The Importance of Being Earnest

A few days ago Michael Arrington dropped a piece of his Silicon Valley into my LA by throwing an absolutely massive party down here. And after talking things over with friends and spending some time thinking about the events of the evening I’ve realized that they are two great tastes that don’t really taste all that great together.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It was great to get some recognition from TechCrunch‘s ringleader that LA is a viable technology player by having him throw a 1500 person event with an open bar and Perry Farrell DJ’ing. As far as I’m concerned, that was totally welcome and downright awesome. Seriously, thank you for that.

But I have a modest request to send your way, Mr. Arrington. If you ever plan on throwing one of these gigantic tech mixers here again, please go ahead and leave the drama at home. Because I don’t know how the folks up your way do things — but your actions on Thursday don’t give me a very encouraging idea of how you handle your business and personal relations. One of the things I love about Los Angeles is the fact that the events that get thrown by the locals are — for the most part, anyway — pretty unpretentious and (to borrow a line from Andrew Warner) more about community than conflict.

A little over a year back, we had an issue with some BarCampLA attendees being problematic. And we’re talking far worse than just being annoying to the event organizers. Excessive and open alcohol and drug abuse, making female attendees feel uncomfortable and badgering speakers to the point where talks turned into one way shouting matches made some attendees leery of coming again. We had a few people who were ruining the community because they couldn’t behave like adults.

Instead of banning the people outright from our events and making a scene tho, we issued a code of conduct. If you couldn’t follow it, you were asked to leave and that was that. Yeah, it’s sort of a hippie thing to do — but it worked. The rules kept a tight enough rein on the people causing problems to the point where they either stopped coming or calmed down considerably. Sure, there were folks who didn’t want the people to have the opportunity to show up at all, but excluding people is not in the spirit of BarCamp.

Of course one could argue that the TechCrunch/PopSugar party was a ticketed, private event.  Still, you would think that a quick search over the Excel spreadsheet before it was printed and a few emails to let people know they’re not welcome could have spared everyone involved a bunch of unnecessary bullshit.

Anyhow, if you need any tips for throwing an event down here Mike, just let me know. Even if you don’t want to deal with the likes of me, I can put you in contact with people who can help you save a bit more face and perhaps make you come off better than you managed to the other night.

I’m not a total curmudgeon about the evening by the way. The pre-event dinner at Palms Thai (props to Mike Prasad for putting that together), the people I hung out with at the party and the two afterparties that organized themselves via Twitter were fun as hell.  What’s more, they boiled themselves down to the people that make this community great.  So while the main event left me a bit drunk, cranky and in need of a shower, the rest of the night left me wonderfully full of hope and optimism for what we’re cooking up here.  Our potential is limitless — and we’re just getting started.



, ,