Searching for something I can say

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My voice is recovering from an intense couple days with Microsoft’s MSN search group and a collection of bloggers from all over the world. Fascinating trip.

One of the bloggers attending was Marc Orchant. He runs a terrific Tablet PC productivity blog among many, many other things. Simply amazing person. I use Tablets a lot, but Marc has an unbelievably wide knowledge of just about every Tablet tool out there. I slipped up at one point in a discussion and wrote some scribbles on a paper. Not Marc. He had his MindManager at the ready.

In fact, I saw lots of Tablets on this trip. Lots of Toshibas. This is very encouraging. The adoption from within Microsoft is terrific. For those working on the next generation of products, they need to live with the Tablet to really appreciate its value and become inspired by its flexibility.

A few of the other bloggers are way ahead of me in terms of writing about the event. David Weinberger and Liz Lawley are a couple. And I see that SearchEngineWatch has some details too.

I arrived up in Seattle on Sunday. Turns out Marc Orchant and I were booked on the same flight and shared the same ride to the hotel. After a quick bite to eat we met Buzz Bruggeman of ActiveWords fame. Buzz was jazzed because ActiveWords had just gotten favorable mention in Oct 3rd’s New York Times. (You may have to log in to get to Page 2 to read about ActiveWords.)

Once we got things settled at the hotel, we walked down to the market and Buzz shared some of his terrific stories about Seattle, ActiveWords and some of the conferences he participates in. Buzz is quite the storyteller. Marc dwarfs my quiet developer-mindness too. In fact, Marc’s title on his business card from VanDyke Software is “Story Teller.”

That evening the MSN team invited us for a light dinner and open bar. I’m a cheap date though since I don’t drink. Diet Coke was as far as I went. Water was fine. The conversation is what I was really there for. As the evening progressed I was able to hear less and less though. Makes sense. You put a bunch of passionate people together in a small room and soon everything becomes a solid roar. The walk back to the hotel was refreshingly quiet.

Monday morning I woke hungry and was early to breakfast–well almost. Ahead of me was Chris Prillio fresh from Gnomedex. Chris was wired and handing out RSS buttons. I proudly took one although I lost it somewhere in my luggage until I got home. I wish I’d gone to Gnomedex. Steve Wozniak was there. Since my S100 days I’ve been in awe of Wozniak’s engineering prowess.

The bulk of the day was covered by NDAs, but as I mentioned earlier, I kept noticing all the Tablets. There were Tablets all over. Scoble even accidentally knocked one to the floor. No damage of course. And during one of the breaks I wiped off some water that had dripped onto one of the Tablets on the floor. I’d hate to see someone’s Tablet short out.

After a full day of interacting with the search team we bussed over to a local restaurant. Like the night before it didn’t take long before the roar returned. My voice was going as I had some great converstaions with Susan Dumais of Microsoft Research, Sean Carver who organized the event, and many others.

By about 11PM I was dragging, but Chris Pirillo threw out a softball to us (Marc and I) as to why he should get a Tablet so for the next hour the three of us talked Tablets. Chris needs a loaner. Lora had tried in the past to get him one. We need to try again. This is a missed opportunity by Toshiba or whoever wants to take the lead. Chris is extremely influential in the user community.

I could tell Chris, Marc, Scoble and others were going too strong for me, so I called it a night and took a ride back to the hotel with Buzz. The driver had immigrated from Russia. I wasn’t a bit surprised when Buzz started talking Russian with him and sharing his stories from a trip he’d taken to Russia.

Unfortunately, my brain was not as tired as my body that night and I couldn’t fall asleep till much later. So by morning my knuckles were dragging on the carpet. I was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough energy for the day, but as it turned out we saw some terrific presentations from the Microsoft Research group. Liz has a great write up about them.

I also got an adrenaline boost when they gave each of us a $120 gift certificate to the Microsoft Store. So although my bags were full, I found some extra space to get a couple gifts for Lan and my nieces and nephews.

Afterwards Marc and I were off to catch our flight home. Both of us were concerned about getting to the airport in time, but as it turned out there practically were no lines in the airport. So we had more time to talk Tablets. Marc has some great suggestions about how to organize the ISV/developer community a bit more.

I’m back home now trying to catch up on things so there will be light blogging for a bit. It’s good to be home and give my voice a rest.