words and pictures by Brian Solis

The bloggers conference started with some roses, a sense of style and a really BIG bang to tap us into the tech conversation. It also unintentionally became the first conference showcasing the iPhone as the must have accessory for geeks.

With all of the looming deadlines and deliverables on my plate, and knowing that I would have a long weekend of work, there was no place I would have rather been.

The people and the discussions at Gnomedex are unlike any other conference. In combines the intimacy of an unconference with useful education that translates into insight and friendship – information and relationships that can truly help you after the event.

Event organizer, Chris Pirillo kicked things off, with a stylish new look as well.

Robert Steele was more effective than a pot of coffee and woke up the blogosphere in and around the event – thanks to twitter.

Many of the attending bloggers were left scratching their heads as to why Steele was invited to keynote Gnomedex, and twitter blew up like phones lines on Christmas day.

In fact, Twitter was pretty much on fire all day long. I twittered that Gnomedex was the new SxSW (South Paw) on twitter because it is the only other time that the blogosphere was in the same place at the same time and twitter was connection between everyone.

Marc Canter engaged Steele in conversation.

Scott Beale of Laughing Squid out shot any photographer present.

A different look at Chris Pirillo. He’s much taller here ;)

Josh Hallet hard at work snapping pictures commando style.

This image is courtesy of Josh Hallet. I was sharing something with Robert Scoble, who was my neighbor all day long.

Dave Coustan tapping away on his iPhone. Notice that his notebook has some available real estate for a bub.blicio.us sticker!

In between sessions, attendees would enjoy an unlimited assortment of high end treats, beverage and tech demos.

Daryn Nakhuda of eyejot had this likeness of Pirillo created so guests could record video voicemails to discuss their thoughts about the event. I really like this company and I believe that with some customization capabilities, they could have a new kind of communications tool.

The room.

Darren Barefoot’s speech was engaging, humorous, and highly entertaining. The ideas for it are here. In a sense, he says, leave a legacy.

Also make sure you check out Darren’s post on what Gnomedexers are really doing while they sit in the audience.

By far the highlight of day one, Guy Kawasaki shared his insights on the art of evangelism and the spirit of entrepreneurialism.

At one point, I checked in on twitter, and noticed that it was surprisingly quiet. I jumped on and asked, “Is the conference access down or is Kawasaki that engaging?” I knew what the answer would be, but I just needed to see someone else acknowledge it. Within in a minute, Francine Hardaway replied, “It’s that compelling.”

His presentation was simply unbelievable and inspiring. I have every slide on my flickr page – and on the last slide, there’s an email address to request a soft copy. Actually, I saved you a step. Here it is.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you really must find a way to watch this. Check the ustream archives for Gnomedex. It will inspire you to do great things.

Gnomedex lunch.

Jason Fields of Snap, Justin Kan of Justin.tv and Ben Metcalfe were among the cool kids socializing during lunch hour.

Rock n roll! Deb Schultz, Guy Kawasaki and me sharing good times. Actually, I needed to thank him for speaking at the recent Silicon Valley Newtech and also, to geek out and tell him that he rocked his presentation.

b5 was in full force.

Bad Sinatra live. Steve Gillmor, Dana Gardner, Dan Farber, and a few others I couldn’t identify. Although Steve closed it with a reference to Gillmor gang, which I think was a slip.

Justin Kan, a Seattle native currently living in San Francisco, pulled an “unplugged” style discussion by grabbing a chair, sitting down, and sharing the story behind Justin.tv. It an amusing and enjoyable experience as he invited us to ask questions along the way.

And in a funny and surprise move, Justin announced to the audience that since he’s a startup, he wanted to try a little experiment to earn a little income to go towards “rent.”

Kan was wearing a baseball cap, which featured a huge white billboard-like space on the front. What better way to wrap up a presentation than to auction of that space!

Justin offered to write the name of a company/brand on the hat and would wear it for at least a week. Bidding opened up at $1.

The funny thing is that the audience wasn’t sure how to react, so the first bid actually took a bit. Just as I was ready to help him out by raising my hand, the first, second, third, and fourth bids rolled in with the blink of an eye. Within a minute, bidding had reached $100 and before the auction would finally close, Jeremy Wright of b5 media yelled out $750 and that was all she wrote. Congrats Jeremy.

Pirillo also hosts his own live show, except he uses the ustream.tv platform. Whereas Justin’s network and the people show share channels on it are live mostly 24/7, ustream.tv is focused on episodic live tv. Gnomedex was livecast on ustream and before Justin left the stage, Pirillo surprisingly switched the stage screen to that feed.

