This year I was fortunate enough to attend the “Higher Education Web Professionals” conference (HighEdWeb for short) in Milwaukee WI. I say fortunate because we all know this was a year of economic woes, financial uncertainty, and a general sense that we’re doomed.
It was my second time attending this conference. I often go into a conference thinking that I know it all. This is ironic for me since I can’t stand the know-it-all programmer type of personality. If you have to deal with the IT Crowd (have you tried turning it off and back on again?) I am sure you have encountered this type of person. I continually prove myself wrong even though I didn't leave having learned 3 new programming languages (only 1). If you are lucky you may leave it with a more enthusiastic outlook, a couple new ideas, an htmALE glass, and if you are very lucky: the coveted screaming monkey.
I for one was very surprised to see how social-media-savvy many of the attendees are. At first it was kind of funny to see nearly everyone in an audience typing away on a smart phone or a laptop. Do these people twitter in their sleep? However I soon gave in and stated checking out the twitter backchannels and discovered I was missing all sorts of juicy drama related to the 2nd keynote speaker. Read more about it here.
Overall here are some of the highlights and things I remember after the conferece:
- Prezzi: a cool new way to jazz up a presentation. It’s great to watch unless you suffer from motion sickness or chronic hangovers.
- Google is your new resume. from @kprentiss. So post things wisely.
- If you run a college admission website one thing you may want to avoid is the ever pervasive trap of posting pictures of girls under trees. (Jared Spool’s Keynote).
- The Safe House in Milwaukee is an awesome place but unless you know the passcode to get in you may have to prance like a bunny to get in. I got in.
Milwaukee turned out to be a neat city. You could tell it has had its share of struggles and parts resembled the rust-belt cities I am used to (Buffalo and Rochester) but they seemed to do a much better job of renewal. They also use their natural resources quite well, in specific the River. It reminded me of the Genesee River, but there were several nice restaurants and breweries right on it within a ¼ mile from the hotel. Their modern downtown mall actually seemed to be doing OK (unlike the Midtown Mall and Mainplace malls that died in Rochester and Buffalo respectively). Rochester still has a great art scene, top notch museums thanks to its many philanthropists, but I think there is a lesson to be taken from Milwaukee.