Reflections on Mix08: (nearly) 72 hours of conversation

kipatmix_5 Opinion I’m not a road warrior.  I’ve attended three Butterfly Tours, two MVP Summits, two Gnomedexes, and some various one day events (mostly in Redmond), but this is the first big tech conference I’ve attended outside of Seattle.  Just to get the logistics out of the way, I had great flights both ways, on time with no problems.  Of course everyone attending conferences in Las Vegas all left on Friday afternoon, and the security lines were long, but moved quickly.  Apart from having some trouble finding my way out of the Venetian (where Mix was held) to my hotel at the Imperial Palace (“next door”), once I got that figured out all was well.

p1000289_thumb Opinion Mix itself as an event was first class.  I don’t remember any problems with anything not working; nothing was late, or botched, a well organized and run event all around.  Both the keynote (while it was long) and the Steve Ballmer /  Guy Kawasaki discussion ran like clockwork.  In one of the sessions one of the guys from Vertigo said that the keynote ended “70 seconds early”.  His own part ran 7 seconds long, for which he caught some good natured grief backstage.

I’m really trying to think through what my focus should be in future events like these – and PDC in October looks like it is firmly on the list.  Certainly I need to blog more.  However while I didn’t get much of what was happening around me recorded, if anything the paraphernalia of technology hindered more than it helped.  If it wasn’t wifi connection, it was battery power, or “where’s a plug”, or stopping to dig through a bag looking for (yet another) cord.  I spent far more time packing my electronics than I did clothes, and hauling a laptop bag and a camera bag around was cumbersome and limiting.

p1000308_thumb_1 Opinion Which brings us to the conversations.  Starting with the plane ride down (I live in Seattle, so the plane to Vegas on Tuesday afternoon was at least half Softies, including both seatmates), to meeting Long Zheng at the airport and finding our way through the casino maze to hotel check-in, conversations were what this conference was all about.

p1000279_thumb Opinion So while I carried all this crap around with me, and checked up on the news of the world and email, I found it much more comfortable to just talk to people.  I had great conversations with Softies; John Nogrady from the Microsoft Emerging Business Team,  Windows Live Platform Technical Evangelist Catherine Heller, Frank Arrigo, Kris Hoet, Loke Uei Tan, Angus Logan, the guys from the Windows Live Platform booth in the Open Spaces area, Scott Guthrie, Jeff Sandquist, Brian Groth (thanks for sharing the cab to the airport!), IE Architect Chris Wilson, Travis and Tim Harris and all the guys on DPE, Scott Hanselman, Samantha “you’re famous” McManus from Waggener Edstrom, Director of Windows Marketing Communications for Vista Chris Flores (who got down and dirty to help Long Zheng get his laptop working – above and beyond the call of duty and done with grace and style), and David Treadwell, my only “interview”, which will be up shortly.  There were others as well, and many more, like Steve Clayton and Jacky Mok, who I wanted to meet up with but it just didn’t happen.  Maybe if I wasn’t looking for a plug, or plugged into a recharging station, I would have had more time to find you.

p1000368_thumb Opinion But the great thing about Mix over something like the MVP Summit, is although it is Microsoft-centric, there are developers and designers, press, and business people from outside of Microsoft and all over the world attending, and I think I most enjoyed talking to them.  Gilber Corrales (my Twitter “friend”), Marc Canter, Mary Jo Foley, Molly Holzschlag, Rob Howard, Robert Scoble,  Long Zheng, Rafael Rivera, Bryant Zadegan, were all people I had talked to before, but had great conversations with them again.  I also met a lot of new people; waiting in lines, eating breakfast, in between sessions and in the hallways.  While I didn’t have a press pass (only because I had access thanks to DPE from Mix n Mash), I did spend a bit of time in the press room.  However it’s not somewhere I see myself fitting in.  There’s so much more going on out in the hallways, I doubt I’ll spend much time in press rooms in any upcoming event.

p1000345_thumb_1 Opinion Some of the new people I met: Wolfgang Henseler from Syzygy,  a large creative agency from Germany; Tim Back, also from Germany, from SAP; Ajay Jain, a journalist and blogger from India; Paul Thurrott, and many many others.

It was fun talking about Microsoft/Yahoo (even Softies could talk about it, because there’s no insider information for them to worry about spilling), about standards, about Feedsync, and about Ozzie and Ballmer.  I’m thinking about how to approach the next events – while I didn’t get much use out of the live streaming, it worked, and there’s certainly some potential – but when the technology gets in the way of the conversation, the conversation will win out, and we’ll figure out how to go from there.