I've spent the last 2 days hanging out at Manchester's Futuresonic festival - a glorious mix of technology, music, art and other stuff. I went on a press pass, with the aim of digging out some interesting tech stories to sell to a national paper. There was a huge choice of sessions to choose from, sorted into various themes: digital futures, identity and trust, mobile, semantic web, and environment 2.0. A lot of the sessions I had a personal interest in had to be skipped in favour of those I thought might be more newsworthy.
I have to admit to being very disappointed in the keynote speeches on day 1. First up was Stowe Boyd talking about the future of the web. Most of the ideas he was framing have already been covered by the tech media over the last few years and given his audience was largely a bunch of geeks, he seemed rather to be preaching to the converted. I waited impatiently for him to say something new and profound but it didn't happen. The other keynote speech, for the identity and trust strand, was by Rachel O'Connell of Bebo. I was expecting her to tell us about all the new and exciting ways Bebo is handling ID issues, given Bebo is largely used by the under-18s, but no. What we got was a lot of corporate blah about how wonderful Bebo is. The ensuing breakout sessions were also rather bland.
Day 2 got off to a bad start. I woke with crippling back pain at 3am which kept me awake for the rest of the night and by the time I turned up at Futuresonic, drugged up to the proverbial on painkillers, I'd missed the first block of sessions and then I had a bust-up with a friend, which spoiled the day even more. I was starting to wonder if I was going to find anything to write about at all, but then the semantic web strand started and I finally started to smell some possibilities for a feature or two. Unfortunately, my back pain was now so bad I could no longer sit down and the painkillers were having no effect, except to make me teary. It was time to quit and I reluctantly went home to lie down and take some stronger medication.
Following the Twitter feeds for Futuresonic, it was obvious that I was now missing the most interesting sessions and, by default, the opportunity to pitch some stories. Sod's law. A hack's big fear is always that they'll miss the story and this was exactly how my day ultimately panned out. I'm now lying on the floor working on my laptop as I can't sit at my desk, and I've also had to cancel all my plans for the weekend - I have a huge amount of work lined up for next week and my lumbar region needs a rest.