The Tropicana is the biggest hotel in New Jersey, with accommodation in four towers – you have to go through the Casino to move between them. Atlantic City is one of the three major US gambling resorts, along with Las Vegas and Reno.

Its version of "the Strip" is the Boardwalk, which stretches for miles along the beach linking the various casinos and hotels. Whilst not so well known as Las Vegas, some of its Hotels/ Casinos, like the Tropicana, are on a similar scale, and it includes a number of the big names like Caesar's Palace and Trump.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state of the Union (locals speak all the time about their congested roads – they should give the M25 a try sometime) but there are also more black bears per capita in New Jersey than any other state!

David Pogue – the Technology Correspondent for the New York Times was the key-note speaker – one of the best I've seen. He is also a prolific author (has written or contributed to seven books in the "for dummies" series) and in a "previous life" was a musician and Music Director, of which more anon. His presentation was mainly on social networking phenomena.

I've always thought that one of the things that does set Britons apart from our American friends is our ability to not take ourselves too seriously, and to poke fun at ourselves (although Chris always tells me I'm an exception to the rule) but David's presentation contained a lot of humour that will really appeal to the British. I can't capture that here, but some of the points I thought worth recording were:

  • Microsoft bought 1.6% of Face Book for $240m.
  • Google bought You Tube for $1.7bn. 12 months after its launch by two college graduates.
  • Google bought Blooger.com; 75 new blogs are started per minute.
  • David played a film of spoof Pod-Casts (which I thought hilarious) of himself lip-synching actual Pod-Casts. (Available free from i-Tunes)
  • His own Blog is Pogue's Posts
  • He spoke of the unexpected revelation that Microsoft has a sense of humour, portrayed through one of its employees spoof blog of features that didn't make the Vista cut
  • Blog exposures hitting the news – always "tear-down" stories.
  • The lack of ethical standards.
  • Extreme reactions - Kathy Sierra
  • The inventor of a virtually fat-free alternative for lard – "Z-Trim" - was on the verge of a big deal with Nestle, when a blogger visited financial columns saying it was shown to cause cancer in rats. Nestle cancelled the deal. The inventor eventually traced the author of these stories – a Short Seller (betting that a stock would go down).
  • The "Lonely Girl 15" sensation, which actually "starred" an unknown Australian Actress in a Hollywood "teaser".
  • "Civility enforced" – prospective ethical code.
Some of the other sites David mentioned that are worthy of checking-out include:

As I mentioned, David is an accomplished musician, and he finished his act playing the piano as he sang his alternative versions of songs – such as "I got you, Tube"!

The next session was collaborating to win, facilitated by David Pogue & David Molchany, Deputy County Executive of Fairfax County, Virginia, who has previously spoken at a London Connects conference.

I found it interesting that Fairfax County has a Team scanning media such as Blogs looking for references to itself, and deciding whether, and how, to respond in the name of maintaining good Public Relations. Independently of the municipality, www.allfairfax.com was established to report on what's going-on in the county, but the municipality adapted its use of facilities like RSS feeds to provide effective support of the medium.

Fairfax County also uses Wikis, internally, for staff information and is mandated to use social networking media in the planning of its 2009 budget. Its IT Plan, which I have always monitored since seeing David speak at London Connects) can be found at its web-site www.fairfaxcounty.gov.

The GMIS conference planning Team, from Government Authorities across the US, used Microsoft Groove (which incorporates "presence" – a real boon, I think, to remote collaboration) to organise the conference.

The "Think About IT" film in my presentation seemed to make a real hit.

In the evening there was a "magical strolling buffet dinner" at the Atlantic City Aquarium. Back at the Casino, Chris won $27 on the slots, for a $10 bet. Her stake for tomorrow!