I'm an EV grantee as well and what was interesting is that all of the grantees were kind of "fringe" in what they were doing, and I think that's on purpose.
It was a great atmosphere, and as Craig described it didn't matter if you were 18 or 50 years old, or if you had a PhD from Harvard or were a college drop-out author.
I imagine that this is what the first couple of YC batches also must have felt like (of course I can't know :-) )
I'm excited to see what this group of people will go on to do, and think that Tyler picked the grantees exteremly well.
Conferences are often quite bad too. But I’ll take the structured interaction any time. The structure and scheduled topical constraints make it better, not worse. The problems that mainstream conferences have are not things that self-organizing look-how-salt-of-the-earth-we-are-just-having-a-potluck-or-hacking-in-a-garage “enlightenment” attitudes can solve.