The pleasures of conference life-themes and what I learned

February is 28 days long, and I spent 18 of them on the road.  New York for Tools of Change (great conference), three different meetings in Miami for The Knight Foundation (all completely worth the trips), the WeMedia conference end of the month.

Yow.

For me, travel, especially when it involves intellectual stimulation and solving problems, is a high. I enjoy speaking at conference where there’s a larger conversation I can join, and a push to solve problems. I also appreciate how conferences and work-related travel allow me both to meet new people and to keep ties and deepen them with friends and colleagues in other places.

So, what are some of the themes of this month that stand out for me?
Tools of Change conference: 
The book industry is branching off from other media–new delivery formats outside of the Web browser–the Kindle and other electronic readers in particular–offer new revenue models that inspire hope.

Knight 2009 Media Learning Seminar on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
Tied to some recently announced Knight grants for community foundations, this seminar was transformative for me.  I have always been interested in community foundations, but the responses of the attendees to my session on getting started with social media to promote a program (and the white paper I wrote for them) and to the great presos by the social media/web 2.0 panel made me so excited about the prospect of serving this community more. For me, one outgrowth of this event was the resolve that I would love to do more work in this area, and hope it . (Note: here’s the free handout on The Social Media ToolBox for Communiy Foundations)

We Media
This conference was happening as newspapers took an even deeper nose-dive, with the threatend closure of thr SF Chronicle and the shutting down of the Rocky Mountain News.  For me, the theme of this conferen was that we have to work together to find new solutions–and that developing new business models is going to have a certai reborn from rhe ashes, Phoenix-like quality which is gonna hurt, so can we minimize the pain?
This was also where the first part of my white paper, Using social media for social change was release..waiting for WM to put the rest of it up–including 3 case studies and a resource list.

Summary
We’re in a time of intense change and flux, so close up to so much of it perspective is difficult. And yet that can create great opportunity for innovation, but even so, people are going to experience significant pain.  I’d like to work on the things where I can make a difference and share knowledge to move missiion-driven businesses and organizations forward, but I know the environment is tough. (And so are we, at this point).