ETech '07 Summary - Part 1

Joe Gregorio

Ok, so the first thing I learned from ETech is that not only can I not live-blog, I can't even blog tidbits through the day. I had been to ETech last year and presumed that it was just intense because I was only there for 36 hours, and that there was no way that that intensity could be sustained for four days.

I was wrong.

Before going on I'd like to take a little tanget and talk about my undergraduate education. I ended up in the Honors Program at ECSU, which offered team taught interdisciplinary classes. Those were some of the best classes I ever took, and it was that intersection of two disciplines that was the key.

Let me take another aside and say that the honors classes were the closest thing to what I expected college to be like. I'll admit to having unrealistic expectations about college.

This is all just as a way of setting the context for answering Trevor Smith's question:

I'm not seeing the frantic, multimodal ETech blog coverage as in past years. Has it jumped the shark or am I just unsubscribed?

The speaker line-up was a bit scattered, but the sessions that I leaned more toward were the "emerging" and not as much the "technology". It seemed that more of sessions this year were academic in nature, and that was a change that I really liked; I spend all day reading blogs and working with technology, I don't need to go to a conference to see what will be new to my mother-in-law tomorrow, I want to go to a conference where I see a cross section of disciplines. I want to take a little dip back into those interdisciplinary classes, and get a look at those rich veins where two disciplines meet. Personally I'd like to see the conference take an even stronger move in that direction. For example, I'd love to see E. O. Wilson talk.

Standout speakers include:

Matt Webb [blog]
He's one of the guys that created availbot.
Jane McGonigal [blog]
She's got the coolest job title in the world: "resident game designer with the Institute for the Future".
danah boyd [blog]
If you ever get a chance, do yourself a favor and see dana speak. Jane, danah, and Timothy Appnel ran the werewolf games, which I looked forward to all year, ever since I played last year at ETech.
Jeff Jonas [blog]
It figures that I'd have to travel to the other side of the country to ETech to learn about yet another cool thing happening inside IBM. It's hard to explain to people outside IBM what "330,000 employees" actually means.

I saw a couple patterns emerge from the sessions I attended. More on that tomorrow.

Update: It appears Tim is thinking along these lines for next year.

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