Last night I flew from Dallas to New York City for the Open Video Conference. I landed very late, and rode a taxi to LaGuardia to the Embassy Suites in Battery Park. The taxi driver was great--after some consultation, he picked a route which was smooth and not at all stereotypically expensive.
I rose early this morning, donned some business casual clothes, and even dragged along my clunky laptop, in case I decided to become one of those people multi-tasking on-line. I walked the 1.5 miles or so to the conference, which was fun because Manhattan is always interesting to me. I first visited there in 1974, when I was 15. I have a lot of what I can only call sitcom memories from that visit, from a very Irish cop at the Macy's Day Parade to a very irritated Howard Johnson's hotel restaurant owner when I miswrote a travelers' check for a milk shake while a long line of folks was behind me. Where I come from, folks rarely belittled younger folks in front of everybody, barring the sin of being "stuck up". That single experience, coupled with my first-ever sight of homeless people in NY and DC, made me have a somewhat negative impression of NY. Now I think I would not take on so about one fellow in a cafe.
I arrived in good time for the conference, and said "hi" to one of the 2 or so people I knew from the internet prior to visiting the conference. I'll say "hi" to the other on Saturday, as I could not figure out his event table until he had already departed it. The conference speakers were great. I heard:
a. an Australian professor give a light-handed and nicely done talk about how the video art movement in the 70s recognized the potential for what has now become the viral video movement.
b. a keynote by a Harvard professor talked about open content/open platform principles
c. 2 lawyers litigating fair use cases provided helpful analysis and tips;
d. a panel discussion of very impressive activist videos trying to create alternatives to youtube.
e. a talk by Lizz Winstead of the Daily Show about her own foray into lo-lo-budget political activist satire. She was a bit like Jon Stewart with the twin gloves of charm and restraint removed.
f. a cool presentation by a liberally licensed wildlife video, which talked about how important it is not to "pump" the shot, but instead to film things as they are;
g. a great presentation about why poor policy during the years of the last administration have moved this country backward in getting more people on broadband.
I got to talk to a fellow from Red Hat, who helped me understand their business model a bit better, and I bought a DVD of "Sita Sings the Blues", the impressive Creative Commons animated film telling Hindu stories with a 1923 bluesy jazz soundtrack, from its director. I had seen a bit of that one on-line, but it will make good plane fodder on Sunday.
At lunch, they had a vegetarian line and a non-vegetarian line for burritos. I am omnivorous, but when I found myself in "the wrong line", and the other line was very, very long, I plumped for a tasty vegan burrito.
Then tonight I had steak with a wonderful long-time law client and her kind husband.
The conference is at NYU Law, right by Washington Square Park, so I watched the chess games there for a bit (turning down politely a chance to play one of the hustlers), and then walked back home.
I'm very impressed with the hundreds of people at this conference, from dozens of countries, discussing an important way to save media from megaliths who feed us only reality programming. I'm looking forward to going tomorrow, and listening less to the seminars, and more to the stories of video makers themselves.