Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What I Learned at Northern Voice 2011

I won't bore you, my gentle reader, with the more technical aspects of blogging and social media, but I came away from the NV11 conference with a few observations.  Okay, the first one is a little bit technical, sorry.
  1. Bloggers can't decide if they love or hate "search engine optimization".  They try to insist that blogging is about building a quality community of like-minded people, and writing for yourself, not others.  But really, come on, we all want the numbers.  Who wouldn't want to be like Dooce and get 100,000 hits a day?  I actually heard people gasp when a panelist started to talk about writing to boost your site traffic, as if it were a taboo subject in the blogger community, and yet in another session they dealt with increasing your SEO with proper labeling of photos.  Bloggers want it, but they don't want to admit to wanting it.
  2. Technology has made people rude and lacking in the social graces - such as paying attention to speakers.  In the keynote speech I saw one girl make a gesture to a friend a few rows back indicating that the speaker was running on too long and she should wrap it up, even though she hadn't been speaking for that long.  I've sat through longer and drier sermons.  I have a weird phobia about sitting in the front or middle of rows of people, so I always sit or stand at the back of a classroom/audience.  And from that angle, I could clearly see that almost every person had their laptops/netbooks/smartphones/iPads logged onto Facebook, Twitter or were surfing. I realize that the conference organizers themselves were using Twitter to get feedback and questions in the sessions, but I'm sure that a lot of the tech use was purely for entertainment purposes.  Can't we put down the gadgets for 45 minutes, look at a speaker, and be fully engaged with what is happening in front of us?  I think everyone is aware that multi-tasking doesn't actually work.  I embraced linear thinking a long time ago, and I think I'm better off for it.
  3. Technology is generally a privilege of the middle class and using social media as a lifestyle is reserved for those of us that can afford it, especially geeks and hipsters, as evidenced by the turnout at the conference.  I can't exclude myself from this statement.  If it wasn't for the fact that I am a stay-at-home-mom, who is financially supported by my husband's job, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the luxury of blogging.
  4. Social media can make a tangible, real life change in people's lives.  The keynote speaker, April Smith, told of a homeless man who used Facebook to reconnect with family, friends and a previous employer, who gave him a job, which got him off of the streets. April herself has an amazing story of how technology training and social media helped her found her own company and become a citizen journalist.
  5. I met some lovely and talented people, who are passionate about their causes and want to help others learn how to better express themselves; but there are also a lot of self-important people who just want to promote their "brand".
  6. Geekiness is inversely proportional to social skills.  I know I'm a pretty awkward person and I'm not so good with "off the cuff" remarks and conversation, especially with people I don't know that well.  This same trait was evident in some of the moderators and panelists.  There's a reason they have a successful online persona and not jobs as public speakers.  Maybe it's best to stay behind the keyboard and not the microphone!  Stick with the medium you're strongest at.
  7. Finally, I discovered that I have no skill or patience for trying to type on those tiny phone touch screens.  I finally gave up and had Jeanette type in my info to check my messages, because I was so painfully slow!
  8. The best speakers/moderators that I had the pleasure of listening too were: Rebecca Coleman in "Courting Controversy", Chris Wilson in a keynote address, "From Dial-up Modems to Post-'Social Media': A Journey", and the panel discussion, especially a very well-spoken Jamie Biggar from leadnow.ca, in, "How Do You Run a Successful & Engaging Online Movement Without a Huge Budget?".
All in all it was a fantastic and informative experience in a beautiful location (the UBC Life Sciences Centre).  It was well organized and diverse in the session options.  The lunches were healthy, fresh and delicious and it was only half a block from a Starbucks which was having half price frappucinos everyday!  My new favourite?  White Chocolate Mocha. Yum!  It would be wonderful to be able to attend every year, if only to connect with the Western Canadian online community, and I highly recommend it if you are involved in social media for your work or leisure.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post. I really I love all of your insights and strongly agree with your comments 1 through 6. Too bad we didn't connect at the conference but such is the virtual.