Mar 132008

I just got back from the NorthernVoice organizing committee’s post-conference lunch. The conference motto is personal blogging and social media but lots of people who attend or speak are interested in the professional or corporate aspect as well. As a result, one of the perennial topics we talk about is who the conference is for, and what do participants want to listen to. I touched on some of this in my Ebbs and Blogs posting. Personally I’m more interested in the personal blogging aspects than the company PR aspects (YMMV, of course).

Which raises some interesting questions – why would personal bloggers come to a conference? I can think of a few reasons:

  • to learn more about techniques, e.g., how to podcast, or how to embed video
  • to get ideas for content
  • to learn how to write better, to express ideas better
  • to meet up with people with some related interests

I guess there are a lot of people who blog who would never come to a blogging conference because what and how they blog is enough for them and they don’t see any need to change anything. But there are also people who don’t do well in crowds, so one issue I see is how to encourage people who are less comfortable at conferences (even small ones), how to make them more comfortable. I don’t know what the answer is; I’m an introvert but it seldom stops me going places, so although I sympathize with those for whom it’s a problem, I’m not sure of what to do to help. If, indeed, anything can be done at the conference organizing level to help.

Mar 072008

Yesterday I went to the student showcase at the masters of digital media program, a graduate degree in digital media put on by Vancouver’s major post-secondary institutions. Unfortunately I had to leave early, but I was impressed at what I saw. The centre is run by Dr. Gerri Sinclair, whom I’ve known for some time, and she’s obviously had a lot of fun putting together a program that not only teaches about digital media, but teaches worthwhile project techniques such as personas and agile development.

I’m curious as to what sorts of jobs the students will end up in, particularly for those who go to what one could call less cutting-edge companies, and how they will fare. The program is still new, but I think it has the potential to do a lot of good in companies, given the focus that I saw on making the technologies appeal to the ultimate users. They are running an Open House in a couple of weeks; if you’re interested in what these students are doing with digital media, that would be the place to go to check it out.

Feb 242008

Another nice Friday in February for MooseCamp; somehow the MooseCamp day managed to score nice weather two years in a row. This year’s MooseCamp was bigger than previous years, and I think we’re getting to the limit of how many people we can take without losing something. We also seem to be getting a lot more people who are interested more in commercial aspects of blogging and social media than the personal side, so I’m not sure how that’s going to play out in the future either.

I spent much of the morning on the t-shirt and registration desk until things settled down, then went to the multilingual session, mostly since I occasionally wonder whether (I should try blogging in German as well as English. There were quite a few people in the room, but it turned out that only two of us were interested in the subject for a personal blog; everyone else was interested in the subject for a client, or for their company. Which isn’t bad, and I’m sure the other people in the room were glad to know that several others were interested in the corporate aspects of the subject, it was just of less interest to me personally.

Photocamp took the first part of the afternoon; interesting as always and some decent tips on lighting, even for the few of us who use little pocket cameras (there were some seriously big cameras on show).

I spoke in the last part of the internet bootcamp. The talk I’d prepared was meant, in good unconference fashion, to be reasonably interactive. James agreed to help out, since he also found the topic interesting: What Next? The idea was to talk to people who’d been blogging for a little while and wanted to take their blog to the next level; I was primed with topics such as broadening the focus versus narrowing it, how the tone and style of blogs tend to develop, what effect incorporating work topics often has, multiple blogs versus one blog on multiple topics. A few minutes in it became really obvious that people weren’t interested in the subject, and when I asked why they were there, almost all were interested in figuring out how their company should start blogging, or make their company blogs more effective. So in even better unconference style, I changed the subject and started talking about how Sun had implemented blogging. Most people seemed much happier with that subject, and we discussed a lot of related issues. Fortunately it was the last session of the day so the fact we then went over time didn’t seem to upset too many people.

Feb 112008

There’s something about these grey gloomy days that saps my energy. I’m still here, just not blogging much. I do post occasionally to my crafting blog, that seems easier somehow than this “main” blog. I’ll have to think about what that says about my blogging right now. I’m hoping that going to the Northern Voice conference at the end of next week brings back some of my blogging energy.

Oh, if you were thinking about attending that conference, and haven’t yet registered, you’re too late. We have a couple of spots left for MooseCamp on Friday February 22nd (which is when I’m speaking, in the Internet Bootcamp), but the Saturday conference is full. The schedule is looking great, we don’t have to trek across campus in the rain for lunch like last year, since lunch is provided, and I got my flu shot already in case the dreaded lurgy strikes again. So I’m all prepared. Except, of course, for my talk, but I’ve got over a week to get ready for that.

Jan 152008

In the online and software world, there’s “support”, and then there’s support. I’ve discovered my hosting supplier for this blog, Canadian Web Hosting, offers the real type of support. And at a decent price, too.

I run two WordPress blogs, this one and a crafting blog, and had a problem that showed up on one and not the other. They dug around, sent suggestions to try things out, and generally made a great effort to help figure out what was going on (I’ll post the gory details once I have a bit more time to make them understandable). That support coupled with a decent price ($8.95 per month if you pay upfront for 1 TB bandwidth per month, 125 GB storage, lots of add-on domains, and SSH access) means I recommend them to anyone who needs hosting. If you’re in the market for a new hosting supplier, you could do a lot worse.

Jan 152008

In a city like Vancouver in the depths of winter, when we’re so used to rain, rain, and more rain, to the extent that even the local paper prints “this is getting boring” as the weather forecast, any sun is appreciated. So today’s glorious sunshine, even though accompanied by cold frosts in the morning, was extremely welcome. Everyone is out walking, people are visibly relaxing and enjoying the sun, their faces reminiscent of blossoming flowers, rather than scurrying along under umbrellas scowling at the grey skies. Many are deliberately not looking at the weather forecast, preferring to enjoy the weather as it is rather than be cast into despondency over the rain that is undoubtedly just over the horizon. Even the trees seem to be smiling, and the cats are outside catting around rather than hibernating.

Somehow even working in the basement seems easier when the sun is shining.

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