mesh is like a good house party. Afterward, you’re exhausted but happy that everything worked so well. After seven months of preparation, the two days of mesh were over before you knew it, and now we’re on to the next thing – meshwest in Calgary on June 8.
So what were the highlights of mesh ’11? Without going into too much detail, here’s a personal list:
1. The venue – the Allstream Centre – was a major move for mesh because it’s much bigger than MaRS, which hosted the first five mesh events. Like any new home, there were a few kinks but, for the most part, it worked really well. It was great to have more meeting rooms and more space to mingle and eat.
2. The sponsors village – However you want to cut it, sponsors need to be part of the mix for a good conference. They provide the support needed to put on a good show. At the same time, sponsors want to be more than just a logo on the Web site and swag. At mesh, the village was part of the landscape so that they had great exposure that seemed natural and non-obtrusive.
3. The keynotes, particularly Gabe Zichermann’s talk with Stuart MacDonald about gameification. There are speakers who have a gift for entertaining, educating and engaging, and Gabe is a perfect example of someone who delivers all three. It was a keynote that delivered endless pearls of wisdom, and I found myself scribbling lots of notes.
A great example was Gabe’s contention that Web sites need to be simple rather than offer a lot of options, which is something that I constantly advocate when doing Web site projects for clients. Gabe also talked about the importance of rewarding users when they do what they you want. This can even message message such as “You’re amazing” after they register.
4. The porn panel – With a great lineup of speakers that included Pink Visual CEO Alison Vivas, who runs an adult entertainment company, it epitomized a mesh panel at its best. The panelists were engaged with each other, they had different perspectives to offer, they were entertaining and educational, and the audience was into it. Here’s the Huffington Post Canada story on the panel.
5. The bean bag chairs from FatBoy, which were a hit of the conference. Imagine walking into a large conference ballroom to discover there are 20 different coloured bean bag chairs to sit in. Now, a few people may have gone too far when they decided to take a nap but they were one of the small touches that made mesh really work. (Note: The photo above is the mesh gang post-mesh.)
6. The influencer panel with David Armano and Valeria Maltoni – With so much interest in the role of influencers within social media, the room was packed. As some of the leading thinkers about digital marketing, Armano and Maltoni were well-armed to provide perspective. If I had to moderate the panel over again, I would have pressed them into talking more about the tools – PeerIndex, Klout, mPact, etc. – because everyone gets that influence is an important thing but a lot of people are struggling with how to identify and successfully engage with influencers.
7. The TVO panel with host Steve Paikin, Micah Sifry, Jesse Brown, the NDP’s Charlie Angus and Tony Clement, the new Treasury Minister. It was a wonderful panel, highlighted by Angus proclaiming Twitter had little value – something that didn’t go over while in a room in which Twitter has enthusiastic support, including Clement.
There are lots of other highlights but these are some that jumped out. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the other important part of mesh – the people who attended and spoke, and their enthusiasm to network, exchange ideas and engage. It’s something that makes mesh different and wonderful.
Now, it’s on to Calgary for meshwest, and pretty soon, we’ll be getting the programming machine going for meshmarketing in November…and then it’ll be time for mesh ’12 in May 2012!
Links: It was great to see so much coverage of mesh. One of the blog posts that caught my attention was Louise Armstrong’s post on conference etiquette, which captures the essence of mesh. As well, Micah Sifry (aka TechPresident) did a wonderful post about Canada’s Internet landscape.
More: Here are the “official” mesh photos.