Northern Voice speakers are primarily from Vancouver and use Twitter

logo by basco5 If you visit the Twitter page for Northern Voice, the one line bio says “Canada’s social media and blogging conference” (isn’t the blogging bit redundant?). The website isn’t quite as direct, but the impression you’re left with is the same: it’s a Canada-wide event. A few days ago they announced the schedule for Saturday, the “conference” part. I took a look at it today and was struck by how many of the speakers are located in Vancouver! Here’s the list, with speaker names linked to their Twitter profiles where available:

Kris Krug – Vancouver
Lauren Wood – Vancouver
Nora Young – Toronto
Rob Cottingham – Vancouver
Stewart Butterfield – San Francisco
Steve Pratt – Vancouver
Nate Elliott – Vancouver
Tod Maffin – Vancouver
Isabella Mori – Vancouver
Airdrie Miller – Vancouver
Briana Tomkinson – Vancouver
Rebecca Bollwitt – Vancouver
Linda Bustos – Vancouver
Jenn Lowther – Vancouver
Nadia Nascimento – Vancouver
Monica Hamburg – Vancouver
Kim Adamson-Sharpe – ?
Hilary Genders – Vancouver
Tim Bray – Vancouver
Robert Scales – Vancouver
Susannah Gardner – Vancouver
Barbara Ganley – Vermont?
Laura Blankenship – Pennsylvania
Nancy White – Seattle
Darren Barefoot – Vancouver
Alfred Hermida – Vancouver
David Eaves – Vancouver
Alan Levine – Arizona
Dave Johnson – Vancouver
Kate Trgovac – Vancouver
Rosemary Rowe – Vancouver?
Dave Olson – Vancouver
Bev Davies – Vancouver
Irwin Oostindie – Vancouver

This list may be inaccurate or incomplete – the NV site lacks bios and abstracts, has one “TBA” slot, and doesn’t make it clear where everyone is from so I did the best I could to look it up. If you spot an error let me know and I’ll correct it.

Canada’s social media and blogging conference? More like Vancouver’s.

A few final remarks: I fully appreciate that this is a community event and that speakers’ expenses are not covered, so it makes sense to have more locals. I noted the Vancouver-specific nature of the conference last year. I submitted a speaking proposal and was turned down for Saturday, but will be leading a session on Friday (hopefully the schedule for that goes up soon).

Thoughts on Northern Voice’s popularity problem

image by bascoYesterday, Darren wrote about Northern Voice’s “popularity problem”. It’s a nice problem to have! This year’s conference sold out in just three days, leading Darren to speculate that individuals who aren’t “in the know” probably missed out on registering. I think he’s right. I also agree that part of the problem is that NV only happens once a year. I don’t think hosting Fall and Spring editions of the event is going to solve the problem though. The real issue is that NV has always tried to cater to two different audiences across an enormous country – techies and noobies from eastern and western Canada – and perhaps that just isn’t realistic anymore. If there are going to be multiple NV events in a year, I think they need to be distinguished by target audience and perhaps by location.

I wrote a post-mortem for last year’s event which was actually rather negative. I think the main thing that keeps me coming back despite the problems is that I fall into the techie audience, and NV is basically the one opportunity each year where techies from across the country (or at least the western part of it) can get together in person relatively easily and inexpensively to interact with one another (other events, such as Mesh, cost about $500 not including travel expenses). For me, that’s the real value of NV.

What would the two events I’m talking about look like? Perhaps Northern Voice for the noobies, and BarCampCanada for the techies. And recognizing that our country is massive, we probably need eastern and western versions of each of those events. An idea that was floated back when Northern Voice was getting started was that it could travel around the country from year-to-year, so we might have “Northern Voice: YVR” one year and “Northern Voice: YEG” another. Obviously that didn’t happen, because it’s just too difficult to manage. I think “Northern Voice: West” and “Northern Voice: East” would be sufficient. Same goes for BarCampCanada, which has had its date pushed back numerous times for precisely the same reason.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should completely segregate techies and noobies, because we’d lose out on the opportunity to learn from one another if we did that. All I’m suggesting is that Northern Voice could be targeted at noobies and BarCampCanada could be targeted at techies. That would help solve the problem of having everyone try to register for the same event immediately. Some techies would go for NV and some noobies would go for BarCampCanada, sure, but I think there would be less issues with this than with Spring and Fall events targeted at everyone.

In case you’re wondering why I’m calling it BarCampCanada, it’s because I’ve always thought that NV got it backwards when they applied the “unconference” style to the Friday meant for noobies (this year seems to be different thankfully). And since most major Canadian cities already have fairly well-established BarCamps (that tend to be more for the techies than for the noobies), why not get them to help organize larger east and west events?

Anyway, as I said, it’s a nice problem to have. Those are my armchair thoughts on the situation. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Northern Voice 2009 – both techies and noobies!

