Where’s the Hawaii in [re]think Hawaii?
At the outset, I had the expectation that [re]think Hawaii would focus on Hawaii and look at how our islands can be re-thought with respect to startups/entrepeneurs, environmental sustainability, and social media. Of course, my immediate assumption was of major representation from Hawaii in these areas along with international experts lending their experienced views.
The attendee list showed significant Hawaii participation, but my surprise upon arriving at the conference? More not from Hawaii than from Hawaii. Yes, confusing. This was [re]think Hawaii, wasn’t it? I had to re-examine the intent of [re]think Hawaii, and the event is described accordingly:
At [Re]Think: Hawaii, a group of amazing people will be retreating from the day to day that conforms their thinking and venture outside of their digital ponds to meet offline in Hawaii.
There really is no inference that the event is targeted for Hawaii per se, just that it is held in Hawaii to connect:
entrepreneurs and investors during a series of panels, lunches, excursions, dinners, cocktails and aloha style exchange of ideas and relationship building in Hawaii.
So with regards to making connections and building relationships, [re]think Hawaii met its goal. However…
I would have appreciated more Hawaii representation, both as presenters and attendees. Where were Hawaii’s social media pioneers, @hawaii and @bytemarks? Wouldn’t you think @hawaii would be at [re]think Hawaii? There were a few conference go-ers from Bytemarks’ Top Social Media Geeks in Hawaii list, and Hawaii’s aloha ambassador, @alohabruce, was engendering the Hawaii way. But there should have been more. And this is where it gets messy. Why weren’t there more people from Hawaii? One main reason was the conference cost. Daily admission went for just under $300, the entire week for $1300. Luckily discounts were available and for disclosure purposes, my invitation to [re]think Hawaii from @NEENZ came with a $100 discount. I wouldn’t have gone without this discount, and even then I hesitated. It’s my simple belief that more didn’t attend purely because of the cost.
So what about [re]think presenters from Hawaii? Again, I only attended Day 3 Blogworld Social Media Business Summit, and for that day, there were three Hawaii panelists (Nathan Kam, Neenz Faleafine, and Jay Talwar) who participated in the Basics of Social Media and Participatory Marketing. That’s it.
The counter point is should and could there be more [re]think representation from Hawaii? Should, yes. Could, not yet. At this point, I doubt Hawaii could have presented a delegation to match the expertise and experience of the [re]think presenters and attendees. Don’t get me wrong. Hawaii has passionate people fighting for their causes, and I have no doubt their passion rivals that of Jill Buck, Amanda Rose, and others. But as far as launching successful national and global campaigns, Hawaii does not lead the way.
Was It Worth It?
As I mentioned above, I struggled with the cost of attending [re]think Hawaii. Even at the discounted rate of $200, that is costly for one day at a conference. What convinced me to attend was the caliber of people. Known names were attending and when else would these names be available in Hawaii? Maybe never again? And that’s why I went. The opportunity was too good to pass up even at the cost.
Would I have preferred a cheaper price? Sure, but we have to be realistic. There are costs involved with an event like this. There’s renting out the facilities and equipment, providing snacks and meals, paying fees for speaking engagements, and of course, the event hosts have to make a living too.
So in all, yes, I was satisfied with price of [re]think Hawaii. But I was vitalized with the combination of [re]think Hawaii and TEDxHonolulu! This yin and yang duo completed each other so well there’s no question about cost.
What About Next Year?
I really do hope that [re]think Hawaii becomes an annual event that further exposes Hawaii in new, innovative ways. While I believe outsiders need to comprise a big part of the [re]thinkers, I look forward to more Hawaii representation. Let’s showcase our own high tech, sustainable, and entreprenurial efforts! And a kamaaina discount wouldn’t hurt either. 😉
Finally, I have to say thanks to Christine Lu and NEENZ for organizing this wonderful week. Through my initial confusion, I learned and observed so much to make me rethink Hawaii.