Wednesday, July 18, 2007

YPulse Mashup 2007

I just had an amazing 2 days at the first YPulse Mashup in San Francisco. Having followed YPulse since the very early days, I was so excited to see Anastasia put on such an amazing conference.

I’ve been to a variety of conferences related to youth culture—from some of the big industry conferences like the Youth Marketing Mega Event (see my 2005 recap on Ypulse) and What Teens Want East (I covered the 2005 event for Ypulse), as well as a Youth Marketing Summit put together by Yahoo! a few years ago, a great conference about youth and technology put on by the UC Berkeley School of Journalism in 2003 called "Connecting with the Wired Generation: Young People, Digital Technology and the Media", and numerous academic conferences about youth culture, popular culture and music.

What really set the YPulse Mashup apart from all of these other events was the diversity of speakers from both the academic realm (Henry Jenkins AND danah boyd!!!) and the corporate world. Additionally, a panel focused on social change seemed just as relevant to the mission of the conference as any other panel, giving the impression that non-profits weren’t just an afterthought (as they often are at standard "marketing" conferences). But…probably the biggest relief of all was that presenters were smart and interesting and I didn't feel like I was sitting through canned presentations where people were trying to hawk their wares.

I ran into friends, former colleagues, scholarly idols, and even someone from Real World Seattle! You may remember Irene from RW Seattle, who most recently was doing a podcast out of San Francisco until a fire burned down her apartment. I hope she didn’t think I was a stalker when I said I was a HUGE Real World fan. I didn't even get the chance to mention to her that I wrote an entire Master's thesis on the show...that really would have scared her.

There are always people at conferences who I'm dying to meet, but don't get the chance to before they race off to their flights. Dixie Feldman from The-N was one such lady. She kicked ass on her panel about old-school media, talking about all the cool things that fans of their programming are creating online, like memorials for fallen Degrassi character JT. She also sass-talked a reporter who asked a pointed question, saying, 'oh CNN lady…' before diving into her answer. I didn't read her profile in the conference booklet until later, but I love this woman even more after seeing that she name-checked Sassy magazine in her bio. My beloved Sassy!

I also would have loved to have reminisced with Amy Gibby from eCrush about some of the playlists that a colleague and I wrote in 2001 while I was at my most favorite job ever at Uplister when we created some special prom and Valentine-themed playlists for teens on eCrush to share with their crushes. Oh the memories of bands like Lifehouse!

And, speaking of Uplister, I didn’t get a chance to meet David Hyman of Mog (and music website Addicted to Noise from back in the day) as I was volunteering on mic runner duties---but his online music community, which he described as a "platform for the hardcore music junkie…to express who they are as musical human beings" is definitely Uplister 2.0, even down to the High Fidelity comparisons. It's pretty astonishing that their Mog-o-matic tool can identify all the music on your hard drive and then find other people in their community based on your collections. He said that he doubted that these music "obsessives" on Mog listen to radio. I'm guessing that his point is that they are more focused on digital music. The thing that I always wonder, though, is what role does college radio and Internet radio play in the lives of these obsessive digital music consumers? I’m a music obsessive and college radio fan, but I'm not as tapped into the digital music scene. Is that common? Are college radio listeners more likely to be older Luddites, still buying CDs and maintaining collections of vinyl?

Beyond the interesting content and attendees, I was intrigued by the use of technology throughout the conference. The space was wired, so folks were on their laptops during the sessions, during breaks and during lunch discussions. Others were tapped in to their Blackberries, iPhones, Treos, etc. During one panel discussion the moderator only accepted questions that were text messaged to his phone. This will definitely be the wave of the future. I also heard about side conversations that were taking place online during the conference. Someone told me that she had commented on one attendee's blog during the conference and he promptly emailed her back, asking where she was sitting.

I remember the days just 2 years ago when I was blogging at What Teens Want in New York City, feeling fairly anonymous. At the YPulse Mashup those days are over---as many people were tapped in to their blogs, the web, IM, and email for the entire time. YPulse contributing editor Chet even told me that he was 'double fisting,' going back and forth between messages on his iPhone and Blackberry. In a comment after the Henry Jenkins/danah boyd keynote Chet also mentioned that he had twittered, posted a conference photo to Flickr, and fielded text messages from friends during the presentation. The speed with which all of this information travels is staggering. I was thinking today about posting about the conference, but I worry that I'm already too late since I'm betting that much has already been posted by live bloggers. The conference ended less than 24 hours ago, but is what I have to say already too late?

More later….if it's not TOO late!

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