Archive: Posts about Blogging Conference
March 7th, 2011, Comments Off
A quick post to cover off a few things in my orbit:
- After four or five years of indifference, we launched a new version of Capulet’s website, designed by our friends at Giant Ant Media. I wrote a blog post over at Capulet’s dusty blog about the relaunch. It features some in-progress sketches, and our thinking behind the site’s aesthetic.
- I’m making slow but steady progress in my plan to live Canadian in 2011. My current search is for Canadian-made shoes, both of the running and hiking varieties. There was a piece about the project in the Vancouver Sun today. The photo is rather undignified.
- I stepped back from the Northern Voice organizing committee this year, but I’m helping to organize the Non-Profit Expo that we’ve held for the past couple of years. We run a kind of small trade show for non-profits, enabling them to set up tables and talk to attendees on Saturday afternoon. Do you work for or know of a non-profit or charity? Apply here.
- By the way, tickets are now on sale for Northern Voice. Act now to avoid disappointment. Likewise, the speaker submission deadline is creeping up.
May 12th, 2010, 6 Comments »
I like speaking at Northern Voice because I don’t have to speak about web marketing, which is my usual topic for professional gigs. Instead I can pick a topic that’s of personal interest to me. This year my talk was called “What Would Mookie Do? How To Do Good on the Web” and kind of was a sequel to my “1100 Stacies” talk from a few years ago.
Another reason I like speaking at Northern Voice is that I have a home field advantage–lots of friends in the audience. And they’re liable to be forgiving if things go sideways.
With this in mind, I tried Prezi, the most innovative alternative to PowerPoint I’ve seen in a while.
Interestingly, most of Prezi’s innovation happens in the creation, not the presentation, part of the process. It’s a sad reality that most people (myself, occasionally, included) prepare a talk by creating a set of slides. The tools, PowerPoint or its slightly cooler cousin Keynote, shape how we think about what we’re trying to say. PowerPoint fosters an infamously bullet point-filled, orderly, linear approach. As Seth Godin says (and the US military agrees), bullet points are unemotional, sterile and only have the appearance of precision.
Conversely, Prezi uses a kind of tabula rasa meets the mind map model. You’re presented with an infinitely large canvas, and you drop chunks of content–text, photos, video and so forth–onto it. Then you connect these together in a kind of narrative path and, huzzah, it’s presentation 2.0.
Cognitively, it makes much more sense than PowerPoint. Instead of building this plodding, linear narrative, I’m connecting ideas. Instead of itemizing bullet points (which, truth be told, I rarely use in presentations anyway), I’m summarizing ideas in a few words.
This screenshot makes the editing interface look messy, but it’s really just the way I’ve drawn my connecting path. It makes sense to me as the creator, and that’s what’s important. Click to embiggen:
The interface is a joy to work in. Everything just works the way it should. Undo behaves the way you’d want it to, it’s painless to upload images and it makes effective use of keyboard navigation. I’ll definitely use Prezi again.
Here’s my embedded presentation from my Northern Voice talk, complete with a quote from “Do the Right Thing”.
6 Comments »
April 20th, 2010, Comments Off
A few items that are in my orbit this month:
April 13th, 2010, 20 Comments »
Surprisingly, in the first five years, no blogger has requested media (that is, free) access to Northern Voice. We’ve had a smattering of mainstream media in attendance, and we’ve been glad to give them media passes.
This year we received our first request for media accreditation from a blogger. I’ve kind of been waiting for this to happen, as it raises this interesting question: how do you handle media access when everyone is media?
It’s really not a big deal for Northern Voice–it’s more a thought experiment than anything else. A few possible approaches:
- Media access for anybody who asks.
- No media access at all. We’ve let media in for free in the past, but from here on in, everybody pays. After all, it’s a pretty cheap event.
- Only media access for bloggers and online publishers who meet a certain threshold of popularity or authority.
- We only grant media access to those bloggers and online publishers who cover the social media space. This is analogous to giving hockey tickets to a sports reporter, but not a theatre reviewer.
Clearly #1 won’t work. #2 seems a little Draconian. #3 is quibbling, time-intensive and very hard to police. #4 might be the right approach, though many (most?) bloggers could conceivably count the social web as part of their ‘beat’.
It’s an issue that marketing and PR professionals will increasingly face, and it’s a question we get asked about in our workshops from time to time. My answer: most organizations have a too little, rather than a too much, attention problem. Most marketers are happy to accredit anybody who shows up with a notepad, camera or website. I haven’t requested accreditation very often–usually just to theatre shows and the like–but I don’t think I’ve ever been refused. Mind you, I’m not asking for tickets to Beyonce or free flights to Bali.
What do you think? Who would you handle media accreditation for Northern Voice?
UPDATE: Another possible option: set a total number of ‘media tickets’ and grant them on a first come, first served basis to mainstream media and bloggers alike. That’s a crude approach, and probably favours the bloggers who hear about the conference early. And, really, are we going to turn down the Globe and Mail reporter who wants to come at the last minute?
UPDATE #2: Another possible criteria arose in private conversation with some folks: give accreditation to bloggers who have audiences that are currently under-served by the conference. For example, if somebody had a blog read by Vancouverites (or Canadians) who speak Mandarin as a first language. This seems like a thoughtful, sensible approach.
20 Comments »
February 23rd, 2010, Comments Off
Just a quick heads up that early bird tickets for Northern Voice went on sale this morning. And they’re selling fast.
One of the ongoing challenges of the conference is managing demand. In the past, we’ve always sold out very quickly, which disappoints a lot of people. This year we’ve taken two steps to try to ameliorate that phenomenon:
- We’ve increased the capacity to 500 attendees.
