Feb 222005

The Northern Voice blogging conference was on Saturday. I was on the organizing committee and I was glad that all our efforts paid off. People seemed to really enjoy themselves, chaos didn’t even threaten to take over, and because some registered attendees didn’t show up, we even managed to fit everyone in without exceeding the fire department regulated capacity! There’s something relaxed about putting on a conference that only costs $CAD 20 to attend (of which a quarter went on the coffee and tea, so it was nice that we were praised for the tea selection). We also had a good number of sponsors.

The conference contents have been exhaustively covered in other postings – I have never been to an event that was so logged, blogged, and photographed in my life! The first posts and photos were going up 15 minutes in to the conference – just check out the 566 photos on Flickr, the PubSub feed, the Technorati feed, or the del.icio.us listing to get a flavour of the day.

This was a small. lightweight conference with lots of scope for people to talk. At $20, people could afford to come who knew little about technology (e.g., the woman who asked Tim Bray what Sun Microsystems does, as she’d never heard of it) but we also had people from way outside Vancouver (Bay area, the UK, Toronto…) which I wouldn’t have expected. And they all seemed to get something from it and started asking about next year.

Personal take-aways: I shouldn’t be so formal in what I write; writing more rather than being perfect is what I should focus on (I blame too many years spent writing formal scientific papers). The RSS excerpt vs full feed debate goes on; one way to make sure Robert Scoble doesn’t read what you write is to only put headlines in your feed, for example, and short excerpts are also likely to get your blog dumped from his feed list (one could perhaps think about whether this is an advantage or not, depending on whether you want someone in Microsoft paying attention to what you write). The biggest buzzwords were authenticity and transparency and how to find the line between revealing enough of yourself to be yourself, without compromising your or other people’s privacy. I also discovered that even in a conference with only two tracks you can miss out on a lot and podcasts only go so far in alleviating that. And that if people enjoy the day, they want to buy the t-shirt.

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