The social aspect of Macworld should not be underestimated. Imagine being surrounded by 14,000 fellow mac geeks in one big pool of geek soup.
Of course you can hone your geek skills in any of the number of conferene tracks but this atmosphere manifests itself in many ways. Groups of attendees spontaneously drop to the floor of conference halls and whip out their laptops of the conference halls to share their latest cool application and applescript mojo. People break out into arguments over the best use of PHP while simultaneously complimenting one another over their vintage T-shirts. Strangers walk up to you and tell you about the latest booth swag with a conspiratorial grin. It really is a fantastic gathering.
In addition to meeting users, you also get face time with your favorite developers. I have reviewed software and hardware for several attending developers and it truly is a pleasure to meet these people who work so hard on making fantastic Mac products. Not only does it afford you opportunity to catch up but also a chance to explain particular requests. The developers are there to hear your feedback and Macworld floor discussions often result in new features and tweaks in your favorite applications.
This year, IDG also introduced “Birds of a Feather” sessions allowing groups of interested users to have an after hours conference room to discuss particular Mac topics. I attended one hosted by Adam Christianson of the MacCast where several experienced podcasters shared their tricks.
In addition to the show room floor friendships, there are a variety of nightly parties and gatherings. This year I attended several. On Tuesday night, MacRumors.com and iPhoneAlley.com hosted an excellent gathering at Jillian’s (across the street from Moscone.) At it I made several new Apple friends and got to reconnect with some older ones. I also got to commiserate with Arnold Kim about MacRumors getting hacked in the middle of the Keynote.
My favorite Macworld party remains the Cirque du Mac. The Macworld Allstar Band played including folks such as Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus, Chris Breen, Dave Hamilton, an others. This year it was held in a burlesque club (turned PG rated for the geek crowd) and included a trapeeze artist.
The best social aspects of Macworld for me, however, is the reunion of friends. Meeting up with my gang of podcaster friends makes the trip absolutely worth it. We shared many meals and laughs and I already look forward to seeing them next year. A well placed grenade at the below lunch could have put a serious dent in Mac podcasting.