My Only Photo From Northern Voice

Well, it sounds like Northern Voice 2008 was another success. I watched via various dodgy video streams and a Skype back channel (I wasn’t the only one watching from afar). I also participated in a streaming (hmm…more of a trickling) video chat as part of our experimental ‘ask an expert’ booth. That’s where I took my only photo at the conference:

Northern Voice via Video

That’s actually not particularly different than other conferences–I’m usually too preoccupied to take photos.

And here’s a nice photo that Chris Heuer took of my friend Lesley talking to me. It was all very Max Headroomesque, but I was glad to get in a little face time.

In checking out reactions on the web, I was struck by how (it seemed to me, at least) there were fewer blog posts about the conference. A few bloggy wrap-ups that I did find: Boris, Rebecca, Kate, Mack and I’m sure others will pop up.

The Balkanization of the Social Media Sphere

I don’t think less web content is being made, it’s just appearing on a lot of other arms of the starfish. There’s more audio, video, microblog posts, streaming video, IM chat, Facebook and maybe less traditional blogging. You need only look at this year’s schedule to see how the 2005 ‘blogging conference’ has evolved into a 2008 ‘social media conference’. I might bemoan the loss of thoughtful analysis a little, but otherwise that’s just the way of things.

I do bemoan the lack of tools to find and aggregate all that ‘stuff’ in one place. I have to visit an increasing number of locations to feel confident that I’ve seen most of what’s been produced. Technorati and their brethren have not kept pace with this divergence and balkanization of the social media sphere.

Speaking of media, I’m always amazed by how many photos get generated over two and a half days. I decided to see how that number had changed over the past four years. Here, according to me and Flickr’s best guess, are the totals for each year:

2005: 620
2006: 1788
2007: 2115
2008: 2303 (so far)

And who doesn’t love a chart? Click for larger version.

Northern Voice Photos, Per Year

The number of photos seems to map pretty much directly to the number of attendees.

Making the Conference More Noob-Friendly

We try new things every year. Many of these are aimed at making the conference more noob-friendly. This year we ran the Internet Bootcamp as an alternative stream on Friday, and set up an ‘Ask the Expert’ booth on Saturday. I gather the booth didn’t work so well. It’s also my instinct that the bootcamp ought to be on the Saturday, as that’s when we get more of the toe-dipping folks. I forget why, but that wasn’t viable this year.

Speaking of noobs, Meg Tilly is an author who appeared in Monique’s books and blogging session. She wrote a nice, touching post about her mixed experience at the conference:

And even though I only understood around 1/4 of the words that came out of the speakers mouth, that 1/4 was sort of fun, and it was a fun feeling. Like I was a little kid playing dress up and somehow I passed for the real thing. I mean, I am a blogger, but I’m a blogger by default. I don’t know ANY of the lingo. I don’t know what software I’m using. I don’t know what streaming is or if I’d like to do it. I DID know enough to laugh at the joke about pooh. So that’s something.

I particularly like how she spelled ‘pooh’ with an ‘h’. Or was she referring to Winnie?

We set up a post-mortem feedback page on the wiki, and we’ll probably send out a more formal survey in the coming weeks. If you didn’t attend this year, but want to be notified if and when we announce Northern Voice 2009, you can give us your email address here. If you did attend this year’s conference, we’ll definitely email you, so there’s no need to sign up.

UPDATE: Jennie Roth guest-posted a recap from an outsider’s perspective on Rebecca’s blog.


  1. Yep, I noticed WAY fewer blog posts (I couldn’t find any other recappers to link to about the sessions I wasn’t in) AND … last year at this time my NV photos on Flickr of anything had 1,000 views. Now each has max 30 views. What gives?

  2. Since the idea of blogging has evolved and in some way diversified into many different methods, there are a few aggregators that work quite well to consolidate all your social mediums together. and are both good aggregators that I use. Then there is also which is a really neat social media-based search engine that focuses on your own content.

    I for the most part have lost a lot of interest in Technorati because from my perspective, they are losing relevancy in the social media realm. That said, they are still big in the blogosphere.

  3. Ehren: I’ve seen some of those, but none of them help me find stuff that’s created in all the social media channels. That, I think, is where we’re sorely lacking.

  4. Was a bit strange to not see you in person db – however you came into the convo many a’time (including Megan’s “Social Media Mecca” improv symposium. Besides your wisdom in person, i dream of a venue close to town and an endless supply of fancy coffee for next year.

  5. Darren I think with regards to finding stuff across all social media channels, the only two things I can currently think of would be:

    1. the applicaions via Facebook/OpenSocial

    2. Google (or possibly another search engine)

    I think the key may lie in the whole concept of data portability in the future. Thoughts?

  6. Hi Darren – good to see you online at NV – one other photo I have of you and also saw one in Kris Krug’s set which was better

    So the thing is – we are all resource constrained – it is one of the reasons I resorted to interviews for my NV blogging this year – was able to get a lot of them up and online quickly in the moment, with my client’s service. I have about 10 posts I would like to get written about the great stuff that happened, but I can’t afford the time it will take to get that stuff out. So perhaps we should do a few group calls, record them and put them out as podcasts with better wrap ups?

    Matt Mullenweg and Dave Olsen had the best presentations of the day IMHO – Matt for the insightfulness of his thinking about social media and interaction, Dave for touching the soul strings of why we do this and why we need to be more courageous. So much wisdom in those 2 sessions, I could not do it justice with a simple blog post – you have to experience the video/audio for yourself to truly understand it….

  7. I think the whole point of “finding stuff across all social media channels” is to get the information to bloggers, given that this is the NV group. Therefore Technorati wins by default; however clunky and arbitrary it may be, it alone has the reach. Google blogsearch is not so good on subject matter.

    I’ve done a couple of blog posts and tagged them “Northern Voice,” figuring that those interested could find them that way. If they can’t, then what we’ve got is a bit of a breakdown.

    There is also the expectation that anything that is of interest to someone will be brought to their attention via Facebook, although it’s less so with bloggers than with “civilians.” We follow tags and trackbacks.

    Actually, that’s where I expect to get the most attention; every person I’ve linked to in my first post has come by, and most have left a comment.

  8. Also, virtually nothing on YouTube. Stuff from two years ago outranks new stuff, of which there is very little. I wonder why the change? I can’t recall reminders this year to tag things Northern Voice, and there’s always the split between “Northern Voice” and “Year N Northern Voice” which contributes to fragmentation.

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