Search Engine Strategies Conference 2004 San Jose, Last day

Search Engine Strategies 2004, San Jose, California, Day 4

I should have woken with another hangover. Especially since I had slept only about three hours. It was the last of the seminar, and I didn’t want to miss anything.

I called Craig’s room once to see if they were going for breakfast. There was no answer. I wasn’t surprised.

With a bit of food in my system, I proceeded off to the 9:00 Site Clinic, hosted by Jill Whalen, Scottie Claireborne, and Tony Muller. I hoped to show them the homepage for and hopefully get some input on the direction we’d taken. I was confident, but I needed someone else’s professional position. Just a sanity check, y’know?

It turned out that there were a lot less people who partied it up last night than I had thought — and a lot more people who needed real help. I didn’t, so opted to just talk to Scottie at the end of the session. She pretty much confirmed everything I suspected, so had a fairly lengthy conversation with her.

I skipped the next session and went back to bed. The only reason I didn’t fall asleep during the session was because Jill and Scottie are thoroughly entertaining to watch. But with only three hours rest, I wasn’t really curious to go into a session wasn’t particularly hankering for a snooze in a chair when I could get one in my bed.

I re-awoke around 11:30, not really feeling any more awake than I did an hour earlier, but it was enough to keep myself going for a while. I headed down to lunch, feeling my appetite returning. The sessions were just getting out as I took a seat. I was soon joined by three others. We chatted about the sessions and conference and our mutual jobs until we were joined by a fifth … Brad.

Brad looked like Death itself had chewed him up, spat him out onto the road, driven over by a bunch of cars, peeled off, washed up and warmed over.

In other words, pure shit.

Brad had forced himself out of bed and come in to handle his press duties. How he’d managed to get there in one piece was just short of miraculous. How he was keeping himself together I don’t think will ever be known.

I tried to get a hold of Craig a few times, without success.

Following lunch was the Advanced Design Issues: CSS, Javascript & Frames session. I’d been waiting for this all week. I didn’t know what to expect, exactly, but I knew that by the end of the session, we would have a clear direction.

That direction? Craig and I need to take the charge at Critical Mass to put ourselves as the evangelists for SEM, and get ourselves in with Danny Sullivan to do presentations, especially when it comes to things like building websites and making sure that web standards are held to. It’s all fine and dandy for the SEM field do do what has to be done, but not at the detriment to the rest of the web.

The final session for was Web Feeds, Blogs & Search. Despite being the last session of the four-day conference, the room was almost full, and it stayed that way until nearly the end. The information was a little lacking, but the attention it was obviously clear. I’m not sold on the idea that blogs will be the next big thing — there’s just something about blogging and marketing that just don’t seem to blend with me.

It was at this point that I had my epiphony. This clash of publicly-created information suddenly running risk of infiltration from the coporate world reminded me of me, about a dozen years ago. Back then, I was a student at the University of Waterloo, and indoctrinated in the world of the Internet. It was about then, while reading one of a hundred newsgroups that I read on a near-daily basis, that someone sent in the first piece of authentic spam.

It created an outrage — how dare someone violate the sanctity of the educational, informational forum of the Internet. Oh, the debates that raged as a result of that. It took a few months before we saw another piece, and it wasn’t long before it was commonplace. Back then, I swore that I’d never try to ruin the Internet.

Now I work for an interactive marketing agency, building websites for Fortune 500 companies. I’m swimming the Sea of Irony.

Craig finally got a hold of me towards the end of the afternoon. We grabbed dinner at Original Joe’s, a classic restaurant about a block from the Marriott. About the best way to describe Original Joe’s is a “driner” — a dressy diner. You don’t need to be dressy, but most of the staff are in tuxedos. It’s supposedly an Italian restaurant, but doesn’t really *look* Italian. The food comes in MASSIVE portions. My roast beef was most of the cow, I think. I couldn’t come close to eating it all, though I tried.

Tonight was quiet — sat watching TV and catching up on journal entries. I think Craig slept. About 21:30, we headed down for one last beer before we check out tomorrow. Some of the presenters were still up (they’d all gone out to dinner earlier in the evening), so Craig and I engaged in a bit of conversation.

Soon, it was just Craig, Jill, Chris, and myself. It wasn’t late, but it was enough.

This conference ends the way it started: quiet, and with only a few people. We’ll be back, and hopefully not just as attendees.

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