There were a dozens of hot stories, and hot shots, at AlwaysOn OnHollywood. I watched the live webcast, seeing how old friends and new would do, chuckling when Mike Arrington, clearly in need of a protein bar, but understandably "grumpy," asked, "but what do these companies DO? After six minutes, I should know what they DO," or some similar chair-shifting remark.
The snarky comments on the live webcast chat were, I admit, rather entertaining, especially at moments like this: "low blood sugar attack," "ugh oh!!" "well, he's right."
Watching the conference connectivity problems during the 'demos of a lifetime' for some startups was painful. But we onlookers marveled at folks who could think on their feet, as the banter reached a new high on the chat: "AlwaysOn meets AlwaysOff," and "NotQuiteOn," and "NotOnRightNow."
I'm telling you, this Internet thing is pretty fun sometimes.
But of all the stories in that sparkly city, of all the naked conversations captured in flickr pix and in posts, from realtime to aftertime, from prep to postmortem, it's Stowe's Other Other Blog that scooped the conference reports.
...I will think of her, asking me toppling questions, cascading from the banal into the most central issues of self in mere moments, as I turn my hand to whatever uncomfortably large idea I will midwife in the coming months. I will think of her, her form turned against the curve of the seat like a punctuation mark in a hidden but live language, her eyes large with expectation, urging me to come up with some turn of phrase, some insight that might transform the everyday into mythic archtypes. I will think of her, as I seek to understand the force that muses have on us, how a single question from one mouth, one look, one hour, could have such an influence.
This is what I care about.
You can wrap what we're doing with the Net in features and business models; you can invest in it and build exit strategies; you can have it in HTML, RSS, OPML, and LMOP. You can confer and cipher, talk about tags and 'the cloud,' and do deals poolside.
But none of that makes a story.
The Story belongs to Stowe, this Stowe, and the woman who helped him make meaning with a sentence, the tilt of her chin, an elbow resting on a chair.
The answer to everything.
Last night I was falling asleep, which is when I do my best thinking, but when I least often write things down. I was considering what we are doing here, and how, no matter the terms or decimals we cloak it in, we are still doing the same thing we have always done as human beings, on the net and off: We are making meaning.
And meaning is CONTEXT, not content.
Meaning does not know "consumer-generated."
Meaning is not generating, sharing, swapping, or search.
It is discovery.
Discovering is getting to know you.
Stowe nails what discovery feels like, when the human heart swells, quickens, and becomes vulnerable.
It's like that.
And Stowe gets it.