May 182011

That was what we put on the front of the t-shirts this year, #nv11. Some bright spark (I forget who, sorry, the two days blur together a bit) pointed out that the t-shirts were green with NV, which was an impressive pun, or at least better than anything I could come up with on my own.

As always, the days were full, and this year I made it to the party at the Academic as well, which gave me a chance to chat to different people. I’m still trying to figure out whether I liked the Moose cocktail the Academic designed for us or not. The food was good, and the candy bar went down well with everyone.

I managed to miss the morning keynote (the school run took priority), so for me the sessions part of the conference started with the first panel I moderated: Courting Controversy: Dancing with the Devil. Rebecca Coleman, Kazia Mullin, and Lorraine Murphy had everything so well organised that I didn’t need to do anything, I just sat there and watched and listened, prepared to help if they needed it (which they didn’t). They have all summarised their takes on the panel; there are lots of useful hints in there as to how to deal with controversy (and anyone who allows any sorts of comments will). I’m glad I got to listen to this one.

I sat in on the Social Media and Online Defamation: Keeping Out of Court panel for a bit, some interesting information there about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on whether linking to something libellous means that you are considered to have libelled someone yourself, which is a frightening concept and will definitely have a chilling effect on spreading news if it goes the wrong way. Rob Cottingham has a summary in cartoon form. It was interesting comparing this panel with the courting controversy one; “play it safe” vs “be brave”.

I didn’t make it to any sessions after that on the Friday, dealing with various issues or chatting with people in the atrium, but I did make it to the Township 7 winetasting, albeit at the end. And then, of course, the party.

The party was followed by the morning after, being in time to welcome people to the second day and introduce Chris Wilson for his keynote From Dial-up Modems to Post-“Social Media”: A Journey. I enjoyed it, especially when he reminded us all just how fast technology has changed and how much of what is available today would have seemed unbelievable 10 or 15 years ago.

After lunch I moderated Tim’s Sex, Lies, and Wikipedia talk, which, of course, didn’t need much moderation. Tim hasn’t written up his talk, but a search on “Tim Bray wikipedia #nv11” will bring up lots of summaries written by others.

Anthony Marco’s Podcasting with Soul: Try A Little Tenderness was a mix of music and advice on podcasting. He used the music to show how the same basic message (or melody) can sound very different, depending on how it’s presented, and talked about how to get that joy and inspiration into podcasting. I found it interesting, even though I don’t listen to podcasts, with inspiration for written blogging as well.

The last panel was Altruism vs Narcissism: what’s in it for the online reviewer? with Monica Miller, Kyrsten Jensen, Nicole Christen, and Marina Antunes. I ended up asking quite a few questions of the panel to get more details on interesting items. The advice can be best summed up as: keep your integrity. Don’t say you like it if you don’t, but also don’t be too harsh on small independents. In some cases, just don’t post a public review, but in most cases, say what you really think (while stressing it’s your opinion and experience, not Universal Truth). The session was lower energy than lots, since it was getting a little late in the day, and Kyrsten had almost lost her voice, but I think people found it interesting.

And that was it! Northern Voice over for another year.

Apr 182011

Every year, when we start organising Northern Voice, the question comes up about keynotes. Keynotes set the tone of a conference, they indicate something of what the organising committee is thinking, or what they think the community that supports the conference might want to hear about. This year, I wanted to find someone as a keynote speaker who could talk to us about the less sunny side of life, and remind us that some of the personal stories people share online aren’t about good things happening, they’re about life happening, and life isn’t always fair, or easy. The rest of the organising committee agreed, and we’re glad that April Smith agreed to present. “Storytelling From the Heart of the City” opens Northern Voice on Friday May 13th.

The Saturday keynote is a different slant on the web, from Chris Wilson, who’s played a key role in building many of the web technologies we use every day. I’m not actually sure what he’s going to talk about, but I have no doubt it will be an interesting view of the web world so many of us now inhabit, sprinkled with interesting anecdotes. I’m looking forward to it!

Two keynotes, two different slants on what the web enables, two different journeys. I’m not very good at chronicling my own journey, but I admire those who do, and I hope (and expect) that the Northern Voice keynotes will give strength and inspiration to all of us.


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