Post #NV12

As previously posted, I attended both days of the Northern Voice personal blogging conference held at the W2 café & SFU auditorium. I’ve read reviews from fellow bloggers & social-mediaites as they attended in previous years and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I was happy to see that my friend, and digital saucy-pants, Dame Wallis was attending. She reviews the conference here.

The crowd was enthusiastic & friendly. As opposed to many of the other conferences I have attended in Vancouver, attendees welcomed each other, chatted about the talks, and shared knowledge freely. As this was a content-creating crowd, everyone had their computers, tablets or mobile devices out recording, shooting, writing, or editing talks on the fly. The archiving was amazing & truly inspiring. I’ve been to developer conferences that weren’t this interactive.

However, I’ll admit that I was largely disappointed by the content. It seemed rather insulting to attend panels where the speakers said things like “I’m a relative newbie”, “I don’t have any formal research on this subject” or “I have no professional background on this topic” (actual speaker quotes) after having paid to attend the conference. I understand that there is a cost associated with putting on a conference, and Northern Voice is a not-profit event; however, I believe the conference would benefit by being more forthcoming about the relative experience of the panel speakers. Maybe introducing a fast-track schedule to highlight which talks are simply going to be peer talks vs. talks by speakers with experience (either in the field or speaking).

I’m not saying that $75 is too expensive for the conference they put on. The venue was excellent, the free wi-fi was appreciated, the staff were friendly, and the snack food (included in the conference price) blew me away. However, I have been to FREE conferences that have had more content by established or engaging speakers, and I felt that some of the speakers should have kept their rants/observations on their blog and not on the main stage.

That isn’t to say that there weren’t some real gems. From the excellent & local, the keynote talk on privacy and “interactivism” was an excellent way to kick off the conference. The talk on “better blogging productivity” was obviously one that many attendees had anticipated as the theatre was full for Mike Vardy (of Lifehack). I enjoyed another round of unconference collaboration at Moosecamp, where I expect the speakers/topic leaders to have varying levels of knowledge. This was, perhaps, why I was so surprised to find the main stage showcasing talks that would have been better suited for the unconference jam-style.

I did get some take-aways from the conference, and I do applaud the hard work by the #NV12 volunteers & staff. It was professional on all fronts except for the inconsistent quality of speakers/topics, and that may well fluctuate from year to year.

Here are some point-form take-aways that I gathered from my 2-day experience.

  • A zen approach to gaming, Atari style: Game Poems, a good year.
  • Copyright in Canada: we are not a litigation state and that as long as you are considerate of others (and their content) it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. This is my paraphrase and not a direct quote from the copyright speaker (who asked not to be quoted/did not give legal advice).
  • There is a copyright on the light show of the Eiffel tower. You can take & use photographs of the Eiffel Tower during the day, but the nighttime light show comes with a cost. Who knew?
  • I met up with Nancy White, a fellow ukulele enthusiast & spread the good word about #ukeTuesdays. Check out her blog here.
  • The great thing about unconferences is that you manage your experience. I wasn’t really keen on any of the Moosecamp talks offered in the first slot so I proposed a mini-talk on monetization. I always enjoy participating in any discussion with Boris Mann, who took some great notes of the break-out session.
  • There is a definite difference between distractions & disruptions. Distractions you can manage. “I had to update my Facebook/Twitter/OtherTimeWaster” is a distraction that you can eliminate. Turn off notifications & shut down programs. A disruption is not something you can plan for and they are what they are. Be flexible, but build a schedule that you can manage.
  • Manage distractions using forced discipline applications like Freedom, Concentrate or Rescue Time.
  • Since when did email become a real-time tool? If you check your email AS IT COMES IN (which I so totally do), you’re missing the point. Try managing  time by only checking email at scheduled intervals. If you need help with that, there is a program called Asana. Mike’s quote was “would you wait for the mailman?”
  • For Mike’s entire presentation & excellent suggestions on blogging productivity, check out his slideshare upload.
  • My blogs are generally too long. Best blogs for reading are 500-1200 words (this one is 875). Not sure if this is gonna change anything for me here, but good to know when I’m not just writing on my personal blog.
  • Excellent video PSA made for Open Media by Jeremy Brown.

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