I made my requisite pass through the exhibit hall yesterday afternoon but it really didn’t look much different from the vendor space in Atlanta last year.
Everybody is offering THE “solution”, mostly for fixing your NCLB problems but also quite a few fixes for internet safety.
Actually, the only major change on the exhibit floor from years past is the giant booth that’s missing: Apple.
From that you might wonder if the company is having financial problems or abandoning education (again), but in this case I actually think they’re pretty smart for not paying to erect a small house on a large chunk of expensive floor space.
Apple has plenty of visibility at this NECC in other, more productive ways.
Instead of running classes in a noisy booth surrounded by the mad house of other vendors, they have a couple of rooms off a high traffic corridor to offer the same sessions.
Plus most of the rooms for hands-on workshops are full of big screen iMacs, another good use of their marketing money.
And look around. Identify from a distance the brand of laptop being used by the teachers you see around the convention center.
While there are likely more PCs than Macs at NECC, that white glowing apple is very distinctive and probably the best advertising Apple could have.
At the end of the day, at the farthest point possible from the physical center of the conference, Will, Gary, Ewan, and Steve did a great tag team show-and-tell with Ustream.
More importantly they also talked about how this kind of communications tool could be used for teaching and connecting students.
That’s the piece that we still need organize and think through before putting these tools in front of our trainers and especially most teachers.
But from a techie standpoint, this was pretty cool. More than 100 viewers showed up for the live stream, at least half in the same room, which was probably stretching the wifi in the hotel to the limit.
And then there were the 80 or so in the chat room, with many sidebars, questions, and suggestions of their own.
The people at Ustream should be paying for this kind of publicity. Oh, that’s right… it’s free and they aren’t making any money from it.
Is web 2.0 built on a non-existent business model? I guess that’s a question for another day.
Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing what went on, the stream and chat room are archived on Will’s Ustream channel. [It’s in two parts because of the crash 3/4 of the way through the session.]
I spent the morning here at NECC bouncing from room to room trying to find a good session or at least a good session in a room that wasn’t packed at least half an hour before it was scheduled to start.
This afternoon I sat in the Bloggers’ Cafe for a couple of hours and three good presentations came to me. Plus all the side conversations.
I may just find a chair in that space first thing in the morning and not move.
Interesting new way to watch a NECC keynote: from a comfortable chair in the bloggers cafe instead of a stiff one in the middle of a huge room with five or six thousand others.
We almost didn’t make it, however, since the sound was screwed up until a couple of seconds after the presenter began.
You’d think with all those techies in that space, one of us could have figured out that the speaker was broken. Someone in the crowd probably also had a replacement in their bag. :-)
Speaking of crowds, the speaker was James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds which was published about four years ago.
It was a good talk, although the information was very familiar to anyone who read the book. And, like most keynotes, it ran about 15 minutes too long. Or maybe that’s just my short attention span talking.
I’ve long since given up on trying to live blog talks like these so don’t look for any details on the talk here. Check out Hitchhikr where you’ll find plenty of good summaries.
However, I do wish I had brought my laptop. Around me I could hear the tap-tap-tap from some of the back channel conversation going on and it would have been fun to follow it. Take a look at Vicki’s Cover It Live archive for one great example.
Also the stream of the presentation will probably be up on the NECC site shortly after the conference is done.
So, the hotel advertises free wireless in all rooms.
What they don’t tell you is that the quality of the signal varies drastically depending on where you are in the room.
The worst is sitting at the desk, which, of course, is where they might expect most people to be using a computer.
The best signal is sitting on the floor next to the door. And even there the connection can hardly be called “broadband”
But it is free.