NV2006 – Best conference giveaway yet!

Like Alan, I have fairly low expectations of the shwag you get at most conferences, but props (and a link, so my tarrif paid in full) to webnames.ca for one of the best giveaways yet – a nalgene bottle (yeah, I know, if I was really cool I would have a photo embedded here of the nalgene bottle, but you do know what one looks like, right?). There are water fountains everywhere, and after the night last night, what a godsend! – SWL

Northern Voices – The night before and the morning of

What can I say, even if I get nothing from the enitre conference, which seems extremely unlikely, having dinner last night with D’Arcy and Alan at Brian and Keira’s place (and making a new friend) has made the trip more than worthwhile.

The festivites continued on into this morning (literally) as Alan, Brian, D’Arcy and I hosted a bit of an open discussion on ‘blogs and education’ (check Brian’s blog for the resulting wiki and likely a recording too). In honor of the edubloggers hootenany I performed a little live set of blogging ejaculatives – you can hear El Guapo’s revenge on the 3 amigos at a file I hosted on my ELGG site (which I was going to discuss but the discussion had so much steam there ended up being no time or need to!). Enjoy (or cringe as the case may be). – SWL

Post-conference Reflections on NorthernVoices

There was no way I could pass up attending the Northern Voices blogging conference given that it was only a ferry ride away, and for the most part I came away glad to have made the effort. Here are some reflections, in no particular order.

The High Points

– Dinner with Brian, D’Arcy and other friends the night before. In truth, the whole trip was worth it for me for a few hours of good food and conversation with some old and new friends.

Stephen’s presentation, nominally titled ‘Community Blogging‘ (in essence the notion that communities are defined by semantic affinity, not network proximity, and that we need to develop systems which help us derive meaning that emerges out of collective/aggregated contexts) was for me the highlight of the conference from the perspective of presentations given. It deserves a post of its own and for me was the most concise synthesis of what Stephen’s been driving at for the last few years I’ve seen.

UPDATED: I forgot to mention the other highpoint of the conference, a 2 minute description on the use of RSS feeds and wikis for sharing and collaborating on the research at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. The fellow making the point sat patiently with his hand up throughout almost all of the question and answers in the ‘Blogging in Academia’ session, and then in the space of about 2 minutes simply blew most of our minds away with the description of the collaborative knowledge sharing ecosystem they had assembled using syndication technologies and wikis. Worth far more than the price of admission itsself.

– Realizing one’s blogosphere ‘bozo filters’ are incredibly accurate when you finally hear the bozos f2f. The downside – not having f2f bozo filters.

The Low Points

– ItÂ’s probably an unfair criticism, but the format of the presentations/conference (sages on the stage, plebes in the audience gazing longingly) basically replicates a lot of hierarchical structure that seems antithetical to what’s interesting about the blogosphere. Undoubtedly there exist power laws, ‘a-list bloggers’ and the like, but for the vast majority of us, what’s interesting is not a quest to be listened to by everyone else, but to participate in ‘elocutions’ with as few as 2 people (even 1 in ‘blogs as soliloquy’ mode) and can grow as large as the net. So, suggestions for improvement: more coffee breaks/networking time (there are never enough), and less formal presentations. Instead, look to ‘workshops’ or other participatory models as a way to engage everyone and create useful outputs, not just speeches. (To be fair, Tim Bray’s did make some fun efforts at including the audience and seemed quite well received). And sheesh, with that much technology in the room, formally engage with it, not just accidentally through flickr tags and the like.

– Nametags: I guess I must be getting old, but my eyesight can’t handle 8 point type from more than a few feet now. Any really, a blogging conference without the name (not just the URL) of people’s blogs in bold print on their name tags?

Still, much fun was had by this attendee, and the organizers are to be thoroughly lauded for their efforts. Bravo. For any shortcomings, it was still one of the more fun gatherings I’ve been to of late. – SWL

Rideshare to Northern Voices from Victoria?

(Clearly of only limited interest to anyone not on Vancouver Island, but hey, it’s my blog!)

The Northern Voices blogging conference is fast approaching – I am driving over from Victoria the night before, catching the 3pm ferry and have room for 2-3 others. I am returning the next day likely on the 7 or 9pm ferry. Love to have company and hate to drive to the mainland with empty seats in my car, so let me know if you could use a ride. – SWL