April 22, 2008

Meeting Virtual Friends In Real Life at Web 2.0 Expo

This week is one of the few opportunities where my work life and my blog life are intersecting. I have the chance to participate at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, and while the show exhibition doesn't start in earnest until tomorrow, I've already had the opportunity to make face to face connections with people who I respect, but until today, had only met online, through Twitter, through blogs, e-mail or FriendFeed. And I continue to be amazed how easy it is to meet somebody for the first time, and feel like we're close friends, solely due to our online connections.

One highlight of the day was meeting Caleb Elston, the creator of Toluu. Caleb, based in Miami, Florida, is far from home, but was nice enough to step out of a session he was attending so we could catch up. In the thirty minutes or so that we talked, he expressed excitement over how rapidly Web users have taken to his RSS feed matching and recommendation service, saying thousands had signed up, with the only limitation being how many beta invites he has offered.

In fact, the early buzz over Toluu, both here and elsewhere, led to some curiosity from colleagues at his day job, where he said he was getting more and better PR than his company. Some friends at the office even thought he might jump ship, to focus solely on Toluu. Yet, he reassured me, that wasn't in the plans. For him, developing and enhancing Toluu is done when he otherwise would be less productive, watching TV or movies, and has helped to keep him sharp and focused.

Eager to keep the Toluu buzz going, I even lobbed a call to Robert Scoble, hoping I could connect the two, but his dance card is full. He said he'd love to meet up, but it's no surprise he has interviews lined up every hour on the hour throughout the show from entrepreneurs trying to gain his attention. I don't exactly envy his schedule.

Wandering up to the press room, as my exhibitor pass wouldn't let me crash any of the sessions, I found Marshall Kirkpatrick and Josh Catone of ReadWriteWeb, as well as Brian Solis of Bub.blicio.us and PR 2.0. As Marshall has been one of my more vocal advocates since the turn of the calendar year, and as I respect RWW's efforts, it seemed natural to pull alongside and start trading stories. We talked about what was making news today at the show (not too much), and looked at the latest FriendFeed apps, MySocial 24x7 and FriendFeedMachine, which I covered yesterday. Marshall really likes MySocial 24x7 a lot, and showed me how he had it sitting in his FireFox browser sidebar, but I haven't yet installed it. That led to him teasing me about getting to a FriendFeed app before I did, which I can live with. In turn, I gave him grief for Sarah Perez' continued success at RWW, which I suggested was putting a little more pressure on him to produce. We both agreed she was doing a great job, but I don't know that she's at the show. I certainly didn't see her today.

Richard MacManus joined us at the table just as I had to leave, but I was able to introduce myself and shake hands.

On tap for tomorrow? The exhibition gets started. So, after putting in labor today, we'll be looking forward to meeting more people, both in my virtual address book, and my real world directory. We'll be at booth #115 all day, and can be reached by the contact information on the right hand side of the blog. I'm already looking forward to meeting Susan Mernit, hope to track down the Mashable team, and maybe you too! Send me a note, or drop by booth #115, and we can get connected.


  1. Hey Louis,

    It was surreal meeting you as well today. It was great putting a face and voice to our otherwise completely digital communication.

    Getting to meet all of the people you know through Twitter and FriendFeed is certainly a main attraction to attending these events.

  2. Hi Louis,

    I have had a number of similar experiences recently, to the point of finding out quite by accident that my company hired someone who I had known via twitter for months. Amy Worley (@worleygirl on twitter) and I (@adamcohen) have been trying to coin a phrase for that type of meeting. Twittermorphosis? Any ideas?