I spent an extra day in Paris after LesBlogs and spent my day doing more tourist stuff, such as Musee d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower. Photos over on Flickr.

After finally getting connectivity back today, I’ve been catching up on feeds (over 4000 new posts to read – I’m afraid many just got marked read), loading photos and doing general admin. However I’vehad time to reflect and see the other reactions. So what are my takes on the conference? (not withstanding the obvious one of ‘don’t forget your power lead!’)

I got more out of the second day (tools and how to use them) rather than the first, which focused on how blogs are changing the corporate world. Key points were:

  • Corporations and mesurements: One of the challenges for businesses is measurement – they measure everything, they try and get a RoI. Masurement of the effectiveness of websites, based on quantitative vistors and qualitative assessments of impact are things the budget holders are comfortable with. But blogs shift the measurement again – can we use the current system? The first panel seemed to be split about this – how do we put old measures in where we need new measures.
  • Political BloggingThe sheer scale of the Beppe Grillo blog in Italy, getting thousands of comments. And the effort a small town in France is putting behind closing down Cristophe Grebert blog monPuteaux.com, which documents the spending habits of the council. 50000 euros and counting.
  • Educational BloggingEwan McIntosh impressed, both on the podium and in conversation later. He was one of the few of the speakers who interacted directly with the backchannel and visibly altered his comments.

Monday night was again a chance for more networking, at the official do. As you’ll have seen, I did bail out early to go to dinner (too much finger foods – real food required). Whilst there I managed to prove my complete lack of US geography to Greg Reinacker by having no atual idea where Denver/Colorado are on a map.

Tuesday morning started off with a keynote by Mena Trott. Who got into a little spat with Ben Metcalfe about the backchannel usage. Mena’s tallk was about civility on the web. During the Q&A the backchannel got posted up on the screen (it was there on and off during the conference), unfortunately just as Ben commented about her speech. There’s been plenty of commentary, with Ben and Mena putting their points of view across. You can see the video here.

During the conference, the irc chat usually asked great questions, adding to the debate, pulling up links and other references to the speakers. At other times, it did get rather snarky when a speaker was not felt to be delivering, but no more than in others I’ve seen. Whilst Mena’s point is valid, there is always place for more civility in all forums, I felt it was the wrong speech for the conference, as it did appear to try and apply one set of cultural values on an audience where many people appeared to have another.

Regardless of the content of the speech, the fact that the backchannel was projected (retrospectively a bad idea) was distracting. (See Shel’s post for another speakers view). But Mena ‘s reaction was over-the-top as a speaker and as the CEO of the company that was organising the conference. Challenging from the stage and forcing someone to stand up in the audience was not an example of civil behaviour. The things she said would have been better done later, in a face-to-face session as recognised by Mena:

Is it possible to have the sort of productive face-to-face connection or conversation that Ben M. and I had offline in an online world? And what can we, as bloggers, do to facilitate that?

To me, that last statement is a better way of putting what I think Mena was trying to say. Not ‘you have to be more civil’ but ‘how can we we be more civil’ and get online to reflect more the better behaviours of the offline world. I say better behaviours as there can be far worse real life interaction than was ever present in the irc.

Other recollections include the panel with Hugh, Anina and Marc, in which Anina managed to keep Hugh quiet for a while. Ben Hammerley’s presentation was also a hit. One of the few presentations as opposed to panels, it seemed to liven up the crowd. The premise was that we are at the start of a cultural revolution, as the technology is for the first time speeding up the development of the next level of technology. We are no longer reliant on the human mind alone, but can be supplemented by the technology we build. If we’re lucky, we will not revert to a downward cycle of culture this time round. His 8 Big Ideas and the opposition to them frame the upcoming battles.

  • Information wants to be free vs copyright
  • Zero distance vs Borders
  • Mass amateurisation vs censorship
  • Much is much more vs Network blocking
  • True Names vs Id cards and databases
  • Viral behaviour vs more network blocking
  • Everything is personal vs everything is trackable
  • Ubiquitous computing vs No Privacy

His wrapping up – we’re all lucky bastards because we are here at the start of a revolution in culture as the people in the audience are putting tools together to drive the change; but then again, we’re unlucky bastards as we could see it all go wrong.

Finally, there was a new Nokia phone on offer for the best contribution during the 2 days; factoryjoe won it with this picture; a mashup of the conference logo and Marc Canter sleeping.

I have no idea whether this will all make sense as for some reason it’s taken about 3 days to write (too much else) but it sort of sums up the 2 days.

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