I didn’t go to Le Web 3 (and I’m glad)

So I’ve been reading a bunch about Le Web 3, a conference in France happening at this moment. I considered going early on, could have done it, and then saw the list of over 700 people attending. “Why bother,” I figured. I see no interest in attending a conference where I know no one aside from fellow Montrealers. No way into interesting discussions (the real ones always happen after hours) unless you know people. That makes these things just annoying.

Now I’m reading Dave Winer’s comments, and I realize that, yeah, I think I’m done with conferences unless they’re unconferences – like the spectacular Podcamp I attended in September. I’m done with the elitist attitude, I guess.

I’m thinking back now, and I realize that attending the second Portable Media Expo sort of felt the same way. There was a special meetup place for speakers – specifically dividing the priest of new media from the flock. I tried to sneak in, of course! ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t like those barriers, and never will.

Instead, I ended up spending some time this afternoon hanging out with Mitch Joel. I think we both care more for rock and roll than elitism – for this reason among many, we get along pretty damn well. If what I’m reading can be believed, I’ve had a better time here. ๐Ÿ™‚





16 responses to “I didn’t go to Le Web 3 (and I’m glad)”

  1. Mitch Joel Avatar

    Thanks for spending lunch with me Julien. I’ve been tracking Le Web as well. I guess if I was asked to speak, I would have been happy to attend, but I am very much loving the democratization of an unconference.

    I think they both have their place, and they are both valid. My overall thoughts are that if you are a Blogger or Podcaster already, going to a conference like Le Web 3 will always be a let-down… face it, we’re WAY ahead of the curve and there’s very little that will really perk our social media ears up.

  2. Tim Bourquin Avatar


    Thanks for the post. I continue work on making sure the Podcast Expo is more about interesting ideas and people than just boring panels. Panels are what I think kill fresh thoughts at conferences unless the moderator is outstanding at what they do.

    In terms of the speakers, the only reason I had a reception for them is because none of them were paid and they spent their own money to travel to and stay at the hotel. For that reason, I do have several things that are just for the speakers as a thanks. It’s not meant to separate them from everyone else as “better” or “elitist” – it’s simply meant to make sure they know I appreciate what they are doing.

    When we choose a speaker, it’s not because they are the smartest person in the room or that they even know as much as everyone in the audience. It’s simply, “here is one way someone is tackling this problem – and here is a few ways you might solve these proglems.” But I think everyone realizes these days that many people in the audience could deliver just as good a presentation. I chose several speakers last year simply because I totally disagree with their approach and thought it would be interesting to see what happened when I heard them out.

    Anyway, thanks for being at the Expo – hope you’ll consider being there next year as well – and feel free to submit yourself as a speaker through the website ๐Ÿ™‚ The process is open to anyone.

    Tim Bourquin, Founder
    Podcast and New Media Expo

  3. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    So let me bounce something off of you. What defines an UnConference? If an UnConference had a full size Expo floor, would it still be an UnConference?

  4. aaron Avatar

    I’m really looking forward to the POdcamp in Toronto. It’s going to be my first blogging/podcasting conference and it looks like it’ll be pretty interesting. while i’m totally on board with the unconference idea.. i still wouldn’t have minded the trip to france.

  5. Dave LaMorte Avatar

    I think the benifit of the UnConfrence is that it isn’t forced. Though I think we should really try to put up more media from the event and after hours stuff.

    Making people show up in person is a very Confrencey kind of idea. Although I think your more friendly in person then in your podcast. I’m just saying.

  6. anji bee Avatar

    hey you can’t quit going to events now. you promised me we’d meet again…

  7. Matt Forsythe Avatar

    I totally agree with Julien on this. I guess my initial (and perhaps naive) expectation with tech conferences was that there would be a low-level discussion of innovation and community and the technologies that enable them.

    But so far all the tech conferences I’ve attended have been very bland overviews and histories of the technologies. Panelists (who are used to dealing with people through their computer screen) often see these conferences as an opportunity to either pitch their product or formalize their role in the history of the movement. (I’m thinking now of the Future of Music conference at McGill last year where some of the mp3 bloggers starting speaking very academically about the “second” and “third wave” of mp3 bloggers – give me a break!).

    Anyway, glad to be in Montreal, too.

  8. Julien Avatar

    you know chris, i really have no idea. i’d go by feeling. i’m not sure how large it could get before it lost its appeal (or if it would at all, ever). what are you planning?

  9. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    Well, here’s the thing. Stuff like Expo Floors… that shit pays the bills. Sponsors, exhibitors, etc. all pay to have their booths and demo girls and stuff. We had a pretty positive response to the UnExpo system at PodCamp Boston 1, but even announcing that made a few BarCamp folks angry, the idea that sponsors would have an Expo floor. Most everyone who attended PodCamp Boston 1 had a good experience with the UnExpo Floor, and I want to take the concept a step further, but I’m not sure in which direction.

    For example, what if a PodCamp had a full expo floor, you know the kind that takes up a football field and has booths and booths and scantily clad people and free schwag that’s useless but you take anyway (letter openers? does anyone even get postal mail worth opening?) because it’s there. Would that kill the UnConference feel?

    I know some things that absolutely would – 100% panel conferences, paid speaker placement, etc. – but I want to do more with the Expo Floor idea somehow.

  10. Dave LaMorte Avatar

    I don’t go to any conferences yet so I didn’t really care about the Expo Floor. Maybe if we just gave away tables and allowed people to sign up for them. I don’t know. I didn’t go to meet vendors, I went to meet other podcasters. I personally find people trying to sell me stuff boring. I’m in grad school if I had money I’d have a real job.

  11. Chris Brogan... Avatar

    Tim- I think that’s a great way to thank the speakers you got for the show. Very nice idea, and you got some top talent to come and share. So thanks for that. The Portable Expo was cool.

    With PodCamp, Chris Penn is right. We had quite an initial hew and cry from a few about the unexpo, but look at how they did it: Greg Narain printed people free business cards. TalkShoe and Blip and others just helped people see how their stuff worked for the podcasting community. I think it worked well, and I want us to do more with that in future PodCamps. We’re going to work hard to get folks into real useful how-to experiences with the folks we seek.

    For the record, I had fun at Tim’s show. I met lots of folks in the hallways, and that was great. I saw a few good speakers, and spent an inordinate amount of time on the expo floor. I’ll go next year, too.

    Tim, want to come to PodCamp?

  12. Tim Bourquin Avatar

    Would love to go to PodCamp Chris! I wasn’t able to make it to the San Francisco one last month but I’m hoping I can make it to one of the others in 2007.


  13. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    Dave – agreed that the Expo Floor is not the reason you go to a conference right now.

    What would make it a reason to go?

  14. Julien Avatar

    Personally, I go for after-hour conversations and to meet people. Here’s my theory:

    We are all podcasters, and we work in our basements. We connect with almost no one, at any time (within podcasting at least). Therefore, when we meet, it’s like insta-connection, super quickly.

    This is why it’s important to go to conferences. Meeting people can make you quick friends and business contacts, and will only set you behind a few hundred bucks. In comparison, staying home will get you nothing, and you’ll spend the amount on a Playstation 3. Nuff said.

  15. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    Okay, so what if the after-hours stuff could happen in-hours? For example, if on the Expo Floor, instead of the Cisco Systems AVVID advanced IP telephony booth, they had the Cisco Systems couches and beer & wine cart, and you could just hang out with friends and their folks?

  16. Julien Avatar

    That would be difficult. There’s something about the after hours vibe that is so different from the regular conference thing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Still, making it couchy (like the iPodLounge ones did at the Expo) would be a big improvement.

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