Registered for Northern Voice 2009

Early this morning I registered myself and Megan for Northern Voice 2009, taking place in Vancouver on February 20th and 21st. As you may recall, I submitted a speaking proposal back in December. Unfortunately, my submission wasn’t one of the 18 selected, but that’s okay. I’m glad to hear that the organizing committee received over 100 proposals as it suggests to me that the conference will once again have high quality content this year. Thanks to the committee for considering me and undertaking the nearly impossible task of narrowing that list down!

There are only 300 tickets available for the conference and as of earlier today, they were 75% sold out. If you haven’t already done so, you had better head on over to the registration site and book your spot! Keep an eye on their blog and Twitter account for updates. I suspect they’ll once again have a waiting list, but you don’t want to be on it.

Hopefully they announce the schedule soon – I’m keen to see who’s speaking!

You can read my previous posts related to Northern Voice here. You can also look at my photos from 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Are you going to NV2009? Let me know!

Northern Voice 2009 Speaker Submission: Examining Twitter’s Impact on News Media

artwork by basco5I’ll be making my way to Vancouver once again this February for Northern Voice – Canada’s blogging and social media conference. I’ve attended every year since the event started in 2005, with varying levels of participation. In that first year, I was on a media panel. In 2006 and 2007, I did some recording and podcasting of the sessions. And last year, I was just a regular attendee. This year, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring to be a speaker. What would I like to talk about? Why, Twitter of course!

The deadline for speaker submissions is Friday. My intent with this post is to get some feedback – do you think what I’m pitching here would be an interesting and worthwhile session? Here’s what I’m thinking:

Examining Twitter’s Impact on News Media

Whether you “get it” or not, Twitter has changed news media forever. The microblogging service continues its push into the mainstream, and is wreaking all kinds of havoc along the way!

In this session we’re going to see how Twitter is impacting news media around the world. We’ll take a look at some notable examples from 2008, with particular focus placed on the American and Canadian political events. We’ll see why Twitter is the best place for breaking news, and how large news media organizations are starting to take advantage of the service – both for broadcasting and listening.

Local news is also being greatly affected by Twitter. We’ll examine one Canadian city in particular, Edmonton, to see how Twitter is used throughout the month of January 2009. Using data retrieved primarily from Twitter Search, we’ll examine the statistics (such as number of tweets posted, what time of day is most active, etc.) to identify trends and to help us correlate tweets with the local events and news of the month.

Finally, we’ll quickly examine how Twitter’s impact on news media translates to other industries – no one is safe!

I’d love to hear any comments or feedback you might have, as well as any suggestions on how to improve the session. Leave a comment below, or email me if that’s more your thing. I’d also encourage you to keep an eye on the Northern Voice site for updates! Thank you in advance!

Great Marketing: Techie Crunch

For the most part, I’d say that Tech Days 08 went as expected this week (in Calgary). Lots of people showed up, some were more interested and enthusiastic than others, and there was a mix of great content and average content. Another thing you can typically count on at a Microsoft event is a bag full of swag. Tech Days attendees did in fact receive swag, but it didn’t come in a bag!

I can’t tell you how many bags I’ve collected at Microsoft events over the years. It’s the same thing, over and over – a bag (sometimes paper, sometimes fabric) filled with marketing materials, a pen, trial software, and sometimes a book or full version of an application. The contents were similar at Tech Days, but the packaging was quite unique:

Techie Crunch Tech Days 2008

Maybe a little over-the-top, but I love it!

Techie Crunch is “Brain Food for a Healthy Mind” and comes complete with a “Free Brain Warming Toque”. It looks just like a cereal box, with all the graphics and marketing you’d expect, a fake UPC code, and my favorite – Nutrition Facts and Ingredients! As you can see they did some work with the contents too, including the toque and a plastic spoon (actually a pen).

This must have a been a fun project for the marketing team to work on. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s details like this that turn an average experience into something more memorable. Well done!

You can see a few more photos of the box with my other Tech Days photos here.

Tech Days Canada 2008 Instructors on Twitter

tech days My list of CanUX 2008 Attendees on Twitter was well-received (and I found it useful myself), so I thought I’d do something similar for Tech Days. Instead of attendees however (not possible given that thousands of people across the country have attended), I’ve started a list of instructors on Twitter (there are about 70 instructors listed at the official site). The people on this list are leaders in the Developer and IT Pro communities in Canada, so follow them and I’m sure you’ll learn something new!

Here is everyone I’ve found so far:

Christian Beauclair –
Damir Bersinic –
John Bristowe –
Rodney Buike –
Miguel Carrasco –
Kelly Cassidy –
Rick Claus –
Joey deVilla –
Stephen Giles –
Barnaby Jeans –
Adam Kahtava –
James Kovacs –
Paul Laberge –
Mack Male –
Jason Miller –
Daniel Nerenberg –
John Oxley –
Steve Porter –
Pierre Roman –
Bil Simser –

If you should be on the list or know of someone else who should be, please let me know and I’ll update it!

