I met many fantastic people both at and outside the event.
Here’s a recap of who I met and what I did:
The drive from Boston to Washington is about eight hours, slightly longer from Newburyport. Thankfully, the I-95 highway system was built with gas stations, restaurants, walking areas, and other pitstops along its corridor to break up the asphalt and signage monotony.
Suffice to say, I left late and arrived in Vienna, Virginia–where I stayed through Wednesday–after dark.
- Lunch meeting with Jeffrey Levy, the web manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We spoke about his extensive agency background involving regulatory actions during the post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina horror shows, and his ongoing workload with the Federal Web Managers Council.
- Visited the BIG exhibition at the National Archives, celebrating the gallery’s 75th anniversary.
- Walked through the National History Museum and the Air and Space Museum, but was unimpressed by both; the former was routine for any urban museum and the latter left me jaded.
- Enjoyed the Newseum, which celebrated the birth and ongoing reception of news. Here’s a picture I shot of a 100-foot video wall. More on this in a subsequent post.
Tuesday and Wednesday
Attended numerous sessions of the conference. You can track my and others’ live-tweeting by searching the reverse-chronological #ali hashtag. Personal highlights included:
- Listening to Captain David Faggard, chief blogger and twitterer for the U.S. Air Force, talk about how they block nothing for incoming airmen. Many folks had blogged about Faggard’s social networking evangelism in the past, not to mention my blog posts last year about the rising importance of MyBase and tactical networking. It was great to hear him–and meet him–in person.
- Listening to Pam Broviak, a public works director for LaSalle, Illinois, and her Virginia colleague, Bill Greeves, talk about MuniGov, which they founded to enable government collaboration. Like Dave, I’d met Pam over the intertubes and it was neat to meet the Second Life addict and twitter maven in person.
- Learning about Share Your DC–through the collaborative work of Eli Singer and Victoria Isley–to learn how DC residents branded their city. The duo explained how they used social media to attract economic development through tourism.
- Listening to Stephen Miller of the U.S. Department of State’s eDiplomacy office talk about Diplopedia and other social technologies to increase knowledge sharing and improve both internal communication and external outreach. He and I later chatted over cocktails and I picked up more nuggets on his perceptions of the White House and where new media may be headed.
- Hearing and meeting Steve Ressler in person talk about his GovLoop side project, after countless reciprocal emails and tweets in recent months. If you’re employed in government circles whether internally or as a consultant/contractor like me, and you’re not a GovLoop member, what are you waiting for?
One of the neat things about social media conferences and networking events is you sometimes get to associate a face and internal behaviors with people you’d interacted with online for months.
For instance, one of the ALI attendees was John Stauffer, an Ogilvy strategist, who also live-tweeted the general sessions. Due to our political interests and geographies, we’d shared stories in the past but never met. Now, we have. Ditto for Alexandra Rampy who shares a government wiki passion with me; we were unable to talk much but at least we can say we’re no longer faceless twitter names and email addresses.
I enjoyed seeing Department of Defense contractor Maxine Teller again–we’d met last fall as her inlaws live near me–who was a pre-conference workshop leader to Andy’s and my post-conference workshop; and it was cool to meet fellow live-tweeter Kelly O’Brien, a federal contractor with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Separate from an insightful breakfast meeting with Steve Lunceford and Andy’s and my last-minute collaborative prepping and our well-attended three-hour workshop, it’s worth noting the evening’s celebrities.
Knowing I’d be departing Friday morning for a friend’s wedding and not staying for the Government 2.0 unconference (see CNet review) I reached out to several tweeps in advance to schedule a mini “tweetup” where we could match names and faces, like John Stauffer and I did earlier in the week.
I’d reached out to Craig Kessler (a frequent blog commenter here), Tracy Johnson (who I met at last fall’s New Marketing Summit), Amanda Eachim (a fellow introvert and voice behind the USDA’s Food Safety twitter channel), and Justin Kerr-Stevens (a government strategist from London), among others–but I lacked knowledge for a location.
Enter Lovisa Williams (a State employee, and colleague of Stephen Miller, mentioned above) who was celebrating her birthday at Coco Sala and knew that both Andy and Steve Ressler wanted to attend both–so we decided to share the twitter love.
Justin’s British colleague Dominic Campbell, You2Gov founder Alan Silberberg, and Pam Broviak and her daughter joined some of Lovisa’s friends including Eric Hackathorn–who apparently shares a virtual world connection to Pam.
The drive back. I got on the beltway around 8:30 in the morning and reached Sturbridge, Mass. mere minutes after 5 p.m. Pitstops notwithstanding, I was victimized to nearly 90 minutes’ of traffic in various parts of Connecticut–on 95, the Merritt Parkway, and routes 91 and 84.
The reason why I’m not in DC this weekend (for the aforementioned Government 2.0 camp) is because one of my best friends since sixth grade is getting married in about six hours. The location will be this 1832 Meetinghouse.
Mike and his bride, Lauren, are nowhere on social networking sites so I won’t mention their full names here. Suffice to say, I’m the sole groomsman and another childhood friend who I haven’t seen in 20+ years is the best man.
The wedding rehearsal was yesterday at 5; hence, the northward speeding and dreaded traffic.
One more thing
The week’s roundup can’t be complete without mentioning the kicker.
If Mike’s wedding wasn’t this weekend and if Andy and I weren’t speaking this week, I’d be in Israel.
Earlier this month, the Israel Consulate of New York invited me to participate in an all-expense-paid “blogger mission” to Israel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go. Even if Andy covered the ALI talk solo, I couldn’t say no to Mike. Aren’t I a great friend?