Posts tagged ‘nv09’

5 Things I learned about Blogging, Twitter, Social Media, and Myself at Northern Voice 2009

So here is the real post… the post that shows that I showed up at the event and not just for the keynote. Here are 5 things that I learned or observed at Northern Voice 2009, the social media and blogging event that occurred in Vancouver this past weekend.

  1. If the big one finally hits Vancouver, or more precisely, if the big one hits Vancouver at the precise moment a social media conference was occurring and the entire room was buried in rubble for thousands of years, future generations would conclude that Apple was the dominant computing platform of the generation. I mean, it was almost comical how everyone (except yours truly) was embracing Apple as their sword. Myself, I was toting around my beefy Dell Inspiron1720. Sure it is bright red and proudly sports an “I am a PC” sticker, but I must admit I had a bit of device envy in watching the Apple army wield their weapons. Part of me is left wondering if Stewart Butterfield’s keynote about identity (and by extension individuality) was actually speaking about this group. “My mac is a symbol of my individuality… and I am not like the other 100 people in this room… we just have the same tastes.”  … So what did I learn for point number one? I learned that if the blogger and social media artist is also the maven and predictor of what is to come, then methinks that Apple’s resurgence is only just beginning.
  2. Speaking of Apple and geekiness. I probably saw one of the geekiest displays that I had seen in a long time. Two attendees having a “sword fight” with their tripped out iPhones, complete with the requisite StarWars’ lightsaber sound effects. Me and my Blackberry once again had device envy. I learned that there is a big difference between a social media conference, and any of the enterprise software or traditional marketing conferences that I attended in recent years.
  3. I learned that an “unconference”, though unconventional, can be unnerving for many… or at least that was my impression for the first half of the day. Up until about mid-afternoon on Friday, I thought that the un-conference format in which discussion was encouraged would result in all sorts of insightful back-and-forth discussions, witty comments, etc. I was surprised that many in the room were just sitting silently staring into their screens while a few of us in the room engaged the presenter with questions and rebuttles. It wasn’t until I was shoulder-surfing while waiting for one session to begin that I learned why everyone was so quiet. All the real conversations were occurring on Twitter. And it wasn’t until that very moment that I saw that Twitter actually had some use [see point 4 below].  As a Twitter newbie, I had never heard of TweetDeck nor seen it in use.  But seeing all the comments back and forth as the presenter/facilitator worked the room, made me realize how much things have changed. You see, I am on that cusp of being old and being intertwined with technology. I attended a conference last year when the presenter made the point that today’s teenager and twenty-something was able to multi-task in ways that I will never know. Here was such an example in all its glory. It was almost like the whole room was passing notes back and forth giggling at inside jokes. I guess you can say that “social media” is redefining what it means to be social.
  4. I almost learned that Twitter has some value. I wouldn’t say mass value, but I can see 200+ people Twittering about a single conference and ideas must see the value in there somewhere. One of my reasons for attending Northern Voice 2009 was to get a better handle on Twitter and its applicability into the world of marketing and business. I mean, I am creating Twitter accounts for each of my ventures (though not yet for myself), but I really didn’t have a reason to do this… I just felt that I should. What the room was doing, when the presenter was talking and I was synthesizing, was that the collective was sharing real-time thoughts and observations, learning not just from the presenter, but from each other. I could see utility for Twitter in classrooms where people are debating the arguments of a professor as they are made. It is almost communal note taking if you will. Part of me, however, can’t get over the feeling that twittering your thoughts to the collective while participating in such a forum is kind of like going to a movie and sitting next to that person who voices more to themselves, though within earshot of others, all those obvious points of the movie, “Hey that song is Elvis”, “Oh all that garbage was collected by Wall-E. He must have been there for a long time.” Perhaps I am just being selfish (and somewhat unavoidably competitive), but I have always viewed my personal thoughts as my competitive advantage.
  5. There are a lot of smart people in Vancouver and a lot of people who have a lot of great ideas. People who impressed me and I would like to do coffee with…
  • Ian Capstick (www.MediaStyle.ca) – Ian led one of the more engaging discussions of the day asking the question (“Did Obama really use social media to win?”). Ian seems to have done a lot already, appears quite plugged into the machinations of the Canadian political/social media scene [if one exists]. My contribution to the discussion was the observation that social media was merely an extension of his brand mantra of “Change”. Everything Obama did was about “change”. Heck, he is representative of the very word himself. And all that is social media (blogs, Flickr, Twitter, groups, SMS), this is just an extension of this “change”. As a somewhat related aside, I still maintain that there is an incredible opportunity for politicians to engage their constituents in “direct democracy” via SMS and Text Messaging. In fact, this is one of the verticals that we will be pursuing with Texts.com.
  • I also ran into Jason Landry with whom I worked briefly back around the year 2000 at Maximizer (I am glad he recognized me… I suck at faces). Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to connect with Derek Miller (whom Jason mentioned was also there). I also worked with Derek at Maximizer, and I can most assuredly say that Derek’s blog PenMachine was the first blog I ever read, and that was – I think – before I ever heard the word “blog” ever being said. It would have been good to see Derek, and wish him well. I have been very fortunate to not have many people I know be diagnosed with Cancer. And while I haven’t spoken with him in many, many years, I have been following his battle via his site now for the past 2 years. Keep up the good fight Derek.
  • Dave Olsen (www.UncleWeed.com) – I attended this unconference session by accident sort of. I was chatting with some of the attendees after the conclusion of Chris Heuer’s “Death of Advertising” talk [ed. note: meh… ], and then in walked this odd looking chap: floral shirt, a tickle trunk, smokey-grey fedora, and a smile that said that he knew the next 30 minutes was going to be fun. I asked those next to me what this session was about. They said, “wait and see”, and I am glad I did. Dave gave one of the more enjoyable presentations (“Letters from Russia”) that I have seen in a long time. Summarize it? I don’t think I can, and even if I tried, it wouldn’t do it justice.

