Yesterday morning, I got home from Gnomedex 8.0 and after 24 hours, I have finally been able to distill the conference. It was my first time attending Gnomedex, but not the first time hearing about it.
In 2000, I worked at a startup in San Francisco Bay Area. One of the developers suggested I check out a website called Lockergnome (really an email list), run by some dude named Chris Pirillo, because they had a lot of interesting Windows 95/98 stuff. He was really excited for Chris’ conference called Gnomedex.
“What’s with the gnomes?” I thought to myself. “Must be some developer thing.”
Fast forward to 2008. Im working at Lijit. My friend Jeremy Wright of b5media asks if I am going to Gnomedex. Aaron Brazell laments that he wont be able to make Gnomedex this year. Tara Anderson tells me about how Gnomedex last year was so successful for the company.
So I went.
Thank God I did.
Of the three, Gnomedex was the smallest. Which, of course, made it easier to talk to folks. But, where the difference was most evident was in the sessions themselves. Here is the main reason why Gnomedex was amazing:
There was, literally, no hallway conversation. Everyone was in the sessions.
So, my three rules of Gnomedex:
1) Prepare to feel dumb.
The dude who drives the Mars Rover spoke. Some guy spoke on Cyborgs. Someone else spoke on voice controlled joysticks.
But, none of the attendees made me feel stupid. Some would even sit with me and explain what was said on stage, and to be clear it wasnt all that heady. Ben Huh, presentation about the growth of Pet Holdings, Inc was amazing and funny. It was great to see someone apply real science to the concept of memes.
2) Prepare to be real.
The attendees’ bullshit meter is uncanny. Attendees walked out of sessions, confronted speakers, questioned presentation points. The rule of being real was in serious effect.
3) Prepare to be amazed.
Amazed by the speakers? sure. The attendees? sure. But mostly, the calmness of the proceedings. Everyone was there to enjoy themselves, interact and learn. Some learned more than others. Some interacted more. But, everyone was almost…well, as cliche as it is, familial. Chris’ wife and parents helped with the conference. There is a real respect and love for Chris that was evident in the room. And, more than any other conference I have attended, a real respect for each other.
Nice work Chris and Ponzi. But more so, nice work Gnomedex community. See you in ’09!