Can't stop thinkin' about Jim Buckmaster

Okay, so I'm still thinking about the Jim Buckmaster talk at mesh 07 (once again...I hate the lower-case 'm'). First of all, he's probably the tallest guy that I've ever seen. But beyond that, I thought he was an excellent speaker. As others have pointed out, he didn't sound very interested in what he was talking about but still came across as an engaging speaker.

Over the weekend, I tried to tell my friends about mesh and all the great speakers that I saw, but the only one they were interested in was 'the Craigslist guy.'*

"But he isn't really the Craigslist guy," I told them. "He is just the CEO,"

"So how does he make money?" they ask

"They charge for certain job and apartment posts in a few cities across North America...I guess that covers the cost, that's all they need," I said

"Well why don't they try and make more money? And why does their website look so shitty?"

"I don't know...I guess he just isn't into making money...and I guess he wants the website to accessible by everyone, know matter what sort of computer they have,"

"So they can't make Craigslist look better?"

And that's the question I'm left with. Is the Craigslist 'brand' that boring gray site? Would a rebrand cause them to lose visitors?

For some reason, I think it would. People have probably gotten used to the look of Craigslist.  The fact that it is nothing more than a system of classified ads means that people aren't expecting, nor are they wanting, anything more flashy.

One of the questions that would have been interesting to ask Jim is whether or not we can expect to see a Craiglist Facebook app. If it were well designed, it wouldn't limit anyone's ability to use the regular site. I imagine that a system where you could simultaneously post something (item for sale, job posting, apartment for rent, etc) on your Facebook (making it known to your network or whatever your privacy settings allow) and simultaneously on Craigslist. I know from recent experience that some people searching for roommates via Craigslist have asked potential applicants to send the link to their myspace profile (remember when MySpace was actually cool?) as a way of weeding out potential nutcases. A Craigslist/Facebook app would just streamline this process.

(side note: is possible to subscribe to certain Craigslist categories/searches/cities via e-mail or RSS? I don't really feel like checking)

If you scroll down to the bottom of this post by Kyra from PR Girlz, you'll see some great Jim Buckmaster quotes.

Actually, the best part was when he was asked what Craig Newmark (Craigslist founder) was up to these days. "Mostly just game shows and daytime TV," Jim said.


*"I met Mike Masnick, Rachel Sklar, and Richard Edelman," I told my friend.

"So what? I can make up names of people, too," he said.

Fixing mesh with duct tape

One of the other people that I had the chance to meet at mesh07 was John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. During his panel discussion with Maggie Fox (who said she liked my shoes) and Jen Evans, someone asked a question about why he blogged and about the return of investment on blogging. John's answer was probably the best that I have ever heard to this question. He said that when he first started blogging, he didn't think anyone would ever read it. Blogging gave him a chance to gather his thoughts, and forced him to research some of the topics he was writing about. As a result, John said that he became a better writer, and was able to speak more confidently about what he was writing about.

Those two reasons alone are enough for most people to start blogging. While it might be possible to make similar improvements by just keeping a journal, a blog forces your thoughts and writing into the public sphere. You become much more accountable for what you've written, and as a result are more likely to take it more seriously.

Another point that was brought up in the same panel discussion (I don't know who said it, but I'll attribute it to Jantsch just because I like his good-natured attitude) was that we don't try and measure the ROI on taking a client out for lunch. A meeting like that might not result in anything tangible at that moment, but its about building relationships. The same goes for an organization's blog. It is unlikely that launching a blog will result in a huge increase in sales, but by building a relationship with

I'm not saying anything new here but, like John Jantsch, I'm just writing it down and posting it to secure my own thoughts on the matter.



So, I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by the entire mesh event. I'm still reeling from all the great people I met and things I heard. It was also probably the busiest week of my life, and I'll try and recap it all. On Monday night, I had the good fortune to attend the Canadian New Media Awards at Toronto's Carlu. The awards themselves were mostly memorable due to the fact that I met the Pure Pwnage crew. If you don't know what they are about, check their site out and start watching. At 5 million views per episode, it has to be one of the most popular Canadian television shows of all time. The fact that it is done entirely by a couple of guys (and one girl) with a video camera and a website proves that their is a better business model for television than the traditional broadcast system. I also ran into Eli Singer at the awards, and had a good chat with him about, among other things, his Tongan domain name. Being new to Toronto (I moved into my apartment in March..can I still say I'm new?), I hadn't heard about CaseCamp before but look forward to checking it out.

On Tuesday, I attended the Third Tuesday meetup. (Disclosure: my company sponsored this event) The mesh guys (Mark Evans,Mathew Ingram, Michael McDerment, Rob Hyndman, and Stuart MacDonald) were the speakers of the evening, and have grown skilled at weaving the myth of their event's creation. I didn't have a chance to ask them about the ridiculous idea of using a lower-case 'm' for the mesh branding, but I did have a short conversation with Lionel Menchaca, Dell's blogger. He is a great guy to talk to, and his take on the story of why Dell started shipping Linux machines was new to me. As a Dell user, I promised him that I'd let him know which direction I went with my next laptop. Of course, it is always great to see the Thornley-Fallis headliners and Chris at these events. Joe Thornley has really done a great job of organizing Third Tuesdays, and like a James Brown for the digital age, he seems to be the hardest live-blogging man in PR business. Scotty Mac was also in attendance, soaking up all the Web 2.0/PR goodness that a little East Coaster can.

Tuesday and Wednesday were mesh (another disclosure: my company was also a mesh sponsor), the real deal. I haven't been to very many tech conferences, but I was very impressed with this one. Techcrunch's Michael Arrington was my favourite speaker of the day, and people other than me have made some great posts about what he had to say. I also had the good luck (whoa, name-drop alert) to sit next to Techdirt's Mike Masnick at dinner on Wednesday. He is every bit the intelligent man that I thought he would be, and I also enjoyed hearing him speak at a panel discussion on Thursday. (name-drop alert, part two) Rachel Sklar was also at the dinner, and she seemed (at the very least) vaguely interested in Espen's upcoming thesis.

While some of the actual talks, panel discussions, and workshops tended to blur together and might have been a bit more basic than many wished, I really enjoyed talking to people during the aptly-named 'mesh breaks.' One of the highlights for me was hearing the wonderful geek humour of Mark Relph and his Microsoft crew at lunch. Wikipedia's third (fourth?) most prolific editor and article author was also at the table that day, although I can't remember his name (but I'll never forget these stats: over 92,000 edits and more than 3,000 articles to his credit). Another highlight was Mark McKay's mesh video. He is one wacky dude, and I can't wait to see him again.

I also got to meet Aaron Brazell of B5 and Technosailor Really nice guy, and I would have liked to talk to him longer about Wordpress (damn, that CSS).

I'm sure that there is a lot that I'm forgetting about the conference. Like, how tall is Jim Buckmaster? Seriously, he asked me where the water bottles were and all I could see was this enormous expanse of purple shirt.

Well this post is getting a bit long, but before I end it I would like to thank Mark Evans, Mathew Ingram, Michael McDerment, Rob Hyndman, and Stuart MacDonald again for putting together something awesome. Hopefully, I'll be here next year for mesh08. Actually, I'd rather be living in Hawaii surfing, but mesh08 is a close second.

(also check this shit out: someone took a picture of me at the conference and posted it on Flickr)