Thoughts on Always On

I spent the last couple of days at the Always On conference at Stanford, as always this event combines a solid invite list with one of the best produced events in the industry. I was sitting with Jeff Clavier yesterday and we were both commenting that this is one event where you can literally just hang out in the outdoor patio area and run into everyone eventually, in many ways the outside the conference action is more interesting that what is going on inside on stage, but that’s not really that uncommon these days.

The one thing that I did observe and was disappointed in was that there is still too much emphasis on the convergence of media and the internet as a topic of discussion, which for much of the audience is probably spot on (lot’s of PR and advertising people here) but for a large section of the audience this is getting to be redundant.

I was part of a panel discussion about corporate blogging and the changing tactics of marketing, and for the life of me I can’t understand why these questions about brand and message control are still floating around… ferchristsakes, you never had control to begin with so get over it. I am also getting tired of hearing about case examples (anecdotal, not full case studies) about how car companies and consumer electronics companies are using blogs to facilitate product development and target audiences. At least we’re still not using the Kryptonite Lock story… we’ve moved onto Dell exploding laptops.

There was a good amount of discussion about user generated content, which appeals to the media types. Nobody could tell me how I could take advantage of user generated content.

I would have liked to see some discussion about how Generation M entering the workforce is going to force changes on the systems that we deploy and how we build them. The convergence of enterprise and consumer software has a much bigger impact on my world that the convergence of media and the internet.

Mark Benioff gave a keynote about software as a service… I didn’t catch it (what’s the point, is he going to reveal something we don’t already know), and then there was a panel with Mark and a bunch of other CEOs from SaaS companies, as you can imagine they were all selling against each other. There was an open source panel, shocking as that may be, but it was more or less the same buzzwords, catch phrases and stories… and Bruce Perens still hasn’t found a problem open source and $5m of funding can’t solve. Just once I’d like to hear him say “you know this isn’t for everyone and it does have some challenges but we’re working on it.”

I had a really fascinating conversation with Peter Hirshberg from Technorati (Sifry was there as well, as is usual he was wearing a nice smile and carrying a kind word) about how we could blend social media into our corporate website and, of course, how Technorati could work with us to facilitate conversation-based marketing campaigns. That guy has forgotten more about social media than I’ll ever know, seriously. Why couldn’t that get captured into a one-on-one talk with someone like Richard Edelman? I wish we could have talked more about this on the panel I was on.

Met a lot of startups, most of them pretty interesting. The IRC was tame and that made it kind of boring. Food was good and the parties good.

Technorati Tags: