the MacBook Air did not have a FW800 port. *sigh* So, I travelled to the conference with two laptops; my huge MacBook Pro 17″ and the really light MacBook Air. Let’s stow that experience for a while; it will be relevant later on.

We arrived at the 92Y early, registered, did some light networking and found seats, tweeted, check into Foursquare — all those things that one does at a social media conference. The sessions began and about 11:00, I started to regret my decision to not grab a cup of coffee before hopping the train from the Roger Smith to the 92Y (I know, I know it would have ended badly but maybe if I kept the lid on.) So, we popped out quickly and grabbed a coffee and scone from Juliano’s across the street. And maybe we stayed a little bit. Maybe. The coffee was good and the view out the window was spectacular.

We made our way back to the 140conf and found the house crowded, with standing room only. Why? As we squeezed into the gallery, we heard Ann Curry speaking. Ah, ok. After a few minutes, she ended her speech to thunderous applause and then a mass exodus of attendees.

Cool! Great seats for us!

Affirmation #1: Most people hanging in the social media space are only doing it to be seen and heard in the space of the A-listers or celebrities.

We found some seats and were treated to a short presentation by Krupali Tejura, MD (@krupali) a Radiation Oncologist. Her story was soft spoken but touched a spot in my soul, leaving me to tweet:

You can extend a life with length or depth. I wonder how many of us would choose depth? @krupali #140conf #randomtakeaway

Nobody calculates the ROI of anything worth doing.

Life is fantastic. It is the business of making a living that is tedious.

My next thought was how sad it was that the hundreds of people who rushed past me not moments ago — smug in the feeling they ate the main course of the conference — missed the most important human connection of the entire conference. Krupali was a nobody. She was even pre-empted by Curry who arrived too early. Yet for me, she provided the value for the conference. I only hope that if I ever need an oncologist, she still has the passion for humanity that brought me close to tears.

Affirmation #2: Most people will rush through life and never notice the small flowers life places at their feet. Most even deliberately trample them flat.

When I returned home, I wanted to share Krupali’s story with a lot of people. I knew that Jeff Pulver was life-videotaping the conference and was confident I could point to the video segment at UStream. After over an hour of trying to find the clip, I just gave up. I am sure Krupali’s story is somewhere in the stream; I don’t have the time or desire to sift through two days worth of stuff to find it.

And this is where we started out. While the 140conf would argue they are “curating,” I would argue that they are just hoarding digital stuff. There are no timecodes, no keyframes, no markers to point to any of the workshops. To be useful, the video should link back to the schedule with time codes and clip titles. The titles are even inconsistent with the schedule (Act I, Scene 1? When is that? Wed morning? I think so, but not sure….)

Affirmation #3: Few of us are truly curating all this digital stuff. What we are doing is probably more accurately labeled as hoarding.

Those are my take-aways from the 2011 #140conf in New York. What were yours?

Postscript:
Dr. Krupali found the clip and here it is below. Thank you.

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Dayton leads region in social media adopters

DAYTON – Internet entrepreneur Jeff Pulver strode, or rather, “surfed” his way into Dayton on Sunday, Aug. 22, as part of a road trip promoting 140Conf.com’s event Oct. 20 in Detroit. About two dozen emergent media/social networking and technology denizens met Pulver for a “meet and greet” at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in Dayton.

“Detroit will show everything we do,” Pulver said summing up what he hoped the Dayton stop would help accomplish.

At Blind Bob’s Pulver was met by Gary Lietzell, Mayor of Dayton, who presented Pulver with a special proclamation from the city. Lietzell hoped that Pulver’s visit would help “Tell the world about us,” and would entrench his commitment to emergent technology and social networking that he pushed during his run for Mayor in 2009.

“I embraced it during my campaign,” Lietzell said of social networking.

Pulver, the Chairman and Founder of pulver.com, is on a week-long trip that will see him traverse the Midwest well ahead of the Detroit event, to be held at The Fillmore Detroit. He has testified before Congress on the importance of social media, and has been a key shaper in the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts on Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) development and its public policy implications.

Many in Pulver’s audience at Blind Bob’s were either using laptops or hand-held devices displaying the vision of pulver.com’s “Exploring the State of Now.” Many followed Pulver’s trip from Columbus, where held a similar event to the one in Dayton, to Dayton via an Ustream feed. Pulver had promised an Ustream or similar feed of his entire Midwest trip.

When asked why he chose Dayton, Pulver proudly stated, “Because when we announced our plans for the trip, Dayton was the first to shout out ‘Please stop.’”

His two-hour event in Dayton was then followed up by a similar event in Cincinnati before he traveled to Indiana on Monday. His trip culminates in Detroit on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Dayton is home to several social media groups, including New Media Dayton (NMD) led by Carole Baker. NMD is an organization that coordinates speakers and regular meet up between social media and business groups in and around the Dayton Area. Another group that has adopted social media tools is Dayton Most Metro (DMM) led by Bill Pote. DMM strives to be the central source of all things happening in Dayton.

#140conf Road Trip in Dayton, Ohio – Photos and video

Jeff Pulver of 140Conf poses with Gary Leitzell, the Mayor of Dayton at the Dayton Road Trip meet up for the 140conf.

When we arrived at Blind Bob’s for the 140conf Road Trip Meet Up, there were already a dozen people there, waiting for and watching Jeff Pulver and his “roadies” navigate the Ohio freeway system. When Jeff arrived we had over twenty people there and more on the way. Apparently, this was a very large crowd, so we’re very proud of our Dayton peeps!

Gary Leitzell, the Mayor of Dayton (the REAL mayor, not the fake one on Foursquare) joined us early and stayed almost the whole time until his official duties as Grand Marshall of the Ale Fest kick-off parade pulled him away. We can now claim another “first” in a long list of firsts for Dayton, Ohio; the first mayor to join an official Tweet Up! Dayton, first in flight; first in Social Media!

We’ll be publishing the more “official” story in the next couple of days, but for now, we have a ton of photos and some video. Cindy DeVelvis also shot some really cool footage that will be available soon. Links here when that is online.

To download all the photos, grab the zip file here.

And some videos…

We got Jeff Pulver #140conf Road Trip – Dayton, Ohio

Come join us at Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District for the social media event of the year. Jeff Pulver will be stopping in Dayton on Sunday, August 22 from 3 – 5pm to mix it up with the most fun group of awesome Daytonians (and a few from the surrounding area, but we’ll deputize them for the day!)

For complete information, including the list of people going and directions, click here. And when you get there and find that the most exciting person you know won’t be there, it’s only because you haven’t sign up yet! Really, awesome you.

There will be lots of video and photos shot courtesy of Michael Blackwell of DryRainMedia. So, comb your hair, put on a clean shirt and get down to Blind Bob’s.

Read the press release here

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