There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.Niccolo Machiavelli, The PrinceDear Vorticians,Usually, I'm reporting on - or, more accurately, commenting on - the news. Today, I have some news of my own to share.For well over a month now, the VORTEX community has been discussing the shape of the IT industry that's emerging from the post-boom and, now, post-bust epochs. It's clear the topic has struck a chord, drawing on a wellspring of your ideas and opinions about the business issues, technology opportunities and challenges to come. You've debated about what we'll call the next phase of computing and which companies will control it - and which will lose out.The diversity of viewpoints about what tomorrow holds is stunning - but everyone agrees we're on the cusp of a new era.So I'm happy to report that "VORTEX 2004: Setting the IT Agenda" (which will be held October 4-6 at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, Calif.) will take this exploration to an even deeper level. We'll bring together the top tech executives and the leading CIOs to talk about the future of technology and innovation, and how buyers and sellers will work together in the months and years to come.And I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be assisted in this effort by Geoffrey Moore, who will join me on stage as co-executive producer. You know Geoff - or Vortician Moore, now - as the highly acclaimed author of such books as Crossing the Chasm, The Gorilla Game, Inside the Tornado and, most recently, Living on the Fault Line. He's brilliant in his ability to analyze the shifting structure of the tech industry and the opportunities in each phase of its growth.I've shared with you my own thoughts on what's ahead in this newsletter and in "The New Data Center" white paper that many of you have requested. As I was working on this paper, Vortician Moore was simultaneously researching what he calls "the future of the stack" - with stack referring to the various layers of the computing model and the companies that dominate them. He's been investigating how these companies will clash in the years to come and what that means for them and their customers, as well as the innovators darting around the feet of the giants."What is unique about 2004 is that the technology sector is simultaneously working to consolidate and stabilize around the gains from Internet-enabling the enterprise stack, while at the same time laying the groundwork for a future Web services-enabled stack," Moore explained. "This is giving rise to competing visions of the 'future of the stack,' and one of the goals of VORTEX is to give CIOs and industry leaders as many perspectives on this future as possible."Vortician Moore and I intend to put the strategies of the major players on exhibit for you and to get the top executives of these companies to explain what their competing visions mean for corporate buyers. We're looking forward to grilling them on those plans and letting CIOs have their say as well.The subtitle of VORTEX 2004 is "Setting the IT Agenda." Those of you familiar with the conferences of IDG Executive Forums will note the less-than-subtle reference to Agenda, VORTEX's sister show (along with DEMO and DEMOmobile). VORTEX 2004, in essence, is a marriage of VORTEX and Agenda - creating a single, powerful event focusing on the future of IT.VORTEX grew from roots in the network community, while Agenda was both the product of, and one of the key catalysts in, the growth of the PC industry. Each event has evolved over the years as the microprocessor and networking have continued to reshape the world. Blended with Agenda, VORTEX 2004 will explore how the deployment of Web-based apps, mobility and wireless, virtual storage and computing, and network-spawned advances in every other facet of IT are driving massive change in the structure of the technology industry - in the ways corporate America consumes and applies technology.Your ideas and insights were a major catalyst in this evolution of VORTEX, and our ongoing discussions will shape the event in the months to come. Consider this your first invitation to join Vortician Moore and me in October. You can find out more about the event at www.idgef.com\/vortex. I'll be keeping everyone posted on developments as we get closer to the event.If you're interested in presenting, or you have ideas on the 'must-have' speakers for VORTEX 2004, let me know at email@example.com. Or just drop a note with your reaction to my news.Bye for now. Thanks.