Tag Archives: tech-conference

Will You be at ceBIT This Week?

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Sprechen Sie Geek? I’m brushing up on the handful of German words I already know because I’m headed there this week to speak at ceBIT. If you’ve never heard of this conference, then you certainly need to have your geek card taken away. ceBIT is billed as “the digital industry’s biggest, most international event. Thanks to its unique combination of exhibition, conferences, keynotes, corporate events and lounges, CeBIT represents an unrivaled tool for doing business and sealing deals.”

Thousands of attendees are expected to grace the conference and exhibit halls with their presence throughout this week. I will be but one lone man navigating my way through the maze of gadgets, gizmos and Germans! If you’re going to be there, be sure to look me up and say hello.

The only device I’m really planning to take with me is my iPhone 4. I’m paying the extra twenty-five bucks in order to use up to 20MB of data while I’m in International territory. However, I plan to connect to the ‘net via WiFi as much as possible. My phone takes fantastic videos and photos, so there’s really no need to pack a lot of extraneous gadgets.

If I see anything interesting – or meet really cool people – I plan to take several videos to share with all of you. So if you know of a particular vendor that you feel would make for an interesting video, then let me know!

The subject of my keynote deals with connecting communities using various technologies available to us. As much as I find the commentary on YouTube difficult to swallow at times, it IS a large part of the communication that goes on within our little corner of the Internet. Yes, I get agitated at times. But hey – I’m human, just like you. Many of us have different facets to our lives. In my mind, that’s what makes a community grow and evolve.

My keynote will be live-streamed. Keep an eye on my Facebook page and my Twitter stream this week. I’ll let you know when the live stream is going and whenever (and wherever!) my keynote may appear.


You're Invited to the Gnomedex Conference

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Most tech conferences would charge you thousands of dollars for the privilege of being inspired. Gnomedex, however, does not! It delivers more bang for your buck, as it has been for the past ten years. This year, the 10th Gnomedex will be happening from August 19 – 21 in Seattle. Will you be joining us?

We don’t know what is going to happen with the Gnomedex brand going forward. We have a lot of ideas, though. I’ve been talking with potential partners, and am looking for potential partners who may want to help evolve the idea of Gnomedex in years to come… not just in Seattle, but possibly elsewhere, as well.

Gnomedex is a confluence of influence – a tapestry of Human Circuitry. We’re surrounded by technology, but it’s becoming increasingly pervasive. We’re surrounded by stories and discussions that usually get glossed over online. Gnomedex is an experience. That is what past attendees will tell you.

We attract hard-core Geeks who love technology and want to meet influencers. We attract influencers themselves. Heck, we even attract the people who don’t realize they’re influencers. We find them before they are influencers of anything – or anyone.

We Geek out over a few days’ time and enjoy ourselves. We relax and open our minds to new experiences, stories and connections.

One of our partners for the past several years has been Eventbrite. They handle registration for us, and have been a boatload of help during past events. This year, they are offering to help drive more traffic towards the conference, in honor of our tenth anniversary. They asked me a series of questions to help them get a better feel for what we do, and I decided to answer them in a video.

