Northern Voice 2011

On Friday May 13th I visited the Northern Voice Conference at UBC as part of my attempt to broaden my horizons in the areas of social media and blogging. Unlucky you might say since it was Friday the 13th but I’d argue it was one the luckiest I’d ever had.

As we are ramping up getting Vancouver Gadgets online, I was interested as to what I could learn from fellow bloggers and social media experts who clearly have more experience than I. However, as someone with a communications background and experience in various forms of website copywriting and development, I knew I wasn’t totally out of the water as I made way into the event.

At the event, I was impressed at the open minded people I met at the conference and the things that I learned.

I started the day off with a short yoga session, titled Yoga for Geeks.

As someone who has recently discovered Hatha and Flow, I was excited to get a little yoga in before the start of the conference. I was missing my 10:30 a.m. yoga class to be at the Conference so why not kill two birds with one stone.

Andrew Loewen graciously led us through a short session and was kind enough to provide me with a mat. Thank you Andrea. Read her blog here. It is great!!

Following that it was the keynote speech by April Smith from Aha Media.

I had heard of April prior to the event as I went to a premier of the With Glowing Hearts back in Feb of 2011. This film documented life on the downtown Eastside as well as protests against the 2010 Winter Olympics. It also outlined plans to create and open an interactive media space at the new WoodWards building and development downtown.

The first conference I attended after the keynote was Twitter and News: What is next?

Mediated by Yuliya Talmazan: Editor and social media with News 1130 in Vancouver, the panel included Erin Loxam from News 1130, Freelance Journalist Bob Mackin, CBC’s Theresa Lalonde and Vancouver Sun writer Andrea Woo.

The conference explored the role of Twitter in the news business. With so many people and companies making use of the platform, including news media organizations, they are asking what the next steps are in using Twitter as part of their strategies.

The panel discussed how many things about Twitter aren’t that positive and that people and companies should be wary of when using it.

The platform itself is not evolving as one of panelists noted and it is challenging to only have 140 characters at your disposal. It is often hampered by technical problems such as the infamous fail whale.

The panel did identify some alternative sources to Twitter including Indenti.ca, Tumblr, and Foursquare. They also noted that social media: should be two way in terms of conversation and that people should be careful when tweeting on company time or from a company account.

Transparency is also key with social media as is acknowledging mistakes when statements or comments are made via tweets and cause a backlash against a person or an organization.

The next presentation I attended was on Social Media and Online Defamation.

Moderate by Gillian Shaw Digital Life writer at The Vancouver Sun and Postmedia News, the panel included Marko Vesely and Patricia Graham.

This was an eye opening presentation for me with no background or idea about defamation or how it could relate to things online as well as social media.

The panel noted that it is best to avoid all things that may get you into trouble. These can be comments that are online or in person. Defamation itself is designed to protect a person’s reputation, something I wasn’t aware of.

Since publishing itself involves making a statement and the Business of publishing has extended to the common person anyone could potentially be open to making comments that could get them into trouble.

Fair Comment offers protection for comments made but truth has to underlie comment made. There must be facts to support the claim that is made.

Notification of facts being problematic if they are not true. Respond and respond quickly and err on the side of caution. The onus is on you to prove that you are not or have not been libelous if you make comments that another party claims as being libelous.

I would encourage anyone starting or writing for a blog, to look at this topic more since it is such a confusing issue, at least for a newbie like me.

After a great lunch I decided to change gears a bit and went to a different type of seminar on Making your Blog Funny.

Hosted by Mike Vardy he had some insightful tips on how to enhance your blog with humor.

Mike noted it’s good to pick your niche when writing and you should really think about what you want to blog about. Write for yourself. The Internet is huge and there will be lots of audiences for your humor no matter what you write.

When using satire in your writing you need to know how it feels for you and  your audience. Satire does requires lots of knowledge about a topic and you had better be good or know alot about that topic.

The next session I attended was presented by Lynne Robson regarding intellectual property rights and your blog.

Lynne discussed some common practices for using images within your blog inluding images that you may get from google and use in your blog itself. It is important to remember that you should credit the source that allowed you to get the image and do you have the right to use it?

Lynne gave some excellent examples of the consequences when you use images that you may not have the rights to use. They included the Foody Blogger who used an image from the popular image site iSTock  but did not have credits to buy the image or did not seek permission. This person was sued or received letter from I stock. I stock checked their blog, their tweets and re tweets and nailed this person for 5,000 dollars.

My final presentation I attended was Be Rocktacular: Stories from a Music Blogger and Indie Rock Nerd hosted by Mikala Taylor. She talked about her blog Backstagerider.com. Her presentation was not as much a how to but rather focused on her experiences as a music writer. She urged people to be different as there are lots of blogs and music blogs out there. A funny anecdote was that she asked people around the world including to submit their rock hands

She spent a lot of time discussing canadian music and brought samples of notes and details of shows I went to. She said we should try to Catablog your life.

She noted that Twitter was in part responsible for the success of Backstage Rider and success with any blog or venture of this type is how you use social media. Social Media adds to the story. It’s a  game changer and it allows musicians to connect with friends and fans.

As someone who has spent a long time dabbling in the music industry and have my own promotions company and music blog, this was the perfect session for me as it mixed my interest in blogging with my passion for music.

All in all it was a great day at Northern Voice and with next year’s conference, I’ll be attending both days and hoping to jam more information into my already crowded brain. Onwards and upwards and into the blogosphere. With this much positive energy and information, only good things can come from participating in events such as this. Thank you Northern Voice for your inspiration.

 

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