I really enjoyed my time on day 1 of the 2012 Northern Voice conference. The conference continues its mission of the personal, individual usage of the web around social media, and as such tends to focus on new users. There is a fantastic crew of people that come back every year, as well as up to 50% newcomers every year. My attendance and participation has been sporadic over the last couple of years, since I find the content to be very beginner focused with a few notable exceptions.
This year I attended day 1, in large part to be there for Moose Camp, which is a block of time that is run unconference style. I really love these free form sessions, since everyone has to kind of get into a flow of what is even going to be talked about, and then (if all goes well), different participants start riffing off each others' ideas. With the right people in the room, this “idea jazz” is exhilarating.
The keynote by Reilly Yeo - Using the Internet to Save the Internet - was great. From a show of hands, attendees were optimistic about the beneficial uses of technology. But it’s been up to groups like Reilly’s Open Media to rally the troops and make sure that “bad” laws and regulations don’t get implemented.
For me, this linked to a lot of thoughts I’ve been having - that the Internet does, in fact, need saving. In part, it needs more people to be educated and aware of how it works, and to become better participants. This goes back to the old consumption vs. creation topic - are the masses just mindlessly consuming the web? What about media literacy and critical thinking? What about web literacy?
I’ve been mentioning the Mozilla Webmaker initiative as an example of the type of group and activity that is great, and is something that people who are web literate should get involved with.
Next I went to Improv Me, Baby with Nancy White, Alan Levine, and Rob Cottingham. My basic rule of thumb is “go to any session that Nancy White is involved with”. Of course Alan and Rob are no slouches either ;) Lots of interactivity and group activity in getting people to participate, and to understand what improv actually means. Rob closed things out talking about how the very best improv can in fact be the result of lots of preparation and practice ahead of time, while still using a “go with the flow” approach to tailor presentations & experiences to the people and energy in the room.
The next slot lead me to coffee, catching up with some work, and chatting with Roland, Rob, Theo and others. The picnic tabels in the atrium of the SFU Woodwards space outside W2 were an awesome gathering spot, especially being semi-public with lots of curious onlookers wondering what these geeks were up to. Before I knew it, it was lunch time.
Roland and I gathered Theo, Blaine, and Tim and set off to New Town Bakery. It was lovely sunny weather so it was nice to stretch our legs for a walk.
After lunch, it was time for Moose Camp, with Nancy White as the un-organizer.
Kay Slater led a session that was roughly about online advertising and monetization. Kay comes from a media / marketing / advertising background, and ultimately believes that marketers are using the wrong model for advertising online
Here are a few rough notes I made.
Thanks to all the organizers, volunteers, and sponsors that make Northern Voice possible. Congrats on the 2012 edition.