Navy blue blazered preppies are overrun today by the uber-hip social networking crowd.
Really, it’s rather amusing. I myself am a card-carrying preppy and, in fact a Yale Club member. So it’s quite a trip watching today’s event unfold. I have been on an OMMA conference binge. Last week, I attended OMMA Video and OMMA Publish, both of which were held at the Marriott Marquis, a touristy, anonymous location. And cold. As one moderator observed during a panel, “It’s 52 degrees in here. And windy.”
Well today the OMMA Social Networking Conference at the Yale Club is cozy. Very cozy. This morning when I got here—yes it was 15 minutes late—there was not a seat to be had. Now, that’s not unusual for the morning keynote. EVERYONE shows up for the morning keynote. It’s like homeroom. But here’s the thing, more people kept arriving. The California crowd, about 20 of them, were delayed by the New York weather. The red-eyed travelers arrived around 10 am.
After lunch the crowd usually thins out as people are lured by their berries and stacked up voicemail. Not here. The bemused blue uniformed Yale Club staff is still squeezing among classy leaf-patterned chairs and white linen covered tables trying to serve coffee to nerds, ad people and VCs.
Seeing this, spurs some thoughts.
First, this is one of the most crowded conferences I’ve attended this year. There are old faces here and new faces. If you didn’t get the message previously from the amount of VC dollars flowing into social networking, you’d get it now. My briefcase is wedged in between my legs and the guy next to me is glaring at the way my elbow jostles his papers as I type this.
Second, there is the culture clash between the tweed preppies and the blue shirt mafia. (Did you ever notice that digital media dudes all wear Wedgewood blue dress shirts rolled up at the sleeve?) In a way, this culture clash is simply emblematic of the theme of this conference. How can social media gain a legitimate seat at the traditional table?