By now you’ve heard it all, seen all the slides, attended all the talks, and acquired as much swag as you could. You’re tired, fed up, over stimulated and ready to collapse. But there’s one thing keeping you going. There is one thing you are waiting for that you just have not seen. You know its coming. It always does at about this time, when most of the light weights have already packed up and gone home. They mistakenly thought that all the really important news came up front, in the keynote and voices that followed. But you knew all along, the real gems are what come afterward, as the whole thing winds down. I’m not talking about the scuttlebutt in the hall as conference goers are heading to the airport or overheard tidbits as company employees are bantering back in forth in the hotel lobby, an inseparable mob checking out together. I’m talking about the real dirt, the real skinny that you can hear from the true experts long after most everyone else is gone.
If you happen to be one of the few lucky ones, one of the last of the tagged and bagged participants standing idly by in the huge open auditoriums, nonchalantly hiding in the shadows of an oversized banner bearing marketing banality, you may just be fortunate to see and hear from the true leaders of our industry, the movers and shakers of the high-tech tabernacle. Its only at this time that they can be found emerging from the woodwork, appearing from the sidelines apparently focused on other things, apparently diligently working as only they now how. They are suited in grey and blue, with official badges and sincere smiles, milling about for a while, ignoring each other, but it does not take long before they all eventually gather in a circle somewhere in the room, as if their motions were unplanned, as if their meeting were all just an accident, and so they stand there, gazing mostly at the floor, lighting cigarettes and waiting for the first to speak.
That’s when you hear them; secret truths of the industry, insider information, product plans, code names and illicit dealings. Each one blurted out, unexpected and brief, almost like casual conversation, like normal folks talking about the weather or their favorite sports team. “Did you hear about Xanadu?” “Corkskrew is going to replace DuctTape.” “T-Rex has forty percent share.” “ElectroMoat is going public.”
If you were thinking ahead you would jot these all down. If you had planned you would have brought a miniature tape recorder. Instead, all you are left with is fragments, glimpses of knowledge, forbidden fruit plucked from an overripe tree, swirling within your head, taking shape, but it is only vague and incomplete, leaving you desperate, yearning for more. You are tempted to reveal yourself, hoping to join the circle and share in the exchange. Yet, as quickly as it started, the conversation ends. As if on cue the impromptu group disperses, each member fading back into their original routine, pushing brooms, folding chairs, hauling cables.
But I digress