I had a brief visit to the “D” conference in Carlsbad today, where I enjoyed a stimulating hallway meetup with Chris Anderson of “long tail” fame. Among (many) other things, we agreed that all memes worth memification need a good name, and that the long-tail lashback is well underway (he even showed me a genera-presentation given to him recently by a venture guy which had a slide titled “Obligatory Long Tail Slide”).
After finishing being self-deprecating, we decided that we were both fond of people who start Ph.D. programs, but don’t finish them. Why? Because they have demonstrated intellectual curiosity, but they have also shown that they’re smart enough to figure out early that something is a waste of time — and that they have the moxy to declare sunk costs to be sunk.
While Chris is a stimulating fellow, it was hard not to notice that “D” attracts a different audience from most conferences I attend. While sitting in the hallway talking to Chris I had John Battelle (who I wanted to talk to) talking to an entrepreneur at the next chaise, Tim O’Reilly (who I wanted to talk to) visiting someone across the hallway, technology columnist Stephen Wildstrom from BusinessWeek buzzing by, John Markoff from the N.Y. Times around, plus venture guy Bill Gurley from Benchmark, and so on. It isn’t so much that those people don’t attend other conferences, but that these sleek and well-fed C-level sorts were present in much higher densities than I’m used to seeing.