Last year's conference led to one of the biggest blogstorms in the web's short life and given what happened one may find it strange that I participate once again after complaining very openly (even though I was quickly horrified at the lynching of the organizers). Well that's simply because I think everybody has a right to make a mistake and I believe progress is based on the simple premise that mistakes can be forgiven even though they need not be forgotten. In other words, the world does not become a better place if the only response we are capable of giving to something outrageous or wrong is to ostracize the people who are responsible. I have made enough mistakes in my life to feel deeply appreciative of the people who showed me how to use those mistakes as opportunities to do better, people who showed me that the demand of perfection is not a reasonable one unless considered as a sort of evolving ideal for an undefined future.
The organizers seem to have understood that when hundreds of people travel for a conference like that, they do not appreciate the idea of a changing agenda, nor that of uncontrolled speeches (in French) by local politicians (we were at the start of the French presidential race back then). So I understand they did quite a bit of work to:
- put someone in charge of the agenda with a clear mandate to safeguard it;
- elaborate on the content so that we don't have topics systematically formulated as "Is [XYZ] dead?" (replace [XYZ] by any of the following "traditional media", "advertising", "publishing" or anything you fancy);
- organize the event in a way that allows participants to get more of what's relevent to them.
So I decided to forgive last year, trust this year's team and participate to what I hope will be a positive conference for the innovative communities participating to the rise of the web generation, to the rise of a "creative class" and to momentous transformations of even the most traditional industries.