Enmeshed in Toronto

I spent the past few days in Toronto, attending the Mesh conference for the first time. Yesterday I moderated a panel entitled, rather cheerily, “Using the Web for Good”. I had the pleasure of cross-examining Gavin, Duarte and Sarah (here are a couple photos). Marc live-blogged, and Jeremy, uh, live-tweeted the discussion.

The conference was exceptionally well-run, both totally professional and very personable. The highlight for me was an informal keynote (live-bloggage) by Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of Kiva. She’s a good speaker, but her wisest choice was not to over-sell the story of Kiva. She doesn’t have to, because it sells itself so well. It was also a little brave to start off by quoting Jesus. During her talk, an ad hoc Mesh ‘team’ (an associated group of lenders) was formed on Kiva, and raised $250.

I was curious to check out Mesh in the context of comparing it to Northern Voice. In terms of structure and size, they’re actually quite similar. They’re even held in similar spaces. The MaRS building is a little institutional, and has a large, vaulted atrium, much like UBC’s Forest Sciences Centre. Mesh is simply business-oriented, while Northern Voice is not. There were a lot more business suits at Mesh than fleece jackets.

Thanks very much to Mathew, Rob, Mark, Stuart and Michael for having me out to Toronto.

I had lunch in Kensington Market, and was immediately reminded of a TV show that I never watched when I was a kid, but, for some reason, I can clearly recall the opening credits:

UPDATE: A bunch of videos from Mesh 2009, including Jessica’s keynote, are available here. Click the Browse videos button at the bottom of the first embedded video to navigate through sundry videos to find what interests.

Photo by Alistair.

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