Just back from the third NewComm Forum on social media, held this year (March 7 – 9, 2007) at the over-the-top Venetian in over-the-top Las Vegas. The conference was fun and attended by a remarkable 400-plus — many of them corporate types from big brands.

Of course, walking around Vegas is mind-blowing. Disney World for grownups. Sensory overload! See superb photos by Josh Hallett inside the Venetian and especially his fantastic pics of The Strip

And more NewComm Forum pics on Flickr here and here.

I mention Second Life because I attended a very interesting presentation by SL experts Kami Watson Huyse (that’s Kami at left) and Linda Zimmer that featured a live virtual tour (er, is that in the Department of Redundancy when you’re talking about Second Life?). We learned that:

Do I really need a Second Life?

But… I’m still not totally getting it. I can barely cope with my First Life. Still not convinced I need a Second Life. David Parmet agrees with me, BTW. We chatted after the session. He noted that corporate America is definitely waking up to social media.

… Just walk down The Strip

If you really want to feel like you’re walking around inside a 3D fantasy world, walk down the Strip in Vegas at night. Plasma screen billboards pulse overhead. The hotel facades are epic. Everything is stunning and perfect… and to me somehow unreal. (Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I don’t watch enough TV??)

Best part of NewComm Forum is the (real) people

Of course the best part of attending NewComm Forum (co-hosted this year by Ragan) was reconnecting (or meeting) in the flesh with some wonderfully smart and generous people: Jen McClure (executive director of SNCR and content organizer of the conference); Dave Weinberger (fantastic keynote); David Parmet; Katie Paine; Zane Safrit; Giovanni Rodriguez; Shel Israel; Phil Gomes; Shel Holtz; John Cass; Tom Abate (San Francisco Chronicle reporter at his first “blog conference”); Jeff De Cagna; Brian Oberkirch; JD Lasica; Mike Manuel; Albert Maruggi; Susan Getgood; Todd Defren; Lisa Stone (I’ll be in touch about the BlogHer Ad Network!); Stephen Turcotte; Andy Abramson; Rob Key and Dan Forbush.

And those are just the business cards I dug out of my backpack. I’ve missed a bunch of people. And haven’t included the names of some of the corporate folks I met in case they don’t want to be mentioned (HP, Dow Chemical, BP, Johnson & Johnson, McGraw Hill, the IRS, American Red Cross, Kaiser Permanente, Baylor Medical Center, etc.).

Special thanks to Social Media Club co-founders Chris Heuer and Howard Greenstein who were my hosts at the Social Media Clubhouse in Vegas. Listen to the podcasts (#1, #2, #3) we recorded on our commute back and forth to the Venetian.

Useful Links

Brian Oberkirch’s podcast of the NewComm coporate blogging panel (I was one of the panelists)

NewComm Forum on Technorati

NewComm Forum ’07 wiki