This last Thursday and Friday was the annual WebVisions conference here in Portland. 2008 marks my 4th year in attendance, and I definitely look foward to it every year. You can’t beat the price, it’s one of the cheapest conferences around and with it being local, there’s really not much excuse not to come and check out at least a few sessions and a keynote. Plus it’s a great chance to catch-up with my local developer and entrepreneur friends and meet some new ones.

My main point of feedback for the organizers if they read this. PLEASE PUT KEYNOTES IN THE MORNING!

All in all, WV was pretty good, though it didn’t feel as inspiring as the last couple of years. After last year, I made sure to avoid the workshops. As far as the sessions go, I was entertained and picked up some great info and good tips to follow-up on, but nothing that made me want to carve out a day or so to really think through. I can’t quite figure out why exactly, but one thing that I noticed that I didn’t read a single live-blog or blog post during the conference, it never even occurred to me. That’s a major shift from years past. Why didn’t it occur to me? Make a guess, Twitter. In years past, reading about the conference, during the conference has always kept that mind-buzz going.

Twitter is now the primary forum for conference back channel and instant recaps. Only problem was, Twitter was down for a good portion of the conference, so there was little in terms of immediate response loop. The conversation has migrated from the blogosphere to Twitter, but when Twitter is down, the conversation dies.

Here’s a quick round-up of the sessions I attended. Slide decks for at least some of these available on SlideShare. Other roundups can be found on the Silicon Florist.

RSS: Bleeding Edge Tips and Tricks

I only caught the last half, and I’ve seen Marshall talk about RSS before, but even then I still managed to pick up some new ideas, a testament to Marshall’s ability to keep finding new ways to digest more information, faster.

Drupal: This Aint Your Father’s CMS

I’ve just picked up Drupal in the last couple months for a project at Strands and this was my first opportunity to hear about it and ask questions after having actually spend considerable time working on it. I missed most of the actual presentation, but there was lots of time for q & a which was well worth it. Plus, we got to learn a little bit about OpenSourcery, which was new to me.

Going Fast on the Slow Mobile Web

Great update to Jason‘s talk in February at PDX Web Innovators. Cloud Four has been doing a lot of research on the performance capabilities of mobile phones, and a lot of that fresh new data was included here.

So You Want to Run a Startup

The startup story of SlideShare. This is my first time seeing Rashmi speak and I think it was a good session. Focus on metrics to measure success, understanding the size of your market, pros/cons of different business models, adapting plans to how the business/site/community take-off, and developing key advisors/investors. SlideShare is the poster child of web 2.0 in that it is a pure ad-based business model and its marketing strategy was to get on TechCrunch. They may just have been one of the few to succeed at that, as it they seem to growing nicely.

Star Wars Kid Is Your New Bicycle: The Changing Lives of Memes

Andy Baio’s talk attempting to identify how memes spread. This was definitely the most entertaining session, and I have to admit I hadn’t heard of a couple of the ones mentioned. But, I certainly remember Star Wars Kid and Numa Numa. Bottom line, I don’t think we can ever predict what’s going to truly go viral.

WebVisionary awards

I was excited to finally make it to an after party for WebVisions for the first time. This was a fun event and I managed to meet several tweeps for the first time. But, something that I’ve gotten used to with WebVisions, the online component of these awards is lacking (no nominees or winners listed as of now, but the lack of online presence is something that WV overall has struggled with to the point of giving up this year IMO, and this is a web conference). There was no transparency on nominees and with a couple multiple-award winners (Substance and Colour Lovers) I have to question the value of these awards. Not to take away from the winners, but with that, the apparent lack of nominees and the entry fee the awards just seemed kind of cheap. I suppose that’s why they rushed through them so fast. The ceremony itself was well done though.