With 6000 attendees, Search Engine Strategies in San Jose California remains the world’s largest search marketing conference, bringing search marketing experts and marketing teams from all over the globe.
I’m finding out the breakdown of attendance tomorrrow, as some of the 6000 are only here with exhibit hall passes which do admit to the keynotes but not the regular sessions.
This picture is from this morning’s session on the Asian and South American search markets.
Lee Siegel is about to speak here at SES San Jose. He’s the author of “Against the Machine” and a senior editor at The New Republic, and a noted critic of the new media, primarily because he feels anonymity is a threat to intelligent, enlightened conversation.
Although I’m sympathetic to Lee’s points about how abusive the online world can be, and how foolish it is to consider as sacred the hate speech and the junk banter that passes as conversation, he’s missing two key features of the new conversational media that effectively sweep away much of the significance of his legitimate concerns.
First, the high tolerance for abusive and threatening language has become something of a new standard, especially for younger commenters. I don’t like it either, but for many writers this does not reflect the type of threat it would under other circumstances. It is not appropriate to apply old interpretations of this language to the modern usage.
Second is that focusing on the defects of blogging and new media distracts us from the profound and positive changes in communication – changes that represent the early stages of truly democratic and massively participatory conversations.
I don’t think Siegel is so much *wrong* as he is making fairly insignificant points about the new media. I’d certainly agree that there is a danger whenever people are stifled. For me the outrageous online treatment of Kathy Sierra, a noted blogger,is the exception that proves the rule. These cases are very few, and in a broad sense are eclipsed by the thousands of new voices coming online *every day*.
So, is there value in paying attention to these problems? Sure. Should this drive our understanding and appreciation of the most profound transformation in human communication history?
SES San Jose is reporting record attendance at this year’s conference. I’m hoping to track down the numbers which are not listed in the press release, and here at day 1 there don’t seem to be as many folks as last year. However I think the format changes may have changed the traffic flow such that we’ll see the big numbers tomorrow and Wednesday.
SES offers free admission to exhibits for those who pre-register. This does not give people access to session content but it’s still an OK introduction to the big show, and perhaps most importantly gets you a ticket to the Google Dance, which many see as the highlight of the year in search and internet marketing.
Although it’s fun to attend conferences like SES you can learn an enormous amount reading the many folks who are live blogging the sessions here in San Jose. If you read this and I haven’t added your blog please do so in the comment section.