Most of you know I attended the mesh 2007 conference earlier this week. From the title of this post, guess it’s pretty obvious what my impression of the event was, but if I had to choose one word to describe it, that word would be phenomenal. What’s my main reason? I’d say in large part because of the work of the folks behind it: Mark Evans, Matthew Ingram, Mike McDerment, Rob Hyndman, and Stuart McDonald.
I first got to meet them at a Third Thursday meeting the night before the conference started. In that session, the team explained how they spent the majority of the year tracking developments and key participants in the blogosphere to decide who would be invited to participate in keynote and panel discussions and what the topics of those sessions would be. Bottom line, it worked. I also really liked the no PowerPoint rule. The keynote and panels that I attended featured some initial questions from moderators, but most of the focus revolved around active Q&A sessions with the attendees. The end result was a lot of productive conversations.
I have Joe Thornley and Michael O’Connor Clarke to thank for recommending that I be invited to be part of a panel on building communities. They were instrumental in getting Dell involved. I really appreciate it and I’m glad our paths crossed in the blogosphere. It was an honor to be a part of the panel with Jordan Banks and Will Pate, and the conference overall. I was energized by the conversations I got to be a part of and the ones I heard going on around me. On his blog, Joe has good summaries of the Michael Arrington Q&A, the New Media panel and the Future of Entertainment panel—all of which occured on day 1.
Why does any of this matter? Because trying to make sense of the rapidly-evolving world of Web 2.0/ social media/ digital media or whatever you want to call it is an important step in its evolution. Social media has probably already had an impact on many of your jobs already, and I think that’s a trend that will continue. Whether you’re a journalist, marketer, PR professional, or a corporate or individual blogger, this stuff will continue to play a role in how companies reach out to customers, bloggers and the media. The amount of transparency a company offers its customers will dictate how much direct interaction is possible. Over the last year, we’ve tried to open the lines of communication between Dell and our customers, and we’ll continue to do that. That is key. What is also key is that Dell continues to act on the feedback that comes into us via these tools. Without that commitment, the best tools in the world won’t make an impact.
Conferences like mesh 2007 are all about sharing experiences with folks from varying disciplines and levels of engagement who are all trying to figure out what’s next. While I’m thankful that Dell is beginning to receive praise from some on our digital media initiatives, truth is we’ve been at this for less a year—a short time by anyone’s standards. A year into things, we do have a better sense for what conversations are happening and how to engage in them, but there’s still a heck of a lot that we haven’t fully grasped yet.
Frankly, no matter where we are in the “getting it” process, learning on the fly will always be integral to our success in the space. For Dell, I think that learning can come from anywhere—just as likely to come from one of our customers or an individual blogger with as small readership as a Fortune 500 company incorporating digital media in their company. As Web 2.0 tools evolve, we’ll hopefully continue to evolve with them. Taking risks and working to learn from mistakes as quickly as possible has served us well to this point, and I hope we can continue down that path.
Because mesh 2007 focused squarely on sharing information about web technology and the learning that comes from that sharing, I found it immensely useful, and thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks again for letting me be a part of it.