The Real Time Web

Over the weekend, I gave a couple of talks at the Surrey International Writers Conference. First, I wanted to say that the conference was a really friendly and well-organized event. They treated us speakers really well, and I had a lot of fascinating conversations with interesting people. My only gripe–and it’s a minor one–is that it’s in a bleak corner of Surrey. My hotel room had a lovely view of the vast Walmart parking lot. But, they get 800 people to the event, so I imagine their options are limited for venues.

And I had no idea how big a deal this conference is in the publishing industry. I spoke to an agent from New York (there were plenty of Americans there from all over the country) who said it was one of the three conferences she attends every year. So, many thanks to kc dyer for inviting me to the event, and I hope she’ll have me back next year.

One of the talks I gave was ‘Blogging 101’. It’s a little shocking to me that I still get asked for this talk in 2008–I’ve been giving it for five years or so–but the room was pretty full.

During this talk, I like to run through setting up a WordPress blog, so that people can see how straightforward it is. To choose a topic for the blog, I asked for an unusual place and a type of food. Combining the two, I created a simple blog called Sushi in Vilnius. Vilnius is, in case you didn’t know, the capital of Lithuania. I wrote a quick sample post, and moved on to other bloggy stuff.

The next day, I checked my email, and somebody–a legitimate Lithuanian–had come by Sushi in Vilnius and left a comment:

You have tried Kabuki (Didþioji 28)? Very good sushi. If not try Tokyo (Vienuolio 4). Sushi chef is from Japanese.

Their intent wasn’t to spam–it was to legitimately recommend some sushi restaurants. Hilarious, eh?

It provides a handy example for another lesson in a lot of my talks: the web is just getting more and more real time. Some of that is thanks to Twitter and camera phones, and some of it is thanks to search engines indexing new material in minutes and hours instead of days and weeks.


  1. I’ve heard mixed things about that conference. I’ve heard that it’s worth going once, and that it caters more to genre writers. Apparently it’s a good place to meet some potential agents.

    (I’ve never gone, but a friend goes every year)

  2. I went to the conference, and sat in on both of your talks, Darren (most of the talk, anyway — the organizers encourage attendees to jump in and out of workshops at will, which is fabulous because you get a good cross-section of what presenters are doing!).

    Most of what you said was familiar to me (I have 3 blogs), but I still learned quite a bit. I had my laptop and took notes in every session I attended, and then posted those notes on my freelance writing blog. You commented on one, which was cool!

    If you do speak again next year, I think you should have 2 or even 3 levels: Blogging101, Blogging 201, and Blogging 301. Beginners, intermediate, advanced. You could then target your talk more effectively, and attendees would know better which one to go to.

    Anyway — it was good conference, and you were a great speaker, Darren. Well done!

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