The WebbyConnect Conference in Laguna Beach

I just finished listening to none other than blog superstar, Arianna Huffington, give her keynote at the first annual WebbyConnect conference in beautiful Laguna Beach, CA.

Prior to this appearance, I never really knew anything about her. I haven't spent much time at her site, Sure, I was familiar with her and of course I had heard of her site, I just never used it as a news source. But now, after hearing her say "bullshit" to her audience, I'm a huge fan! This conference is not cheap. $2500 not cheap. But we, at The Panelist, being clever and all were able to get a press pass (thanks Patrick), which costs us nothing. With that, I feel obligated to do my part and do a daily recap of the WebbyConnect.

It's sure to be the first of many conferences for this group. The Webby awards changed the way award shows are done, and the audience and panel participants are filled with successful media and new media people: Vinton Cerf (creator of the Internet), Shawn Gold (MySpace guy), Caterina Fake (funny name but co-founded Flickr), and so on. Companies like MTV, Scripps, YouTube, Turner, Boing Boing and are all represented.

Today's panel entitled "Disruptive Innovation: Game Changing Ideas" was not as interesting as I would have hoped. The two panelists were from big media companies, Scripps and Turner, which, by design are bureaucratic in nature and rarely have "game changing ideas." And while both panelists adequately explained what they do internally, neither panelist's role is especially innovative relative to the world. Maybe that's why one of them is actually leaving his current employer?

Arianna Huffington is smart and much more in touch with the hyper-speed market of today's new media, Internet, social networking, web 2.0+ blogosphere world we live in than I would have thought. We, at the Panelist, could learn a thing or two from her business and when I get home I hope that we start to implement some of her strategies to bring our audience a better user experience. Arianna, which I can call her now since I've been in her presence, said something very interesting which resonated with me. She said, "A blog is the fingerprint of the author's mind," which I think is quite true.

I'll report back tomorrow with, hopefully, more insight from the panels and tomorrow's keynote, Michael Eisner.

While I'd love to be with the rest of the attendees at the St. Regis Monarch Bay beach, taking surf lessons (yes, that is really what they are doing), I've gotta get back to work…