HighEdWeb 2009 just wrapped up as a resounding (overall) success. It’s to my increasing satisfaction that this conference gets better and better every year. We’re setting the bar for mix of content and social interaction that, from what I’ve seen and heard from attendees, isn’t really matched anywhere else. The winning mix of great presentations, incredible attendees, and insanely devoted conference organizers make this a must-attend event for me every year…so much so that I actually cornered my University president at an event in his home during budget discussions last spring to pitch why it’s important that I be allowed and funded to attend.
This conference has such a devoted following that even in these unfortunate economic times we had considerable interaction from those who were unable to attend. We always have a bit of non-attendee backchannel traffic, but this year saw the creation of #fakeheweb09 backchannel and Ning site for our fiscally strapped brethren. Their interaction was significant and contributed greatly to the overall success of the conference. Your presence was felt my friends, and you were missed.
hella drop shadow
Just in case there’s anyone out there who has not by now heard of our Tuesday keynote issues, you can read about it on this blog, and this one, and this one…and then this one and this one too. (Just a note, I’ve read the non-heweb community blogs, but am holding off on the ones @fienen, @KarlynM, and @nickdenardis wrote until after I publish. I might have to append notes on those later.) I’m not going to rehash the train wreck. What I am going to do is speak to those who were not in attendance and chose to publicly assume we’re a bunch of disrespectful assholes.
Let me tell you a thing or two about #heweb09 attendees. They are, almost without exception, overworked, underpaid, understaffed, and under-appreciated public servants. These are some of the most brilliant minds in their specialty areas who give non-stop to the web community in the form of infinite sharing, finding solutions to intricate problems, extensive blog posts, and technical and moral support to each other. They give of themselves to their universities and their peers in a way that is simply unparalleled in my experience. Many of them paid their own way to be at this conference for all the reasons I’ve already covered. When the melt-down started, the community response was stunned silence, incredulity, and not a small amount of snark.
wtf and omfg
Monday at the lunch break mypersonal HP Mini was lifted from one of the session rooms. To my knowledge nothing like this has ever happened before at one of our conferences. Everyone in attendance has their own equipment, whether personal or uni owned, and if any one of us *were* going to steal a machine, it’s highly unlikely that it’d be a frickin MINI when there are prized Macs laying around all over the place. I’ve heard a lot of theories, and I’m just not willing to believe it was an attendee.
The response of this overworked, underpaid, overstressed group of “disrespectful assholes”? In addition to the amazing warmth, sympathy, and offers to do a #heweb09 style beatdown on whoever stole my netbook, they (led by the unstoppable @mherzber) started a Facebook Causes fund and pushed the #shelleyfund agenda on Twitter to help me get a new machine. The community rallied around me in a way unlike anything I’d ever been party to. The hugs, donations, and genuinely lovely sentiment still bring tears to my eyes. The result of the netbook fiasco of ’09, I got a new machine in time for our final lunch together…blubbering like a baby on stage. You people humble me, and I’ll never forget this conference and your incredible generosity (I’m talking to you @tonydunn).
In yet another tale of the outpouring of support for one of our own, attendee extraordinaire @Robin2go had her own serious issue when her hard drive corrupted containing the only available copy of her poster presentation. We found her in tears in the conference office upset about being unable to present something she’d obviously been working very hard on for some time. After a brief discussion as to the nature of her presentation we came up with a plan and kicked it into gear. Her poster, titled “Campfire Tales: Wikis and Wonder for Community Engagement” gave us the inspiration for what turned into a really fantastic (or so I heard, I was unfortunately too busy to actually go see it once it was up) “poster” displayed using a circle of 5 (?) notebooks each running one of the online components of her presentation. There were people running around everywhere hijacking machines and printing signs so she could do what she does best…
No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
It is my honor and privilege to be counted as one of you. My paltry contribution to #heweb is, in my mind, the very least I can do to help give back to a community that, even before the #shelleyfund, has given me so much. I intend to append a list of those who donated to the #shelleyfund as well as build a Skinit to go on the mini (engraving was perhaps a little over enthusiastic since I can’t seem to find anyone who can actually do what I want done). I’ve got a comprehensive list, but since I was a little bloody wasted on Tuesday night and people were throwing money at me like I was Pamela Anderson doing a pole dance for PETA, I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a tweet my way if you gave me cash and aren’t @tonydunn, @tsand or @cmk22.
In a related note, I will be writing an extensive post related to my poster “From All Me to MU” as promised. I’m just not sure it’ll be done before Monday.
Also, everyone please tell @thinkgeek thanks for the APS door prizes. They rocked out with the donation.