Geekend2010 Recap

Geekend2010 Recap

November 8, 2010 1:58 pm 5 comments

Geekend2010: fun for the whole family, assuming everyone in your family is so nerdy that they wouldn’t flinch when a geek in a Darth Vader costume randomly appears in the doorway of a keynote address.

This was the demographic of last weekend’s conference. It packaged quality information with Wii remotes and robots in a way that no other event could, and I left having made solid connections and with a better understanding of my own geekery.

The sessions I attended ranged from the uber-techy to the philosophical, but it was somewhere in between that I found the most takeaways.

Zachary Dominitz, recently of Change.org, took on Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that web 2.0 doesn’t allow for relationships that are deep enough to lead to great social change. While Dominitz agreed that social media provides opportunity for as much evil as it does good, his central argument was that the innumerable small social campaigns that are happening on platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are just as effective as one giant social movement that happens once in a generation.

Takeaways:

  • 2.2 Billion are expected to be online by 2013, In 2013 Mobile will pass Desktop internet users
  • A weeks worth of nyt holds more info than George Washington had access to in his entire life.
  • All new innovation can be used for good or evil.
  • Many small movements are just as effective as a few big ones.

Phil Peterman of Paula Deen Enterprises gave another social media-focused talk that served as an overview on how brands should take the first steps into marketing on social media platforms. While very basic, his insights were relevant, and he did provide some token takeaways for even those who have been in the space for some time:

  • When entering more niche communities be transparent about your agenda. Offer value and participate.
  • Brands: Don’t trade on your friendships for your gain.
  • You know what you want your message to be, but your message ends up being what the internet makes it.
  • You cannot control social media. It’s like trying to strangle jello.
  • Old marketing was a monologue. Social media is a conversation.
  • If you screw up, own it! Embrace it and deal with it quickly-it has value.
  • Amplification and bounce rate are important ways to measure effectiveness.  Sentiment and follower count don’t matter.

Margaret Francis from Lithium gave one of the best social media presentations I’ve ever seen. She was well-informed, interesting, and accessible. She focused on tools for measurement and analysis that can be used to gauge the effectiveness of a digital marketing campaign. During her session, I was tweeting back to the Center for Sustainable Journalism for immediate implementation for experimentation. I will let anyone who’s interested know which tools are working best for us.

The War on Stupid presentation by Andrew Davies of Paragon Design Group and Patrick Rodgers of Connect Savannah was an entertaining and extremely relevant session that focused on the need for journalists and creatives to combine efforts to combat the growing polarization of the media. They posited that “journalists provide the text while creatives provide the form” that can make stories easier and quicker to digest in a more informative and appealing manner. They cited an example of an 11,000 word story being condensed into a 1-2 minute video.

Takeaways:

  • Make information accessible.
  • Creatives bring the form and journalists bring he text to the war on stupid.
  • Communities we participate in online serve as echo chambers that reinforce our biases.

Daniel Castro from the non-partisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation presented on the hot button policy issues impacting technology and innovation. Perhaps the most interesting part of the session was his assertion that much of the privacy debate happening in the United States amounts to little more than fear-mongering. He cited a study of the top 40 economies in the world that showed that the U.S. ranked last in improvement in innovative competitiveness over the past decade and gave the fact that we cannot access our own health records online as an example of how the U.S. lags behind much of the industrialized world.

The last session that I’ll mention here is Scott Smith of Changeist and Frank Spencer of KedgeForward’s presentation on social innovation and intentional evolution. I was really excited about this particular session after having attended several marketing focused presentations that day. I left, however, with the conclusion that it is unfortunately difficult to marry the worlds of technology and sociology. Smith and Spencer give an interesting presentation on how our world shapes our technology (which then shapes us in some sort of vicious circle of identity formation), but what they didn’t consider is…well, everything else. For example, they explained the iPhone as a technological tool that is changing the way we work and interact but whose basic form and functionality were decided by Star Trek. They implored creatives to think outside of the forms already determined as they invent new tools. They didn’t consider here how other influences outside of Star Trek may have contributed to the development of a small rectangular device with a touch screen. They insist that we can intentionally evolve – that is, decide the future – but is it so simple? Is technology the sole or even main contributor to our social evolution? Possibly, but I’m not convinced.

Takeaways:

  • Technology shapes infrastructure and our response to it shapes us collectively.
  • We are evolving from consumers to creators.
  • We are creating solutions to problems that don’t yet exist.

My experience at Geekend2010 was a positive one. Despite the constant sales pitch to move to Savannah, and despite the sometimes seemingly random speaker selection, most of the sessions were informative and the networking opportunities were abundant. I appreciate how smoothly the event operated, how well-prepared and responsive the staff were, and how saturated it was with grey and blue robots. I will certainly be back next year.

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5 Comments

  • Thanks for the recap Noah. I was trying to make the opposite point in some ways, that technology alone won’t help us “evolve” but that more basic human factors, and underlying ingenuity, may. Any discussion of Star Trek unfortunately leads to diversions in some ways, like talking politics and religion at the dinner table.

    Happy to carry on the conversation in a longer forum, though.

  • Noah Echols

    Thanks for chiming in Scott. I think the 45 minutes we got to spend in that session was WAY to limiting given the depth of such a discussion. From your comment, it seems we may be on the same page. We should discuss it over a beer sometime.

    • Yes, Noah… 45 minutes might as well be 5 minutes for such a topic, just not enough time to touch on the complexity of such an issue. I would say the same as Scott – tech is given a ton of attention, but way too much credit for human development. My most basic focus is in social change dynamics and culture, so I definitely don’t believe that tech is the only (or even MAIN) driver of human evolution or “better futures.” But, it being Geekend and a tech/social media/developer heavy conference, the tie-in was inevitable. Thanks for the excellent write-up on the conference!

  • Noah Echols

    Thanks, Frank, for stopping by. I enjoyed the presentation immensely and left with even more questions – which, I suppose, is a positive thing here. I’ve checked out both of your organizations and am beyond intrigued. I wish the both of you much success, and I hope we cross paths again in the near future.

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