New York’s New Social Scene

For those fixated on Egypt last week — either via Andy Carvin’s curatorial efforts on Twitter or via a resurgent CNN or re-cast Al Jazeera — the City of New York and eight others played host to literally hundreds of interactive sessions, panels and keynotes celebrating how social media has come to permeate all aspects of our lives. (Though I admit my boomer friends in our leafy NY suburb remain clueless.)

Some stats: “Globally, there were over 25,000 physical attendees across all nine of our cities attending over 600 individual sessions that comprised over 1800 speakers. Additionally, over 80,000 unique visitors participated online through our livestream channels and more than 180,000 unique visitors came through leading up to and during the conference.”

Hearst’s David Carey
SMW founder Toby Daniels
4SQ co-founder Naveen Selvadurai

I was fortunate to have played an advisory role for the New York leg of the SM feast where 150+ events took place, including a session over which I presided on the future of science news reporting. Client commitments prevented me from attending a number of the day-time sessions, though I did check out some evening events.

Nokia Real-Time Tweet Map

Here are some random observations and images from my travels last week. It started with a presser in the Hearst Tower featuring Hearst prexy David Carey, Social Media Week founder Toby Daniels, FourSquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai and a NYC EDC executive. In addition to the plaudits and platitudes, attendees got a glimpse of sponsor Nokia’s global tweet map that reflected in real-time those hash tag-fueled 140-character musings from SM revelers in the nine participating cities.

PR Newser’s Tonya & (Buddy) Joe

NYPL’s Celeste Bartos Forum
Toby and Ben
Cassel & Friend
Steve and Sola

Monday night’s opening party took place in a fabulously opulent space in NYPL’s Celeste Bartos Forum that seemed incongruent with the attendee’s youthful demo. (I presume most had not previously visited the New York Public Library before that evening?) In either case, it was great event to which I brought my wife in an effort to acclimate her to geek culture before our trip to Austin next month.

Peter, Shayndi & Chaim
Lizzy, Rob & Constantin
Ellie & Brian

Mashable fifth “NextUp NYC” at the TribecaY focused on “the skills that news organizations will demand and the tools journalists will need to be successful as they redefine the way they report, produce and distribute their content.”

Mashable’s Adam Ostrow

Moderated by Mashable’s community manager/social media strategist Vadim Lavrusik, the panel featured NYU’s Jay Rosen, NYTimes’s Jenna Wortham, D: All Things Digital/The Wall Street Journal Digital’s Drake Martinet, and CNN’s Laurie Segall.

Drake, Jenna, Jay, Laurie & Vadim

Each of the panelists had different levels of sophistication, but I enjoyed learning of a couple of cool tools from moderator Lavrusik, including Rapportive, which allows one to see location and profile data of incoming emailers in GMail watch out PR peeps!), and TweetedTimes, which aggregates your tweets into an online newspaper format ( for the Twitter set?).

Sysomos Analysis of SMW Conversation

On Wednesday, the SMW blog posted an analysis of the global conversation about the week-long event. (Not unexpectedly, Twitter was the dominant platform). Here’s the breakout (courtesy of Sysomos).

The next evening Graham Lawlor, founder of Ultra Light Start-ups, held his monthly gathering for aspiring techno-preneurs at NYU’s Tisch Auditorium. The evening opened with a series of one-minute elevator pitches on stage before a crowd of a few hundred spectators looking for the next big thing. Talk about pressure! Even the NY Tech meetups allow its presenters five minutes to extol their wares.

Nonetheless, the format worked and the presenters met the challenge of presenting, not to mention some tough questions from the audience, the most popular of which was: “so how do you intend to make money?” Following the ulta-light start-up presos, Graham convened a panel titled “Engineering Viral Media,” a concept in which more than a few in my social spheres have a compelling interest.

Ultra Light Start-Ups @ NYU Tisch Auditorium

The panel featured Greg Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media, Adam Pennenberg, Professor of Journalism at NYU, Author of Viral Loop, Jonah Peretti, Co-Founder of BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, Michael Yavonditte, Founder & CEO of Hashable and Graham promises to post the video at some point. (I had to bug out to prep for my session the next day.)

Thursday arrived and thank goodness the sun was shining since two of our science panelists were flying in from Washington DC and Rochester, respectively. In researching the topic, I came across at least three significant conferences over the last two years on the same subject: the decimated science news hole and reporting staffs at mainstream media.

The conferences from two years ago were so morose with this CNN reporter or that NPR reporter lamenting the decline in their ranks. Nearly all painted a doomsday scenario for science literacy in this nation, and a win for forces questioning global warming, evolution and the need for alternative energy solutions.

Chemistry: Himler, Bell, Leonard, Lloyd, Van Pay @ Edelman

Flash forward to our session last week where Scientific America’s Robin Lloyd, NSF’s Lisa Van Pay,’s Jenny Leonard, and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Emily Bell painted a much more hopeful scenario. Our panel was held in the fab PH at Edelman’s still new and open offices in Tribeca. (Definitely beats Times Square’s cookie cutter space.)

All seemed to agree that the state of science journalism is undergoing a renaissance right now with “nearly 4000” blogs devoted exclusively to reporting science news. Still, I argued, that we still need a strong voice in mainstream, mass audience-reaching media to balance sometimes nefarious private interests, which today have the capacity to create and syndicate directly to the public self-interested (and sometimes dubious) content. I kinda longed for the days when The NYTimes could unilaterally set the national news agenda.

Emily Bell quickly shut me down. We live in a media ecosystem of Darwinian proportions. It’s more of a media “meritocracy,” Bell said, wherein the higher the quality of reporting, the greater the eventual reach and authority of the publication. This is clearly a good thing. Robin Lloyd of Sci-Am agreed. Readers definitely weigh the source in evaluating the acuity of the content.

District 36
Step & Repeat

The week ended with a big, loud closing night bash at a club called District 36. My wife’s and my presence elevated the media age by a couple of years, but that’s OK.

McCallum, who knew?

Those green fluorescent wristbands gave us entry to the VIP room where we made friends with Alicia and Carly from JWT, Sola from BTO who planned the Google Hub, and others. I was tempted to chat up 4SQ’s Dennis Crowley standing nearby, but lost my badge of courage.

Cool Rims
JWT’s Gemma & VZ’s Michelle

Congratulations again to Toby Daniels and his team at Crowdcentric for pulling off a most impressive and auspicious week here and in eight other cities.

Photos: Peter Himler, Canon SX20 IS

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