Northern Voice 2009: On Buried Hatchets and Better Tomorrows

The first keynote of the conference was from Nora Young (@nora3000), a well-known Canadian broadcaster and podcaster. She is perhaps best known as the host and creator of Spark. I thought it was really interesting that she didn’t use any slides. Instead, she just stood at the front of the room and spoke, occasionally playing an audio clip.

Nora Young

Here are some notes I took during the first part of her talk:

  • Consider the telephone. When it first arrived, people didn’t know what to do with it! There’s always a learning curve with new communications technologies. Apparently people debated whether to say “ahoy” or “hello” when the phone was brand new.
  • Nora says we’re at the beginning with social media, and it’s up to us to shape the conversation about whether we use “ahoy” or “hello”.
  • Challenges for mainstream media: being transparent and not being the sole authority.

Looking ahead to the new “ecology of information”:

  • Mobile devices are important. More and more people are continually connected using their phones, and most people in Asia access the Internet via a mobile device.
  • If the web of 1990s was about globalism and anonymity, the web of today is about creating a layer in between online and offline.
  • The web doesn’t have to be global – it can be local, or even hyperlocal. Crime maps are a good example today.


  • A huge caveat is that many people lack fast, reliable access to the Internet. Another is the digital information divide around the world.
  • The new ecology of information implies that we’re just starting to see a big shift in the economy and in culture.
  • If the information you’re getting is based on the people you know (as is often the case in social media), what does that mean? What kind of an impact does that have?
  • If public broadcasting had never existed, how in 2009 would you make the case for it? Nora says it would be based upon social media.

So what’ll it be everyone? Ahoy or hello?

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