- We’re selling the tickets in two sections. Most of them will be sold in the early bird tickets, but we’re holding some back to sell later on, so that people who discover the conference for the first time have a shot at attending.
February 7th, 2010, 6 Comments »
Last week, we opened up speaking submissions for Northern Voice, the social media and personal blogging conference I help organize.
The conference, by the way, will be held out at UBC on May 7 and 8, 2010. Why so late this year? We didn’t want to schedule it during the Olympics, and, preferring to keep it out at UBC, we needed to wait until classes weren’t in session.
The deadline for submitting a talk is March 9, 2010. I’ll be one of the people filtering through the submissions. We get more than 100 now, and the amount grows every year. As such, I thought I ought to brainstorm some topics that I’d like covered at this year’s conference:
- Why do location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla matter? Will they catch on? What are original ideas around how to use them?
- Dying on the social web. I’ve discussed this topic occasionally, and obviously it’s kind of an uncomfortable one, but as the Internet and its users get older, it’s increasingly germane.
- Sex and the social web. Not to sound all dirty, but it’s been five years and we’ve never had this topic. We’ve had ‘relationships and blogging’, which is great, but nobody’s owned this subject.
- How does the average 15-year-old use technology and the social web. As I get older and continue to have zero children, I feel less and less in touch with how the average teenager uses the web. I might actually submit on this topic, in the hopes of convening a panel of teenagers to take questions from the audience.
That’s all I can think of. What topics would you like to see covered at this year’s conference?
6 Comments »
March 23rd, 2009, 3 Comments »
Dale pointed me in the direction of this blog post that offers a rare insight into the sundry costs behind a major tech conference. DrupalCon is, I believe, the world’s biggest event celebrating all things Drupal. For the uninitiated, Drupal is a popular open source content management system that runs some of the world’s busiest websites (and may, in fact, be responsible for the world’s crop circles).
In the spirit of openness that pervades most open source products, the DrupalCon organizers have posted an ad hoc balance sheet for the conference. As somebody who’s organized a bunch of events (though none that big), they’re really interesting. DrupalCon had over 1400 attendees. Here are a few of the big numbers:
Revenue was more than a half million dollars at $542,350.
Our expenses came in at $356,569.31.
The Drupal community made a profit of $185,780.69 from DrupalCon DC…
Ticket sales for DrupalCon DC brought in $230,750.
Sponsorships of DrupalCon DC brought in $311,700.
I gather ticket prices were in the US $200 – 250 range. They had 54 sponsors who paid at least $2500 each.
Those are big numbers–the revenue and expenses are more than ten times that of Northern Voice or BarCamp Vancouver. I don’t have much to add, but I thought they’d be of interest to people who plan events.
3 Comments »
February 22nd, 2009, 5 Comments »
On Friday, @granvillemag made the common observation that Robert looks more than a little like Philip Seymour Hoffman. Robert and Maryam came up for this year’s Northern Voice.
That comparison reminded me that I’d had the same thought when I met Robert back in 2004. At the time Boris generously invited me to a kind of impromptu geek lunch in Yaletown. Robert and Maryam were there, as were Tim and Lauren, Stewart, Cal,
Roland (hey, I like the new theme). I met all of them for the first time. As it happens, we talked about how Vancouver could host a conference about this ‘weblogging’ thing. Northern Voice was borne over Thai food.
I mention all of those folks not to be a name-dropping douchebag, but to highlight my favourite thing about Northern Voice: the vibe. I think the conference maintains a lot of the easy, inclusive attitude of that day. I attend a lot of formal and informal events, and Northern Voice seems to strike a happy medium of sufficiently organized chaos. I can’t say for sure, but I get the sense that that (dare I say it?) energy makes it easy to meet new people, and hopefully diminishes some of the social barriers that exist at other events.
Almost everybody at that lunch attended this year’s Northern Voice. Maybe that’s a reflection of the current conference’s comfortable atmosphere?
I think Gnomedex was probably a big influence on Northern Voice’s vibe, as several early organizers had previously attended Chris’s great events. They have a similar feeling of a level, open playing field. I’d also give some credit to the conference venue. The Forest Sciences Centre has a gorgeous atrium and seating area that encourages casual interaction.
The Best Northern Voice Yet
A couple of people I spoke to said that this version of Northern Voice was the best one yet. I’d tend to agree. A big congratulations to the organizers who did a great job with everything, from recruiting sponsors in difficult times to building a really strong speaker lineup. A few observations that struck me about the weekend:
- The conference is so much more diverse than it was five years ago. In the first year, I remember that the crowd was 80% male. This year we did a quick count and it turned out to be about 55% male, 45% female. It’s a sausage party no longer. I have no proof of this, but it also feels more diverse in terms of the age and ethnicity of attendees.
- When one of the organizers asked “how many people are new to the conference this year”, at least 60% or 70% of those in the audience put up their hand. That’s really terrific, not what I expected, and probably reflective of Northern Voice’s popularity problem.
- There were some sponsor prizes to give away, so I helped Travis devise some fiendish, space-specific trivia questions to ask using the Northern Voice Twitter account. My favourite question was “how many mustachioed men were in the 1948 Forestry program graduating class?” The graduating class portraits were hung on the walls of the building, so you had to hunt the right one down. Surprisingly, the correct answer was “two”.
I happened to notice that the registration list for PodCamp Toronto is about 850 people long. They’ve obviously got a much larger population base to draw upon, but I can imagine that Northern Voice could be nearly that big if it wanted to be. I think that’s the most important question going forward: how big does the conference want to be?
Photo by John Biehler
5 Comments »