Feb 222009

I’m slowly recov­er­ing from the whirl­wind that was North­ern Voice this year (I’m one of the organ­isers). All our hard work paid off, we had the usual last-minute glitches but every­one seemed to enjoy them­selves, to make new friends and con­tacts, to learn new things, to dis­cuss issues they care about, and to have fun. 

On Fri­day I spent most of my time on the regis­tra­tion desk, apart from intro­du­cing the con­fer­ence and listen­ing to Stew­art Butterfield’s key­note. Sat­urday was a little dif­fer­ent; I made it to lots of ses­sions (both key­notes, Aidrie’s panel, my own panel, bits and pieces of other talks/panels). What I took away from all was a sense of com­munity, a sense that the people attend­ing are truly inter­ested in shar­ing their know­ledge and exper­i­ences, in being genu­ine. Even though some blog from a purely per­sonal stand­point, and oth­ers from a pro­fes­sional, there was dis­cus­sion about how to be genu­ine, how to show who you are within whatever lim­its you find reas­on­able (some people blog about their chil­dren, oth­ers don’t, for example). I’m look­ing for­ward to watch­ing the videos of the ses­sions I didn’t man­age to make it to; we only had three ses­sions con­cur­rently but lots of good top­ics. The energy in the whole space was amaz­ing.

Sat­urday night after we got home, we found Van­couver was in the top ten for two trend­ing Twit­ter top­ics: North­ern Voice and the Canucks. As someone tweeted (sorry, can’t find it now), that really shows that Van­couver people under­stand how to use these tools for com­mu­nic­a­tion. I feel proud, as one of the organ­isers of North­ern Voice, to do my little bit to help, by giv­ing people who care about these things an oppor­tun­ity to get together and dis­cuss them. And it’s fun — at a Ser­i­ous Con­fer­ence we could never get away with put­ting out a bas­ket of yarn and telling people to make their own lan­yards (yes, we had some of those white elastic things for those uncom­fort­able with the notion). Lots of people grav­it­ated to the bright fluffy stuff, or used mul­tiple strands, cre­at­ing their own bit of wear­able art. And then there was the Moose col­lec­tion — Rahel Bail­lie donated her col­lec­tion of moose as a fund-raiser for the con­fer­ence, so we had these moose statues and ties and kitsch spread over one corner of the regis­tra­tion desk. Again, not some­thing you can do at a Ser­i­ous Con­fer­ence. Which doesn’t mean to say we didn’t talk about ser­i­ous top­ics, there were lots of those, and lots of dis­cus­sion about them. 

I’m already look­ing for­ward to next year’s North­ern Voice.

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