NV08 – Blogging & Social Media: Where do we go from here?

nv2008 Matt Mullenweg just finished up his keynote and is now answering questions from the audience. His talk about where we are now and where we need to go in the future started out really well, but kind of went downhill in my opinion. He began with the blogger’s hierarchy of needs:

  1. Expression
  2. Public
  3. Interaction
  4. Validation

I think these make a lot of sense. Bloggers seem to have an inherent need to express themselves, they like to do so in public and with other people, and they love checking their stats. My favorite and I think the most important is #2. I agree with Matt that public should be the default.

NV08 Keynote Next he made the comment that 4 million posts are created at wordpress.com each month. Wikipedia has about 2.1 million English-language articles, so Matt reasoned that wordpress.com users create about two Wikipedia’s each month. The only problem with that, of course, is that quantity does not equal quality. It’s kind of an apples and oranges comparison.

Matt then showed a funny video of the "dancing Matt", some dude who he is apparently neck and neck with for the top result in Google for "matt". He asked the audience to ensure they link to http://ma.tt so that he can remain #1. Are you kidding me? Does this belong in a keynote?

His next point was that technology companies suck at branding. He cited Google and Microsoft specifically, and used P&G as an example of a company that is great at branding. This wasn’t new for me, as I’ve done a lot of reading about branding, but it is good that Matt brought it up specifically. He didn’t say it explicitly, but I can only assume that he thinks we need to have better branding in technology in the future. A lot of his points seemed very loosely related to the title of the talk.

Matt finished up his talk by essentially professing his love for the open source movement. I agree with him that transparency is good and powerful, but I disagree that open source is the only way to get there. Matt thinks that we must create strong alternatives to commercial solutions. I think we can achieve transparency in other ways.

Stewart Mader liveblogged the keynote, so you might get a better idea of how it went down by reading his post.

It wasn’t a bad keynote, but I think the one Anil Dash did last year was much better. It was more powerful and left you with a great feeling. You can watch it here.

Ah well. Matt is easy to like and he’s a good speaker, but his keynote just didn’t do it for me.

MooseCamp2008

moosecamp2008 I’m not sure why, but I didn’t really get into the swing of things until this afternoon. Just wasn’t as enthused for MooseCamp as I have been in previous years. Maybe that’s because so much of it is repetitious. I mean, Kris Krug’s PhotoCamp sessions are always excellent, but they’re also always very similar. I’ve spent most of the afternoon in the Internet BootCamp. Despite being aimed at beginners, I don’t think the content has been all that introductory. It’s been interesting, for sure.

In the last session on liveblogging, someone mentioned that they found it odd that so many people are just snapping photos and uploading them without asking permission. Megan sympathizes, because she doesn’t like her photo being taken. I think that if you’re attending Northern Voice or any other tech conference, there’s an expectation that you’re going to get blogged, photographed, videotaped, streamed, Twittered, etc. If you are really uncomfortable with having your photo taken, you shouldn’t be here.

That might sound harsh, but that’s how I feel. I fully appreciate privacy and asking permission, but I think you implicitly give permission by attending. That expectation has been set.

Only a couple hours of MooseCamp left! The session we’re in now is called Traffic, Stats, SEO 101. Definitely one of my least favorite topics, but I didn’t want to give up the power outlet 😉

Off to Vancouver for Northern Voice

nv2008 It’s that time of year again! Later this afternoon Megan and I are flying to Vancouver for the fourth edition of Northern Voice, Canada’s blogging and social media conference. And as usual, I’ve left far too many things until the last minute. Ah well.

Lots of people have asked me this, so I figured I should blog about it: I am not doing any recording this year (I did some recording in 2005 and again last year). I’m just going to enjoy the conference as an attendee. That said, I am bringing some recording devices. And a webcam…maybe we’ll have some live streaming!

There are lots of ways to follow along this weekend. Keep an eye on the nv08 and northernvoice tags at Flickr, and also on the NorthernVoiceBloggers channel on Jaiku. And of course, I’ll be twittering and blogging here.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see all you Northern Voicers shortly.

Going to Northern Voice 2008

Post ImageMegan and I just registered for Northern Voice 2008, once again taking place at the Forestry Sciences Centre on UBC’s main campus in Vancouver. This is the fourth year the conference has taken place, and its the fourth year in a row we’ve attended. Dickson has joined us twice, but I don’t think he’ll be coming this year. Sharon came with us last year, and I think it scared her off. I asked if she wanted to come this year, and she just laughed at me! Ah well, it’s not for everyone I guess.

Here are my "I’m registered" posts from 2007, 2006, and 2005. Each year I’ve done a little more than just attend (was a panel member once, did recording twice) but this year that changes. I’m looking forward to a less stressful experience, and I know Megan is too 🙂

If you’d like to register, you can do so here.

Read: Northern Voice

2007 ETS Community Conference

Post ImageI went to the Edmonton Transit System Community Conference this morning, and I have to admit it was rather interesting. I’m not a transit geek or anything like that, but I happened to come across the conference online last week, and a couple of sessions caught my eye. One was on new technology, and the other was on web technology. Other sessions included a tour of the LRT garage, an input session regarding the 100th anniversary of ETS (happens in 2008), and an information session about Edmonton’s Transportation Master Plan.

