I got bitched at on the Gonzo Lotusphere Page the other day. Turns out that they were following the turns and twists of Lotusphere through me. Me.
When I grew up, my parents had a party line. They had one of those bakelite phones with the steel dial and the celluloid numbers behind the dial. Later, they got a private line, and a seven-digit number. But who was there to call? Our local dialing area was LeRoy, New York and the adjoining Pavilion, New York. Everything else was long distance, and expensive. Calls were short and highly supervised.
That's kind of what my reporting about Lotusphere was like when I started the Totally Unofficial Gonzo Lotusphere Page in 1998. If you weren't there, you didn't hear about what was going on. Back then, when we were on the road, we had spotty coverage on analog cell phones, roaming cost a fortune, we had dialup Earthlink and AOL accounts on 28.8 modems from Pentium I-based laptops with 120-meg hard drives. X.PC was how we talked to our Domino servers at home, or, like me, you carted a Domino server along and ran cables all over your hotel room. Digital cameras were 1.3-megapixel if you had one. Phones and cameras would not merge for five years.
And people read what I wrote in those moderately-early days of the net. I wrote, people read it, they sent me tips, and I published.
Let's get the hell off that, shall we? Please? Don't make me your only oracle into Lotusphere, I ain't up to it and honestly, I haven't been for a couple of years, as I've put my life back together and focused on my wife, my wabbits and cats, my house, and my own strange job adventures.
Look around: there are now hundreds and hundreds of people wanting to tell you about Lotusphere if you're not there, or even if you are. The word "blogger" was invented since I started online journaling. Blogging tools have come and gone, been introduced and developed and matured and got moldy and died and were replaced by others. We went from email to blogging to Twitter to whatever comes after. At this year's Opening General Session, you had your choice of scores of different people to listen to. A cadre of us tried live-blogging the OGS and were stymied by network difficulties and man-eating yellow beanbag chairs. But you had lots of alternatives! Did you tune into them? You should have.
Flickr, YouTube, TwitPic. You could follow, moment-by-moment, everything that took place. It's like being there.
But it isn't.
And you know it. I sure know it. That's why this year, for the first time in fifteen years, I paid for myself to go down there. Sure, IBM covered my registration, and my Sunday night session was hilarious, amazing, and wet. I could not believe that just old me, up on the stage with an old MacBook Pro and some slides and some good friends who came up and told the 400+ members of the audience what to look for and what was cool, was enough to keep people from free beer and food for half an hour, but apparently it was. I wanna thank Libby, Bruce, Matt and Wild Bill for coming up and having a good time with us. Anyone I accidentally hit with a candy bar, I'm sorry. And Kristin, thanks for actually letting me do that session when none of us -- not even me -- knew quite what I was going to do until we did it. I was still working on slides - in Apple Keynote, actually -- until 6:01pm for a 6:15pm start. Somehow, it worked.
I have to back up. Saturday night at ESPN was terrific. I had literally just gotten out of the Volkswagen after driving 920 miles south, run inside the building, registered, ran upstairs and did my tech check for the Sunday session, then dumped THE BACKPACK up at the room, leaving the rest of my stuff in the car, and went straight to ESPN till they finally cleared the place out. Damn, it's good to see everyone. EVERYONE. And believe me, everyone showed up. Congrats to Andrew and Melissa, who'd just gotten engaged that very day. And thanks to everybody who hung out, talked with us, smoked with us, had a beverage with us, and generally set the mood for a spectacular if hazy week.
Sunday night was a grand disappointment for Philadelphia and Baltimore fans. We all stood around on Sunday night trying to remember if a quarterback had ever taken two different teams to the Super Bowl, and nobody could remember when it had happened. Still, the evening was long, and the Steelers and Ravens took it all the way, and Them People What Are From Pittsburgh won. We all hit Kimonos for the remains of the day, and the first of the weeks Mojo Raps went into the books. Thanks for the leftover sushi, by the way, Benton.
I've mentioned Monday. Good god, the network stunk. I looked around and saw people abandoning the wireless in the Dolphin and trying to tether up through their phones. Still, the word got out. There were lots of people's blogs to read... IDoNotes, LotusphereBlog, QTZar, any number of others. Pictures, video, words. A sea of words.