  • What IS Gnomedex? – It’s typically a “tech conference,” but really it’s so much more than that. It’s an opportunity for you to explore a side of yourself you may not otherwise have a chance to. You realize you identify with this Geek spirit. Imagine being around more than 300 other people, and being who you really are. You’ll talk about issues that are on the forefront of our industry. We push the envelope, and even predict trends. Back in 2001, we talked of blogs and RSS – long before anyone knew what they were. It boils down to the experiences people have and the energies they take with them back to wherever they came from.
  • How has Gnomedex evolved in the past ten years? – The ethos was still the same in the beginning: treat everyone like a VIP, connect with one another and offer a single-track event. It has evolved to better facilitate the communication online. We’re live streaming the entire conference. We have a much better venue than in past years. You get an awful lot of awesome things for the low cost of $300.00 that we are charging this year. For a 2 1/2 day conference packed full of opportunities, that’s not a lot of money folks.
  • What sets Gnomedex apart from other events? – People come to Gnomedex because they truly WANT to be there. They aren’t made to go. With a lot of industry events, people are sent by their bosses and managers. They feel that they “have” to have a presence there. With our conference, we just don’t get that crowd. Everyone attends because they truly want to experience what it is we’re doing.
  • How do you think the structure of the event serves your goals? That’s something organizers often struggle with. – I’ve seen organizers have seventeen different tracks with thousands of people pouring in. I’m not down with that. I’d rather make 300 people happy than 3000 miserable. In the past, we’ve had people equate what we do with very large conferences and brands, saying that we have done the same thing for a fraction of the cost. I value those connections. I AM about those connections, so that is what I value most. I keep it as small and manageable as I can. That’s centric to community, which is the core component of everything I do.
  • How did you choose and secure the venue? How will the space be set up? – I’m in the process of negotiating the venue for this year. We’ve used it for the past few years. I have no desire to change things, but we’re working out the cost this year. Bell Harbor is an amazing place, and very comfortable. It’s beautiful there, the location is fantastic and everyone leaves happy. They provide awesome food, snacks and drinks all day long. The seating is comfy. There is plenty of room at the tables. Each person has power strips right at their seat and kick-ass Wi-Fi to use.
  • What is your approach to using social media for the event – before, during and after? – I’ve been using various social media outlets for Gnomedex pretty much since the beginning. Our attendees own and create the event. All we do is set the stage. I encourage people to record things, tweet about things and blog about their experiences. It’s always worked out well. Before the event, our volunteers help spread the word as much as anyone. They are excited to be a part of organizing the event and they show it in their conversations online.

I’d love to do other types of events around the Gnomedex brand. It would be amazing to do one for kids and teens, with speakers and presentations geared specifically towards them. This may very well be the last Gnomedex as you know it now – it depends on the partners we get in the future, and the direction they want to take.

If you want a free event, attend a free event. If you want to be treated like cattle, don’t bother to attend Gnomedex. EVERYONE at Gnomedex is treated like a VIP, whether they are a volunteer, an attendee or a presenter.

We have some amazing speakers and experiences lined up already this year. I promise… you will have an amazing time if you join us this year.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

I Can Haz Cheezburger

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

I recently attended the WTIA Fast Pitch Forum & Technology Showcase. The conference featured two dozen of the of the hottest technology companies in Washington presenting their business in a competition for “Best In Show”. I Can Haz Cheezburger is well-known online for their hilarious LOLCat pictures.

Pet Holdings, Inc. is the parent company of the I Can Haz Cheezburger website. Creating a Lolcat is simple. Upload a picture, add a caption and share it with the World. There are now tons of options for registered users. You can even re-caption the photos others have submitted!

Lolcats served up 2TB of data in just two weeks. You read that right… two Terrabytes!! When Pet Holdings took over the Lolcats industry, they knew nothing about memes, nor funny cat pictures. They went back to the basics and did what worked. Obviously it worked well, since they’re still in business – and still growing like crazy!

If you haven’t ever visited the Lolcats site, you have no idea what you’re missing. I dare you to go there, and NOT smile.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Gnomedex: Getting Geeky with It

I guess Gnomedex is all about the geeks – and registration is now (officially, seriously this time) open for 8.0 this August. You can go directly to the order form or… wait a while before making a decision.

But we’re the kind of geeks who love to socialize (which is good, considering this is a conference that will be held well outside our own homes). I took feedback from my most vocal supporters and they pretty much told me that… all they want is “more tech.” So, if it doesn’t have anything to do with tech – it’s not allowed on stage. The geekier, the better. The shorter the presentation (is there a “too short?”), the better. The less echo chambery, the better. I think I’ve got the message. 🙂

We don’t just talk about doing – we talk to the “do”ers, and help those who want to “do,” too. So, as the schedule is concerned, I hope to fill it with scientists, bleeding edge thought leaders, and people who use technology to connect to the human spirit. I guess this makes the themes, in general:

  • An intersection between technology and community
  • Technology that transforms and extends the human experience
  • Social Media stories that inspire and empower
  • Conversations that become the stage: the backchannel is the frontchannel
  • The Science and Mathematics of our Real Lives

Do any of these resonate? I mean, they make sense to *ME* and how I’d like to build a schedule around. Are they “geeky” enough? I guess I define “geek” as anybody who is passionate about one thing or another, but in this case… we’re passionate about tech to the n’th degree.

