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January 25, 2013

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Beyond Kim Kardashian Webfest Global Show Agenda is Tabloid Fodder Free

Yesterday's announcement that reality TV star/celebrity entrepreneur Kim Kardashian would be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Webfest Global conference certainly set tongues wagging on social media sites and in the commentary sections of industry blogs. The vast majority of opinions I saw posted were, shall we say, less than enthused with the selection. Most questioned what value Kardashian would bring to the Internet business table. 

Having been pleasantly surprised by several past keynote speakers, I will go into Ms. Kardashian's fireside chat with Oversee.net CEO Debra Domeyer February 6th with an open mind (the show itself runs February 5-7 at the oceanfront Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California). If Kim has as little to offer as so many seem to expect, there will be plenty of time to beat Oversee up over the selection once people have sat through it. 

Kim Kardashian
Image from Bigstock

At last year's show I remember thinking it was kind of cool that Twitter Founder Biz Stone would be the keynote speaker, but wondering how interesting could a guy be whose entire business was based on saying nothing longer than 140 characters! As it turned out, Stone's talk was probably the most inspiring and entertaining one I've ever heard. His deadpan sense of humor and the insight he gave into how Twitter was built was priceless. 

As a speaker at an internet conference, Kim Kardashian may or may not come remotely close to Stone's performance, but I still expect it to be an entertaining hour with a few surprises thrown into the mix, as has been the case with past keynoters. In any case, as famous and controversial as she may be, Kim isn't the reason people will (or will not) be going to Webfest Global. As surveys have shown over and over, people place networking as the #1 reason they go to conferences, followed by the business sessions with the keynote speaker way down the list. 

So, even if the idea of a Kardashian mixed up with domains makes you feel faint at the very thought of it, you will be happy to know that the very first thing on the conference agenda is a speed networking session on Tuesday morning, February 5th. In fact, aside from the Kardashian fireside chat, the rest of the agenda is 100% tabloid fodder free. The second session Tuesday morning will be a panel discussion of 2013's most talked about issue - the impending arrival of new gTLDs.

The space shuttle Endeavour on its final flight over Los Angeles on Sept. 2012. Webfest Global attendees will have dinner under the wing of the shuttle on Wednesday evening, Feb. 6, 2013.

Wednesday will see the live domain auction when we will find out if that long time staple of all conferences that has flagged badly in recent years can be resuscitated. That evening will be the event I am most looking forward to (other than the networking) - dinner and drinks under the wing of the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center.

On the closing day, Thursday (February 7) highlights will include a couple of sessions devoted to adapting to an increasingly mobile Internet

the annual Pitchfest Contest that introduces some intriguing start up businesses, a special Women in Domaining reception and an evening social event at Hollywood's world renowned Magic Castle

So, whether or not the Kardashians are your cup of tea, there will be a lot to like in Santa Monica (not the least of which will be the famous pier and fabulous beach that stretches out in front of the hotel). Some say the Kardashians are the epitome of modern day celebrities who are famous for being famous rather than for any particular skill set or talent (even though Kim can point to some real business and social media successes). The controversy alone makes me wonder just what we will see on stage February 6. I'm going in with the hope that it will be another pleasant surprise. 

In any case, the choice has already brought Webfest Global a ton of pre-show publicity. You can say "yes, but it has been bad publicity," but you know what P.T. Barnum said about publicity - "I don't care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!" Sounds simple enough, but  Kardashian is not that easy to spell! So, we'll all just have to wait a couple of weeks to see how this all plays out.

(Posted January 24, 2013) 

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