I had the privilege and pleasure to attend the WE Rock Summit. To me the meeting was a perfect illustration about the power and limitation (sic!) of the Internet. Living in Sweden and working for a public school where one does not have access to an abundance of money (to say the least), I have not been able to participate in SxSW or similar conferences in the USA. In fact, my only contact with the other participants, except for Chris Mills from England, had been through the net. That fact had no stopped us from getting to know each other and organize around the vision of bringing the best possible standard for Web education to schools, colleges and universities around the world.
Meeting in person was a lot like meeting old friends. We did not need to connect instantly, we were already connected! We did not need to get off to a flying start in our work. We had already started. The fact that a lot of discussions were tentative and that a lot of resolutions still remain to be done, is not an indication about anything but the fact that what we are trying to do is to a large extent an adventure into unchartered territory. To launch a Web Education Organization at this level is simply an undertaking that no one has made a realistic attempt to do before OWEA.
At the same time being able to meet in person took our productivity to a whole new level. There simply is a level of interaction that is made possible by being in the same room. For this opportunity I am deeply grateful to our sponsors. What they made possible was perfectly realized through the skills and the personal care of the local hosts in Chattanooga. Thanks to their welcoming attitude, personal warmth, attention to detail and zeal for our common vision, our meeting never felt like an ardous task. Productivity in discussions remained the product of enthusiasms. Yes, it was intense, and yes, we got tired. But we had fun all the time!
When the summit was over I stayed a couple of days. I attended a service at Olivet Baptist Church — since I wanted to experience real gospel worship. I looked at city sites like Bluff View and a few parks. I also went to the Tennesse Aquarium and Point Park on Lookout mountain. To round things off I was met with great hospitality from Aaron and Cathy Gustafson during Monday. When our faithful driver, Shaun, left me at the airport on Tuesday, it felt like I'd been away for a month, not a week.
What I bring home is fond memories of meeting wonderful people, renewed passion for Web Education and a great hope that OWEA will make a difference, yes, even make the world a slightly better one! And a longing to return for another visit to Chattanooga!
P.S. More photos are posted on my Flickr page.