Deconstructing the Gnomedex Conversation

I’ve been staying out of most post-Gnomedex discussions (and fights) intentionally. People seem to have already made up their minds about the event, one way or another. One thing’s for sure: people certainly are passionate about their personal and professional perspectives!

I decided to wait for emotion to subside before saying anything more about the conference and controversies surrounding it. I really didn’t want to shoot from the hip and say something that I may have regretted at a later date.

There seem to be two “factions” of Gnomedex attendees, but this wouldn’t be the first year such a schism existed. That we’re even open to supporting both sides speaks directly to our diplomatic tendencies. We took risks this year – bold, BOLD risks. Feedback has been largely constructive, if not somewhat impatient (unavoidable, realistic).

Problem is: you’re all right (and yes, you must accept that as a possibility). Some people got a lot out of Gnomedex, while others did not.

I do believe, however, that some people seem to have forgotten that everyone has biases and agendas – fact of life. We’re all biased, but the way we choose to deal with those biases (and other people’s biases) ultimately defines our characters… or lack thereof.

Robert Steele… what can I say? There’s someone who has strong opinions about stuff – who offends without realizing he’s offending. Someone who has radical ideas about how things should be done (and isn’t afraid to share those ideas with anybody who would listen). Someone who may dismiss a contrary thought or assertion outright. Someone who comes across as very intense. Someone who carries with him a few good ideas if you can look past any kind of personality or political differences.

My direction to Robert, in the weeks leading up to the event:

There are quite a few points that resonate with me, specifically where technology and shared ideas intersect with “the world.” Your charts are most helpful In this particular presentation – but I wonder if it may be a bit too much to throw at everyone?

World’s most pissed off end-user: YES! When you speak about Open APIs, you are speaking to us (to a great degree). When you speak about Open Spectrum, you are speaking to us (especially in light of Google’s most recent maneuver with the FCC). It’s good to see the High-Level Threats, “Our Advantage” slides, Vital Policy Domains, etc.

I’d also point out your Amazon reviews standing in the very beginning -which further reinforces your wealthy knowledge base and depth of research applied to come to these conclusions. I’m sure people will challenge your belief that Amazon should be the hub, which is a good point of discussion.

There’s so much to consume on many of the slides that your actual messages may be lost in the process – and I don’t want that to happen because what you’re presenting is SO VERY IMPORTANT.

I would SERIOUSLY advise against bringing up potentially divisive issues on-stage… if you bring up Cheney / Iran / Iraq at all, you’ll have defeated your mission and turned off the audience (which may be largely liberal, but politics is typically an emotional, personal – not logical – topic of discussion). In the time given, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to avoid. It’s a very touchy subject right now, and serves to divide and destroy the good will you have the potential to build here.

I just want to focus your message on the key sectors and success strategies without people dismissing your ideas because they may disagree with your political perspectives. It was the one thing that almost tore the community apart last year, and that was good for nobody. 🙂

This wasn’t the first time we took risks with putting someone “controversial” on stage, however. It’s happened at every single Gnomedex over the years, long before the blogosphere was a part of my own life. We’re surrounded by controversy every day – and some of us actually believe that the only worthwhile controversy to discuss is this social network vs that one (day in and day out).

Technology transcends everything.


Overall, Gnomedex is the best tech conference I’ve attended. The topics presented were varied and compelling in keeping Chris Pirillo’s philosophy of making “technology ancillary to its role in our daily lives”. I got a lot of new ideas, met smart, interesting people and I was pleased to see more grey heads than I expected.


Even among the digital leading edge who attend Gnomedex, being as wide open about cancer diagnosis and treatment online, as I have been, is still a bit unusual, but I hope that my appearance there encourages people not only to use the Internet as a way to get information and support, but also to get themselves checked out for the various diseases they might be at risk for, so that they can maybe get treated early and not have to go through all the crap I have.


In every large group there is the one person that seems to know everyone. I have found an easy way to identify the likely candidate is look for the one person furiously taking pictures who isn’t necessarily part of the event staff. In the affiliate industry that person is Deb Carney. For Gnomedex it’s Renee Blodgett who was kind enough to introduce me to some great people including Marc Orchant who organized a wonderful evening at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley where we caught the Charlie Hunter trio. Chris Pirillo definitely made a convert out of me. After all how can you say “no” to a host who is constantly placing a shoe on his head? Plus he know my weakness for coconut shrimp.


