July 01, 2006

Gnomeplex, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a multipart article on the Gnomedex 6.0 conference. Part 1 is available here and is the best place to start if you haven't started there.

Day Two of Gnomedex began with Chris Pirillo bubbling into the auditorium ("this is my moment to shine here, this is my moment, of all the days of the year, this is mine") with news that "we made the front page of the P.I.!", the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It didn't take long for Chris to fetch the daily page-one PDF on the PI's website, and display it on the big screen above the stage. "John Edwards courts tech crowd in Seattle," the headline begins, with an enthusiastic John Edwards speaking from the podium, and that caricature, the Lockergnome one, looming in the background like some geekified Big Brother in an alternate universe.

The view of Mt. Ranier from my hotel room

There are little things about Gnomedex which are cool and good and worthy of comment. One is that there is none of the Hollywood-style exclusiveness, with doors closed until 5 minutes before the sessions begin in the morning. In those kinds of conferences, which are most tech conferences, including WSJ's D, PC Forum, and ETech, they employ guards to keep the doors closed until the appointed time, at which point there's a mad rush for the choice seats. Luckily everyone has a different definition of "choice." Funny how nature works that way. Unfortunately, my choice usually leads to the discovery that my desired seat is taken. Sometimes the entire row I want to sit in is already taken -- reserved for folks who often don't show. I tend to sit in the front row. I figure if I'm gonna pay thousands of dollars for a conference, might as well sit up close to I can see and hear it all from up close.

At Gnomedex, there are no guards at the door. You stumble out of bed, wash up, and stagger back over to the Bell Harbor Conference Center, walk in, up the elevator, through the lobby area, into the auditorium, down the steps of the aisle to the front, and presto, you've got your spot. No Hollywood b.s.

For that Gnomedex gets a kudo.

* * *

I recently saw An Inconvenient Truth and, since I live near the ocean, the message about sea levels rising by 20 feet, displacing hundreds of millions of people worldwide, really hit home. As I looked out my hotel window out to the Puget Sound, I tried to imagine what twenty more feet of water would look like.

For one thing, it'd completely engulf the Edgewater's restaurant downstairs. Which has its upside: no more polka-Carpenters wedding bands playing until midnight.

Except, then I think about twenty feet of water as I'm walking along the waterfront on the way to the conference, walking past an incomprehensibly huge Norwegian Cruise Lines cruise ship and the masses of people, luggage, taxis, cops, and buses. If the water were twenty feet higher, it would probably be lapping up against the sidewalk. It might be higher than the sidewalk.

I look out to Bainbridge Island across the water, and think about all those waterfront homes. Under water. I think about Mercer Island sitting in Lake Washington. All of its waterfront homes under water. I wonder about the Interstate-90 concrete bridge span that connects Seattle and Mercer Island. If Lake Washington were 20 feet higher, what would happen to the bridge?

Actually, could Lake Washington get higher? It's connected to the Puget Sound via a canal waterway and a series of locks. What happens if the Puget Sound is 20 feet higher?

Locks make me think of Seven Locks, in Maryland, along the Potomac River. If the Atlantic rose 20 feet, and made the Chesapeake rise 20 feet, that'd make the Potomac rise 20 feet, right? Which would pretty much wipe out a lot of the open space around the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

A twenty-foot sea level increase would wipe away Pacific Beach and Mission Beach in San Diego. Hell, it would wipe out the whole Mission Bay area. And the La Jolla Shores area as well. I wonder: would twenty more feet of water cover the runway for Lindbergh Field, San Diego's international airport?

* * *

At the opening night reception on Thursday night, I'd spotted a famous blogger who I'd not spoken to in probably a year. Went over to say hello. He was speaking with someone. I waited a few moments and then decided to move on and perhaps come back later. "Hold on," the famous blogger said. "I just want to finish this conversation." So I waited. He finished the conversation and then I said hello and shook his hand.

"I hear people talk about you."

Long pause.

"Oh?" I ask. Pause. "Most of it good, I hope."

"Most of it," the famous blogger says.

Someone with a microphone appears. He's looking to do a podcast with the famous blogger. Who has very very strong breath - onions, garlic, something.

"I don't want to do a podcast," he says.

The microphone guy presses on.

"No, really, I don't want to be interviewed."

The podcast guy is not giving up.

"Look, I'm not a politician, so I don't know how to put this, okay?"

The podcast guy goes away.

* * *

More later.

Posted by brian at July 1, 2006 09:31 AM


Brian, you might find this site interesting:


At about 13 feet, Point Loma becomes an island.

Posted by: Jason at July 1, 2006 11:49 AM

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