This huge thank you goes out to James Stout ( @egandalf) and Ken McAndrew ( @kmac23va). Let me explain why.
Last November, Ektron hosted their annual customer conference, Synergy, in Washington D.C. These are great events that give the customers an opportunity to meet the people responsible for the CMS system that they use, partner companies who can help them realize their web site visions, and other Ektron clients.
When I worked for Canyon County, ID, I had the opportunity to attend the 2009 and 2010 conferences in Orlando, Florida, but when I started working for Ektron, I figured those would be my last ones. It’s expensive for a company to send people to a conference, even one that they are hosting, and sending a brand new developer didn’t make any sense.
After Ektron shut down their PSG group (see When Dreams Change), I started working for WSOL, one of Ektron’s top partners. When Synergy 2012 was announced, I didn’t expect to go. This is a major marketing event for WSOL, and they send the people that can best represent the company, the Chief Operating Officer Bill Casey, the Director of Design and Development, Chris Osterhout, and the head of Sales, Brian Elrich.
When the keynote speakers were announced, I was very excited to see that Ethan Marcotte ( @beep) and Luke Wroblowski ( @lukew) were going to be speaking. Ethan is the guy who started the whole “Responsive Web Design” trend, and Luke is the evangelist for designing for Mobile first, and then for the desktop. These are two of my internet heroes, and I really wanted to meet them. So, in traditional geek fashion, I expressed my desire, and regret that I wouldn’t be going, on Twitter. This generated some interesting conversations, and at one point I jokingly suggested that I should get a life size cardboard cut-out of me, and have it standing up at the conference. That got some laughs, and then was forgotten. Or so I thought.
In late October, as the Synergy excitement was really ramping up, James brought it up again. He was going to be one of the technical speakers at Synergy, and he hinted that if I got the cut-out to him, he might have it on stage during his presentation. I thought this would be hilarious, so I started shopping around.
It turns out that it is pretty easy to get a life-size cardboard cut-out made, but not cheap for a gag. But then I found a company that made what they called “head-ka-bobs”, where the y basically take a picture of someone’s head, and put it on a stick. Perfect, and it was reasonably priced. So the #FaceOfJoe was born. (We even started the #FaceOfJoe hashtag on Twitter. It never trended, but I still hold out hope.)
I had the #FaceOfJoe shipped to Ken McAndrew at C-Span. Ken was also scheduled to speak at Synergy, as since it was in Washington D.C., Ken’s home base, it made sense.
Ken took the #FaceOfJoe to Synergy. Between he and James, they took many pictures with people holding the #FaceOfJoe, got it on stage with many of the speakers, and even got photos Ethan Marcotte and Luke Wroblowski each holding it.
In addition, they started a Tumblr blog to document the #FaceOfJoe’s adventures throughout Synergy. http://joegoestosynergy.tumblr.com I can’t remember laughing so hard.
So, I wanted to say a big thank you to every one who participated, and for being willing to pose for a picture with a ridiculous card board cut-out of my head. Thank you to Ken and James for hauling the #FaceOfJoe around to all of those sessions. For taking all of the pictures; for approaching people to see if they were willing to have their picture taken; for being such good friends, and good people; and for making me feel like a part of the event, even though I wasn’t there in person. This was a Synergy that I will never forget.