The real-time commentary and analysis was dramatically different from the often anonymous and frequently trollish commentary on IRC. And many of the people I follow and who follow me on Twitter were engaged in the proceedings in a way I’ve never experienced before. With a UStream live video feed and the Twitter stream, people around the world were “there” in a delightfully “in the moment” way. So whether the moment at hand was the standing ovation given by the audience celebrating Derek’s heroic spirit or the spat that erupted between Calacanis, Dave Winer, and others in the audience about conference spam, there was a meta-dimension of discussion and commentary that was something like watching Bloomberg or CNN.


At Gnomedex, I led a discussion about how the more you put yourself out there online, the more you may be giving up control of your identity. And it’s not just those who choose to live stream their lives twenty-four hours a day who have to think about how much we give up of the ability to define ourselves to others by putting ourselves out there online and if we’re invaded our neighbor’s privacy by blogging about how he gets the paper in the morning wearing just his underwear and who should have access to pictures of our kids.

I really want you to read Dave Winer’s well-structured (and quite fair) critique of Gnomedex 7.0, but allow me to surface just one paragraph from it:

If Gnomedex is to continue, it must get back on track, it must reflect our interests, the audience’s interests. Chris is a great entertainer, and a warm human being, but his vision of the political and economic future is not something I share, or would find interesting to discuss.

This is a very uplifting statement (coming from anybody). Gnomedex, most assuredly, will continue – but I don’t know if “back on track” is the right frame of mind for it. What is the “track” and how do we ever know we’re back on it?

What I’m asking for (directly and indirectly) is help in finding on-stage personalities who aren’t in the echo chamber, who don’t discuss topics that we’ve already beaten to death, and who have either offered or are willing to offer something to the world in general. Problem is, I only get pitched by PR agencies and people who charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars to speak at a conference.

In other words: why does every other tech / blogger conference have to talk about the same things (or see and hear from the same people over and over again)? Some people thought that Gnomedex was already “on track,” so to speak:

Generally the presentations at Gnomedex aren’t about particular products or companies. There are exceptions to be sure (for example, this year the CEO of JibJab gave one of the more interesting talks, which was almost entirely about his company). I don’t have a strongly held point of view on this subject; for my part I just want the presentations to be interesting. If that means talking about your company so be it.

And if you thought Gnomedex was boring, you weren’t paying attention – or you simply weren’t there, or you simply weren’t putting enough thought into what was being discussed, or you simply wanted to sit back and want to digest everything around you, you were checking your RSS feeds or responding to emails or surfing Google, or you simply define “interestingness” differently than others do (par for the course).

Continuous partial attention does NOT work well at conferences.

Discussions about Gnomedex have now become less about the conference itself and more about the people who are (and to a certain degree, have been) influencing the conference’s direction. Tris is at a tipping point, after having discussed it in an audio broadcast. In his comment thread, Scoble drops his two cents:

I really hope that next year’s is much better and that Chris gets back to Gnomedex’s roots. Celebration of technology and putting users at the center. Let’s go back to that and then I’ll be happy again.

Users were still at the center, just at a different kind of center – in the idealistic hopes that value could be derived from a conversation not focused on the latest blog widget. Maybe I’m wrong, and the industry still needs to talk about how FaceBook is taking over the world – in person, as opposed to hashing it out endlessly in our respective blogs. You were having a complete conversation in your own head before blurting out that ValleyWag published an inaccuracy about you – mere seconds after I closed the laptop with Derek. Your brain couldn’t have been further from the room, Robert. I love you, but Ethan nailed it:

We came close. Really close to something amazing. Darren and Derek approached that dark area that no one wants to enter. The area that makes us question our motives and understanding of our world THROUGH technology rather than using technology as a means to validate our own insecurities with unneeded self-import. RSS feeds will not feed a person for a year. The power of what is decentralized communication could bring just might, but we don’t look at that. Gnomedex showed that we’re all so caught up in being clever, irreverent, ironic and competitive (myself included) that we forget the real power granted through every glowing screen in the room.

Ethan then completes the thought: “If that was turned outward, think of where we’d be.”