You might want to follow the official Tech Days Canada account too!

My Tech Days Sessions: ADO.NET Data Services and Internet Explorer 8

I’m in Calgary right now at Microsoft’s new paid conference, Tech Days. Despite being a little critical of the event when I first heard about it, I was asked to speak in Calgary. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get a first-hand look at the event so that I can offer more constructive feedback for future editions of Tech Days, and besides, I love sharing what I know with others!

I did the first two presentations in the Web Developer track – a session on ADO.NET Data Services followed by an introduction to Internet Explorer 8 for developers. I think my presentations went well for the most part, despite a few glitches with the demos. Initial feedback from people in the audience was positive anyway! Here are a few resources.

Goin’ Up to the Data in the Sky: ADO.NET Data Services for Web Developers

Internet Explorer 8 for Developers: What You Need to Know

Thanks to everyone who came to the sessions – feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.

Also, thanks to John Bristowe and the team at Microsoft for the opportunity to be involved with Tech Days. I’m looking forward to the rest of the sessions!

CanUX 2008 Attendees on Twitter

canux Even though we spent more time doing than tweeting at CanUX, Twitter was still there in the background. Those of you who couldn’t make it to the event could at least follow along remotely, and some of us at the event used it for informal discussions. You can find nearly all the related tweets at Twitter Search. There’s some value there, but I think following the people who attended is even more valuable, because you can learn from them over time. With that in mind, here’s a partial list of CanUX 2008 attendees on Twitter.



Attendees (in no particular order)

If I’ve missed you, let me know and I’ll update the post!

UPDATE: Here’s my list of links and resources for CanUX 2008.

Sketches from CanUX 2008

I had a blast at CanUX 2008 this week! It was my first real introduction to Canada’s User Experience community, and a great opportunity to meet some interesting people. I learned a lot, and have tons to read and think about! You can read about the sessions at Techvibes: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. You can find all of my photos here.

We ended up doing quite a bit of sketching and drawing at the conference, which was something I didn’t expect. It was fun though, and something I think I will practice. Here are a few sketches from the sessions (I originally wrote these in my Moleskine and re-did them using my tablet):

This one comes from the creativity session on day 2, led by The Banff Centre. It’s a representation of David Snowden’s Domains of Knowing.

This one comes from Jerome Ryckborst’s session on Designing with Developers. It illustrates the different types of people that your team likely has. Ideas are created on the left, and refined or implemented on the right.

This one was shown in Brandon Schauer’s session on Sketchboards. It shows the two basic types of sketching. Exploratory sketching results in lots of rough and varied ideas. Refinement sketching results in fewer, better ideas.

The visual alphabet was something Dave Gray shared with us. Early on in his career, he started searching for the ABC’s or 123’s of drawing, and this is what he found. Can any drawing be made just from these simple characters? Probably!

Thanks to Gene, Yvonne, Jess, and the rest of the nForm team for putting on a fantastic event!

Thoughts from CanUX 2008 Day 2 in Banff

I skipped breakfast this morning but still found the day extremely packed! Fortunately it seemed to go by quickly, which means I wasn’t bored or overwhelmed. You can read more about today’s sessions in my post at Techvibes. Once again I am enjoying the size of CanUX 2008, as I’ve had a chance to chat with many of the people in attendance.

CanUX 2008Sally Borden Building

In the first session today, Luke Wroblewski used a metaphor I really like:

“No one raindrop believes they are to blame for the flood.”

It’s simple, effective, and applies to so many things! In terms of software development, I immediately thought about requirements. It might seem like asking for a feature enhancement is just a raindrop, but eventually you’re going to have a flood.

Another concept that stuck out for me came during the creativity session. We broke into three groups, and mine focused on improv. Our first activity was called the sun and the moon. We started as a big group in a giant circle. Everyone then had to pick out two people from the circle and keep their choices to themselves; the moon would be your protector, and the sun would be “too hot to handle”. Then we were to pretend we were at a party, walking around meeting people, but always keeping your moon in between you and your sun. What we found was that being so focused on moving around and staying away from your sun meant that you couldn’t actually get beyond a simple hello with anyone.

You have to decide whether or not it’s worth getting a little burned if it means you can have that meaningful conversation.

The entire session was full of activities that generated similar thoughts.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, and I’m looking forward to it. The last session is on Microsoft Surface, so that should be interesting. As is often the case, I’m both enjoying my break from a regular schedule and feeling a little behind on my normal day-to-day tasks. I’m glad to be learning some new things though, and I definitely have a lot to think about when I get back. You can see my photos here.