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#realtimeconf – it’s over, but the bar was raised

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

photo (17)The RealtimeConf 2013 and associated WebRTC camp is over. You missed it, sucker. What’s embarrassing to perhaps a larger audience is that a smallish IT company appropriately named &yet located in middle of nowhere Washington state has managed to make conferences relevant again. There are (or should be) three components of any industry event that you derive from your attendance. First, Informative. I need to learn something I didn’t know. Second, be Interesting. In our fast paced limited focus world, you have to be interesting to hold audience attention. Finally is Entertaining, I know that’s hard to sell to your boss, but let’s all admit it, we like to be entertained.

Most trade events, held in some nondescript hotel ballroom, graying men shuffling around in ill fitting suits inside photo (19)little 10 x 10 booths with banners proclaiming some feat of magic. Just not interesting. Shapeless sugary Danish with watery coffee sit like hobos on a side table. Speakers are usually nothing more than thinly veiled infomercials touting you have a problem, surprise they have the solution. I attend these events, not with pleasure, but because there simply is nothing else. I try to extract the IIE elements at these sham events but it’s work. Thus it’s no wonder that vendors complain that no relevant customers attend trade shows and equally complain about the high cost of such. The solution it would seem obvious.

photo (24)I was thus totally unprepared for RealtimeConf 2013. Which started with a marching band police escort to a funky venue space complete with fake protesters who hassled you into your seat.  Magical Voodoo crafted doughnuts  should your sugar levels drop. A table side dish preparation by New York’s famed Eleven Madison Park restaurant. Food trucks parked outside serving the daily lunch (I recommend the pork belly sandwich). A crazed story line with actors appearing throughout the event. An obvious LSD fueled MC who was so thoroughly immersed in his character seemed obliviously to the sheer lunacy happening around him.

But that was the Entertaining part. An entertained I was.

The interesting parts were the speakers, often geeky types deep into the technical details, strongly opinionated but just as quick to admit “but I could be 100% wrong.” Intermixed were industry speakers, asking the group to think a notch higher about what the new technology was enabling.

photo (21)I will write about what I believe was the first WebRTC federated demonstration now aptly titled, “Dean Bubley – Eat My Shorts.” I saw a new type of video WebRTC demonstration breaking out of the mold of talking heads. This time a remote controlled electronmicroscope. How’s that for a demo? My mind expanded.

Feross Aboukhadijeh @peercdn explained his idea about using WebRTC without a central server and instead using components from BitTorrent’s DHT, the audience waited patiently for him to finish before explaining to him how nearly impossible this task was (but thanks for playing). Nonetheless, Feross clung to his concept with an American truism – “why not?”. Indeed, why not?

Finally, the informative bits. Quality time with reps from Mozilla and Google where I wasn’t sure who was informing whom when the Google comment “oh does WebRTC do that?” as some uber geek explained some low level operational detail of WebRTC. It rings that WebRTC is still early, still has some kinks, but the promise remains strong and the ideas are just now starting to emerge.

photo (23)

So thanks &yet for ruining my future conference experiences where my now heightened expectations will never again be fulfilled.