I came home from Gnomedex Friday night not feeling good at all. The day’s presentations had been great but I really felt like I had little to offer since I’m not a developer and am really just a consumer of the technologies on the day’s agenda. I drove home in a bit of a foul mood – even debating if I should come back for Saturday’s presentations or just listen to the live stream.
But I went, and man am I glad I did. The message the was driven home to me was that users like me are extremely valuable to the process. The room was repeatedly referred to as not just a group on the “bleeding edge” or the ultimate early adopters, but as the lunatic fringe. 300 people willing to try out raw new technologies and create markets, new products, and new ideas from them. This is the group of people who turned blogging into a word that many Americans have heard, convinced Apple to implement RSS in Safari and podcast support in the upcoming iTunes 4.9, and who convinced Microsoft to support RSS in Longhorn. The room was packed with bloggers, podcasters, video bloggers, and developers of web sites like Technorati, PubSub, and Bloglines, as well as developers of critical RSS applications like NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, and RSSBandit. Not to mention inventors of the underlying technology (thanks, Dave). But none of that would have been possible if users hadn’t picked it up, kicked it around a bit, given feedback to the developers, and helped make it all useful.
So, Adam has been correct all along, it is all about users and developers partying together. That’s what makes technology work, and what makes it relevant in the real world.