Review: Blog Indiana 2012 at the University of Indianapolis
By Bob Burchfield, Editor
UPDATE 8/5/2013: Blog Indiana is now known as Mixwest.
Back in 2008 when Web 2.0 and Twitter and Facebook and this whole social media thingy were still relative newcomers on the local scene, I got an e-mail from out of the blue from a complete stranger, Noah Coffey, inviting me to present a session on podcasting at his new social media conference in August 2008. Only a handful of people showed up for my session, but it didn’t matter. No one was there to see or hear me, and to be honest, neither was I. We were all gathered there at the inaugural Blog Indiana conference at the IUPUI Student Center to hear experts like Doug Karr, Kyle Lacy, Lorraine Ball, Tom Britt, and other local Internet, blog, and social media gurus share their expertise.
AroundIndy.com was already five years old in 2008. I kind of thought I knew my way around a computer. I’d been teaching computers for more than 20 years at the university level. The site was getting above average traffic, the daily podcast was averaging over 300 downloads per day, and I had figured out on my own how to do some things that I wanted to accomplish, like free event reminders, syndicated widgets, and a couple of other user-friendly technologies that I thought our readers would appreciate.
That was before I went to Blog Indiana 2008.
Doug Karr, owner of DK New Media and co-author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, is the guy who attracted me to that first conference. I wanted to hear him badly. I had been reading and following his Marketing Technology Blog for some time in an effort to keep my head above water, and I just had the sense that I could learn a lot more from him. I sat and listened to his presentation and was shell-shocked. I was totally impressed by (1) how much more he knows about computers than I do, (2) how willing he was to share what I consider a wealth of proprietary information about his business model and operation, and (3) the packed house at his session, where people literally stood in the hallway craning their necks to look through the door into the room (he drew another standing-room only crowd at Blog Indiana 2012).
Fast forward to 2012. The 5th annual Blog Indiana conference was last week at the University of Indianapolis. I’ve made it to four of them, all except 2009. Once again a large crowd gathered to hear some of the best in the business: Jay Baer, Robby Slaughter, Hazel Walker, Erik Deckers, James Paden, Kevin Mullett, Sara Croft, Kelly Knutson, Kenan Farrell, and many more. And to no one’s surprise: Doug Karr and Lorraine Ball (Roundpeg Business Services). With no disrespect to any of the others, Doug and Lorraine are the first two people I think of whenever I have a problem, and it’s all because of Blog Indiana 2008 and what has transpired in the interim.
The people named herein have been unbelievably nice to me over the past five years. Maybe it’s respect for their elders (I’ve got two daughters older than many of them!). Whatever the case, their willingness to give me advice, to share ideas and suggestions, and to directly and indirectly help publicize and promote my Web site and blogs continues to leave me speechless and deeply indebted to each of them. AroundIndy.com is a better Web site than it used to be because of them.
By attending Blog Indiana sessions for the past five years, I’ve learned more about HTML, CSS, SEO, PHP and MySQL, social media, marketing, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps and Web sites, copyright law, layout and design, typography, photography and videography, digital audio, tips, tricks, techniques, and a greater array of third-party apps for blogs and Web sites than I can properly quantify. I’ve got six pages of notes from Blog Indiana 2012 on apps and technologies that I need to consider incorporating into my daily operation. Some of the stuff is over my head, frankly, but Blog Indiana gives me courage and encouragement to keep trying.
Perhaps even more important is the networking and between-session conversations that take place at Blog Indiana each year. To have had the opportunity to meet and get suggestions and advice and feedback and expertise from Jason Falls, Jeremy Dearringer, Jason Bean, Allison Carter, Heather Sokol, Lisa Sirkin Vielee, Chris Theisen, Chuck Gose, Paul Poteet, Bruce McClain from Scotty’s Brewhouse, Leilan McNally (aka BgKahuna), Rocky Walls, Stephanie Eppich Daily, Dave Woodson, Patric Welch, Hope Baugh, Randy Clark, and a host of others is simply priceless. These are some of the best and brightest Internet and social media minds in Indiana. I’m intrigued and enthralled just to sit near Jason Bean or Erik Deckers and watch those two guys multitask on their laptops. They are in command of their time and workspace in a way I’ve not achieved!
I can’t think of any conference that I’ve attended in my lifetime that offers a greater return on the registration fee. It’s so good that I take vacation days each year just to attend. And since that first Blog Indiana conference back in 2008, several of the individuals named herein have taken time out of their very busy schedules to come and speak to my computer classes. Wonderful. What a great group of giving folks! They clearly exemplify the theme of Jay Baer’s keynote speech at this year’s conference: the more you give, the more you receive.
Blog Indiana 2012 was so successful that Noah Coffey and his business partner Shawn Plew (see photo at the top of this blog post) have already announced their intention to return to Schwitzer Student Center at the University of Indianapolis for the 6th Blog Indiana conference on Aug. 8-9, 2013. I’ve got it on my calendar. I’ll be there if I’m not dead or hospitalized: that’s how useful and important this conference is to me. And if you pretend to be serious about running an Indiana Web site or blog, I think you should be there, too.
Noah Coffey is no longer a stranger. Thank you ever so much for that first contact, Noah!