Just An Online Minute... Big Deal, BIG Rally

Bay Area Interactive Group, otherwise known as BIG, is hosting an unusual event tonight at the City Club in San Francisco. "San Francisco and Interactive Advertising: Past, Present & Future," is described as a rally, a celebration, and a memorial. The organizers have even invited attendees to submit brief thoughts about what they think the future holds for online advertising and the role they anticipate the Bay Area will play in that future.

Sponsored by ValueClick, the event sounds like a fitting way to mark the end of the year, the cusp of a new one, and the fact that BIG has grown to some 800 members.

So, deep in the cradle of all things Web-like and online advertising, a panel of interactive pioneers will recount the heady days. And boy, what a panel. John Durham, BIG's president, and the board have invited Jonathan Nelson, co-founder of Organic and the firm's CEO for seven years; Bill Peck a veteran of several Web companies, who negotiated many of the first search sponsorships; Kate Everett Thorp, formerly of J. Walter Thompson and CNET, now at AKQA, who was among the first media buyers to consider using the Web; and Doug Weaver, formerly of Hot Wired, now president of Upstream Group, who sold some of the first banner ads. Rich LeFurgy, a venture capital guru, formerly of Starwave and founder of the Internet Advertising Bureau, will moderate the discussion.

But don't expect BIG folks to merely sit back on their haunches and recount the exciting days of yore. The group's planning to bid adieu to the banner! So wear black, prepare for a wake, and then get ready to discuss the future and, of course, party. Post-wake, organizers plan to conduct a town hall-style meeting on the future of online advertising and marketing in the Bay Area.

"The cool part about working in the Bay Area is being so close to all the new technology that helps us take creativity to the next level," says Brian Monahan, vice president and group communications director at Universal McCann and a BIG board member.

"We continue our quest for good networking, engaging conversation, and dialogue about our industry," Durham says. He's encouraged by the amount of participation from members and sponsors, 14 to date, in the networking group's inaugural season: "So far, so good."

It sounds like a fun evening. From 212-land, we wish our friends on the left coast well tonight. For more information, click here.

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