emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff

decompressing

processing my experience in Portland at WebVisions 2005. the verdict: a good thing, overall.

Categories: conference notes, General, Professional, webvisions 2005

this morning I kinda had a mental breakdown, I think partially in reaction to my intense experience of yesterday. it felt like a lot, and in a good way, and today being back in my house, knowing all the work I have ahead of me this week…I melted.

so I’m trying to recover by seeing if I can reflect on the experience, summarize what I got out of it, etc.

first of all, I ::heart:: Portland. more than Seattle, seriously. cycling in Portland felt like the best most natural thing, even if I got disorientated a couple of times. (I notoriously get lost and/or turned around every. single. time. I go to Portland.) I rode all over and that felt empowering emotionally and invigorating physically. I groove on the city in ways I can’t quite articulate. plus we had a great night out on Thursday, going over to Mississippi Ave. for dinner and wandering about. plus every damn thing I had to eat was super-tasty: J Cafe, Equinox, a deli whose name I don’t remember, and Greek Cusina. (brie wrapped in phyllo covered with honey and almonds == the most amazing thing I have ever eaten.)

2nd, WebVisions has always been good to me, and this year was no exception. I had the additional pleasure of coming this time with Susan and Brian from Evergreen; they are both fun smart people, plus having the starting nub of a posse made me feel able to be more gregarious.

The panels/presentations were 50/50, to be honest, but I’d say I got something out of every single one.

# Designing for the Sandbox with Peter Merholz: excellent stuff; nothing I hadn’t really heard (read) from him before, but I enjoyed getting the message in person. Plus he’s a great presenter: creative slides and an engaging manner.
# Podcasting (Rice, Narain, & May): I had my aha! moment re: podcasting. To be honest, I don’t know if there’s any particular professional application for us right now, and I have *no* interest in doing any podcasting myself. Not a big fan of the sound of my own voice, don’t have any drive to share my rather ordinary music collection, and frankly I just prefer the written word. However, I’m enjoying Matt May’s staccato episode 20 right now…I’m vaguely aware of the issues around iTunes’ implementation of podcasting subscription, but dang that’s convenient.
# The Future of Content (Finck, Holzschlag, Smokler & Robinson): what was interesting for me about this one was the diversity of opinion I heard from other audience members. people either loved it or hated it, I think for much the same reason: it was a rambling vague amorphous conversation. also, I lost a *huge* chunk of my notes, for the precise reason that I type too goddamn fast. and what is the deal with Keith’s hair?
# I’ll get back to lunch in a minute.
# Designing for the Personal InfoCloud (Vander Wal): meh. 2 things struck me about this one: he said almost the exact same things that peterme did, but not as engagingly, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of commercial co-opting and exploitation, which is why I had to step out for a minute. although I did finally have an aha moment, which redeemed it for me.
# Why Simplicity Matters (Fogg): deeply moving. Susan said she was amazed at hearing a man express so much emotion in re: the technology; Denise similarly said that his combination of words and imagery engaged her whole brain. I totally agree.
# Why We Still Love the Web (Butterfield): this one also engaged my emotional experiences with the web, which is the reason why I keep on keeping on with this crazy thing. I realized right this minute that it’s an intense combination of a love for place, a love of a craft, and a love for specific people (y’all know who you are, right?). It was less of a presentation or learning experience than just an expression of wonder, which was a great way to end the day.

The one thing I’d really change about the programming (other than having gone to see Sarah Horton instead of Vander Wal), is that I’d’ve liked to have seen more formal opportunities for sharing/networking. One possibility that came to me this morning: one of each of the presentation slots in a room with tables and chairs, where the presenter or panel was specifically charge with making the experience more between the audience members, rather than a broadcast experience. I have a hunch that Molly was trying to do that with the future of content session, but it’s hard to get that in a darkened room with rows of chairs!

And about lunch…I had something of an informal arrangement that we were going to try to catch up with Kathy & Ann from UW, either breakfast or lunch, and Kathy brought her former colleague Denise, who came to the first WA .edu-web-people dinner. plus, in the podcasting session, Jay from Dartmouth gave me his card so I could send him my notes, so I invited him along for lunch. 🙂 which all turned out fantastic; Denise scouted us out a great deli (such good fries!), and we had a fierce rambling conversation. upshot for me, professionally, is that (a) I’m not alone in any particular thing and (b) I really need to look into drupal again.

I want to re-read my notes (wtf is going on with the paging thing in WP?!), so as to get some specific to take back to work, but in general I feel like I’m on the right track and I still have a lot to learn. which feels good.

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