Follow The Drumbeat…All The Way To San Diego

I met and connected with Art Neill, the founder/executive director/attorney of New Media Rights late last year at BlogWorld 2010. He seemed like a really nice guy with a pretty amazing mission, and after chatting with him for about ten minutes he had mentioned something about “Drumbeat San Diego” which drew my interest. Lo and behold I receive an invite a few months later. I RSVP’d for it immediately and told three or four of my friends so that they’d join me in said geeky adventure.

Well, I had the privilege of attending the event today, and it was amazing! Drumbeat San Diego was conceived to be a “participatory, hands-on event  for the technology community to connect with community groups, artists, filmmakers, citizen journalists, musicians and others who are interested in building information tools and using the open Internet” to improve communities, online and off.

The opening address was well moderated by Morgan Sully, clearly my techie brother from another mother. It involved a human spectogram, a live exercise that asks participants to agree ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to statements on hot topics (in this case, Wikileaks, net neutrality, privacy). Participants then stand on opposite ends of a physical spectrum (in this case, the entire length of the venue) to demonstrate their agreement/disagreement with the statement. Then, a few are selected to state their case and rebuttals ensue.

There were a few concurrent sessions being conducted simultaneously, but I naturally gravitated towards the DIY/Maker Culture discussions. They were all fascinating and made me feel really, really, really ignorant of the web…which is great, since I love learning new things. The three sessions I attended included:

It was so motivating — not to mention humbling — to be in the presence of so many ridiculously smart people. Afterwards I felt like my brain just returned from a 6-mile run. It is always good to challenge yourself to get acquainted with a community outside of what you are comfortable with. I  had a great experience participating in the human spectogram and seeing so many techies and practitioners from different walks of life perceive current issues so differently. It’s rare to find a community so involved and passionate yet tolerant and understanding of other viewpoints. Additionally, the info sessions were phenomenal — When the presenters weren’t talking a mile a minute, they were answering questions and addressing audiences of a wide variety of technical backgrounds. Every presenter was highly qualified, exceptionally knowledgeable, and incredibly personable.

Drumbeat San Diego was an amazing experience and I hope to see you at the next one!