My next question is: how do we get there, together? How can the next Gnomedex conference effectively funnel our collective knowledge and apply it to the world around us in a positive way? Does that come in the form of an official third-day, with small groups hitting the streets and re-convening at day’s end to share their experiences?

I’m not so sure my part of the blogosphere is ready for that level of reality yet. We place too much value on the outburst – a problem further complicated, exacerbated, and supported by a mob mentality. It’s okay to challenge the status quo, but not at every cost. Sometimes we need to step back and think about how our strong opinions can hurt someone instead of helping them. This problem has 254 shades of grey. Before even hitting the stage, Cali and Neal were nervous – especially after witnessing how “the crowd” ate one of their own on Friday.

I think one of the more disappointing posts I’ve read about this year’s conference came from Neal himself – on Blogger Elitism:

We spoke at Gnomedex 7.0. One guy said he walked out on our speech because he thought Cali was pretending to be interested in tech so she could get a cushy job working at home. That guy is an idiot. The sixteen+ hours Cali works a day on building the Geek Brief brand is nothing related to cushiness. Anyone who thinks someone can pretend an interest in tech and be successful is a dork because tech is boring if you don’t love it.

*sigh* I’m sorry, Neal – I really am. Sometimes those of us who have been doing it for years often forget that people have to start somewhere – and that everybody takes a different path to find success. Your story is still very much endearing to me – and I already know that it’s inspired others. Jason of Techraver:

The following day, Cali Lewis and her husband Neal spoke about the rise of their video podcast. Even though it wasn’t popular, I enjoyed it. I am a fledgling pod / videocaster so it was fascinating for me to hear their story. Thank you to Cali / Neal and Chris for bringing them on stage.

If I recall correctly, that particular session was threaded with plenty of audience laughter (which, I believe, was quite endearing and generally supportive). Presentation style aside, this is what RSS and podcasting and blogging and… technology can do for people. It’s liberating, but not necessarily in the ways we intend it to be.

And the people who don’t understand this are the ones who need to understand it most of all.

Now, before I bring this collection of thoughts to a close, let me state that I’m avoiding the entire Mahalo “controversy” at the moment because there’s more to the story than most people will ever know or understand. If I said anything about it, either way, I’d have to provide a complete historical perspective that would likely make a seriously weird situation even more weird. Too many personal and professional lines would have to be crossed – something I’m really not willing to do.

The Initial Gnomedex Decompression

I’m only beginning to sift through the Gnomedex information inside and outside of my own communication spheres – and it’s beyond overwhelming. Feedback has been quite constructive, and I was definitely sensing an increasing amount of disparate frustration with random elements across our conference’s universe. It boils down to both Ponzi and myself doing our best to cater to 375 special interest groups – which is both our blessing and our ongoing challenge. Is Gnomedex really a “conference” anymore?

We have attendees that range from 17 to 67, male and female (still largely male, but the M2F ratio was much better this year), entrepreneur to developer to enthusiast to marketer to influencer to…? With so many perspectives and ideas situated in the same space, how is it possible to make sense of what happens anywhere and everywhere during any kind of official gathering?

Any given on-stage session may have been equally panned and praised by the same audience – while the next session was overwhelmingly accepted. This reality was likely a “meatspace mirror” of our generally-accepted, unfiltered presence in the blogosphere itself. Some people loathed the open discussion format of Gnomedex 6.0, vowing never to return… so we skewed traditional for Gnomedex 7.0, and new Gnomedexers wished we had more of an open discussion format.

Are you seeing our challenge yet? 🙂

Gnomedex is just about as close to a un-virtual blogosphere as I’ve ever seen it.

I believe the functionality of Twitter at Gnomedex had an overwhelmingly negative impact, both on-site and after the event. It provided an immediate emotional outlet for people who – in some cases – shot first and asked questions later. That’s the nature of “the beast.” Whereas some Gnomedexers took notes “offline” with a plan to review them long after emotion has passed, countless others were equally compelled to share their thoughts immediately (with absolutely no self-editing or time for further introspection some of these subjects quite possibly deserved).

I have previously stated my position on, and partial disdain for, the much ballyhooed “echo chamber” – which is largely why I steered clear from officially giving certain personalities the stage. These people are omnipresent, and would likely shape the (regardless). I love having everybody there – so that’s not the purported issue.

