Another reason is harder to explain. Where I live now, there are many types of businesses you can’t open because you’d get no customers, lots of behaviors you can’t comfortably engage in because they’re frowned upon, and so on. The level of permissiveness in the Bay Area is so much higher. I can feel it in the air.
The conference participants are unfortunately not as culturally diverse as San Francisco proper. Mostly nerdy white guys. But there is a large and attractive Asian contingent.
I have to give Apple credit for very effectively running their show. The various effluvia — badges, maps, session guides, check-in counters, etc — are all done very well and tastefully. The food is excellent and plentiful. There are coolers full of Odwalla all over the place.
I stood in line for three hours to sit 70 feet away from Steve Jobs giving his keynote speech. Positive: none of the over-the-top hype that some people refer to as his “reality distortion field.” Negative: nothing of substance announced, rather anticlimactic. Oh well, he can’t introduce something earth-shattering every year.
The technical sessions are all very professional and informative. I’ve seen a whole bunch of people in the flesh that I’ve previously known only as names on blogs and mailing lists. I can’t say I’m learning a whole lot, because my intellectual curiousity for computer stuff is pretty much gone. I love my Macs, I am an Apple user for life, but am I enough of a fanatic to care about every nitpicky little detail of obscure parts of their operating system? Not so much.
Here’s one detail I think is telling. I’ve been employed in high-tech for almost twenty years, and I’ve been to a lot of computer shows. Most of them don’t incorporate music, but if they do, it’s always bland and boring, chosen specifically not to offend. Stuff you know perfectly well that no human being would ever choose to listen to. Before and after Apple’s sessions, I’ve heard Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, R.E.M., the White Stripes, and something I can only describe as a ska cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. It might not be stuff you like, but you can be sure that there are at least some people who care passionately about it. Apple is a company that is not afraid to have a viewpoint, even if you don’t agree with it.
I suppose the biggest thing I’ve learned from this conference is that, yep, I am in the right camp. If I still cared about computers as a long-term career, I’d be busting my ass to find a place for myself within Apple’s ecosystem.
I lived in this area for a year, but apparently I forgot it’s often chilly here. I didn’t think to bring a coat.