Yes, this is a geek. Say hi to Deb Brown from Iowa (courtesy BJ McCray at Flickr CC)For those who are not surrounded by like-minded people (whether you’re into chess, growing roses or technology) the world can feel like a lonely place.

“Am I the only one who understands chess problems like Allumwandlung and Maximummer and Zepler doubling?”

“Am I some sort of nutball because I really like deciding between spotted-bloom roses like Cramoisi Picoté and striped ones like Patriot Kordana?”

“No one else in my small town seems to ‘get’ why I care about broadband Internet access, why I blog and what in the world I’m doing on Twitter.”

Fortunately, social web tools like blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the still-relevant forum/BBS make it so much easier than it used to be to find people who share your enthusiasms and interests.  I’m not up to speed on where chess or rose people hang out online, but I can tell you where a bunch of rural and small town technology and social media enthusiasts will be on September 20, 2011.

They’ll be at the 140 Characters Conference Small Town in the gorgeous Fox Theatre in downtown Hutchinson, Kansas.

Uh, where?

Look below:

Screenshot of map with Hutchinson Kansas, site of the 140 Conference Small Town

Right; so if you’re a city kid like me, you’re probably thinking….geesh, look at all that empty space, and those absolutely straight roads going through nothingness, it’s probably flat as a pancake, and I think I recognize the name Wichita for that nearby city….look, did I hear correctly….this is a technology event in the middle of Kansas?

It is, and I give it my City Kid Stamp of Approval.

Not that rural folks need any approval from anyone, and that’s partly the point of this particular event – rural and small town people are geeks and communicators just like urbanites, but it’s a bit harder for them to find one another, learn and socialize when they’re all spread out in less populated areas. This is the first technology-based conference that brings them all together, on their terms but with a global audience, in a cool small town like “Hutch,” with speakers that include farmers, ranchers and small town economic development experts who don’t think a one-stoplight community is a bad idea at all.

After attending the first version of 140 Small Town in 2010, I knew I’d return this year, and I’m honored to be one of many speakers from 17 states on the schedule. My topic is “City Kid Among the Cattle – How Twitter Connects Me to Another World,” wherein I’ll talk about my newfound appreciation, thanks to Twitter, of wide-open spaces, cattle management and farm equipment with mysterious prongy things.

Each speaker only gets one 10-15 minute time slot (better make it snappy!) and no PowerPoint is allowed.  WIN.

Follow the #140conf hashtag on Twitter for info and discussion about all the 140 conferences, including this one, and if you can’t make it in person, Small Town will be livestreamed on UStream.

The best idea, though, is to see it in person: student passes are only $14 and pssst….for non-students/adults, code “friendof140” gives you a nice, fat discount when you register .

If you’re a journalist or media person who would like to cover the conference and/or the topic of tech in small towns, here’s the excellent, comprehensive Small Town Media page.

For a quick 90 second overview of the conference, here’s my Tourism Currents business partner Becky McCray (who organizes Small Town along with its original founder Jeff Pulver) on an Oklahoma Horizon TV episode (direct link to video here.)

Hope I meet you in Hutchinson!

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