Clay Shirky Has a Posse

Andrew Orlowski wrote this hilarious, non-fact-based account of how the Emerging Technology conference's agenda was set. Apparently, Clay Shirky is the god we all worship.I was one of the track chairs for the event, focusing on wireless, and the process of soliciting and encouraging proposals, and reading and commenting on them was entirely consensus driven with about 7 to 10 people involved in conference calls and online collaboration. It was a great way to build a conference. The only problem was that there were too many excellent proposals. And a few proposals in which excellent emerging technology was wrapped in marketing instead of clearer talk. I had two proposals rejected myself, and several folks I'd suggested also had their talks rejected. But a few made it through into a very tight schedule that's bursting with interesting ideas. The danger of soliciting proposals is that when proposals are rejected, people have sour grapes because their particular hobbyhorse doesn't wind up fitting into the overall vision for an event. I'm sure academics deal with this all the time. (Update: I just met Clay Shirky and another track chairperson Geoff Cohen. We discussed the article, which Clay had heard about but not read yet, and we're all quite amazed at the Register publishing this piece. It reads like an account of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Wi-Fi. We were there. We know what happened.) Even later: Tim O'Reilly wrote why the Register article was a hack job. Meanwhile, Clay approach a group of his friends and colleagues, and they prostrated themselves.