Although San Diego was really chilly and many of us were distracted by the events surrounding it, ETech was a mighty great time and an extremely interesting conference to attend.

It took me a couple of days to realize (duh) that the core theme of the conference was Magic. I guess it's mostly because they don't really change their branding from year to year so the 'theme' takes a bit of a backseat? More likely, it's because I wasn't paying enough attention.

However, the magic, even prior to the piecing things together, was fascinating to me.

I very much enjoyed Jane McGonigal's awesome talk on Creating Alternate Realities, especially the part where she talked about the growing science of happiness (which I've planned to talk about for a while, because, in the context of the measurements for healthy communities, it makes a good deal of sense). The 'alternate reality' games she has been running are great and have actually changed the participants' outlooks on the world, which is a powerful thing. Maybe it isn't the ultimate answer to world peace, but it certainly seems like a step in a positive direction for Jane and her community.

I also hearted both of Scott Berkun's talks on innovation. I've talked about Scott before, ever since I met him at his great talk at FOO Camp last summer. Really brilliant stuff and I'm looking forward to his new book coming out soon on that subject (I got a sneak peak and it's AWESOME): The Myths of Innovation.

I was sad to miss danah boyd's talk, which I heard was amazing. I really loved the title (incantations for muggles). Hopefully she will be posting her notes soon. From what I heard, she talked about framing the way we are designing for an audience in fourth life cycles and stressed that we really suck at designing for #4. I did get to see Seth Raphael's talk, which was a most delightful look at how science is actual magic 'explained'. His use of historical footage of the human powered robots was great.

There were so many, like Duane Nickull's Architectural Patterns, which occasionally lost me, but was hyper interesting stuff (plus, he's a Canadian, eh? which Chris spotted instantly - he has good Canadiar). I also really loved Michael Buffington's awesome presentation on Your Web App as a Text Adventure, which totally reminded me of and the idea that, if you can't reduce the interaction with your app to a command line, you have pretty much overcomplicated it and screwed yourself...especially in the realm of APIs.

And, of course, there was the most excellent presentation of Adobe Apollo with Scrapblog as the star (which is now live btw). ( can try the downloadable version here - it's pretty big and very beta and you have to install the Apollo runtime framework, but useable offline! Stay tuned for updates...)

There were many more excellent presentations as well as discussions, but those were my faves (and one fave I didn't even get to see, but feel like I saw it from all of the references to it later on).

Our workshop, itself, went quite well. We probably ended up presenting to about 60-75 people (some came and went) for 3.5 hours and, although the room was not at all conducive to the interaction, our participants were great and conversations ensued. 3.5 hours is a long haul, but it didn't seem too bad at all and we got through reams of material. The link to it on slideshare is here or you can watch it inline. Some of it is repeated material, but it's been tightened up since our first go during FOWA. We still haven't had enough time to have the community mashpit part...

Thanks to the O'Reilly folks for accepting our proposal to talk and being so awesome with everything!