Monday, June 02, 2008

Your Mapper - NetSquared Conference Report (Part 2)

The NetSquared Year 3 conference in San Jose was a fantastic blast, and I wanted to share some of my experience with you all.

Ben Peskoe and I left for the conference on Monday afternoon May 27, and arrived in San Jose Monday night. We stayed at the Hilton in Santa Clara which was near the Yahoo campus, and as soon as we checked in and took a look at the view, we were off to the Meet and Greet event.

NetSquared had drink tickets and a small buffet waiting, and we started meeting some of the organizers we'd talked to or heard about, like Jennie Frohmann, Billy Bicket, and Daniel Ben-Horin. We started meeting some of the other project people and participants, like Ask Your Lawmaker, Know More, and Benji from

We retired to the hotel lounge and chatted some more with great folks like Georget Lajtai and Zoli Piroska (two Hungarians from Greener One), Christine Egger and Peter Deitz (from Social Actions), John Kim and Peter Manzo of Map This!, and the Scotsman Thomas Turnbull from My Green Map.

Then next Tuesday morning was the start of the conference, and we met Matthew Saunders from PingVision who was giving a speech on Drupal, and Sean Tanner of on the bus over to the Cisco Conference Center. Ben and I setup, making sure our branding and marketing was clearly visible to all. Our Project Lead, Ted Ko, shows up and helps us get ready, and sets up a 19" LCD that he brought so we could show the site.

Lots of people were intrigued by he story of the community designed logo through the site 99Designs, and thought it meshed well with the community aspects of the Your Mapper concept. We used the logo a lot, and I think everyone was familiar with it by the end of the conference. I'm surprised more projects did not show off their project through t-shirts (from Kopilot), logo, and branding. I think Know More was the only other project with shirts.

So the conference begins, and I think everyone is still writing their 2-minute speech or is just going to wing it. Mine is towards the end and seems to get lots of people over to our table for the Carnival, tradeshow-like event next. Here the three of us talk to a non-stop barrage of people and unfortunately don't have time to talk to everyone that comes by. Some of the people include Rob Miller with the Open Planning Project who is doing some great open map stuff, Tantek Celik who shows me the benefits of hCard, and Andrew Turner and Mikel Maron at mapufacture who are creating tools to load and manage geographic data and who have a neat logo too. To top it off Roselind Newland stops by, who works for TechSoup but is originally from the Louisville KY are and wants to return some day. Chad Dickerson from Yahoo stopped by to talk about his Fire Eagle, and David Collin from the American Cancer Society was interested in our OMG Standard.

After the Carnival and other speeches are over, we break for a terrific lunch outdoors, with Vegetarian and Omnivore lines. Then the three project panel discussions begin, along with other speakers, and will continue until lunch on Wednesday. We watch the first panel discussion, then I head out to a session on "Getting the Most Out of Your Online Community" then to the Hack Room, then the Drupal presentation.

In between sessions Ben and I do an impromptu video interview, which you can watch here:

Scott Dyer finally shows up from Louisville after a flight delay, and he joins the Your Mapper team, ready to shine and show his enthusiasm for the project. Ted heads home, and we go back to the hotel for a night of dinner, drinks and entertainment. The dinner is great, and I finally get to talk with Justin Massa of about the Illinois IDEA initiative and share some of my successes here in Louisville.

At dinner I talk with JD Lasica from Ourmedia, who is very interested in the OMG Standard and writes for the IdeaLab blog on, and knows Steven Clift from whom I talked with a few days ago on the phone. JD later interviews me and records this great little video interview and blog post.

Next I talk with Laura Welcher from the mind-blowing Long Now Foundation and the Rosetta Stone project. We discussed her project, and all things map related, including time-based diachronic maps, and the inherent difficulty of showing lots of overlapping regions on maps.

The final day started on Wednesday with a tale of Scott's 5 am trip into the mountains to watch the sunrise. All four of us donned their Your Mapper tshirts for the day and we headed to the conference. I headed to Benji Burrell's presentation of the website and I have to say it was one of the most impressive presentations and uses of technology at the entire conference. I spent the next session writing my 7 minute panel speech, which began at 11:20am. This setup was much more comfortable to me, and I told a few stories and answered some questions along with two other projects: Rosetta Stone and Social Actions.

We had a quick lunch while I sweated the final 2-minute speech, and decided this time to just write an outline of key points and speak more off the cuff. I think it went pretty well.

The final presentations were next, then the voting block. Every attendee got 3 coins that they could use to vote for any number of the 21 projects. We fielded a few more questions at our Your Mapper table from Allison Bradley at SoulMilk and Meagan Hessel at the Charter Association and My Schools.

The vote results then came quickly, with first place deservedly going to Ushahidi. After that we wrapped things up, said goodbye to Ted, then headed to the In and Out Burger (those are good burgers) for a celebratory dinner. Scott left us for the airport, Ben and I were back at the hotel, and spent a little time using the hotel amenities. We chatted some more with the attendees, then got ready for our all-day flight back to Louisville.

It was a great conference and I was pleased just to be a part of it, making new connections and learning a lot about this trail-blazing space we are all occupying. Now back to my topophilia.

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