Yesterday, I was up early to ride over to Greensboro (formerly known as Greenesborough) for the ConvergeSouth conference with MisterSugar, Corey and Marcella. Luckily Weaver Street Market (in Southern Village) opens at 7 and has the coffee brewed and ready at opening.
The conference took place on the NC A&T campus in a couple of very nice newish buildings. Everyone there was helpful and I was having a pretty mellow time. Lots of good folks from G’boro including especially Ed Cone, Sue P, making it all happen in a very community spirited way and more coffee.
The first session, for me, was with Duncan Black aka Atrios. He was lost for a while but a guy named Shaka (as in Shaka Zulu) found him and brought him to us. The crowd had many more women and people of color than most tech or blogging conferences that I’ve attended (one in Cape Town was a notable exception) and the conversation was highly inclusive and smart. That said many of the questions at blogger conventions have a kind of sameness to them over time.
Following Atrios, I went over to Jimbo Wales’ talk on collaboration. Predictably, this drew on a lot of the same material that I had hear/seen during his talk in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. This time I wasn’t in charge of the room or the arrangements, etc so I actually got to pay more attention.
One thing that both Jimbo and Brewster Kahle reminded me is that Wikipedia and Archive.org both have three times the number of sysadmins as ibiblio does, but that almost all of their sysadmins are volunteers while both of ours are full time. Wikipedia has only two paid employes; Jimbo’s assistant and a lead software developer.
Jimbo ended at a place where discussion should begin: What parts of the wiki experience of broad collaboration should bloggers adopt?
Lunches appeared in bags. So I sat down and chatted with Kirk Ross about the Independent’s new political blog, Dent, there Kirk tries to post at least a brief note every morning as well as articles of more import.
WillR was pitching a Common Memory wiki or history of Chapel Hill wiki so that folks could understand how long various issues have been out there trying to be resolved by various councils and the context in which various decisions have been made, wisely or unwisely, over the years. Talked a little about how to build a successful community.
Ruby and Brian were there on out to a wedding after Ruby’s session. Ruby was much in demand having been a session leasder both days. OrangePolitics was getting serious and proper respect at the conference.
Also ran into and chatted a bit with Dave Winer whose session was just after lunch. Winer is in rare form these days, taking the first question about his recently announced sale of weblogs.com to VeriSign and making a little joke. Q: What will you do with your $2 million from VeriSign? Winer: That’s 2.3 Million and I’m going to put it in my savings account. Classic Winer ensued in a session that I think mostly pleased the crowd and pleased Dave. Lots of discussion by many voices — perhaps the most of any session that I attended.
Next I went to the Podcasting session by Herb Everett. The room was really really cold. Despite Herb’s enthusiasm, I was not so excited about podcasting basics and about good microphones as I probably should be so I slipped out to Sandy Carmany‘s political blogging session.
Sandy is an elected official, a City Council member in Greensboro, who blogs about her daily interactions as a council member. Sally does something like this with her listserv, but Sandy has even broken news (most recently the appointment of a new City Manager) on her blog. Many people involved in G’boro politics in the session as well as WillR from Chapel Hill.
Much made of being in touch with the voters and opening up government (it was not widely noted or was noted before I joined the session, that the appointment of the Manager was in a closed session).
WillR outed me as Mr. Sally Greene. Many people there know of and read Sally’s blog and website. I talked a little about how a site or blog can be used to provide deep background on an issue that might not seem clear at first and how a well researched and presented paper or essay can help frame the issue’s further discussion.
After a long break for coffee (and beer for some), about 10 of us convened for dinner with Dave Winer at the Undercurrent, a place too nice for most of us. So nice that some pretty spiffily dressed folks were there celebrating homecoming (at the local high school?). I spent a lot of time hearing about RadRails: a Ruby on Rails IDE from the creators Kyle Shank and Matt Kent– both of RIT and both interning at IBM in Raleigh.
Back in the dark rain with MisterSugar, Corey and Bora. Hearing the story of Bora’s coming to the USA as the Serbian horse-whisperer. Quite a wild tale and he got out just in time.
Bora also reported that Fred’s FaceBook study (and Bora’s follow on) came up several times during the conference.
The GSO BlogCon Blog is gathering various impressions of ConvergeSouth.