Monday night brought the first of several nights where cloning would have worked really well.
We had a good time at the Showcase reception, complete with patented MicroCheeseburgers! (see Flickr for details) Yet at the same damn time, IBM and Lotus had their Casino Night in Y&B, an event I'd meant to get to but finally gave up. I wasn't about to walk to Y&B, and in fact, never set foot in the building all week. Boardwalk, too. People went, though, and had fun, but I had a good time staying close to home, and wrapped up the early part of the evening playing keyboards and singing at JamFest. Without Red Box Panic, it wasn't quite the same, but we somehow survived. RHS came by and played guitar, Deb did vocals, and through a surplus of fog, we did the last set and headed off to do some real singing at Kimonos. The second Mojo Rap went into the books, but not before a classic performance by the incomparable Matt "White Chocolate" Stratton.
I woke up Tuesday, and it was pretty damn cold out. My show was in the books, so I went out and found sessions I liked, for my own reasons, and there was some terrific stuff out there. XPages, stuff for Mac, Connections, and for those people who made it over to Swan, the really good NerdGirls session in Swan. Lib, I apologize, but I was sitting in the back watching the web video feed off the AP of the ongoing Inauguration festivities, and at some point had to cut out.
Ah, the Inauguration. The biggest event of Lotusphere that Kristen, Ragan, Sandra, Marcy and Holly didn't have to lift a finger for, yet it set the tone for a whole new era at Lotusphere. I went out into the Swan lobby bar area, where there was a television above the bar. There were scores of people watching the television as Joe Biden was sworn in, but rather than watching the television, I watched... the people who were watching. People from all across the globe. Rapt. I can't explain it, but I suddenly felt like this was something I wanted to witness surrounded by Americans. I practically ran to the Dolphin lobby, where over the counter at the lobby bar, they had two televisions with the volume set just low enough that they could be drowned out by the cappuccino machine. I wanted to yell, "HEY, EVERYBODY! SHUT THE FUCK UP, WILLYA? WAIT ANOTHER FIVE FUCKING MINUTES FOR YOUR LATTE OR SOMETHING, AND LOOK UP!!!"
Barack was President at exactly noon, oath or not, but we all waited till after Chief Justice Roberts had muffed his lines and everyone applauded. I looked around for an American to hug, but instead found Francie, a Swiss now living on Anguilla. It didn't matter. I smiled my ass off at all the other people who were smiling their asses off, and we all marveled at the enormous crowds. I went back to the room and changed and showered (sorry, Terri, I must have reeked earlier) and listened to Barack's Inaugural Address.
I should have cloned myself again on Tuesday afternoon and evening, because between parties, dinner invites and late-night chaos, five of me would still have been busy. Perficient's reception was well-stocked with beautiful and intelligent women and terrific smoked salmon, the TeamStudio Spotlight Awards were fun and gratifying, and thanks again to Steve and Jay from GSX... the dinner and cigars at Shula's were excellent. Late in the evening, my Blackberry went off, and Nora was outside at the cab stand needing more money to pay the cab from the airport.
And then she was here. Or, there.
We changed and went, of course, to Kimonos, where the songs went on late into the night, much later than the cheerful karaoke ladies usually go. Incredibly, a vision appeared out of the smoke, and it was... Bob Picciano! He and a couple of execs got up on the stand and called for Sam And Dave's "Soul Man." But within a single chorus, it was transmuted... he was a "Looooooo-tus Man!"
Legends start in a moment.
That boy can sing. Seriously.
Nor did he dash out the door in a cloud of entourage afterward, either. Bob stuck around and hung out with us for a long time, talking with people and witnessing the third of my Mojo Raps, giving me props afterward. No, man, I'm just an old Domino developer with a blown-out voice, but Bob, you rock. Take us into the New Renaissance, man...
Nora was overwhelmed by meeting all the people she'd heard about for a couple of years, and you have to admit, she was at something of a disadvantage. After all, you all only had to learn one new name, but she had to learn at least a hundred. Go easy on her.
