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ZendCon: How to Web-optimize your tech show

As befits people catering to the PHP programming crowd, the Zend guys are clearly plugged in to how to make their conference a Net event.

I've been to dozens and dozens of trade shows in my nine years (gasp!) at CNET News.com, but the introductory remarks at ZendCon on Tuesday were unlike anything I've heard before.

Instead of the usual welcome statements and corporate self-congratulation, the audience was given a brief instruction in how to extend the conference activities beyond the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency to many corners of the Internet. Specifically, Zend set up ways to deal with Twitter, Technorati, Yahoo Flickr, Yahoo Upcoming and IRC, which despite being long in the tooth retains geek retro cred in the Linux realm.

That's fitting for an open-source company catering to PHP programmers--the kind of folks whose tools often build the Web 2.0 applications that often power the kinds of self-publishing and opinionated information sharing that Zend was trying to cultivate.

Getting the audience to help document and share conference details can help people keep track of events when not there in person. Indeed, that's precisely what Zend's new chief executive, Harold Goldberg, said he did last year to monitor ZendCon from the other side of the globe.

Zend detailed the instructions on a Web page for developers. The Twitter feed was a little dry, but the ZendCon-tagged Technorati feed shows some activity in the blogosphere--especially if you use the ZendCon tag instead of the ZendCon07 tag the organizers requested. And as of Tuesday evening, there were 117 Flickr photos, some evidently by tourists who gawked at San Francisco Bay Area attractions.