gypsies, tramps, and thieves


I'm on my way back to Seattle right now from San Francisco, where I was speaking at the Syndicate conference (topic: "searching the syndisphere"). It was fun to speak on the topic, which involved channeling my inner librarian in order to champion the role of the user in the search context.

It was even more fun, however, to see some folks whom I only tend to see on the conference circuit, as well as some whose names I know from online contexts but whom I hadn't had a chance to meet in person. (I started to list people by name, but realized that I'd probably leave someone out and offend them, and that it sounded too much like name dropping...)

As I was sitting in the speakers room (the best place to find familiar faces, not to mention power outlets near tables) yesterday morning, two people I didn't know saw each other and exchanged enthusiastic greetings. Apparently they hadn't seen each other since they'd crossed paths at another conference some months ago. One remarked to other that these conferences had become the modern day equivalent of gypsy encampments--same faces, same setup, new town, new audience.

I loved that metaphor, and shared it via IM with my friend and MSN office mate Brady Forrest, who replied with this:

cables hanging from the waist instead of tiny bells

t-shirts instead of colorful blankets

secrets being pilfered instead of food and trinkets

demoers instead of performers

works for me

Works for me, too (although I'd probably substitute Treos for cables in the description). I love the image of a band of folks on the fringes of polite society setting up a show in town after town, gathering to entertain (and, some might claim, con) one population after another.

I'm happy to be a part of this motley crew--they're a modern mobile tribe for me, people with whom I have a strong connection and affinity, but limited opportunities to see in person. So I'm grateful that I can grab time with them in our modern-day encampments of speaker rooms and catered luncheons.


A closed circle. Perhaps?

I wonder about the closed circle thing sometimes. Is it closed? I haven't done enough analysis of speaker lists to know, but it definitely is starting to feel that way.

If it is, is it because the people in the circle shut others out, or is it because other people don't want to be in the circle?

When it comes to presenting at conferences, it's often hard to get new people in the door. Not because you don't want them, but because they often don't have support for travel, or because they have expertise but not a comfort level in presenting.

Solutions, anyone?

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This page contains a single entry published on December 14, 2005 8:02 PM.

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