Supernova Wrapup

Lunch break, so I can do a little bit of blogging before getting back to work. I'm back in San Francisco at work after spending the last day and a half at the Supernova conference.  It was great, one of the best conferences I've been to in years.  First of all, it was small.  Kevin Werbach, who has a very interesting pedigree, put the conference together and got some very interesting speakers and attendees. The total number of people at the conference was about 100, so we all sat in the same sessions, listened to the same speakers, and for the most part, had lunches and dinners together.  That was a big idea, because over half of what makes a conference interesting is the schmoozing, networking, and f2f meetups that occur.  The early LinuxWorlds had great networking, but there were too many people there, and I would always get pulled away for press interviews, analyst meetings, and partner/customer discussions to really have the chance to hang out and meet and make new friends, which is really what is most exciting, serendipitous, and fun. 

Even though I had to work during the first day of conference sessions, I got there in time for the blogger's dinner that Dave Winer had scheduled with the enormous effort of 2 posts on his weblog, and it was a great time.  Immediately I saw old friends like Doc Searls, and people I've known through email or blogs like Cory Doctorow, Glenn Fleishman, Rohit Khare, David Weinberger, David Isenberg, Howard Rheingold, Dan Gillmor, Joi Ito, Marc Canter, and of course, Dave Winer

Dave is a really neat guy, and I've been looking forward to meeting him for a while.  He lets it all hang out on his weblog, and writes essays too, not to mention the software business he doesn't quite run anymore.  Dave is sort of the blogfather of the blogger mafia (not that we really exist, shhh!)  We really got to know each other better at coffee after dinner on Monday. He wrote about it on his weblog, and I must say, Dave was being too kind.  BTW, we're from Lawn Guyland.  It's always fun meeting transplanted New Yorkers because after talking for a while, you always come away thinking there's a bit of a tristate cabal going out here.  I mean, I wouldn't be able to make it in the dog-eat-dog world of NYC, but out here among the laid-back California culture, I feel a bit like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's a little shared secret we all keep, and there's a delightful pleasure in sharing it with another expat.  Dave and I also spent some good time talking about Outliners and OPML (which is fertile ground, IMHO) and I think that having a really good outliner for Linux would be killer, even if it was proprietary; there's just nothing half-decent available on Linux for keeping notes and quickly building weblogs like Radio's Outliner.  At coffee, I also met Robert Scoble, who had worked for UserLand for a while, and had coincidentally, written about Technorati a few days before.  I also bumped into Meg Hourihan  and Lisa Rein, who were having coffee with Cory.  I had wanted to meet and get to know Meg at the conference (she was one of the founders of Blogger), but other than a brief introduction, never got the time to get acquainted.  Oh well, maybe next time.

There were also a whole bunch of new friends I made at the conference, and some very interesting folks they are: Mitch Ratcliffe, who used to be the Y2K columnist for ZDNet amongst other things, Euan Semple, a manager at the BBC, Peter Kaminsky, Myles Weissleder from Meetup, Dick Hardt from ActiveState (who also knows Rasmus), Bob Frankston (co-author of VisiCalc), and a whole bunch of other people that I'm sure I'm leaving out.

Tuesday morning I got up bright and early and headed over to the conference.  I met up with Glenn Fleishman, the best journalist covering the WiFi industry, and we hung out during the conference, which culminated with Glenn's panel on wireless infrastructure, on which I was a speaker.  I've got some pictures of the panel, but more on that later.  Howard Rheingold sat at my table, and I got him to sign my copy of Smart Mobs.  He's great, and he lives in the bay area, too.

Dan Gillmor (whose writing I love) did a great job on short notice talking about blogging and Journalism , called Journalism 3.01b2, which I blogged about earlier.

Sergei Brin from Google did a great Q&A with the crowd, and the best part (for me, at least) was his offer to look into setting up an XML-RPC aggregator at Google, which would then fire off the GoogleBot to reindex recently changed weblogs that pinged it.  Minus the technobabble, it means that blogs would get reindexed on Google more quickly, making Google's index fresher.  Sergei, how about having me over to the offices again - we'll have lunch provided by your great chef, and I'll happily explain all the details.

The afternoon wireless panel went well, even when I put my foot in it (so to speak) during one of the Q&A's.  All in good fun.  What was awesome about it was that some of the real innovators in the wireless space were there, like Tim Pozar and DeWayne Hendricks, who I got to meet for the first time.  They should have put in two more chairs on the stage for those two.  DeWayne talked about the need for people to submit their comments to the FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force, which is beginning to decide some things that have serious impact on the unlicensed wireless industry - innovative proposals like easements to licensed spectrum holders for ultra-low power technologies like ultrawideband are being actively opposed in Washington by the oligopolists, so all the rest of us need to make our voices heard. 

Afterwards, a bunch of us drove back into SF for the EFF open house of their new digs down in the Mission district.  Fortunately we got there before the party got too crowded, and I got a chance to meet Clay Shirky, who was supposed to be at Supernova, but had had his flight cancelled.  He was quite charming and interesting, and I plan on staying in touch with him.  I shook hands with John Perry Barlow and Brad Templeton, and was able to thank Seth David Schoen and Cory Doctorow personally for all the hard work they've been doing to stop the HDTV Broadcast Flag.  They wrote a great reply brief to the FCC last week, and deserve to be commended for their cohesive, cogent arguments.  I saw Lile Elam, founder of GeekMaids, and I also bumped into Brewster Kahle, and got to see one of his Bookmobile-printed public-domain books.  That was an awesome idea in action, when he drove his bookmobile across the country, making books for people on the spot at schools and libraries, culminated by his arrival in DC on the day of the Eldred arguments before the supreme court.

I bumped into Zach Brown, and we hung out for a while.  Zach's the writer of Kernel Traffic, and editor of Kernel Cousins, and it's great to see that he's doing well and having fun. 

After the EFF reception, Doc, Euan, Marc Canter and I went to a little Tapas place in the Mission for dinner.  It was AWESOME.  Marc is a true epicurean.  I've got to make a mental note to invite him out again and just remember to have him do the ordering, he was naming all of these wonderful sauces and spices and ordered up some great dishes that went with the really interesting conversation.  It turns out that we also have a lot in common, like his youth membership in Habonim - I was in Hashomer.  Marc's another San Francisco personality, a true gem.  His new company sounds really neat as well.

Hmmm, I'm thinking that I can't allow all of these interesting personalities drift off - perhaps I should set up a dinner or something, sort of like what Jeff Ubois does (did?) with his dinners with interesting people.

Anyway, I'm still basking in the afterglow of all that concentrated stimulation and fun.  It is so great to put faces to names and email addresses, and have real human interaction - reminds me that even with these wonderful communication tools like email and weblogs, there is simply no substitute for physical interaction with all of its multimodal communication streams, chance meetings, and introductions by friends. 

I'm looking forward to next year's Supernova which is planned for Washington DC, and Dave is talking about putting together a weblogger's conference for next summer as well.  Can't wait.

Back to work...