After finally catching up on much needed sleep after ETech, I’ve got a few final observations to get out of my head:
- I’ve been to both P2P conferences and to both ETech conferences and this years ETech conference was the most action packed and intense conference I’ve ever attended. The mix of people at the conference was excellent — very few suits, yet tons of geeks from all backgrounds. Each year there is a group of younger, more hard-core geeks present at the conference. For the P2P conferences these geeks were the P2P stars like Brandon Wiley, Gene Khan, and Ian Clarke, and for the ETech conferences you had the wireless trouble makers Rob Flickenger, Schulyer Erle and all the hackers from freenetworks.org and nocat.net. I’m curious to see who the alpha geeks in the next few years will be.
- While Tim Appnel was fueled by adrenaline I was grateful that the coffee at the conference never stopped flowing. Without caffeine, I wouldn’t have survived 16 hours of non-stop geeking each day.
- The WiFi network and the density of laptops brought about new dynamics at the conference. People who needed to charge their laptops clustered around the power outlets like nomads clustering around a desert oasis. (Kudos to the O’Reilly conference team for providing more access to power this year!)
- Each of the sessions was largely silent — the speaker was the only person talking. The only other thing to be heard were people tapping on the keyboards of their laptops, blogging the sessions, or chatting with other attendees. For each session there were multiple layers of communication happening simultaneously: IRC, iChat and Hydra collaborative note taking. It can be hard work following one conversation, but when there are 4 or 5 conversations happening at the same time, its exhilaration and overload at the same time.
And then there were a couple of recurrent threads that many speakers touched upon:
- Incumbents vs innovators: DRM technology, the DMCA, the super/state DMCAs and patents present a growing threat to the innovators of high tech. The geeks must become more politically active in order to counter-act the evil technologies that are being pushed large media companies and the government.
- Frustation with the music industry: During Howard Rheingold’s keynote speech he expressed his frustration with the music industry, and the need for someone to figure out a system to reward the artists for their hard work. This sentiment was echoed in several other presentations and discussions at ETech. Unfortunately, no one has any good leads on how to accomplish this.
That wraps up ETech for me this year — it’s been a ton of fun. If you went to ETech this year, please take a moment to fill out the online evaluation forms.
If you made it to ETech, what did you think?