We first started talking about an O'Reilly telephony-themed conference around the time of Foo Camp 2005. A few months later we successfully pulled off ETel 2006, one of the most critically well received tech conferences in the O'Reilly portfolio, followed just over a year later by ETel 2007.
Each edition created a space for communities that would ordinarily never encounter each other; the big telcos and network players of the telco sector and the hackers and entrepreneurs at the bleeding edge of human communication. Both communities found that they had some common purpose and mechanisms for working together.
I learned a lot from being part of the advisory board for both editions of ETel and it was an immense honour to be listed as an O'Reilly writer, at the ETel blog, joining some of my industry heroes :)
Personally, I made some lifelong friends following the first ETel - Aaron, Rich, Sheldon - people with whom I have a lot in common, who've inspired me to think bigger and just plain some of the smartest people I know. Coupled with the usual cohort of FT+Orange+Wanadoo people - Norman, Ian, Ian, Sunil, Surj, and Jon, each edition was pleasure to work on :)
The 2008 edition was due to be co-hosted with ETech, in San Diego, giving us the opportunity to reach a bigger audience and potentially infect ETech with some of the enthusiasm of ETech delegates. Sadly, O'Reilly were unable to continue supporting the ETel community and the conference was canceled.
Many of us felt the unique conversation between these two key communities needed to continue and also move beyond telephony into 'communication' in all its forms - social media, telephony, ethnographics, TV and mobility. Thanks to Lee Dryburgh, probably the most energetic of ETel's programme advisors, ETel will be reborn as EComm, Emerging Communications 2008, next Spring in Mountain View at the Computer History Museum.
Several days ago I accepted Lee's invitation to join the advisory board for eComm. Over the next few months I'll be helping round up speakers and contributors on the themes of human connectedness, open hardware, the future of TV and a bunch of interesting, random developments...