Some people loved Cali and Neil, despite their genuine nervousness (which was likely exacerbated after seeing just how “raw” the Gnomedex audience could be). The story, itself, was uplifting to those people who aspired to one day quit their day job and find fame and fortune online somehow – and it was also an interesting juxtaposition of roles, with Neil having a lot more personality than I believed currently perceived by their regular audience. Unfortunately, I was sensing a lot of “I could do this presentation better than them” reactions – which is a challenge when delivering content to any group of top-notch bloggers, most of whom COULD do that presentation blindfolded.

Darren Barefoot’s “Stacies” session was more grounded in practical examples of how we can deal with an ever-transforming global (and virtual) economic infrastructure, while Michael Linton’s presentation on Open Money was a bit less concrete. Both had roots in technology and community, but it seems that a large part of the Gnomedex audience wanted less high-level assertions. Asking Michael to sum up his studies and experience in :45 was an impossible task, and asking him to (likewise) summarize the concept in a simple sentence or two is tantamount to a developer trying to put a finer point on the complexities of any scripting language. “Sound bytes” do not do justice to incredible concepts – and in an age where microblogging is the norm, extended critical thinking often takes a backseat to incomplete satiation.

Allow me to draw corollaries from 2001 and 2003?

At the first Gnomedex conference, I remember watching Scoble stand on stage and tell everyone about this magical new thing called “blogging.” Nobody understood it, and nobody knew what it could do for them or the world around them. Two years later, I was ranting and raving about RSS – and a few people thought I was absolutely nuts, predicting radical publishing trends and leading people to learn more about something there was virtually no documentation on.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the message is lost with the messenger(s).

Sometimes, you’re two steps ahead of the curve – a “crackpot” sentiment echoed in the Gnomedex captone presentation (which, sadly, lacked actual prototypes as potentially promised by the presenter). Dave Winer with OPML, Tantek Celik with Microformats, the list goes on and on. Now, I’m not saying that we’re all crackpots – but what do you think people outside the echo chamber think of our petty squabbles and discussions? These “outsiders” are the same people who were intimidated by strong voices at last year’s Gnomedex – and likely the same people who watched the on-site emotion unfold this year from afar (thanks to the live stream, Twitter, blogs, etc.).

How does one attract the blogosphere’s thought leaders without hammering through the topics that are (quite frankly) already yesterday’s news – or completely irrelevant to people who don’t live and die by whatever is on TechMeme or its vertical equivalent? How does one equally attract those who are striving to become thought leaders, or those who love following those thought leaders?

I think we could be on the cusp of transforming the annual Gnomedex event into something with broader-reaching (and local) applications throughout the year. That may mean adding a dedicated person as an event / logistics coordinator, setting the agenda to be half as dense, and extending the “conference” another day to bring our energy outside the conference center. It also means establishing an ongoing sponsorship model with the brand, a point upon which I will expand in a not-too-distant future entry.

Every Gnomedexer peer review has been valid and constructed with clean conscience, as far as I can tell. Of course, tracking the volume of feedback has been extremely difficult for me to do (even with all these “great” tools at my disposal). I need an open, human-edited assembly of links – aided by people with enough passion and perseverance to be as complete as possible.

My thoughts on these matters are far from finished, but I can tell you that Gnomedex (once again) transformed my personal and professional perspectives in a positive way. Like many other Gnomedexers, I’m feeling re-energized with the event in recent memory. This is the enigma of our collective experience – so much intelligence, so many opinions, so many ideas, so many backgrounds. How can one leave this event not feeling drained?

And how can one effectively continue to remove the draining elements from an event which still continues to provide introspection and professional growth to its most active participants?

You always get out of it whatever you put into it – seldom more, seldom less.

What Does Gnomedex Mean?

Christopher “The Name Inspector” Johnson did an accurate gnomenclature of our conference brand today

To understand this name, you first need to know (if you don’t already) that the conference is run by Lockergnome, the brand under which net entrepreneur Chris Pirillo and his associates do all their stuff. That’s where the Gnome- part comes from. The -dex part, of course, is a reference to COMDEX, a big computer trade show that took place every year between 1979 and 2003. COMDEX got too big and then hurt feelings in the media world in 1999 when it made its press admission criteria overly exclusive, and has never recovered from the resulting backlash. It’s currently in a state of limbo.


