I think he is right. Let me explain why. But first, a backgrounder.
Rich writes that at the last ITEXPO (in San Diego earlier this month) he asked hundreds of people attending the keynote if they care about net neutrality.
"Out of somewhere around 500-700 people," Rich writes, "2 or 3 people raised their hands."
I'm not surprised. Yet as someone who has been attending tech conferences for 20 years, and is a student of human behavior, let me tell you why.
Much of this has to do with mindset and priorities of the people who attend these shows. They are not policy wonks, but IT folks who are there to sell, buy, or at least tire-kick the products, or to learn something of a technical nature. By that I mean, Asterisk best practices, stuff like that.
Plus, think of the mindset of attendees at the start of a conference. Their BlackBerry calendars are bursting with appointments. Even as the keynoter speaks, a portion of attendees mental bandwidth had to have been sorting over exactly what they are going to say to prospects, or what type of questions they are going to ask vendors on the show floor.
Given these priorities, the last thing these preoccupied attendees are going to think about is net neutrality. Hey, these are engineers and marketing people, with their own agendas.
Looking at this even more expansively, there is a Venus-Mars thing at play. I know I am overgeneralizing, but we all know lots of IT folks who are- or at least fancy themselves- empirical and methodical, and marketing people are goal-oriented and focused. Politics is neither, and as a result of its impreciseness, turns off many in these sectors.
IT tech folks are preoccupied with revs, builds, alpha to beta transitions, and the research project. IT marketing people are paid to schmooz and sell.And the best of these people are incredibly focused on what they are being paid to do. Add the cost of travel their company paid for to go to these conferences and their message is clear.
Don't think about anything that would be a potential distraction. Especially something you are not pre-programmed to give a ground goo about.