Captiva-Ting Conversations from the Search Insider Summit

First published April 22, 2010 in Mediapost’s Search Insider

I promised MediaPost a wrap-up (from the programming chair’s perspective) of last week’s Search Insider Summit. Honestly, from the moment that Brett Brewer from Microsoft first fired up Pivot to the final moments of day three, when Jen Milks and Michelle Prieb from Ball State gave us a glimpse into the minds of Gen Next, I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my presenters. I’ve programmed a lot of these shows now and have never had as much positive response as I have from this one. Well-done, each and every one of you.

A lot has been said about the new TED-style format. I actually had a few TEDsters reach out to send best wishes prior to the summit. They also wanted feedback about the success of the show. I think it’s fair to say that the adopted TED format was a hit. Attendees loved the pace of the presentations, the varying perspectives presented — and, most of all, the conversations that were catalyzed by the content.

Here are a few of the many highlights from three days of SIS:

Brett Brewer from Microsoft Labs – putting Pivot through its paces and giving us some jaw-dropping visualizations of data and how we can work with it. There’s some very cool stuff coming out of MS labs.

Mark Watkins from Goby – driving home the point that every search is launched from a relevant personal context, and if engines could somehow understand that, it would be a huge leap forward for Web search.

Matt Kain from The Search Agency – making us all realize just how important really-good hair is — and also how, more and more, we’re launching our searches through apps that offer fingertip functionality.

Mike Moran from Converseon – causing us to rethink our whole approach to search optimization. Imagine, optimizing our Web sites for people rather than algorithms!

Chris Copeland from GroupM Search – asking us to imagine what the online world (and our media plans) might look like if there were no Google, and also scattering oblique mentions of Tiger Woods, Jesse James and “Brokeback Mountain.” There’s not enough therapy in the world to drive out some of the images that Chris brought to my mind.

Scott Brinker from ion Interactive – giving us the job description for a brand-new role within organizations, that of the marketing technologist. Scott made us realize the time is ripe for an individual comfortable in the worlds of marketing and technology, one who can bridge the chasm between them.

Yvette Lui from Facebook – showing us how the landscape of information dissemination is forever altered, and why we search marketers have to understand the new reality.

And, in the last session of the Summit, Michelle Prieb and Jen Milks from Ball State University, giving us a glimpse at what the ever-demanding Gen Next wants in their online search experience. Hint: everything, aimed just at me and available instantaneously! Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t be evil!

The bar was set high, with these talks being just a sample of the many presenters who took the stage. As always, though, the conversations that happened in the hallways, during the roundtable breakouts, on the golf course, beaches and during the sunset cruise somehow managed to exceed the formal presentations. This is a show about connections, community and conversations. The best part of the Summit is, was and always will be the attendees. It won’t be easy, but we will make this show even better next time. Mark it on your calendar, because you really don’t want to miss it.

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