Well that about sums up the event. There was definitely a lot going on, and I already look forward to next year’s event. Who knows, by that time, maybe I will be fully up to speed on Twitter, its use, and the appropriate vernacular to make myself fit it… as long as I have an Apple by that time.

February 22, 2009 at 11:08 pm 8 comments

Northern Voice 2009 – Thoughts and ponderings

EDITED POST …  2-days later …

My first Northern Voice conference is about to begin. I am here thanks to DreamBank (thanks Dawn!). I haven’t been back to UBC for years, having left the campus in 1995 (degree in Enlgish and Arts History). I will attempt to live blog as I come across interesting points, or meet interesting people.

Sitting next to Benson Wong for Stewart Butterfield’s keynote address. Benson is the IT manager for Sutton Group Realty.

Interesting little ramble about identity and the web from Stewart. I have been listening to the audio book on the drive in for Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Need to think more about the power of community and the concept of an idea “tipping”. Hmmm…

Stewart is talking about ubiquity of devices enabling community. I wonder what came first, the desire to be part of the community (and thus the use of the device), or the device itself? I hope I can learn later if this is why I am Twittering? Did I get a Twitter account because everyone else that I am aware of is starting to Twitter, or am I Twittering for my ventures (www.Twitter.com/SMSTexts and www.Twitter.com/GolfTeeTimes) because there is actually utility in there somewhere. Hmmmm.

UPDATED on Sunday, 2 days after I started “live blogging” the conference.

Well I learned something about myself in the past couple of days: I absolutely suck at Live Blogging. Let’s see… I got a few points down during the opening keynote, and then failed to blog anything else for the entire day. I think this actually reminded me of my experience at UBC [dripping irony] and my classes there. At the end of every term, when I would go back and review my notes for an exam, I would have page after page of single item “notes” for an entire class. The note would read: “Important to remember about Goya’s etchings that you need to remember is that” … and that was it… Oh sure, I may have underlined the word “important”, but rarely would I have finished my thought.

I guess my learning style is what you would consider participatory. I listen, I ask questions, I engage, I synthesize. But for the life of me, I can’t multitask and write down what the presenter was saying. Oh well.  Stick to your knitting as they say. For those that wanted realtime commentary, you should have paid attention to one of the following blogs:

Hummingbird604 or Miss604.

I will offer my thoughts on the event in a separate post.

February 20, 2009 at 10:29 am 1 comment


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