Izea asked me to moderate a session on blogging tools and plugins this weekend at IzeaFest in Orlando, which turned out to be an awesome conference even though I attended only 2 to 3 hours of it. I drove into Orlando from Tampa on Saturday to run into Brian Clark, ShoeMoney, Loren Feldman and the Unique Blog Designs crew all chillin in the Grand Bohemian Hotel bar.
After listening to Loren Feldman totally rock the room, I had the chance to meet John Chow, Tamar Weinberg, Ted Murphy and some other great bloggers before our panel, which included Jonathan Dingman, Erik Hersman and Dan Rua.
I’d like to say that I learned a lot about interactivity in conferences by attending IzeaFest. The entire conference was live streamed via UStream.TV, where viewers could chat about the conference and submit questions to the panel. Also, members of the audience could comment on panel discussions or add to the conversation by Twittering to #IzeaFest during the show. This actually spiced things up on the panel as some members would drop links to various plugins, share their opinions on the plugins or even counter what the speakers were saying which led to some interesting discussion on the panel. Twitter feeds were broadcast on the big screen, as were online chats.
All in all, the interactive environment of the session was a breath of fresh air in the conference business, as most search engine conferences tend to rely on long winded off-tangent commentary by moderators and microphones being hogged up by conference insiders (note to search conferences, I know it’s difficult but please stop letting people bogart the mike and taking over session Q&A).