Sitting here with Buzz talking about Google’s Zeitgeist conference

I’m sitting here with Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords. He picked me up from the airport tonight. I have spent the last few hours telling him all about the Google Zeitgeist conference.

They asked me not to blog about it, mostly because some of the executives that spoke there from Google competitors asked to have it be off the record and not for blogging. The speakers were pretty open and I could see why they might not want to be quoted.

I just wanted to send a public message to Larry, Sergey, Eric and the rest of the Google team: thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I have to say that everyone at Google treated me extremely well. They didn’t tell me any secrets (although I picked up a few hints) but they were, to a person, nice, smart, and fun to be around. I felt like I was at Microsoft. In fact, if it weren’t for the color logo on the building, I wouldn’t know that I had left Redmond. My head hurt. Being around 450 smart people for two days does that to you.

When I presented to them this morning I stepped off the stage and into the audience. Why? You should have seen who was in the audience. Folks who run the world’s greatest media properties in the world. The librarian of congress was sitting in the first row. Many of the world’s top CEOs and VPs (a VP from GE followed my talk). I was struck by how much better the conversations I was having around the event were than the presentations (and there were some awesome presentations – the kind you’d see keynoting at the SXSW or PopTech! or “D” conferences). If I had a suggestion for the Google’ers it’d be to make the format more conversational. This thing needed an unconference format in the worst way. The expertise that was sitting in the audience was awe inspiring.

I’m very honored that Eric Schmidt (and Gary Boles, who was the planner) invited me to speak to this audience. We might be hard core competitors, but I certainly admire Google a lot and have ever since that day in 1998 when I did my first search on Google (it was for the word “NetMeeting” and the result set that came back was so much better than all the other engines out there that I switched immediately).

Having Vint Cerf come up to me after my speech and say “great speech” is one of the highlights of my life. I will never forget that. I hope I get to return the favor someday.

It’s actually a good thing they asked me not to blog because if they didn’t limit me from talking here I would have added onto the Google hype pile. Some of the relationships I made, though, will definitely show up on my blog in the future.

20 thoughts on “Sitting here with Buzz talking about Google’s Zeitgeist conference

  1. I was luck enough to attend the conference, and it was as good as Robert makes it out to be.

    Robert gave an interesting presentation about blogging and the blogsphere in general – very enlightening.

    Hopefully, the openness and cooperation of off-the-record conferences will continue – while they might not bring in the press, they do keep the ideas churning.

  2. I was luck enough to attend the conference, and it was as good as Robert makes it out to be.

    Robert gave an interesting presentation about blogging and the blogsphere in general – very enlightening.

    Hopefully, the openness and cooperation of off-the-record conferences will continue – while they might not bring in the press, they do keep the ideas churning.

  3. This isn’t a conference. It was a partner meeting. Heh.

    I attend events all the time that I can’t blog.

    A conference, to me, is one that’s open to the public. And, yes, if anyone had a conference that’s open to the public but asked me not to blog I wouldn’t go.

  4. This isn’t a conference. It was a partner meeting. Heh.

    I attend events all the time that I can’t blog.

    A conference, to me, is one that’s open to the public. And, yes, if anyone had a conference that’s open to the public but asked me not to blog I wouldn’t go.

  5. Feh. All sound and fury from an grossly overvauled Advertising Company. Invite a buncha CEOs, VPs, and other self-appointed big-shots, make them feel important, and elitest. But it’s all mainly a pitch for base.google.com and other rot. ‘Customer Innovation Conference’ which translated becomes, ‘do all your dirty work for us, give us all your databases and information and we will innovate “ads” around it all, taking a pound of flesh, giving back ounces in return.’ And oh yeah, btw, everything is off-the-record. And you know what is funny? You once said you’d never attend a conference that made such a ‘no blog’ rule. ;)

    “All speeches and discussions at Zeitgeist are off the record. To ensure that our presenters and attendees can speak openly, no press coverage or blogging is permitted.”

  6. Feh. All sound and fury from an grossly overvauled Advertising Company. Invite a buncha CEOs, VPs, and other self-appointed big-shots, make them feel important, and elitest. But it’s all mainly a pitch for base.google.com and other rot. ‘Customer Innovation Conference’ which translated becomes, ‘do all your dirty work for us, give us all your databases and information and we will innovate “ads” around it all, taking a pound of flesh, giving back ounces in return.’ And oh yeah, btw, everything is off-the-record. And you know what is funny? You once said you’d never attend a conference that made such a ‘no blog’ rule. ;)

    “All speeches and discussions at Zeitgeist are off the record. To ensure that our presenters and attendees can speak openly, no press coverage or blogging is permitted.”

  7. sounds like fun Scoble, i really want to see what you’re going to become in 10 years.

    you are making some heavy, heavy connections with the leaders of major industries. this can only be a positive thing for your reputation.

    have fun growing scoble, walk with microsoft hand in hand and return them to the greatness and respect they deserve.

    can’t wait to pick up the book!

  8. sounds like fun Scoble, i really want to see what you’re going to become in 10 years.

    you are making some heavy, heavy connections with the leaders of major industries. this can only be a positive thing for your reputation.

    have fun growing scoble, walk with microsoft hand in hand and return them to the greatness and respect they deserve.

    can’t wait to pick up the book!

  9. This is even worse than not saying anything :) now I am curious. “We cannot blog about, except to say that it was amazing and I saw and heard fantastic things that I cannot share with you …” oh well :)

  10. This is even worse than not saying anything :) now I am curious. “We cannot blog about, except to say that it was amazing and I saw and heard fantastic things that I cannot share with you …” oh well :)

  11. I really love it when I hear or read about things that say, “Don’t Blog this OK?”. Come on. This is ridiculous. The Ivory Tower of the Technology Business not wanting to be exposed to the blogger. I would blog the hell out of it! I wouldn’t be invited back, but that’s how they get you, threaten your relationships for telling on them.

  12. I really love it when I hear or read about things that say, “Don’t Blog this OK?”. Come on. This is ridiculous. The Ivory Tower of the Technology Business not wanting to be exposed to the blogger. I would blog the hell out of it! I wouldn’t be invited back, but that’s how they get you, threaten your relationships for telling on them.

  13. Scare isn’t quite the right word. They are wicked smart. Motivated. And have resources. They are a great company. A formidable competitor.

    That said, if I worry too much about Google, I’ll take my eye off of the pile of money that’s there for the taking. It’s like the early days of the gold rush. I see so much opportunity all over the place that if I worry about Google getting to one good vein before we do, then I’ve proven myself stupid.

    So, yes, I do try to learn from them but I’d rather lose sleep thinking about what Microsoft should do to grow and build better products and all that.

  14. Scare isn’t quite the right word. They are wicked smart. Motivated. And have resources. They are a great company. A formidable competitor.

    That said, if I worry too much about Google, I’ll take my eye off of the pile of money that’s there for the taking. It’s like the early days of the gold rush. I see so much opportunity all over the place that if I worry about Google getting to one good vein before we do, then I’ve proven myself stupid.

    So, yes, I do try to learn from them but I’d rather lose sleep thinking about what Microsoft should do to grow and build better products and all that.

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