Every time I leave the annual High Ed Web conference, and I’ve done it five times now, I find myself trying to put together some sort of cogent, blog-worthy reaction to the whole thing. And more often than not, I wind up defeated. It’s just so hard to wrap up all the great things that happen in the space of those four or five days — the wisdom gleaned from the presenters, the conversations had at all hours of the day and night, the amazing combination of knowledge and silliness that only HighEdWeb can provide.
This year has proved no different. I’ve sat down to write a piece about #heweb13 a half dozen times or more and backed away from the keyboard each time. I mean, our wonderful blogging team covered more than 40 different sessions and many others have put together excellent summations on other parts of the web. They’ve got a lot of the details covered. So what’s left to say?
I keep coming back to two words. Thank you.
Thank you, #heweb13, for being the place that somehow leaves me refreshed and recharged on a sleep schedule I thought I left behind in college. Thank you for the hard work of so many amazing people from the conference committee to the presenters to countless others that makes this the extremely rare conference worth attending from opening orientation session right to the closing swag is handed out.
Thank you Steve Wozniak for being so dang down to earth, despite your place in the tech pantheon. Thank you to Scott Stratten for showing us that there’s still a better way to do things and that it’s worth dragging the rest of the world with you to that good place, even if they’re kicking and screaming.
Thank you karaoke in places that were as shocked to see us as we were to be there. Thank you Buffalo for having a brewery district.
But most of all, thank you to the people of High Ed Web. The new faces and the old, the people with the lengthy titles and those just starting out. More than any other conference I’ve ever attended, the spirit of openness, camaraderie and fun defines this bunch. The willingness to share and to help, to encourage and mentor is unique to this group. It’s hard to imagine another industry where a competitor would show you how they did what they did, and then offer to share their code with you. Or be happy for you when you put a different spin on something they accomplished and perhaps made it a little better. How many other groups would give up sleep to build a website for an organization in a town many of the attendees had never visited before? At how many other conferences do you actually find yourself really WANTING to pile into a packed joint with people you just spent all day with? How many sessions in Buffalo are already turning into months-long discussions about how to improve the web and social media? How many new friendships were forged in four days?
It’s that spirit that gives HighEdWeb its true mojo. The sweatshirts and events are undeniably cool, but it’s the people that make this conference magic. Don’t ever change. I believe I heard this in the run up to Buffalo: “Stay HighEdWeb, my friends.” Word.
And thank you.
There’s one more very, very big thank you to hand out. As many of you know Laura Kenyon, our founding publisher, has decided to step down from her role and step back from Link a bit. I say a bit because we’re not planning on letting her get far.
It’s safe to say that Link would not exist without her. From her skills as a writer and editor to her efforts at cat-herding and diplomacy, she has led a team that built a magazine from nothing and turned that magazine into a valuable resource for those of us in High Ed Web and beyond. She’s done it all with creativity, grace and good humor and she leaves some very, very big shoes to fill. So thank you Laura, for making this happen.