I recorded the welcome and keynote, which you can listen to here. Here are some notes from the two breakout sessions I attended. From new technology:

  • ETS has ordered six hybrid buses, two of which are already in service. Each one costs around $700,000.
  • They also recently finalized their largest single order of buses ever (over 200). The new fleet will replace all the old GM buses, and will allow some room for growth. The 2007 Clean Diesel buses cost about $400,000 each.
  • ETS is experimenting with GPS and other wireless technologies. Lots of buses now have a GPS transmitter on top. The only thing preventing them from doing cool things like an “arrivals & departures” board at transit centres is money.
  • Most buses will be outfitted with a camera system consisting of 5 cameras. The cameras record to a DVR on the bus that has around 1 TB of storage, and uses MPEG-4 compression.
  • They have new automatic people counters! Haha, kinda funny they mentioned this one, but it actually does make a big difference I guess. In the future it could be linked to some of the wireless technologies too so that ETS would know if a bus is full or not in real-time.

And from web technology:

  • The webmaster for ETS is the same lady who records the BusLink information, and the old station announcements on the LRT.
  • I came ready to complain about all the new windows that are spawned on the website. Apparently I’m not the only one with that concern! No word on when it will get fixed.
  • The ETS website is the busiest of all City of Edmonton websites, with over 900,000 visits in 2006.
  • They launched an online store four months ago, where you can buy tickets and passes. It has already done over $100,000 in sales.
  • An average of 89,000 plans per month were created in 2006 with the Trip Planner tool.
  • There is a lot of things they’d like to add to the website, but it sounds like they have to jump through hoops to be able to make any changes.
  • It was mentioned in passing, but it sounds like the City of Edmonton is gearing up to overhaul their entire web presence.

The new technology session was particularly interesting for me…I have long wondered if they were testing GPS and similar technologies. Turns out they are!

It was announced in the keynote that the recent U-Pass referendum at the University of Alberta passed with 84 percent voting yes. You can read more about the vote at The Gateway. The ETS staff seemed pretty excited about it.

I’m not sure I’d go to this conference every year, but it was definitely worth checking out. And hey, you can’t beat the price – free!

Northern Voice Conference Day

Post ImageWe just finished recording the keynote session with Anil Dash at Northern Voice 2007, and I am now in the “Blogging 101” session. The recording is going fairly well, and the audio recorders have picked up the presenters better than I expected given all the background noise you get when everyone has a laptop in front of them! We recorded the keynote in video, and it looks very good. Dickson is uploading it now I believe, so it should be up soon.

Yesterday was a little chaotic for us, as expected. Moosecamp is a very ad hoc kind of event, so we weren’t sure about what to record. For that reason we ended up recording more than we planned, though some of it sounds kind of random. Fortunately the schedule today is well defined and static, so Sharon took the initiative and helped us decide who is recording what. Audio episodes will be up very shortly after the session, video will take slightly longer.

Hopefully I’ll get to blog more today than in the last couple days, but at the very least I wanted to get this quick update posted. Also, if you want to check out the quick interview I did yesterday after Moosecamp with Darren Barefoot, you can watch it here.

Why do you blog?

Post ImageDarren Barefoot is presenting a session called “Why We Blog” at Northern Voice next month, and as part of his preparations he has launched a short online survey. There’s only sixteen questions and it’s pretty quick to fill out, so if you’re a blogger, why not help him out? I just completed the survey so I can affirm that it is quick and painless. Oh, and there’s prizes too:

One randomly-selected person who completes the survey will win an iPod Shuffle.

Another randomly-selected survey completer will win two Lonely Planet books–Micronations and Experimental Travel.

I obviously want to promote the survey, so I’m also giving away one CAN $50 gift certificate to a randomly-selected person who blogs about it. Just link to http://www.whydoyoublog.com and you’re qualified to win.

So if you are a blogger or have been a blogger in the past, fill out the survey here.

Read: Why Do You Blog?

Northern Voice 2007

Post ImageI finally registered for Northern Voice 2007 today. The annual conference has become a tradition for me, and this year the timing is perfect as it falls on the tail end of reading week. The organizers posted the schedule yesterday, and even though it is still a work in progress, it looks good. I don’t see a keynote however – perhaps it will fill the time gap from 9:30 to 10:15?

If you’d like to attend Northern Voice, you can register here.

Read: Northern Voice

Northern Voice 2007

Post ImageFebruary is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s short, classes stop for an entire week, and in Vancouver there’s a great little event called Northern Voice. The 2007 edition of the conference was announced a while ago, and today I see that registration is officially open:

Frankly, all of us Northern Voice organizers have gotten behind the eight-ball a bit on this years conference. We all keep getting busier-we’re approaching some kind of busyness event horizon where we’ll just cease to exist. Regardless, our ducks are back in a row.

Such an honest group! In addition to opening registration, they have extended the speaker submission to Friday, December 1st. If you’d like to register for Northern Voice, you can do so here.

Read: Northern Voice

Unmesh

Post ImageNow that Mesh is over, I’ll need to begin reviewing the things I heard discussed, the things I learned, and the different perspectives on things I already knew. Conferences like this one always give me so much to consider – I never leave empty handed or bored.

As I mentioned previously, the conference wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was far less geeky than I had anticipated. Even the two “15 Minutes of Fame” sessions were not demos, but rather introductions or high level overviews. Things like Ajax or Javascript or Ruby on Rails were rarely mentioned, and even then only in passing. More people had paper notepads and pens than laptops for taking notes (there were still a lot of laptops, don’t get me wrong). All in all, the audience seemed much more “business-like”.

I think this conference was good for me. I got some interesting perspective on “Web 2.0”, and I met some very intriguing people. I also think the conference is good for Canada, we need events like Mesh to remind us of the talent and opportunity that we have – we don’t need to go to Silicon Valley. At the same time, Mesh reminds us of the areas that we could and should be doing much better.

Thanks to Stuart, Mark, and the entire organizing and planning team for putting on a superb conference! I look forward to next year’s Mesh (and yes I think there can be one, even if we no longer talk about “Web 2.0”, because the discussions held over the last two days are still relevant).