When geeks turn on jeeks who turn on everyone else

I loved the Joburg 27dinner on 27 January.  In part it was because I got to speak and in part because I was there in a semi-official capacity as the soon to be chief chili of chilibean media (which hadn’t been announced yet).  For the most part it was great to have a bunch of people from different backgrounds there (geeks, marketeers and jeeks) participating in the overall vibe.  The first Cape Town 27dinner was held last night and reports are starting to emerge that it wasn’t as much fun or as interesting as the Joburg one.  Mike Stopforth has a post in which he comments on the cliques and divisions in the crowd.  As he points out, the 27dinners are meant to be about diversity and he feels that the Cape Town one fell short of that goal.  Apparently one group of people talked throughout some of the talks given.  One attendee mentioned to me that the dinner was a little bit like a bad wedding where the speakers tend to ignore their time limits and just kept going on and on with their less than subtle sales pitches.  The geek quarter seems to be intend on seceding from the 27dinner movement and hijacking the geek dinner effort that preceded the 27dinners.

So after one 27dinner which didn’t turn out the like the Joburg version the whole Cape Town community goes to pieces?  I hope not but it seems like the forumula that worked in Joburg last month isn’t working in Cape Town.  If that is the case then perhaps the answer is to modify the formula?  Perhaps Joburg and Cape Town should have 27dinners that really reflect the local community culture?  I don’t know.  We’re (my wife, my fellow chief chili, Victoire, and I) hoping to attend the Cape Town 27dinner in April and I am certainly hoping that it will be a fun event where I get to meet all the people I have been chatting to online and on the phone.  Sure I’d like not to have to sit through a dozen really long speeches but I intend to be there for the people, whether they be marketeers, geeks, jeeks or others.  Shouldn’t that be the reason for attending the 27dinners or any community gathering?  If not, what’s the point?

Dave Duarte, Ian Gilfillan and Shane Wilson have differing views on the inaugural Cape Town 27dinner.  Ian’s comments were pretty interesting:

I attended the 27 dinner last night, and have to say it was disappointing. Swimgeek and Jacques Marnewreck Marnewreck can tell you just how disappointing they found it.

I have a sightly different perspective though. It wasn’t a geek dinner, and was never meant to be. The 27 dinner describes itself as a get-together for geeks, marketers, entrepreneurs, writers, media practitioners, speakers.

And that’s what makes it potentially interesting. The crossover between various disciplines. The Digital Citizens Indaba was a roaring success of an example, where media people, activists, technologists, marketers produced an interesting dynamic.

It didn’t work last night, as the focus was too strongly on marketing, what was said wasn’t particularly interesting, and the geeks were bored. I was sitting in the riotous geek corner that was probably most dissatisfied with the talks.

To give some credit, the venue and food were excellent. The only complaint about this, half-joking, was that it wasn’t dark enough, with no pizza and no wires everywhere – i.e. a ‘typical’ geek dinner. It was well-presented with the sound being clear, and rotating slides of all the attendees blogs being a nice touch. All the little details that so often let events like these down were taken care of.

My personal favourite presentation was iamverity, who showed passion and heart, which always grabs the attention.

Mike recognised the shortfalls, and that’s why next time has been designated a blogger-only event, and he’s attempted to press-gang a few more diverse speakers, including me 🙂 Let’s hope next time is more successful.

I don’t know if I like this idea of a blogger only event.  Where is the community building if only one segment of the community is represented?  Mind you, the more I read the reviews about the event, the more I think what was really missing is pretty obvious: chilibean chilibean chilibean!

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