When you read and write blogs, you get to know the authors so well that you feel you know them. You're familiar with their job, their opinions, their vacations. When you finally meet them in person -- going "3D" as we used to say in online bulletin board days -- it's totally awesome. BlawgConnect 2005 was like having a room full of avatars come to life.
On the eve of ABA Techshow, Tom Mighell (left) and Dennis Kennedy (above right) organized a cocktail-buffet dinner event of 30 bloggers, who are by and large idealists, early adopters and online adventurers. The setting was The Catalyst Ranch in trendy west-Loop Chicago, which is a restaurant with multiple living-room style conversation rooms. You could actually sit down with someone, talk and hear what they said.
The attendees were an honor roll including Jeff Beard, Rick Klau, Jim Calloway, Matt Homann, Bob Ambogi, Fred Faulkner, Reid Trautz, Ben Cowgill, Kirsten Osolind, Simon Chester and more.
Kirsten Osolind told me about her marketing service for women-led businesses; she has the good looks to start a VLOG. Kyle Christensen, the Corporate Communications Manager of Thomson should be the Bob Scoble for FindLaw, and I suggest the higher-ups at Thomson seriously think about it. Fred Faulkner, Technology Coordinator of the ABA, agreed with me that email was no longer the "killer app" of the Internet marketing (it was killed by spammers), that blogs are definitely the hot trend for now (but which I think will peak in two years), and that the "next big thing" may be online business networks like LinkedIn and Ryze. They said rock and roll would never die, but it did; that the sun would never set on the British Empire but it did; and that blogs would be the hot thing forever. We shall see. And I talked to Adolph Levy, a lawyer who publishes the Out-of-the-Box Lawyering blog. He's looking for totally innovative solutions to common problems lawyers face.
The chatfest was interrupted by a snackelicious buffet of grilled shrimp, seasoned pork in lettuce wraps and dumplings. Later they rolled out the brownies and cannolies. My kind of party.
Dennis Kennedy quieted the crowd, and said "we are in a new era of blogging, where people meet in person. We all came to see if everyone was really as cool as they seem online." Many thanks were given to sponsors Casesoft, Thomson, Lexthink Inc. and Mirra (a maker of personal servers), who sponsored the event and made it possible.
Matt Homann announced that on Sunday Lexthink would hold a "conference about nothing," like a Seinfeld episode. Actually, 50 legal luminaries will spend a day trying to build the perfect professional services firm.
Then came the door prizes. Steve Nipper got the USB pen drive. Ben Cowgill won the ticket to the Lexthink conference on Sunday. Buzz Bruggeman and Anthony Cerminaro won copies of Camtasia software, which lets you make a movie to put online. And Julie Parker won the Mirra personal server.
Thank God the pouring rain and hail stopped so we could catch cabs back to the Sheraton.