Gnomedex was amazing, and Saturday was a particularly rewarding day. Take Julie Leung's talk, for starters. She inspired me to do more than think of my blog as a place to dump text. I want to learn to treat this space with more respect, thought, and care.
At lunch, I sat next to Eric Rice, who talked about how blogs are failing him; this was a revelation. Blogs are conversations, truly, and the problem of how to manage your reader's experience, how to direct them and give them a structure for understanding your content when they may be stepping into the middle of a conversation... this problem is no small thing.
Evelyn Rodriguez was sitting next to Eric, and she and I ended up in an extended and wide ranging conversation which touched on a lot of ideas and feelings that I haven't thought about for a while: the work of Joseph Campbell, following your passion, answering the call, bringing heart and soul and humanity back into business... Evelyn taught me about the Jonah complex, and the concept of post-traumatic growth. We talked far past lunch and I ended up missing at least two conference sessions, but I wouldn't have traded our time for anything. I have seen Evelyn's name many times in several of the blogs I really like, and I had not taken the time to sample her writing. I'm just digging in now, and finding how much this incredible person has to offer.
Adam Curry's keynote touched on similar themes, on the idea that what the new technology is enabling is for people to express their passion, to bypass TV and radio's "hitmaker syndrome" and to become a place where people can advocate for the things they love. He called on users and developers to keep pushing, to try on each other's perspectives and work together to get this new media revolution in full swing.
The whole weekend was about passion, in the end. Gnomedex 5.0 was full of people who are passionate about what they do. They are unwilling to accept the status quo. They need to move things forward, to make a change in the world, to evolve.
The most incredible thing was how... for the most part... ego-less the whole place seemed. The attendees seemed to revel in each others' presence. They wanted to learn from each other, and they wanted to share what they knew without restriction, as if they realized that the only way they could grow as individuals was to grow as a community.
Perhaps I'm romanticizing things a bit. I'm still being rocked by the waves of energy, still swirling in that whirlpool of motion, so perhaps I'm not entirely clear-headed, but there's no doubt that something amazing happened this weekend. I bumped into Jeff Barr on the way to my car on Saturday night. He's got a million times more juice in the community that I do, and he was buzzing as much as I was. He said, "No matter what you do, what these other guys in the room are doing is 20 times cooler." Everyone seemed to feel that respect and awe for each other.
For me, personally, this weekend was a significant experience. About a year ago, I blogged about a post that Hugh MacLeod wrote. In it, Hugh said, "the old ways are dead, and you need people around you who concur." Back then, I wrote that "people who think the world is changing surround themselves with people who think the world is changing... these people change the world."
I've been searching ever since that day to find the people who concur that the old ways are dead. Wonder of wonders, I found them at Gnomedex.