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The Seesmic Community At LeWeb Was Fantastic And Why I Called CenterNetworks Stupid

Lots happened with Seesmic at LeWeb, we had a dedicated site tens of Seesmic community members were present, organized a seesmeetup, dinners, gathered at the parties and gave demos around the Seesmic booth, and Tiil held a dedicated session, a Seesmic workshop where lots of fun and even guitar was played by Lloyd, that you can see in the special Seesmix video below.

How many Seesmicers can you name?

Watch the above and following video to get a sense of how active and passionate was the Seesmic community both at the event, and in Seesmic around the event.


You won’t find me in these videos, my entire LeWeb experience has been focused only one one single thing: emceeing the stage, introducing the fantastic speakers we had and doing some q&a sessions myself. We had about one hundred speakers who were one next to each other on stage every 10 to 30 minutes. A very fast pace I deliberately had chosen as I think it gets very fast boring when you do not alternate speakers, even great speakers, fast enough. In between two sessions I was also behind the scenes helping Geraldine my wife manage about 100 team members who made a conference for 1700 participants happen. Emceeing and organizing such an event did not leave me a second for anything else, and that is unfortunate because I would have loved to hang out more with the Seesmic community, fortunately I can do that in Seesmic all year long and in other events.

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pics from warzabidul

A few people criticized me for using… Ustream and not Seesmic to “broadcast” LeWeb. I was so exhausted my first reaction was to call Allen Stern’s post stupid and later apologized by email in private for the insult, but not for what I thought about what he wrote. I took some time to respond because I was obviously pissed and still kind of, to the arguments Allen used, let’s go through them one by one:

-”I am not using my own system and therefore it is hard to get other people use it”
I am using Seesmic daily, see my profile, and I find it not only false but very offending that Allen can make wrong statements like this. I do not think this is very good advertising for Centernetworks readers who can easily verify that this is simply not true and told Allen in the post comments. In addition, I doubt Allen Stern has ever organized a conference for 2000 people, if he did he would not expect me to publish videos myself while I was handling the main stage.

-Loyal Seesmic user Freida has generated “the majority of the videos on Seesmic”
We love Freida and she has created more than 15 000 videos on Seesmic. Seesmic has more than 600 000 videos, I wonder what the definition of “majority” is for Allen Stern, but for me it is more than 50% while Freida accounts for a few % (and we love it, again, I am just exposing how wrong is Allen).

-”I selected Ustream to run live the conference”
Yes, Seesmic does not do any live so I have no idea why I would even think about using Seesmic for live. While hosting the videos at Seesmic would be possible it is not really the point of the site, which is conversation.

-”There was no reason to broadcast the conference live”
About 25 000 hours of videos were watched by more than 30 000 unique visitors during the two days. The live audience was consistently equal or above the number of in person participants. We peaked at around 2500 live people. If Allen does not see a point in following the conference live, tens of thousands of people around the world did and enjoyed it as much as sending us hundreds of thank you emails and tweets. Seeing it live as you follow the chat and the tweets has nothing to do like watching an archive, it is like watching a football match after it happened, you know the result and it is much less exciting.

-”If I paid $2000 to attend, I’d be pissed that my sister could sit at home and watch if for free”
Very nice thoughts around sharing great content with people who cannot afford it congratulations Allen. This is the main reason why we started streaming live and archive all the videos. There is no way to finance a million euro plus event such as LeWeb without significant ticket prices and sponsors and year after year we receive emails from people who cannot afford it. Giving this great content for free allowed tens of thousands of people to learn, and they continue all year long watching the archives. Too bad if you do not understand that. I see only positives for live streaming: speakers enjoy a much broader audience and I know many participants joined us in person this year because they followed live the previous year so it is the best conference marketing. LeWeb participants join us for good content, but the main reason is for the amazing networking that happens there.

“Speakers could have been required to participate in the video conversation via Seesmic”
Yeah sure, I see myself very well telling Marissa Mayer or Paulo Coehlo that they are “required” to participate in the video conversation, it would have been a huge success by presenting them like that. Sorry but we do not have the same way of handling speakers. They are my guests and I am grateful for their presence, I do not “require” them much apart from traveling from around the world for a 10, 20 or 30 minutes stage presence.

Conflict of interest.
Allen Stern has not foreseen the most important reason why I did not bring Seesmic on stage. I wanted to avoid a conflict of interest by imposing to the LeWeb attendees something they had not paid for and may not be willing to participate at. I am not forcing anyone in Seesmic, how could I?! In fact, I am pretty sure if I had used Seesmic on stage every ten minutes Allen would have been the first one to criticize me on his blog for doing that.

Having explained why I got so upset with Allen’s post that I do not think makes much sense but deserved an explanation now that I am more relaxed, I agree that Seesmic could be a great tool for conferences, for example for having the room introduce themselves using our video profiles so that they know each other better, or for asking questions to the speakers. These are all valid points and I was planning to use Seesmic in a few sessions and wrote a dedicated post on my blog to ask questions to key speakers that Allen Stern apparently missed. I was going to take these questions but the connectivity issues at LeWeb including on the stage prevented me from doing that. I could not even load a picture from fotonauts when I had Jean-Marie Hulot on stage, how could I have played a video correctly?

Seesmic and the virtual conferences
I am fascinated by the new interaction provided by social software and video around the conferences and that is the only point I agree with Allen on. It is an entire new space that is being created with the tools interactivity at and around the event. I think even more interesting are events entirely designed for an audience on the Internet, and I would love Seesmic to be a player in that. I will certainly experiment in 2009 but I think that the best is really to create a dedicated event than imposing too much on existing events, especially when I am on stage all the time. Expect a “Seescon” in 2009, which will be small but entirely orientated to everybody on the Internet rather than those in the room. Expect also even more interactivity at LeWeb next year, including live and Seesmic, and expect also more posts from bloggers trying to get attention with false statements, which is the nature of blogging.



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