Last week I attended the Northern Voice Conference – Canada’s blogging conference. While attending, James Sherrett and I took some detailed notes to share with the One Degree Community.
These shorthand notes represent what was presented at the conference. For ease-of-use, I have formatted them with the Session Name, Presenter, its Big idea and a ha moments, as well as links mentioned in the presentation.
Keynote: Making Change Happen
Anil Dash from Six Apart
Anil started the session with the statement "Blogs have Changed My Life". How? Two key qualities of blogs: Persistence and Awareness. These together create a Relationship between blog author and blog reader – an outcome that was not possible with Web 1.0. Persistence: the idea that something you create has lasting value. So much of our communication is ephemeral. A date stamp on a blog = a social contract — I will be at this place again. There is value in providing content that will be viewed more than once (think about how kids watch the same movies over and over again). Awareness: notification that something is going on, but notification with control (e.g. RSS .. I can control when I get my information).
My favourite observation: "The technologies that delight people are the ones that give them more control."
Audio for Making Change Happen
Opening question: What do people want to get from this session?
* How do you keep people engaged in social topics?
* How to avoid cargo cult activism?
** how to make sure the advocates know something about the issue
* In what domains does online activism work?
* what are the difficulties in making social change happen?
* where do you find funding for social change projects?
* see some good examples of things that have worked / continued working
* politics, war and the media
* how to integrate user-generated content into corporate experience?
* grassroots storytelling and how it can be integrated
* social media will change how change happens
* in organizations where the funding and decisions are made the change is not happening anywhere near as fast as it is online
* but it is starting to happen
* participative media is starting to change the way that social campaigners approach campaigners
* old school
** think of policy, decision makers
** build a flashy website to send representatives an email
* new school
** how can the pros who want to run campaigns add participation into it?
** people are searching for more meaning
** how to get them involved
* organizations are nervous about what’s happening
* the ways they communicated in the past are eroding and their influence is waning over time
* organizations and institutions are afraid of what’s happening because they don’t have a monopoly on participation now
* Jason thinks that we all don’t yet know what’s happening or what will happen
* social change still really happens in old school ways
** policy change
** massive consumer change
** value change in society
* most fundraisers still raise most of their money through vast fundraisers dinners and other old-school ways
* 2 models of social change
** inside game: you talk to the insiders (executives, politicians) to get them to change big decisions
** outside game: you target the mass to create a grassroots movement but is noise alone enough to create change?
* organizations change slowly and people change slowly
* a lot of the questions brought up in the beginning may be answered through plugging into old school practices in new school ways
* Q: do you make a disinction between social change and charities
** Jason: makes a good distinction between social service and social change
** either make change in the system (social service) or change the system (social change)
* introduction of Vancity’s ChangeEverything.ca website
* there was a big concern about moderation when they first launched the site
* they had done a lot of work seeding the conversations online
* they found they didn’t have to moderate the discussion at all
* the practices of the community became the norms without pruning
* Kate told the story of Got Hats — in the span of 24 hours they delivered all kinds of warm clothes to Vancouver shelters during a cold snap
* lesson: when it comes to action you have to ask for action
* you can’t just put information out there and hope people will take the initiative on their own
* once the idea caught on it took on a life of its own
* the event had some spillover effects that inspired other people to take action
4 Phases of social change (from Jason Mogus)
# grounding and visioning
* how does it align with your values
* how is it sustainable
* who has funding for it
# creating a plan
# executing to a high level
# feedback loops to keep it rolling
Session: Blogging 101
A good overview of blogging basics. About 50% of the audience was already blogging; about 75% read blogs with RSS feeds. Everyone in the audience reads blogs, in general. Richard covered:
* Why Blog:
** Thinking out loud – conversations with friends
** Promotion – of yourself, of others, of interesting and pertinent ides
** Improve writing
** Media passes, journalism
* Blogging is Easy and Fun and Cheap (was going to call it cheap and cheerful, but some bloggers aren’t very cheerful 🙂
** If you can write, you can blog
** If you can’t write, blogging’s a great way to get better at it.
** Podcasting and vlogging are also options
* Tools – Richard covered the big difference between blogging software: hosted and downloadable. Hosted: inexpensive, don’t have to worry about the tech. Downloadable: usually free, requires technical knowledge but offers best flexibility.
The Q&A had some great questions:
* How much time do you spend reading blogs? Richard: about as much time you would spend on your newspaper. In the morning, anyway. But over the day, spends about 4 hours a day. But then he works for blogging company.
* What if your friends don’t read your blog. One answer – syndicate your blog via email. But a good question – is it really mainstream?
Discussion – is facebook/myspace a blog? What really characterises a blog? Ease of use? RSS Feed? Reverse chronological? Is flickr a blog? [KT – does this even matter? personal expression? communication? participation? what do you call it? do we need a shorthand?]
* How would you get started RIGHT NOW? Richard: Go get a wordpress blog.
* How do you get people reading your blog? Richard: Write well. Register in Technorati. Make sure you ping other search engines. Audience: COMMENT!! Comment on other blogs and on the people that post on your blog!