Wednesday was something of a lazy day. I went down to the Showcase and talked with a lot of people, went to some sessions, and amazingly came away with the promise of a Wednesday Night Party pass for Nora from my friend John at SalesPlace. Thanks, dude. Declined the opportunity to crash Bob Picciano's 20th-floor awards reception and instead changed and uploaded pictures, and then we all assembled in the Rotunda like in the old days, waiting for the buses.
We. Had. The. Slowest. Fucking. Bus. Driver. On. The. Entire. Planet.
Other Mears buses were blowing past us on I-4. We got to Universal way later than anyone, and it was already cold. But the food was hot and thanks to Twitter, the crowd was close and friendly. Somehow, I ended up as a finalist for Salesforce's Jepe giveaway, but really, the swag bag that all the finalists got was more than enough for us. It included a great bag, a CARS toy, and a radio-controlled Hot Wheels Jeep. Remember, we have cats, so we could foresee hours of fun chasing them around the living room. The Jeep ended up going to a woman from Massachusetts who was in tears when she won. Good job.
Of course, after we got home, we changed, @wabbits got all dolled up again and it was another night at Kimonos, and I got to deliver another Mojo Rap with what little voice I had left. It was a damn late night for me, uploading images, writing, and smoking away in our nonsmoking room. I think I might have finally gotten to sleep at 5:15am. Not atypical for Wednesday night at Lotusphere for me, really.
Thursday. You've already heard about Thursday. The morning sessions. The lively "Harass The Developers" session. The militant uprising -- engineered on Twitter -- of the Mac faithful. And the unexpectedly amazing Closing General Session, and birthday wishes that Eric March will never forget. New phrases entered the Lotusphere lexicon... "beyond the fuckit," "Rule 6" and "downward spiral." How fascinating!! I think half a dozen people I know have since ordered Ben Zander's book. He threw one copy out into the audience. Sure, it weighed less than a 3 Musketeers, but lasts longer. We left there more energized than ever, and those of you who flew out Thursday afternoon will never completely know what you missed.
And then it was over. On our way out of the CGS -- into which I'd sneaked Nora with the aid of an IBM friend -- one of the show crew gave me a truly prized item, a blue Lotusphere 2009 Show Crew polo shirt. I'm wearing it right now.
The Bloggers Miniature Golf Open followed, a cold and hilarious event that saw our team win low-team-average and Gred Eldred take low individual score (you had to be there at the end to win, folks)!
Nora and I went off to dinner after getting all dolled up again, and when we got back to the Dolphin before midnight, there was one more trip to Kimonos yet to be done, and amazingly, there was a good crew of Sphereians yet on hand for the final Mojo Rap. Don't let the mojo get away from you, it's back, and you and you and you can hold onto it.
I traditionally leave the cameras in the room on Thursday night. It's just us. If you were there, you know. If you weren't, I won't poke a hole iin the balloon by taking pictures. It's Lotusphere at its purest, just fine people enjoying each other's company, knowing that soon, we had to go back to our 51-week world. Nora and I went back to that on Friday, the old TDI firing up and hauling all our stuff once more out of the curved drive and onto I-4. Tweets followed us all the way home and continued for days, as leftover Sphereians haunted the beaches, parks and halls at Disney before they made their own ways back to their own 51-week lives.
But we all know when we'll be back. January 17, 2010.
Where will you be?
Please don't be hitting REFRESH on the Gonzo Lotusphere Page. There are so many more things to listen to now. Just look around.
1. Gregg Eldred02/04/2009 10:41:51 AM
Look, you were the first to put your thoughts on LS out on the web. I think it only natural that people still look to you for your thoughts and comments because you have a unique perspective and voice. I also want to say that, thanks to you, other than BALD and the ESPN Gonzo party, I didn't pay for a drink or any food during LS09. You had excellent advice on that topic.
2. Turtle01/27/2009 05:39:22 PM
She'll probably see this and comment before I do.
Oh. Well, almost...
3. francie01/27/2009 12:44:25 PM
Lol, glad my hug was sufficient!
Please give my regards to that stunning, amazingly dressed lady you brought with you