Tech superstars at Future of Web Apps

Last week I attended the 2-day Future of Web Apps conference at London’s ExCel. I really enjoyed this conference – there were some great speakers and I learned a lot. I hope to write a couple more posts this week covering the highlights.

One of the weirdest experiences was attending presentations by people that I’ve never met before but whose blogs I read/websites I use/podcasts I listen to or watch. It’s strange how I read BBCNews nearly every day, and on Sundays I often read The Times, but I’ve no idea who the people are that write the articles I read and yet in the tech world I know a surprising amount about the people behind sites such as GigaOM, ScriptingNews, Scobelizer (for example I know that Dave Winer has just got a Nokia N800 and the Robert and his wife Maryam have just had a new baby son, Milan).

As I was standing in the queue to collect my expo pass at FoWA I saw Leah Culver and Daniel Burka standing next to me in the line. I almost said “hi” but stopped myself when I realised that doing so would make me look like a stalker or obsessive fan and would probably make them (and me) feel uncomfortable. I can just imagine the conversation with me saying “hi, I err, like you website” and them saying “thanks” and then us both standing there nervously with nothing else to say. Is this what people mean by “star struck” I wonder?:-)

The most surreal part of the whole conference though had to be the reaction to Kevin Rose and the Diggnation live show. The first experience of this was when Kevin came on stage during the first day to give his presentation. Even while he was setting up, dozens of people went up to the stage to take his picture. I even took a picture of them taking his picture ;-)

Clamouring for a pic of Kevin Rose at FoWA

This was nothing compared with the Diggnation show itself though. The way the crowd reacted to the appearance of Kevin and Alex Albrecht (and even producer David Prager and Digg CEO Jay Adelson) was the kind of reaction normally reserved for Hollywood actors and rock stars. At the end of the show the crown stormed the stage and there was a sea of cameraphones being held above the crowd searching for a picture of their heroes. I should say at this point that I’m a big fan of diggnation (since Ep1, oh yeah!) and seeing the London show live was hilarious.

The whole experience made me wonder whether this was nothing more than a bunch of geeks geeking-out (I include myself in that group) or something more significant. Is it another example of the social networking phenomenon making unlikely stars out of the most unlikely people and are we now in the middle of “bubble 2.0″?

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