Before Gnomedex recedes too far, I wanted to post about what was by far the standout experience of the conference for me and, I imagine, many others present.
Derek K. Miller is a longtime Canadian blogger who lives in Vancouver. I encountered his writing at Penmachine several years ago the way bloggers often discover one another — he’d linked to a post of mine, I saw the referrer, I checked his site out and liked it. I’ve followed Miller’s blog sporadically over the years but hadn’t read it in a good while, and so I missed his news earlier this year: he’d been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Since then he has written with honesty and openness about his ordeal. He’s using his blog at once to keep his community of friends and relatives up to date and to give a wider audience a little window onto the nature of this experience, which in our culture frequently gets hidden from view.
Apparently he’d been slated to give a talk at Gnomedex, but he’s still recovering from an operation, so making the trip to Seattle wasn’t in the cards. Instead, he spoke to the conference from his bed via a video link, and talked about what it’s been like to tell the story of his cancer experience in public and in real time. Despite the usual video-conferencing hiccups (a few stuttering images and such), it was an electrifying talk.
This wasn’t about peddling a new product or handicapping startups or any of the usual conference fodder. It was a moment for everyone present to think about mortality, strength in the face of adversity, and the ways that resourceful people find to forge strong human connections with our little technological tools.
(I haven’t been able to find a posted video of the event, but if I do, or if someone posts a link in comments, I’ll add it!)
[tags]gnomedex, gnomedex 2007, derek miller[/tags]
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