A Look Back at Northern Voice

This rather lengthy post (Ack! I'm breaking the rule of brevity) was mostly written on the way home from Northern Voice in Vancouver BC and should be the last of many posts on the subject. :)

I feel like such a huge nerd sometimes. Not really in a bad way, but in a way that I’m somewhat proud of- in geeky terms. I’m with Sachiko at the US-Canada border waiting to get back into the US from Vancouver and Northern Voice.

I asked Sachiko to drive because I wanted to write. So, I got out my laptop and tried to crank’r up. Nothing- dead battery. Not to worry, Sachiko has her laptop in the car too. This just makes me feel like the only nerd in line here using a backup laptop to write a blog post over a weekend trip to Canada for a blog conference. Maybe if I had a cell phone hooked up so I could actually post to the web, I would be a more consummate nerd.

Looking back on Northern Voice, I have really good things to say. Like I’ve written before about such events, it’s the people, not the content that makes it good. Don’t get me wrong, the content was great- but getting a chance to meet the people you read is invaluable and the new connections – priceless.

A couple of thoughts...

Derek Miller (I think!) said something in one of the panel discussions that stuck with me. He said something along the lines of (my words)…

The fact that we’re here for a blog conference says something about how we are at the very beginning of something and trying to understand it. It’s like phones or cars, you don’t see people having a conference discussing how phones or cars are going to change the world – it’s something everyone takes for granted. They did have conferences in the beginning their history, but now it seems silly. It won’t be long until the same is true for blogs – it’ll just be a part of what we do.

Uh oh, the border guys just took our keys. I lost my passport one time in France and got a new one issued by the US consulate in Paris. This always garners questions at the border. Did you lose your passport? What’s your mother’s maiden name? Spell it please.

Ok, we’re fine and 110 miles to Seattle.

One of the presentations I enjoyed most was Tod Maffin, who covers technology for the CBC -- “Canada’s NPR, without all the money�? as Tod said. Update: Ironically, Tod just posted that the CBC just got a funding boost.

Tod is a radio guy. He knows it backwards and forwards and spent a good bit of his presentation discussing podcasting and what makes a good podcast. From content to tools, he made points that might have never occurred to me- like making it a priority to record in an “upholstered�? environment to cancel ambient sound. I see podcasting as a revolution and believe that the best ones will have to learn valuable lessons from radio. I love this picture of Tod broadcasting from his upholstered environment.

I enjoyed Tim Bray’s talk on what he has learned about being a good blogger in 15+ points. It was surprising to learn that Sun has over 1000 bloggers now. Tim is one of the legends in the blog world and it was great to talk to him for a bit.

The panel discussions were interesting, but hard to blog.

Some folks I enjoyed getting to know better…

It was cool to sit beside Jeremy Wright and hear is sarcastic comments through the course of a few presentations. Later in the night, his vodka martini followed by quad espresso followed by strawberry banana smoothie kept us entertained. Did you know if recently got to 66 below zero in Winnipeg? Apparently Americans have no idea what that is like.

Sharing a mid-day beverage with Stowe Boyd was cool. Stowe and I have been at a number of conferences together lately and it’s always fun to hang for a bit. He was there with his cohort Greg Narain, a great guy behind Beercasting.

If you go to Canada from the US and like beer, you must drink Kilkenny, a smooth red ale that is not legal in the US. Good stuff.

Though they were busy, it was great to hang with some of the organizers like Boris Mann, Darren Barefoot and Roland Tanglao. With help from other folks, these guys pulled off a close-to-flawless event. Seb Paquet was there from Montreal, whom I was excited to meet after knowing him online for a while.

Last night we got to know Susannah Gardner and Travis Smith from Hop Studios. I had met them before, but we had a great time last night talking about her book Buzz Marketing with Blogs. Jeremy Wright, who will have his own blog book soon, informed her that her’s is currently the best-selling blog book ever (just from pre-orders).

It was cool to be in the same (small) room with some of the heavies like Scoble, Tim Bray, Chris Pirillo, etc. Someone described Scoble as the most important man in the Internet right now because he’s showing how a technology can put a human face on a company like Microsoft.

Over dinner last night we had a great time with Arjun Singh (Panelist from Kamloops, BC) Rob Cottingham (Canada's leading progressive speechwriter), Alexandra Samuel (PhD, partner of Rob and expert in electronic democracy and citizen engagement) and Loraine (of Terminal City) over dinner at Tropica.

After dinner and the after party we walked back down Granville to our hotel. Man, does Vancouver have a rockin nightclub scene. There must have been 15-20 clubs across 2-3 blocks with lines of people going in. Not my scene, but very cool to see.

I wish we could have made the Dim Sum breakfast. Oh well, we ate at the famous Elbow Room and got out of town early.

Ok, time to put Northern Voice to rest on this blog. I'm impressed that you read down this far. Thank you for taking the time.