Here are a couple of my thoughts about the Netroots Nation conference as a whole.
Gratuitous Use of Paper
Tony Cani was the first of our group to really point out the ridiculous amount of paper being used at a progressive blogger conference. Starting with the attendee bags to the handouts for every little product, issue, and event, unwanted paper was everywhere. Over at Grist there is a good commentary about the paper use as well as pictures of all the paper in the registration bags. Tony had some really great lines about the paper use: “It’s amazing how every progressive organization’s desire to limit paper use ends with the opportunity to hand something out for their organization” and “If only this were a conference where you knew people would be able to access the conference materials online” *note sarcasm. Next year Netroots Nation plans to be more environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral, so we will see what changes will be made.
The Youth Are Here
Another observation made by a lot of the serial attendees is that the demographic now includes many more young people. Wiretap has a story about this, which quotes me on the issue, that you should check out. I think that the transition from YearlyKos to Netroots Nation might have helped open the conference up to more young bloggers. When YearlyKos was first conceived, it was designed to be a really large meet-up for the contributors to DailyKos, a Demographic that is much older than people imagine. As we move towards a general netroots conference from a site community specific one, I think that the number of young attendees will increase. Here is my quote from Wiretap that covers it a bit more:
“Blogging is not as exciting a tool for Millennials as it is for older generations. Social networking and other very quick tools for sharing themselves trump the blog as a form of expression. The older generation has never been able to express themselves to an audience before, yet are not entirely comfortable with this next step that Millennials have taken. For older generations, blogging is the new pamphleteering. I also think that the older generation writes more for the sake of writing where Millennials are writing for their friends.”
Twitter is Useful
Twitter was used quite effectively at the conference. The use of the #NN08 hash tags allowed people to see what fellow attendees were saying, where they were at, what surprise guests have arrived, and to meet up with other people.
I had another interesting observation about Twitter in one of the panels I was sitting in on Saturday. I sent out a tweet with the link to my recent coverage of the conference on Future Majority, and I see the person sitting in front of me get the tweet, open the link, and read it without even realizing the guy that wrote it was sitting right behind him.
I think as Twitter becomes more ubiquitous and people have more experience using it at events we will learn more about how twitter can be a very useful and effective tool for communicating at conferences.
I had a great time at Netroots Nation meeting a lot of people that I had only worked with online previously, as well as people I met completely for the first time. I’m looking forward to doing it again in Pittsburgh next summer.
Those were just my thoughts about the conference, what did you think? Leave a comment and share!