Monday, August 14, 2006

What happens in Vegas ...

Here's a funny situation:

A pal at a tech-trade magazine was scheduled to cover this conference called "Webmaster World Pub Con," but discovered that it overlaps his family's fall vacation by one day.

The pal (let's use the name "Pally") tried to get out of the assignment, but apparently could find no takers. No takers for Las Vegas at the most pleasant time of year?

Pally kindly offered it to me, as a free-lance gig. As I've probably mentioned before, this used to be my business. I've covered a lot of similar trade shows and conferences, even going back to the early 1980s. And since crawling out of my hole last year, this network of pals has handed me just enough of these free-lancer gigs to keep my head above water.

We worked out a dollar amount and a cap on expenses, because it's easy to blow a grand in Vegas these days without ever leaving your hotel room. I made my reservations and marked it in my calendar.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email this morning from another old Industry Standard fellow traveler. "You should come to this Web show in Vegas before Thanksgiving," it read in part. "Battelle's giving the keynote address. We can throw tomatoes at him!"

Battelle ... Vegas ... November ... free-lance ....

While these conference schedules and the industry news in general change so often that it's rarely worthwhile to research a trade show before it's about to happen, Webmaster World Pub Con is an exception.

Yes, there he is.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) August 2, 2006 -- WebmasterWorld's Search Engine & Internet Marketing Conference, PubCon, Las Vegas, November 14th to 17th, 2006, features a keynote speech by John Battelle, co-founding editor of Wired Magazine and Wired Ventures.

"I love the WebmasterWorld events, it's one conference where you can truly take the pulse of the online world from the folks in the trenches truly building out the future," said John Battelle.

How did I miss that?

No matter. It seems I'll be hobnobbing with the great Mr. Battelle (again) in the most vulgar of American cities. Fitting, that.

Will he recognize me? I doubt it, even if I looked exactly the same; underlings (er, editors) never really make an impression on the John Battelle types. Anyway, these last half-dozen years have been a bit rough. Beyond poverty and its all-too-visible effects, the years since 2001 have been those years we all dread - when the skin sags, the hairline rises, the hair itself grays, the waistline swells. The good thing is that I still look slightly better than the Bay Area's leading tech reporters.

Print journalism is a business for those with faces built for radio. And the Silicon Valley press corps is possibly the most physically unattractive collection of humans in the industrialized world.

In the boom days, however, we used to be almost dashing, compared to most print journalists. We had snazzy eyeglasses and Palm Pilots. Some of us even had wives or girlfriends, who would help dress us. Ah, the $40 San Francisco haircut ... we schlubs would walk out of the salon with an artfully constructed coif and hipster sideburns. I remember getting my hair "done" in this place near South Park (the San Francisco tech neighborhood, not the cartoon) and coming out to see people from Wired magazine sitting in the park, drinking lattes, with laptops that couldn't connect to anything because WiFi didn't yet exist.

Will I confront Battelle? Of course not. I'll just watch like Tom Wolfe's fly on the wall. When his house-of-cards business collapsed, he abandoned his co-workers and colleagues and blithely skipped away to find the "next big thing." He ran for the hills - literally.

But I do enjoy the idea that young Mr. Battelle might know I am watching and documenting his new sins. And that he has so very many enemies that a Web trade show with a thousand or so attendees is quite likely to include scores of his disgruntled former colleagues.

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