Northern Voice 2010
So here is the longer story, before anyone really knew about ‘social media’ and when SEO was a slur for a company’s chief executive, a bunch of folks started a ‘blogging’ conference. It started a Robson square in downtown Vancouver and eventually moved to to the University of British Columbia. I’ve been to most (missed last year) and they are amazing. Started using just about everything from WordPress to Twitter in Feburary (when the conference has normally been held).
The regular attendees include both the Vancouver technorati (literally) – Darren Barefoot, Boris Mann, some of the best ‘Edtech’ people I know Darcy Norman, Brian Lamb; and social media mavens like Chris Pirillo, Robert Schoble. Keynotes have included Anil Dash, Dave Sifry, and Matt Mullenweg.
One day is a formal conference schedule, the other is a ‘Bar Camp’ style self organizing sessions on topics of collective interest.
The conference is intentionally kept small to facilitate the group collaboration vibe. In my mind it competes with the likes of SXSW and Gnomedex. Its in Vancouver and its a relatively cheap ticket ($45/day or $70 for both days).
With tools like Second Life, Flock, and Hootsuite coming from many of the people that attend this conference, it has as much online ‘street cred’ as you are like to find this side of San Jose – well maybe Burlingame.
@Northernvoice (twitter)
Flickr pics from NorthernVoice

I’ve long liked the idea of connecting online with new and interesting stuff. I think blogging and linking to useful online resources provide a service to others. And I’m happy to say nice things about folk that contribute back. The recent Victoria Wordcamp and the regular Victoria #tweetups are good examples of building community both on and off-line.

It wasn’t until I actually starting meeting some of these Twitter people in person that I really saw some of the value of participating online. The use of twitter for things like fund raising, community events and promoting causes are all examples of this. So this is the pay off of participating online with these types of groups.

Well recently, I got a different kind of pay-off I need to include. I recently contributed some network testing tools back to one of my favorite products – Intermapper (from Dartware). And the good folks there were kind enough to send me a t-shirt. The fact they were kind enough to notice the contirbution and do something to recognize it was the main pay-off but the t-shirt was nice too!

Also last week Blenz Coffee, through Twitter gave out a prize for people that had mentioned them online. Also not expecting any recognition, the fact that companies like Blenz are trying to promote there business and recognize those that say things about them was also nice!

So props to Blenz and Dartware and thanks for the stuff!

After attending WordCamp Victoria on Saturday, Island Tech on Friday, Victoria Tweetup on Thursday, Remembrance Day service on Wednesday, and Victoria Open Coffee on Tuesday – I find myself thinking about the people you meet, randomly or intentionally. When I was doing field training as a young Reserve Officer I got exposed to the concept of ‘time on Recce is never lost’. You can always learn things through reports of others but you need to get out on the ground with your head on a swivel to truly be informed. Getting ‘out there’ also has many unintended consequences – good and bad – but it always worth the effort.

One of the results is you get exposed to people you wouldn’t meet if you followed a well planned path. I found myself thinking of that while putting together the comments from the WordCamp sessions, so I’ll start with those folks and there is no implied order of importance here.

Lorraine Murphy Raincoaster Media (@raincoaster)
Raincoaster has spoken at Social Media Club as well as this weeks WordCamp. To call her style irreverent wouldn’t be far off. There is a line about learning from other peoples experience because you won’t live long enough to experience it all yourself. Her talks are engaging and her experience dealing with the ups and downs of the “online social” provides just that experience.

Dr. Raul (@Hummingbird604)
In a short reaction to Raul’s talk at Wordcamp I used the term ‘Ninja-like’ and the more I think about it, the more I like it. Following the quiet spoken and unassuming nature of Raul’s talk is very disarming but before you know it, there are these waves of meaning and thought provoking ideas come rolling out. If Tony Robbins ‘in your face’ style is a hallmark of the motivational ‘industry’, Raul’s style is the anthesis that fits the social media movement equally well.

Tris Hussey A View from the Isle (@trishussey)
Tris’ session on tools is closest to the type of presentations that I would like to give. By plowing through hundreds of tools you try and find the gems. Once you have reached that you want to share your discoveries with others.

Jodie Gastel In Jodie’s Brain (@jodie_nodes)
Jodie presented at WordCamp but is also a regular at the Victoria Tweetups and Social Media Club. If there wasn’t a Jodie in the crowd you’d have to invent one. She had the opening spot at WordCamp on Saturday and fighting the pressure to answer a day’s worth of questions in the first 50 min gave the day an excellent start. That and the fact she owns “” makes her cool.

Robin Heppell Funeral Futurist
You wouldn’t think a funeral director would have much to contribute to a ‘social media’ conference. And you would be as wrong as the stereotype. I like to learn from other presenters to try and see what elements are compelling. The challenge of a presenter is always to connect with their audience. I expect Robin has a few challenges making a wider audience comfortable with the business context for his work with WordPress. But he powers past it with details and well thought out presentation points.

Mike Vardy The Mike Vardy (@mikevardy)
Hope Mike understands the concept of leaving his name to the end… Mike Vardy, like a budget-concious bottle of imported red wine is an acquired taste. From his session at IslandTech to the discussions at WordCamp and the Victoria Tweetups you get the sense of the humour and the messages of this gifted communicator. Many people can be ‘ha-ha’ funny but to aspire to the level of Satire is a skill. If you have the inclination, you will be both entertained, informed and amused … eventually (sorry Mike had to go for the cheap pun).

When you hear the concept ‘Funeral Director’ its hard to put that in the same sentence as ‘Social Media’ or ‘High Tech’. Robin Heppell managed to move the conversation along quite nicely. As a case study in understanding the market and the user/client’s pain this is about as good as I’ve seen recently.

When I signed up to WordCamp one of my requests was – show me how to make WP not look like a blog. Well this was it! I specifically liked his list of must have plugins to make the site flow appealing, better SEO, and engaging those that arrive there.

Robin Heppell – Speaker Notes/SlideShare


WordCamp Victoria was held Saturday Nov 14th at University Canada West in Victoria