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SES NY: Bluegrass Boys Bite The Big Apple

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Stereotypes aside, Kentucky ain’t New York. Business, especially e-business, brings all types to the Big Apple. Mike McDonald and I were just two of those types who gathered there for the Search Engine Strategies Conference. When we weren’t jaw-agape or horrified by something, we were dutifully taking notes and chatting up attendees.

The plane, a commuter small enough that the external mechanisms are more real than you’d like, landed at LaGuardia sort of pendulum style, bumping the landing gear like a water-skipping rock.

Holding tight during a bumpy landing will exercise your resolve, but riding in a NYC taxi will exercise your intestinal fortitude. One such excursion, after a series of near death experiences for us and those outside the cab, and after a percussive overture of curses and a very loud “Oh my God,” the cabbie looked through the Plexiglas window and said, “welcome to New York!”

We checked into an “historic” hotel near the Hilton where the conference was held. “Historic” is code for not enough outlets, creaky cable elevators, and no fan in the bathroom. After settling in, Mike and I hightailed it to the venue where we met up with ToolBarn.com’s Brian Mark, who’s also a WebProWorld member. It turns out I’m not a very good joke teller. I swear I heard crickets in the Hilton ballroom.

Mike and I attended a slew of great conference sessions hosted by all-star panelists like Matt Cutts, Jeremy Zawodny, Danny Sullivan, Jessie Stricchiola, and Gord Hotchkiss. We learned about copyrights and trademark, Web 2.0, privacy issues, duplicate content, and gained insight into the search world from engineering, marketing, and searcher perspectives. The click fraud session was very enlightening. More on that later as we await our inside contacts for a greater view.

Monday night, after a comedic bout with some “dancing shrimp” (an artsy collection of king prawn protruding from half a pineapple, the beheading of which further showed my inability to eat correctly in New York), we headed off to the Ask.com party at the LQ Club. Interactive Corp. didn’t just retire Jeeves, they encased him carbonite Stars Wars style.

The coolness of that wasn’t lost on me though, even if I’m not a dyed in the wool Star Wars fan like Mike. Like I told Nathan Weinberg (who also didn’t like my jokes), I was more interested in the “Dirty Redheads.” Get your mind out of the gutter. That’s a drink (or is it?).

With dirty redheads dancing in my head the following morning, I leapt out of bed to have breakfast with Feedster President Chris Redlitz (that sentence doesn’t sound right at all, does it?). We spoke of spam, the future of Feedster, and Google.

Later, Mike and I were surprised to find ourselves in a hybrid cab with a TV camera in our faces looking like a couple of redneck doofuses who didn’t know what to say. Look for us on PBS’ MotorWeek television program, if they don’t have the sense to leave us on the cutting room floor.

All in all, I’d call our excursion to SES NY a success. We came, we saw, we were nearly killed. As the plane lifted out of LaGuardia, I watched New York fade into golden strands of Christmas tree garlands, and looked back toward Kentucky, home of horses and bourbon, and less suicidal drivers, where the landscape will tell you, we tend to turn off the lights at night.

SES NY: Bluegrass Boys Bite The Big Apple
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