ICE07 Conference Toronto

I popped down to the Carlu for my panel session at the ICE07 ("Interactive Content Exchange") conference this afternoon.

The topic of the panel was "Blogging for Dollars: Monetizing Blogs & Podcasts". Stuart MacDonald moderated, with Ryanne Hodson, Shel Israel, Mark Evans and I as the guest spokespundits.

Sadly, I really was only able to pop down and had to pop back out pretty fast. Just way too busy to attend more of the conference - four new clients in the space of about 10 days and rather more than the usual insanity at home. Long story. I've been getting a great taste of the conference by following my boss Joe's live blogging, though.

I'm afraid I was also a little underwhelmed with how my own panel went. We touched on some interesting points, but I felt that we didn't really get to dig too deep into the thornier issues.

I had four main points of disappointment:

1. Consensus is boring.
My esteemed panelists and I have already drunk deep of the Social Media Kool-Aid. We're all passionate advocates of blogging, podcasting, vlogging, etc. And we've all, in one way or another, made some money because of our blogs. Panels are most interesting when there's some vigorous debate, IMHO. Not to say that this was a complete kissyfest, but there was certainly a broad and congenial spirit to the whole thing.

At one point in the session, I found myself wishing there was some scumbag marketer on the panel - an astroturfing specialist of the Penguin Army persuasion, perhaps. Some one to shake a little Tabasco into the oatmeal.

2. What about the ethics?
I felt we paid lip service to the transparency/authenticity issues. OK, so perhaps "ethics" is too grand a word here, but there are difficult questions of integrity and honesty in some of the paid blogging threads we touched on, and I don't feel we really gave them much air time.

3. The bizarre room layout.
It's extremely hard to get a good conversation going with the audience in the kind of staging we saw at ICE. There was a good 20 foot gap - kind of a mosh pit - between the front row of seats and the raised stage. We panelists were parked up on stools with lapel microphones that were taped to the furniture, restricting our range of movement. Then they lit the stage with intense lights, making it really hard for us to even see the audience. That was frustrating.

4. My own performance.
Perhaps it was the pressure of being in such terrific, intelligent company as Shel, Mark, Ryanne, and Stuart - but I felt that my own contributions to the discussion were less articulate and a lot less interesting than I'd have liked.

I found myself reaching for many of the same easy examples and well-worn ideas we've all cited in similar situations in the past. Not that they're bad examples, per se, but there wasn't an awful lot of fresh and valuable new thought being offered - by me, at least. I can't say I really helped to give the audience their money's worth - but at least I didn't actually fall off my precariously high stool (although, as Shel commented later, that might have added some much-needed humour to the rather dry discussion).

Must try harder.