I attended Les Blogs 2.0, probably Europe´s biggest blog conference, this last Monday and Tuesday in Paris. The conference was organized by Six Apart. Compared to Les Blogs 1.0, I experienced a different atmosphere there this time.
This time, sponsors were much more present compared to last time. Conference participants were handed a bag with promotional material (MSN, Bullgard, Skype, Edelmann, etc.). I did not find the material particularly useful. One of the sponsors, vpod.tv, were allowed to constantly display the sponsor logos on one of the two big screens behind the panel. It was constantly rotating and spinning around, which I found very annoying. I do not mind the big board next to the panel that also displayed the sponsors, but all in all, it was a bit too much "in your face" for my point of view.
Ok, the sponsors make this happen, but the participants also paid 200 Euros each. That must have been at least 60,000 €, not counting sponsorship money. Considering that there were not even enough microphones for all panelists or real food (pls excuse my German definition of food) at lunch or dinner (and there was no more beer at around 2200ish at the after-party), I was a little puzzled. Even Loic was so hungry that he asked for a burger via the IRC at a point (but I think he had not eaten all day). But hey, at blogs 1.0, there was no coffee at all - this time, there was.
Aside from big brands, Venture Capitalists were around this time. Remember First Tuesday ? The after-party was like a mirror image of some of those First Tuesday evenings, only the coloured buttons were missing on the suits. Founders, VCs and the guys that you need somewhere in between, drinks, loud music and possibly some deals.
The conference itself started off with a conversation between Scoble and Shel Israel. I am sorry to say this, but to me, it was a complete waste of time. I am, to some degree, aware of the standing Scoble enjoys in the blogosphere, but I did not find the conversation enriching at all (neither did I at reboot 7.0). I probably lack the vision.
The quality of the first day panels was a bit disappointing to me. The networking breaks were great though, the overall caliber of the participants was quite extraordinary.
The 2nd day was much better. I do not want to glorify the US-boys, but the second day had a lot of US-CEOs on the panels and they simply made a much more professional impression on me. The were very clear in what they were saying and seemed determined and convinced of their goals, yet they were all very polite and soft toned. People like Scott Rafer, Salim Ismail and David Sifry impressed me a lot. Mena Trott (co-founder and president of six apart) held the opening speech this day, but she came across in a way that I found to be a little irritating. Her keynote asked for more civility in the blogosphere, but the way she addressed one of the participants, young BBC-web 2.0-application-builder Ben Metcalfe regarding his actions in the IRC (I have no idea what was going on, log link is here), it did simply not compare to the level of the other CEOs around. I know this is all about free speech and so but.. "what´s your problem with Six Apart ?" ..... "what the fuck ?!" was simply a little.. unexpected.
Nevertheless, we learned a lot and made great contacts. My thanks go to everyone involved in making it happen. However, the spirit is much more commerical now than it was half a year ago. Les Blogs 1.0 was much more about shaping the future and less about money, I find.