Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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6/5/2008
06:39 PM
David Berlind
David Berlind
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Note To Dennis Howlett: If You're So Down On E2, Then Stay Home

Dennis Howlett has posted a blog on ZDNet that essentially disses next week's Enterprise 2.0 Conference where he's scheduled (apparently, against his will) to moderate a panel discussion on microblogging (you know: Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, etc). Enterprise 2.0 is a production of TechWeb (Disclosure: the parent company to InformationWeek). Howlett's blog is called Enterprise Alley. All

Dennis Howlett has posted a blog on ZDNet that essentially disses next week's Enterprise 2.0 Conference where he's scheduled (apparently, against his will) to moderate a panel discussion on microblogging (you know: Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, etc). Enterprise 2.0 is a production of TechWeb (Disclosure: the parent company to InformationWeek). Howlett's blog is called Enterprise Alley. Alleys, including his, are where garbage is sometimes found.Dennis' vector of attack is to judge the merits of the event on the basis of who its biggest sponsors are and on the content of the E2-related press releases crossing his desk.

Regarding the caliber and roster of the those sponsoring E2, Dennis piles on after Jevon MacDonald (another E2 panel moderator that's apparently coming against his will too) calls out some of the E2 sponsors for being drag queens ("old enterprise companies dressing up like [pretty E2.0 babes]"); a post that was apparently channeled by Vinnie Mirchandani (not an unwilling E2 moderator or speaker).

As if (a) an Enterprise 2.0 event is only about the introduction of social media to businesses (it's not, here's the list of other topics) and (b) the only discussion to be had at the conference is framed by the event's so-called Diamond Sponsors (to which he links at one point), Howlett writes:

In the meantime every man and his dog wants to pitch their shiny new stuff at me. I guess that's because I'm on the 'media' list. I'm not sure how that happened but hey ho, even if I have yet to see a single approach that bears even a passing resemblance to the so-called 'new' social media.

I happen to love ZDNet. I spent 10 years of my life there and helped build it into the force that it is today. But to buy-off on Howlett's rationale is like saying the conversation on ZDNet isn't worth squat because of what one may think of the companies whose advertisements appear on ZDNet's pages.

Dennis seems to have conveniently forgotten that the majority of the event's highest quality content -- the content that helps drive the attendees' strategic thinking (as well as the questions they should be asking of the sponsors) -- is driven by the panels like he one he's moderating that involve no sponsorships whatsoever. Furthermore, given that it's an enterprise event, if he spends anytime wandering around his own alley, he'd find that most businesses are already doing business with Jevon's so-called drag queens.

Where else in our industry, besides the Enterprise 2.0 conference, can the architects of tomorrow's IT so easily challenge their existing solution providers with the disruptive thinking they just heard about somewhere else? For example, in a panel discussion like the one Dennis is moderating.

Or maybe their lines of questioning will be influenced by my Evening in the Cloud which takes place the night of June 9 (on the eve of Enterprise 2.0). It's a free 3-hour meetup, the first 90 minutes of which Amazon, Google, and salesforce.com will be making their case (to some hand-picked CIO-types) for running not just some, but all of their enterprise IT in the cloud. Where else is that conversation taking place in a public forum? I'm still taking registrations. But judging by the number of people already signed up, you'd better get here early if you want a good seat.

Steve Wylie is the Conference Director and General Manager of the Enterprise 2.0 show. The buck stops with him. I asked Steve to answer Dennis' criticisms. Steve told me:

It's naïve to say suggest the big software vendors don't belong at this conference. 99.99% of the people at this conference are customers of one or more of the big vendors. They have to hear the vision and decide for themselves - Is this something Microsoft can do for me or do I need to go to Atlassian or Jive?

My point is that events like these aren't defined by the people who pay the bills. They're defined by the thought provocation and conversation that results from having both old and new in the same room.

So, Dennis, if you're going to be so down on Enterprise 2.0 for successfully doing what no other event does and you don't want the architects of tomorrow's IT to incorporate some of your own well-informed insights into their thinking, then let me know and save yourself the trip. I'll gladly sit in because that's a conversation I most definitely want to be a part of.

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