Springtime Events and the Marketplace of Ideas

Ahh, listening to the new "Arcade Fire" CD, catching up on email at 3am… (i have forgotten how nice it is to listen to rock music LOUD… with two youngins in the house, i rarely get to actually hear music; one of the benefits of late night email sessions as I have the headphones on!)  Great album–saw them in concert last year, amazing show, highly recommend.  It’s somewhat bittersweet to see them getting popular now… the secrets out so to speak.  My wife always complains about how REM got too big–she knew them when, got to hang with them backstage at small clubs in LA when they were just getting started, yada yada… sometimes bands grow up and they kinda suck… here’s rooting for a few more great albuns from Arcade fire before they start sucking (Dave Matthews, it was all down hill after his first record) or the lead singer/songwriter overdoses on some exotic narcotics (Morphine, my favorite band from the mid 90s).

NAB – Mecca and Marketplace

Events, events, events.  I’ve mentioned Mix and it’s role in making my head hurt in a previous post (if you are a CSS nut, check out the "remix" competition, where you can have fun goofing with Bill Gate’s picture and win big prizes!)… but I haven’t mentioned some of the other event culprits on my spring calendar.  First of all, i’m going to sneak over to NAB for my 12th time; the National Association of Broadcasters show in Vegas April 16-19 is a yearly pilgramige that I and most of the folks in pro-video/rich media don’t miss.  My first NAB was 1995, when I was working at ILM–i can still remember the thrill (first time in vegas) and the excitement of being there with a big name in the effects industry and to see how the exhibitor’s faces would light up when they saw my name badge and realized i was somebody (an influencer of buying decisions for big ticket items like Discreet’s Inferno, or Avid Media Compossers, etc.)!  What they didn’t know was what a horrible customer ILM was–there was this cult of "not paying fair market price for anything, because we are ILM and should get it for free or at a loss from the vendor" attitude.  A few years later when I was at NAB with my own company showing off our 1.0 product (Commotion), NAB was a totally different experience–it was a coming out for my "baby", the first software product I had worked on and was unveiling to the world.  Interacting with customers, press, doing demos until i lost my voice… it was awesome.  That and winning $1500 on a singe pull of a slot machine (the only dollar i gambled that year!)  The only year I haven’t been to NAB since was 2003, when I was with Macromedia.  Macromedia got serious about NAB a year later, after I had left the company, and it was great to see them there last year showing off Flash–somewhat bittersweet surely as I am proud of the work i did on the flash video solution, but I wasn’t there to enjoy the success (i guess like sending your baby to boarding school in england somewhere?, that is if all software products one works on can be alluded to using the "baby" metaphor?  did I mention it’s 3am and i’m listening to really loud rock music… pardon the rambling incoherence!)  It will be fun to hang at NAB, check out the scene, and catch up with my friends from Apple, Avid, Adobe, etc.–while i’ve moved around a bunch in my career and worked at different companies, NAB still represent the core of my peers, i literally can’t walk 25 yards without bumbing into a former colleague, a customer, a beloved competitor…

Which brings me to my point.  What I love about NAB is that it is the Mecca pilgrimage of the industry–users, buyers, sellers, 99 pound gorillas, new startups… they all make the trip.  It is a marketplace of ideas… everyone has news, there’s lots of stuff to touch and play with in the booths, and the social networking within the craft/field is awesome.  If you want to know what’s going on in pro video, want to evaluate technology, want to talk to vendors–NAB!

A "NAB" of Interactive & Web design?

I had dinner with Lynda Weinman about a year ago and said, "Lynda, wouldn’t it be great if there was a "NAB" like event within the interactive and web design/development community?  Somewhere where folks could congregate and see and hear the latest from multiple vendors within this emerging space?  If we think that interactive design is 10% of what it will be in 10 years (and at msft we do), then there is a whole heck of a lot of road ahead… a show that could serve as a yearly congregation to check in on the journey, as NAB has been in its industry, would be awesome.  Sure, Lynda already has "Flash Forward", a pioneering show/community; but by its very name that conference stipulates a certain technology focus–much as a show called "Sony HDCAM World" would really not invite a presentation of all the competing HD format offerings and integrated solutions built out around HD production… that would be kick ass for HDCAM fans/users, but leave something wanting for a broader industry perspective.  When I was a Avid Media Composer editor, I always liked going to the Avid party at NAB and geeking out at the avid booth, but I just as much enjoyed taking a look at Macromedia "Key Grip" demos, which later became Apple Final Cut Pro.  Key Grip looked interesting, had lots of new ideas, and Apple’s shipping version had immediate impact on the industry, compelling Avid to better innovate, and offering new capabilities and choices to editors of all types–from WEVA (wedding and event videographer association… did you know there re 400k wedding videographers in India!) to feature film editors on A list hollywood movies.

Well, leave it to Lynda–she’s putting on Dx3 Conference in Boston in May… just a few weeks after Mix.  Dx3 will be a very different beast from Mix.  Mix will be a conversation, hosted by msft, around msft’s technologies, strategy, vision within the "next web" area.  Dx3, on the other hand, will be a fascinating balancing act between two emerging stories–microsoft (dare I say it, but it’s true.. the newcommer finding its legs in the interactive design space?!), and Adobe, aggregator of all things creative pro on the market today, most recently of Macromedia.  Dx3 is in the "2nd quarter of 2007" timeframe, a term used by both msft and adbe as guidance for availability of all sorts of things being worked on.  Day one keynote Adobe; Day two keynote Microsoft.  Great presenters from msft/adobe product teams, and more importantly, users of various technologies showing real work, giving their perspectives, and talking about design and development irrespective of any specific vendor stack–focusing instead on the CRAFT, the really interesting underlying trend in the interactive design industry.  5 years from now there will be interactive designers… will they use msft technologies (we hope so), will they use adobe stuff (likely), will there be more interactive designers and interactive design work than we can imagine today (I’ll bet on that); could Dx3 become the "NAB" of this space?  If you look at the 4 days worth of sessions, you have succulent offerings all day long inviting you to taste from among dozens of interesting technologies from both vendors, in some cases directly competing offerings, in others one ziggying and the other zagging.  Hopefully some small company that we’ve never even heard of shows up and becomes the buzz of the event with some killer demos, or a new tool!  It’s going to be fascinating… as any marketplace of ideas and innovation usually is! 

Ok.  Bed.

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