From FooCamp to Ypulse to BlogHer in 8 days

I went off the radar for a few weeks. Apologies for that. I have a lot going on in my life right now – not all of it good – that is taking up a lot of my time and headspace at the moment. Plus I’ve been traveling a lot. I just got back from a 10 day trip to the Bay area for 3 conferences — FooCamp, Ypulse, and BlogHer.

me at Foo CampIt was my first FooCamp (I’m so psyched that I got an invite!). For those of you unfamiliar with Foo Camp, it is the predecessor to BarCamp with the word “Foo” an acronym for “Friends of O’Reilly.” Besides being a huge fan of O’Reilly since about 1994, I’m co-authoring an O’Reilly book with Rand Fishkin and Jessie Stricchiola called The Art of SEO and I’ve spoken twice at O’Reilly/CMP’s “Web 2.0 Expo” conference. So yes I’m an unabashed “Foo”. FooCamp is invitation-only and limited to several hundred people. It’s an “unconference” — where the program is developed and presented by the attendees. The more proactive you are at Foo Camp (in terms of sharing/participating), the more you’ll get out of it (and the more likely you’ll be invited back again). It’s completely free – free to attend, free food, free drinks, free “lodging” on the grounds – just bring your own tent. And yep, a lot of folks brought tents and camped out on the lawn. Some folks slept in the office buildings on the floor in sleeping bags. I’m not into “roughing it”, so I stayed at a nearby Holiday Inn Express. My older two daughters got to hang out at the Holiday Inn while I went to the conference, which was pretty boring — so they told me… about a MILLION times! Arrgh. Gotta love teenagers. Speaking of my teenagers, the middle one (who is 15) drew this flattering illustration (on the left) of me wearing a Foo Camp t-shirt. She finds it quite hilarious that I wear a T-shirt in public that says “Foo Camp.” Of course I live to embarrass her (or so she thinks!).

Foo Camp attendees run the gamut – entrepreneurs to authors to venture capitalists – but they can all be described as leading thinkers and innovators. It was a real treat. I got to meet a lot of amazing people. Way too many to list. But here’s an example: the founder of Drupal, Dries Buytaert. Dries blogged about his Foo Camp experience. Nobody has a bad time at Foo Camp.

After the Foo Camp weekend came Ypulse, a youth marketing conference. It was excellent. If you market to kids, tweens or teens, you should have been at this conference (so go to the next one!). My oldest Chloe was a speaker on the “Totally Wired Superstars” panel with other teen entrepreneurs. I really enjoyed the conference, but Chloe was in heaven — she met directors (Chloe wants to be a director), journalists, folks from Disney, Seventeen.com, MTV, and her hero, Ashley Qualls, the teenage “MySpace millionaire”.

Then a couple days later came the BlogHer conference, a conference focused on the women blogger community — a powerful and diverse voice in the blogosphere that includes “mommy bloggers”, foodies, political bloggers, techies, etc. It was my second BlogHer conference. I went last year too, when Chloe spoke. This time we just attended. Chloe did manage to get on the local (Bay area) news (see the video here) – she was interviewed as an attendee.

Chloe on ABC7 News

BlogHer was great. I did sometimes feel like the “token male” in the audience, because women so outnumbered men (I never felt unwelcome though, just to clarify!). Instead of feeling out of place, a male could look at it as an opportunity. For instance, I remember a guy telling me at last year’s BlogHer how he loved coming to their conferences because “it was like shooting fish in a barrel”. Ha ha! I presume he was single, but I probably shouldn’t assume that. ;)

Now I’m back and it’s back to the grindstone. I have articles to write, the book to work on, conference presentations to prepare for, a ton of emails to respond to, and personal crises to deal with. *deep sigh*

Rock on.

2 Comments

  • Craig Tomlin says:

    Hey Stephan, glad you’re back! I was wondering why the unusual silence. Sorry to hear about the bad stuff, but glad to hear you and your daughters got plenty out of the conferences. Are you going to be able to give us any previews or more information about the book you’re working on? Sounds very interesting!

  • Stephan Spencer says:

    Sorry, no previews of the book. But it’s going to be THE reference book for SEO. It will *rock*, I promise you.

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