Even though the ustream and justin.tv networks are radically different in terms of appeal and functionality, dedicated viewers usually choose one or the other in which to support.

Either way, Pirillo jumped on stage to thank Justin, and as he did so, the ustream chat room frantically started calling for Pirillo to put his shoe on his head. Pirillo happily obliged.

The overflow room…still $500 per ticket.

Jason Calacanis wrapped things up on day one, and if you’re going to start with a bang, you might as well end with one. The outspoken pundit and seasoned startup veteran jumped right in claiming that the Internet is in an environmental crisis, polluted by selfish promoters and spammers.

I’m not sure if we all really believed that this would be an unselfish presentation about what we need to do to attack a very real problem on the Web, I think we all kind of knew this would spin into Calacanis’ new project, Mahalo – and we were OK with that.

I can’t remember at what point it happened, but out of nowhere, Dave Winer yelled frrom the back row, “Jason. What you’re doing right now is conference spam!”

Oh man.

It actually went on for a very uncomfortable couple of minutes.

Jason regrouped like a pro, the audience called for him to continue, and he did so – albeit a bit shaken.

In all honesty, Pirillo invited Calacanis to talk about what he was working on. And for the most part, had it been simply a shameless plug for Mahalo, I probably would have tuned in and out.

But at the end of the day, getting “Winered” was the best thing that could have happened to Calacanis. It made the session a highlight of the day. It made people pay attention. And the bonus is that the conversation would get significant air time following the event.

And indeed within hours while Calacanis was on stage, Winer took the first shot. In his post he wrote, “When someone gets up and gives a speech about a platform, my mind gets engaged about ways I can have fun or make money. There’s none of that with Mahalo. It’s about Jason and his investors making money. Why should I care about that?”

Winer continued, “Calanis is ranting about marketers are intruding on the Internet. But explain to me how what he’s doing is not an ad. Bold hypocrisy. He’s spamming us right now. What a joke.”

Calacanis responded, “Dozens of folks came up to me last night and say that they felt it was a great presentation and they did not agree with Dave’s back row attack. Most said they really admire what we’re doing with Mahalo and they found my answers in the Q&A session really compelling and honest (some said it was a highlight of the event).”

In an interesting turn of events, Winer commented over at WinExtra, “…I regret saying anything. It was the only time I spoke at the conference, and I had planned on not speaking at all, at least partially because every time I do, it becomes controversial like this has.

I think that was a very fair comment.

The entire discussion almost made me forget that during his presentation, Calacanis called Nick Denton a F*cking liar not once, but TWICE!

The conversation continues:

Stowe Boyd

Todd “Sawickipedia”

Robert Seidman

Dave Winer

In a touching moment, Chris and Ponzi Pirillo surprised Robert Scoble with a “man” baby shower.

Pirillo wheeled out the gifts.

Scoble watches a presentation of pictures from Maryam’s baby show.

What a day!

More pictures on my album on flickr.

Gnomedex Pre-party pictures here.

Connect on Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce or Facebook.

About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Visit Brian's page at http://www.briansolis.com

Discussion

    no imageDave Winer (Who am I?)12 August 2007 9:57 am

    i blogged those comments while he was speaking.

    about a dozen other people, including chris pirillo took issue with calcansis’s pitch.

    i shouldn’t have said anything, never get a fair shake from this crowd.

    for what it’s worth a lot of people said that his product isn’t going to work and that what he’s doing now is trying to change the subject.

    here’s his chance to talk about mahalo. ever wonder why he wants to talk about me?

    funny way for a ceo to proceed.

    from a rest stop on i-5 in oregon.

    Rate this:
    3.5
    no imagewilliam smith (Who am I?)12 August 2007 6:17 pm

    I liked your write up of Gnomedex, but as an attendee myself I have to say I think your representation of the Winer / Calacanis banter is a little midguided.

    The crowd there was NOT in Jason’s corner, didn’t beckon him to continue talking and in fact DID tune out what he was saying, only to go to chris.pirillo.live chat to complain about his sales spam.

    Mahalo is an old idea that has already failed: Ask Yahoo. Calacanis seems incapable of an original idea (see his work with Netscape and how it copied Digg).

    I hate to say it, but despite the links on calacanis’s site taking his side, there weren’t many people there who thought Jason was worthy of presenting at GD.

    Rate this:
    3.2