Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I Wish I Knew Before ISTE

Or a few initial reflections? 
Moss and Stephanie presenting in the Google playground


Or what I'll do differently next year? Those are probably better ways of putting it...


Atlanta was an absolute whirlwind. There was so much going on all the time. Like really all the time. And I had a blast.

There is an implication in the "what I'll do differently next year" thing: I hope I'm able to make it to Philadelphia. So yeah. What I'll do differently in a year.

Not take a redeye flight in. It was a good idea in theory: it was the only possible way to make it to #hacked14, the unconference the day before the official beginning of ISTE. But being that initially tired, combined with so many people to see at ISTE, made it really easy to stay out late at night and not get up early in the morning. The tiredness plus three hour time difference was tough. Next year: no redeye and get there a day earlier.

Make specific plans to see people. Some of this worked out well: I got to spend solid chunks of time with Katie Regan and Kristina Peters, two awesome folks I've looked up to and learned with for a long time on the Twitterz. But there were a few folks I really wanted to get to hang out with and didn't. People absolutely get busy, but some advanced planning there would have helped.

Make time to enjoy the city ISTE is in. I was only somewhat successful here. I had two great southern BBQ meals and saw a Braves game. (Sidenote: the tomahawk chop that Braves fans do is absolutely horrifying to witness in person.) However, I didn't get to the civil rights museum or the aquarium, which were both really high on my list. I have no idea when I'll be back in Atlanta. That's a bummer.

Have a set of questions you want to ask people you rarely get more than 140 characters with. It was really neat to get to see - and meet - so many friends at ISTE. I just wish I had asked everyone a few questions I really - in retrospect - want answers to. Something about risks they'll be taking next year. Changes from last year. The most important thing they learned last year. So much of these conversations are whirlwinds - they happen so fast - that a little sense of purpose for these conversations would have been really useful to me.

A few things worked. I loved not going to a ton of sessions: the small group conversations I chose to focus on were really enjoyable and challenging. I went to none of the big parties. Part of that was a function of a huge BBQ meal and baseball game going long, but those were things groups of us had planned way in advance. I'm glad I spent time with those people. Also, #PeoplePretendingToBeJohn worked. Really well. The photowalk that we planned was a blast.

So that's a wrap, I think. Well, for now. I'm still sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for me delayed flight - more thoughts will percolate up later I'm sure.

To the people I got to meet, y'all are awesome. Hope to see all of you in Philadelphia in a year!


Part of the baseball gang - thanks for organizing it, Amber!
Photo by Bill Selak