I am finally getting around to reading what people were writing and talking about via blogs and podcasts at the Forum, and commenting madly. I am not done yet, but I had to stop for moment and record the state of mind I am in.
It is hard to write about this because it sounds rather self-promoting, but I'll give it a go anyways, and hope you forgive me if I have overstepped the bounds.
In some ways I am shocked and stunned by the tremendous outpouring of support for our little conference. I had to pinch myself onsite when I looked around the room and saw so many amazing people there. People I have admired, argued with and shared years-long conversations with. And they were there because I asked them to be or they volunteered to share their thoughts with our audience.
A little history. The Forum was born a couple of years ago out of a mix of frustration and audacity. The frustration was two-fold: the first was that established conferences in the comms field seemed uninterested in new technologies while those of us who were early adopters saw in them a potential revolution. Second, and more self-interestedly, I really wanted to start speaking at conferences, but wasn't getting invited as I had no speaking experience. So why not launch our own conference, I thought? In fact, Jen McClure and I had been talking about doing a conference for a long time, and the timing just seemed right. With the support of Guillaume du Gardier and others, we decided to give it a whirl.
That is where the audacity came in. With no corporate backers or major sponsors, we just decided to bootstrap it and see what happened. With roughly 90 people at our first event, we put a stake in the ground, received great feedback and launched our reputations. When people started asking us when the 2006 Forum would be held we decided, (with a bit of anxiety, honestly) to go for it. Last October we started pulling it together and last week roughly 190 people gathered together to talk about, share experiences, and learn about participatory communications. The initial feedback has been great.
It is really amazing what can happen when you ignore the nay-sayers and just do something. Yes, there was anxiety, sweat and not-a-few tears, but the result was worth it.
So what does the future hold? Certainly more events and other endeavors. We wrapped the Forum into the Society for New Communications Research (as we wrapped in the New Communications Review a few weeks ago). That means we won't be going it alone anymore, which is great, as the conference is really too big now for two people plus an intern and some volunteers to program and produce. We'll be asking many of you to get involved, so stay tuned here or at the Review.
I want to thank my network of friends and colleagues who have supported me through reading and commenting here, speaking at or attending our events, and offering moral support throughout the last couple of years. None of this would have happened without you.