Credentials. It seems like everyone in Denver is wearing a few around their necks. Not only do they act as passes to get you into buildings and events, but they function as status symbols in a village that has sprung to life over a weekend. They are not unlike boy scout badges, military medals, or feathers in ones cap; they frequently serve as conversation starters. The can be a choking hazard.
The first convention-related thing Goldy and I did was to embark on a quest for credentials. We took light rail to the Sheridan Hotel in Denver where media credentials were distributed and got in line for our blogger credentials.
With credentials come bags (typically canvass bags) filled with advertisements and goodies. Lots and lots of goodies. Obviously the goodies are given away in hopes of some return. The goodie suppliers for the press bags might have been hoping for some product placement. But I don’t see United Parcel Service getting anything out of me for putting those delicious little mints in my bag.
As bloggers, we’re not quite treated with press status and as bloggers embedded with the state delegation, we’re not treated with delegate status (except we do get all the goodies—did I mention that ProLogis also put some refreshing mints in my bag?). We do get some of the privileges of each status, however. For instance, our blogger credentials came with a coveted floor pass in the Pepsi Center, with a seat, an ethernet connection, and a single power outlet reserved for us among the Washington state delegation. Sweet. That’s much better access than most members of the press receive.
Goldy and I also visited the “Big Tent” for a credential. The “Big Tent” is an independent facility set up by bloggers for bloggers (specifically, it is hosted by Daily Kos, Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado, and Progressnow.org). It serves as blogger central, with wireless internet, power, table space, food, beer, couches and even entertainment.
Goldy was able to score one credential for the Big Tent, but a little creative credential-swapping got all three of us access for the day. (I feel it is only proper to take a moment to thank the New Belgium Brewery for all the free beer they gave me in the Big Tent last night. I especially enjoyed their 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, which is new to me, but has worked its way up to my “preferred microbrews” list.)
The Bit Tent was wonderful, but a bit trying. The tables were crowded together, it was dark, hot, and the air was a little thick with…well, blogger. When the room thinned out later in the evening, however, it was great. There was plenty of lukewarm pizza and refreshing New Belgium Brewery products on tap late into the evening.
This convention is “distributed” among two main sites, and numerous smaller venues. The Pepsi Center is where the big events take place during the evening. A couple of miles away, at the Convention Center, there are numerous events going on during the day. As Geov and I made our way from the Pepsi Center to the Convention center yesterday afternoon, we met a couple of lads from Atlanta. They were filming content for their web-tv program (I don’t have the card on me, but I’m sure I’ll plug it when they actually get their web site up.) They arrived in Denver lacking any credentials, and were capturing on video their quest to secure credentials…any credentials. Just by asking.
By yesterday afternoon, they had only managed to score a “Big Tent” press credential. That’s right..the Big Tent folks created a class of credential called a “press credential.” As you might imagine, it is a totally second class credential that requires a staff escort, and gives no access to the pizza or those delicious New Belgium Brewery products.
At the Convention Center, Geov and I inquired about blogger facilities and were sent to the “Specialty Media Lounge,” where we signed in and were given another badge to hang around our necks. The Specialty Media Lounge is sponsored by Microsoft.
I returned to the Convention Center today, thinking my blogger credential would get me through the “credentialed press door” and avoid the long security line. Nope…the blogger credential didn’t work, but my Specialty Media Lounge tag did. Go figure.
So I am now writing this in the comfort of the Specialty Media Lounge. The room has a low population density compared to the Big Tent, it is air conditioned and well lighted. There is no 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, but plenty of conference center coffee, and piles of boxed lunches. There is a Microsoft Zune kiosk for the curious, and a Microsoft XBOX 360 station for the playful. I’ve yet to see anyone use the XBOX, but the thought was nice. Knowing geeks they way they do, Microsoft kindly provided a big basket of munchies on each table. (Dang…someone just grabbed the bag of M&M Peanuts I was eying. I’ll have to settle for a bag of Miss Vickies Hand-Picked Jalapeno chips.)
I’ve finished my free lunch (thanks Microsoft!) and raised my blood-caffeine titer to acceptable levels. I’m ready for my next challenge in CredentialQuest™.