Show & Tell: Northern Voice Part 1

I’m splitting this Show & Tell into several parts over the next few days.  Posting about Saturday will start mid-week.  Tonight I’ll begin sharing my summary of Friday’s unconference.

And I do mean summary. There were several professional bloggers who were chugging out detailed live-blogs as the conference happened (while at the same time checking emails, updating their twitter accounts, etc., etc.). I’m not even going to try to achieve the level of blog finesse that these master multi-taskers possess.  Think of it more of an artist’s-eye view of what Northern Voice had to offer.

Friday AM Keynote (Stewart Butterfield)

What clicked for me in this talk was Stewart’s take on how the purpose of photos has evolved with the inception of the web. In the “old days” a photo was taken to preserve memories. Now a photo is used for connecting and communicating. He referred to short videos as “long photos”. I like that. On a similar vein, before the web computers were used mainly for creating documents. After the web, relationship-based computing emerged.

I used to think that technology and computers were creating billions of nomads secluded in their homes, interacting only with a computer screen.  Stewart’s talk changed my previous mindset.  The rise in popularity of social media has done the opposite, facilitating the bringing together of like-minded folk and building communities all over the world.

Why Blog Anyhow?

Panel with Lynna Goldhar-Smith (artist), Els Kushner (librarian), Anthony Nicalo (artisan farming); moderated by Rahel Anne Bailie.

These three bloggers with very diverse backgrounds had some great reasons for blogging: community access, a reason for writing (self-imposed deadlines), business, and dissemination of information and ideas. While they were all interesting speakers, the one I connected most with was Lynna. She used – and is using – a blog as a virtual audience to spur production. Her blog is an “online sketchbook”.  Her first challenge was called 100 days.  It documents her completing a list of creative tasks that she set for herself over the span of, you guessed it, 100 days. She is currently working on 101 nights.

Panel members were asked about unintended consequences brought on by their blog: finding collaboration partners, being offered work, commissions, and writing gigs.  How’d they manage that?  By making their blog participatory (allowing comments) and by blogging often and reading and commenting on other people’s blogs.

The Death of Advertising (Chris Heuer)

Chris posed the question, “Is advertising not working anymore?” According to him, we don’t want to be sold to, we’re ready to buy.  So…the old tactics aren’t working anymore. Businesses need new tactics and new venues other than traditional paper-based advertising. There has been a shift in power – the choice is in the customer’s hands.  With the explosion of the web, more folks are looking to review sites or asking contacts through social networks (facebook, myspace, etc.). That doesn’t mean that banner ads work, though. Most people tune them out. What’s needed is something engaging and low cost. The model he used to illustrate was Will It Blend? The fella in the webmercials is the CEO. Low production cost equals larger profit margins. Apparently business is booming for this little blender that can.

Sending Your Blog Out to Work (Tony Chung)

Tony doesn’t see computers as computers, but as “means of connection”, with blogging as a forum to express yourself, your artwork, etc. A “working blog” demonstrates professional skills and achieves your goals, whatever they might be. Knowledge and quality are key; write about what you know. Usability is crucial. It needs to be easy to find and invite discussion (enable comments).  Anonymous blogging got him his new job. How’s that for exciting?

[Phew. Well, we’re up to lunch, anyhow. Tomorrow I’ll tackle my notes on Mash Media Storytelling, What’s Gender Got to Do With It?, and Bringing Your Blog to Life]

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