defrag 300x97 Defrag 2009: A RetrospectiveI spent the last two days at the Defrag Conference in Denver, Colorado.

Defrag is, in its own words “focused on the tools and technologies that accelerate the ‘aha’ moment, and is a gathering place for the growing community of implementers, users, and thinkers that are building the next wave of software innovation.”  It was a fantasic event with a sort of who’s who attendee list.  Monitoring the realtime twitter back-stream was dizzying at times but very insightful.

I boiled down the event into four themes based on the sessions I attended. If you were there you may have seen it differently:

  • shift from search to discovery – online social graph(s) becoming more important and driving the information that finds you. Like Khris Loux said, if the information is important to you, it will find you.  Keyword searches in Google will be largely replaced by  the “flow”.
  • flow and filtering – the flow is a massive expanding river of realtime information/noise. The ability to filter information that is most relevant and important to the individual from the flow is the next big challenge/opportunity.
  • identity – fundamental to enabling discovery and filtering the flow is identity which is currently in a very fragmented state. There are also big privacy and segmentation concerns that need to be addressed by selective sharing of identity attributes
  • the “cloud” – more of an undertone enabler but mentioned in almost every presentation I attended.

Through all of the insightful discussion and visionary commentary, I was surprised there was little mention of or acknowledgement of the “digital divide“, especially as it relates to social collaboration. The masses are barely catching on as we’re accelerating further away. If your online social graph only represents 15% of your real relationships, it will be inherently flawed in providing the basis for what information will “find” you.

I was also surprised that the importance of the mobile shift and mobile device explosion was absent from most conversation, possibly because the group has moved passed it already. But I think there will be drastic paradigm shift in how the masses interact “online” enabled by ubiquitous mobile connectivity that’s incomprehensible.

This was a great event and certainly by far the best I’ve attended in terms of power availability (strip at every table) and wifi (access point every other row!).  The format, flow, atmosphere and attendee passion made for a wonderful experience.  Denver’s a fantastic place for a conference, the Hyatt was a great venue and I am lucky to be local. And thanks to my employer for making the investment for me to attend this event!