I expect that N2Y4 (the 4th annual NetSquared conference) to be the only professional conference I’ll attend this year (except, perhaps, for stuff in the Philly area). As a Net Tuesday organizer, NetSquared generously picked up the hotel and conference registration, but I had to buy the plane ticket out to California and some meals, and, more significantly, I had to forego a week of consulting work. So, I decided to invest in one trip this year, and this was definitely the right choice.
My strongest motivation for going was to meet and bond with other Net Tuesday organizers. Officially, there are 33 Net Tuesdays around the world, and 14 were represented at the conference this year: Austin (Billy Bickett), Chicago (Justin Massa and Dorothee Royal-Hedinger), Guayaquil, Ecuador (Eduardo Bejar) , London (Amy Sample Ward), Montreal (Peter Dietz and Jeremy Clarke), New Orleans (Jessica Rohloff ), Philadelphia (Ivan Boothe and myself), Phoenix (Sandy Sutton Andrews), Portland, ME (Alex Steed), Raleigh (Justis Peters, San Francisco (Rachel Weidinger), Seattle (Sarah Schacht), Toronto (Celina Agaton) and Vancouver (Eli van der Giessen and Joe Solomon).
Last year (at N2Y3) we had a hastily planned lunch with fewer Net Tuesday organizers, only a couple of whom were also here this year. But this year, the conference organizers much more intentionally acknowledged the Net Tuesday organizers and helping us bond and share. The kickoff was an entire day before the actual conference began just for us. Not only did we get to know one another (particularly helpful before the conference got underway), but had plenty of time to discover similarities and differences among our programs, and to share aspirations for the future. I felt (and feel) a genuine bond with the other organizers that I hope to maintain (we planned some collaborative opportunities before N2Y5). Unlike last year, when the vast majority of the conference attendees had no idea what “Net Tuesdays” were, this year I felt appropriately validated. We were acknowledged in the conference program, given specially colored conference T-shirts, and some of us played the vaguely satisfying role of “hosting” (introducing) some of the sessions. Twice, in plenary sessions, we were asked to stand, and received applause. In other words, we were much more clearly contextualized in relation to NetSquared. I feel more pride in my role, and got the (much needed) shot in the arm to return to Philly and keep pushing forward Net Tuesdays and other Philly NetSquared initiatives. The conference did its job.