Audio of Blogging 101
* Eddie showed an example of Jason Lewis who runs aproject called Expedition 360 where he’s circumnavigating the globe under human power only, filing video blog posts from all over the globe to finance his trip and stay in touch with supporters
* He’s been running the project for a few years and only recently has he started to use video on his website
* Alive in Baghdad is a project where some Iraqis have been equipped with video cameras and file stories from Iraq on what’s happening there
* one story gets filed per week and it totally circumvents the mainstream media
* Josh Wolf is a video blogger who has been in jail for refusing to turn over video footage he shot to the FBI
** Josh gets his footage because he’s allowed to participate in political protests
** if he were to turn over his tapes he would lose his access
* Have Money Will Vlog — a place where you can submit a proposal to receive funding to shoot your video post / mini documentary
** people are asked to contribute to fund the projects
* FreeVlog.com is where anyone can get a video blog
Session: Building Rich Communities with Wiki
* Wikis – a community of authors … wrote a collaborative book on case studies of educational uses of wikis.
* Wikis – “A different way of writing” … disparate knowledge from disparate sources — when blogs aren’t the right medium
* The book – only exists on the wiki. Not a print book. Some chapters are open, some are closed. For editing.
* Stewart wanted the wiki to look a lot like his blog. His experience … that wikis look really technical. There is a benefit for the site initially looking like a passive website. It allows people to engage in degrees, according to their preference/experience/purpose: take a pdf of the content, read content on the site, comment on a page/chapter, go in and edit a chapter.
* Publish or Perish: Wiki publishing vs “book” publishing. traditional publishing: tied to the idea of the physical artifact. His idea – the idea of building a community arond the book. Publishing industry didn’t want to lose control that you would with a wiki.
* People .. threads of information. Threads coming together into projects like the this.
* Big interesting idea for me: participation in a commmunity runs across a spectrum. Downloading a pdf is a form of participation. When you edit .. review the community that has gone prior as well as make your own contribution.
* Wiki’s as a type of intellectual property (intellectual properties). Uses wikis in his classes on teaching student teachers to teach.
** Students bring in a number of ideas to workshop.
** Students use the wiki as a portal to resources. In his day – coloured chalk was the big advance! Now .. its a wiki. Student teachers are very enthusiastic .. and it is their contribution to the teaching community.
** The intellectual property is in the students arrangement of the information.
** There is a fascination with the organization of knowledge. Two students in the class are given the job of indexing. When we index and “go public” we have a responsibility in how we present intellectual property.
** An offshoot .. using blogs in the school as a continuance of the wiki in the teaching environment. Its hard to start a wiki for some of them in their classroom.
* Wikis change the notion of intellectual property. It becomes intellectal properties! plural. and they continue to contribute value.
Audio of Building Rich Communities with Wikis
* blogs as an apology for photographing his granddaughter
* his blog has no order, no comments
* he doesn’t know anything about blogging except that he does it
* his two daughters say, "You know poppy, we’re not afraid to ask you questions anymore because we just read your blog."
* he feels like his blog sort of goes into empty space, which he likes, because he can write about what he likes on his blog
* he never rants or complains or writes about politics, religion, left or right
* he doesn’t post any photos that are nudes
* he has consciously not bought a digital camera because he doesn’t want his photos to look like photos from Flickr
* he finds that in this age of technology all the pictures look the same because they’re taken in the same way with the same light
* every night he disappears and his wife wonders where he’s gone but he feels an obligation to blog every day
* a web page only reinforces a concept that people have of what you are
* Alex got contacted by the Rockefeller Foundation to use a photo of Jane Jacobs
* Google finds his photos and then people find them
* his blog, attached to his web page, has become a selling arm for his photos
* Q: why does he write every day?
> A diary is a diary. Not doing it every day is cheating.
* presented the results of 1,200 responses to his survey posted at Why do you blog?
* slides to be posted
Session: Love and Dating Online
* Great opening series of questions: What is dating? what constitutes dating? how do mediated relationships compare to in-person relationships?
* I piped up and mentioned that I used to work in an online dating company and the consistent feeling is an incredible mix of horror and fascination at what people are doing
* do all the checkboxes and detailed searches remove the humanity of the experience and make it like shopping? is online dating like shopping? We approached it that way from a product design point of view.
* The experience of building profile can be fraught with so many contradictions
* how ethical is lying in your profile? how close do you have to keep things to the truth? does the system and practices over-reward creative people with an ability to pose as many things at once or one specific thing they think people is receptive to?
* Profile tip: be unusual
* what people say and what they do are completely different
* Mention of "The Psychology of the Internet" (book) as a great resource to understand how people interact with the web and with each other via the web.
*Overall* a great discussion in a talk show / panel format that had all kinds of people involved. Probably the highest ratio of women to men of any session I attended, though the conference overall was probably 35 – 40 % women, the highest percentage at any conference I’ve been to
Audio of Love and Dating Online
Session: Virtual Communities
Jeff Henshaw … director of xbox live
* Publically available sense of accomplishment is very important. Built into the xbox360 dashboard. Also … they try to use the keyboard as little as possible.
2.3 billion hours of online game play since the launch of xbox360. That’s 260,000 years of game play. Halo2 has 500 million game sessions played!
* How xbox360 tries to balance the user persona ratings/content:
1. personal investment: a little bit of control (name, motto)
2. game investment: activities – what they do .. the gamer score; how much they’ve done
3. community investment: the community influences the individuals profile.
Catherine Winters … managing director, Second Life practice at Social Signal
* SL is like the early days of geocities. There are neighbourhoods and people can make of SL what they want. Some use it as glorified chat and others build communities, literally building them from the ground-up (example of wiki-techture: architects who are collaborating on a building in SL).
Audio of Virtual Communities