The name Gnomedex can be thought of as a blend of Lockergnome + COMDEX. Because Gnomedex does not, unfortunately, mean ‘Gnome Dealers’ Exposition’, the ending -dex in this name has lost its acronymical (yes, that’s a completely made-up word) function and is only used to set up an analogy to COMDEX.

Damn, this guy is good. I gotta find out if we can get permission to use his full description on the official Gnomedex Web site (which may be managed through one of those event Web site builders next time, as I have all of ’em vying for our attention as of late).

Gnomedex makes that allusion both to show that it’s the name of a conference and to distinguish that conference from the fallen trade show. Gnomedex is what COMDEX was not: small, a bit loosely organized, and focused on attendees and not at all on vendors. It’s a bold and interesting naming strategy, evoking something negative in order to distinguish yourself from it. We also see this strategy in the name YouTube, which plays on the derogatory term boob tube to distinguish itself from ordinary TV. The strategy might be summed up as, “This is in the same category as X, but it’s in a class by itself”. And Gnomedex is indeed–it’s a strong brand in the technology world. Lots of people, The Name Inspector included, think of it as one of the most interesting tech conferences around.

Okay, now I really want him to edit the Wikipedia page for Gnomedex (and would someone please replace that god-awful photo of me while they’re at it?). I’ve only quoted parts of his entire piece, but it’s well worth a read if you’ve always been curious about what it is we do. Thanks, Christopher!

Gnomedex is Happening

I’m not sure who started the rumor, but it’s only gotten stronger over the past few months – and I’m not sure why it was started, who started it, or how it may have damaged the perception of our effort in Seattle. I do believe that the vicious rumor started somewhere in Silicon Valley.

No matter, I’m here to report that (again) Gnomedex is happening. We’re almost sold out – and that’s all that really counts. True, it’s been a challenge to find sponsors who could help cover every one of our costs – but that’s not going to keep us from setting the stage for the seventh year in a row.

Methinks other brands are jealous of the competition (although I don’t see why, as I’ve always supported every other integrity-driven conference out there). Ponzi and I pour as much as we can of ourselves into the event every time, and this year is no different. We are not a professional conference company – and I believe that’s what our audience values.

Gnomedex aims to be a tech zeitgeist – where today’s ideas and thinkers come together – although the direction of our conference may change in the following years. The conference industry certainly has affronted us several challenges, since we refuse to play the games that other conferences do. Gnomedex is still largely a labour of love (though also a small part of our business model).

But whoever started the rumor, you likely hurt us in immeasurable ways. I don’t hold that against you however, as we will still fill every one of those seats. And please, if you’re spreading the rumor that Gnomedex isn’t happening, you’re wrong. It is happening. And despite this rumor likely starting in California, it should be noted that a majority of this year’s attendees are still coming from the Bay area.

There Are Gnomedex Tickets Still Available!

Register now, while you still can. We haven’t done it yet, but we’ll likely sell out the Gnomedex conference for the third year in a row. Yes, there’s still time to register if you haven’t done so already. Again, we still have seats in the main hall available. I’m repeating myself on purpose. Anybody can register. You can register. Your spouse can register. Your friends can register.

Gnomedex is NOT an exclusive event – it’s a widely inclusive event. This year, we’re setting a relatively solid cut-off point on tickets, however. In year’s past, we’ve opened an overflow room for last-minute registrations. This year, that won’t be happening. When we sell out Gnomedex, we’ll be sold out with no exceptions.

No overflow rooms this year. Get in before someone else takes your seat.

Under the Radar Tech Conference

On June 28, 2007, at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, CA – I’m streaming “Under the Radar” live! There are a few presenting companies, and I’m hoping to catch a moment or two with them all on-cam with our community:

Okay, here’s a list of the Graduate Circle companies – and, to the immediate right of this paragraph, a nice little graphic link that will save you $100 on registration for the conference (if you click it and sign up before too long)!

Here come the judges:

I sat on the selection committee with these other folks:

You gonna be Under the Radar, too? I must disclaim that Ustream was already on Under the Radar’s radar before I even started using it, so… just so you know, nobody’s playing favorites around here.