Eclectic thoughts from the IMA conference

The W Hotel is a nice place to hang for a few days, but they need to provide a flashlight to guests as they check in. The hotel is dark, from hallways to rooms, and I swear it took me five minutes to find the on/off switch on the little coffee maker the first morning.

One of my favorite people, Diane Mermigas, addressed the crowd on Thursday, and it was a joy. Not only is she smart as all get out, but she has this motherly charm about her and used it throughout her speech (she indeed has four children). You can find a detailed summary of her talk here, but the highlight was a simple thought with which I agree: the liability to your company is greater if you do nothing than if you simply get in there and do something. This was a prevailing theme among several speakers, because there’s a sense that public broadcasters recognize we’re in the midst of significant change, but they’re waiting for somebody, anybody to show them what to do. “Just do it,” was the advice of Rafat Ali on a panel examining various new technology platforms.

My session on unbundled media was attended only by about a dozen people. This didn’t surprise me, because I was up against some pretty heavy sessions, although I was surprised that my presentation was labeled “news/elections” while another session got the “cutting edge” tag. It doesn’t matter; I believe that those who needed to hear my presentation were present. And once again, I was stunned by the number of people who read what I write. I don’t think that’ll ever change. Included among them is Dennis Haarsager, whose Technology 360 blog is on my reading list as well.

Of the sessions I attended, my favorite was a presentation by Andrew Blau, who I’m sorry to say I’d never heard of before this conference. The guy is absolutely brilliant and has his arms around the paradigm shift in communications, and I wish you all could’ve been there. Dennis has a brief summary of Andrew’s talk, which includes the following:

1. Pervasive – media will be part of every kind of experience
2. Noisy – more media, everywhere, all the time means more competition for everyone, everywhere, all the time
3. Inverted – the essential dynamic of how audiences connect with work will be inverted from broadcast to “broadcatch”
4. Fragmented -audiences are fragmenting and organizing in new configurations
5. Financially reorganized – how independent work is funded will change
I was on a panel Friday discussing, of all things, the future of news. (Who knows?) A fellow panelist, Chris Lydon of public radio’s Open Source program, thinks the future will be “all bloggers, all the time,” although he did acknowledge a role (albeit lesser) for mainstream media. He’s a smart fellow and a big supporter of the Global Voices project, which brought about a moment of pride for me. “Their slogan,” he said, “is ‘The world is talking; are you listening?” A few minutes later, I had the chance to interject that this slogan was originated with our own Nashville Is Talking project. It is either purely coincidental that the slogan would appear in two places, or somebody picked it up during Blog Nashville last year. Hmm.

I’ve been terribly sick this entire trip, and I’m sure looking forward to getting home to Allie and my own bed. I like to travel, but this has been a long week, and I’ll close with a thought for Southwest Airlines. You guys need a “time out” chamber for toddlers whose temper tantrums can’t be controlled by their parents. Argh!

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