Northern Voice

<a href="">Canadian blogging conference</a> held 2005, 2006 and 2007 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Northern Voice Microblogging Presentation Debrief

Here are the notes I took of a self-debrief about my Northern Voice presentation last month about microblogging. I follow most of the advice Joe Clark gives about giving presentations and agree with all of it. Every presentation, including this one, I close anything that makes a unanticipated notification or unwanted sound, load up every website I intent to show in a tab well before the presentation. I don't do this often enough in a year to get smooth at it. Presumably Bruce Sharpe, who presented directly before me, will post video and/or audio of my presentation in the near future.

What Went Right

  • definitely had enough material for half an hour. I went halfway through my slides. Perfect, since the presentation was front-loaded to the first half. The second half contained bonus material.
  • I kept it conversational, let people interrupt, and with maybe one exception, felt that I answered questions relatively well
  • people seemed to like the presentation
  • the attendees laughed at the right places

What Went Wrong

  • I needed a projector adapter dongle thing, leaving it at home. Luckily I borrowed the previous presenter's dongle. I try to have my own.
  • I needed the remote, which I lost sometime before the presentation. Managing without it, it would have went far more smoothly allowing me to go beyond the reach of my laptop.
  • I didn't get to use the Obligatory Obama Slide (though I was unprepared for it)
  • felt underprepared, not having done a proper run-through. Nobody seemed to notice.
  • had the wrong setting on the laptop's monitor, not being able to see my speaking notes (which weren't detailed) and a timer
  • I wore a sweater. The conference documentarians used apel mikes. Next time I won't wear a sweater.

What I Noticed, for Ill or Good

  • when I made an unsubstantiated claim that between 11 AM and 4 PM is the best time to post an update to Twitter, several people in the audience wrote it down. That makes me think of what other unsubstantiated thing I can say that people.- one person came up to talk to me about it afterwards
  • one person came up to me after the presentation to talk about it more. I had no expectations either way.
  • at least 15 people started following me on Twitter after I put up my first slide, which had only my Twitter username identifying me. Many have since unfollowed.
University of British Columbia at Vancouver

Listening to a talk about online tools to use when podcasting.

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Frederico's Supper Club Fisheye

Using the Holga fisheye viewfinder held up to my iPhone.

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group: Northern Voice

Speaking at Northern Voice Again

On Friday at 3:00 PM, I'll speak very briefly about the subject of microblogging at Northern Voice 2009. My slides, in typical very minimalistic form, are done. For those interested in Twitter (and some of its related tools), as well as the location-centered Brightkite, I plan on spending talking for about 15 minutes discussing both the concept and the tools, then opening up the session, only a half-hour long in total, to conversation and questions.

Audio of my Blogging 101 presentation at Northern Voice
Keeping consistent with my desire not to hear my voice, I haven't listened to it yet. But if you missed it the first time, now you can!

I'm Taking the Northern Voice Challenge!

The Sessions I Attended At Northern Voice

In point form, as is the style of the time, here is how I spent my Saturday.

What I Learned From Northern Voice

During MooseCamp, specifically PhotoCamp, I learned that cloudy days are the best to get colour from the objects and people I'm documenting. Also, for portraits, bring the studio to them and tips on where to take portraits from (e.g. shoot down to make them look better) stuck out for me. The rest of the conference I closed the door of knowledge and opened the window of inspiration.

Who Challenged Me At Northern Voice

Whether they knew it or not, intended it or not, the following people challenged me to think a little harder about creativity and craft. People close to me wonder why I don't identify as being creative. The following Northern Voice speakers have me wondering too.

Dave Olson

Dave Olson challenged me to step it up a notch, and to consider another media form if I'm struggling at the one I think I'm good at (writing). Podcasting, maybe? I don't like the sound of my own voice, so that strikes video out as well. Photography is the medium I sunk the most into already, so I will try to bring the SLR to more places, make the same mistakes everybody makes when they start out, and document the process better. I'd like to learn how to draw. And sing. Outside of the conference, he remarked that he likes to find a third place, away from work and away from home to be creative. This has me thinking of the ideal place to work somewhere (and on something) not domestic and not commercial, but somewhere in between.

(I know that my desire to learn how to sing directly conflicts with the angst about hearing my voice, so don't bother pointing that out.)

Northern Voice 2008: Nancy White

Nancy White challenged me to look at the beauty of the visual web, not just the written web. I do prefer visiting an individual article directly, especially articles intended for web browsers (and not printers). Nancy, by challenging me to think visually, to give drawing or other graphic form of expression and honest try, challenged me to rediscover my sense of wonder, a nice little nudge to remind me I wanted to do that anyway.

Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Alex Waterhouse-Hayward challenged my thinking on Flickr and the social photographic web, disagreeing with Kris on whether it should be rejected. Through the tension between them we learned about two styles of photography, both of which contribute to our understanding of the subject. He also challenged me to think about lighting and the third dimension, making the physical photograph part of the photograph.

Stephanie Vacher

Stephanie, nervous as she was during her first time public speaking, challenged me to think about the process of my "designing". If I understood her correctly, she challenged everybody in the audience to investigate what it means to design and to, if they can get themselves in the mindset, think of themselves as designers.

Dave, Nancy, Alex, and Stephanie: I accept your challenges.

Photo credits, from top to bottom: myself; Cyprien Lomas; Randy Stewart; and Phillip Jeffrey.

What I Was Happy With, And What I Wanted to Say, At Northern Voice's Blogging 101 Session

There are a few things I would do very differently at Friday's Blogging 101 for Northern Voice:

  • define blogging better than just listing its features. That said, everybody has their own definition. I went witha features listing since they're fairly well agreed upon.
  • do not give legal advice! We'll have to go to the tape, but I might have told someone to sue someone else who was getting high rank for her name and saying nasty stuff. Not doing that next time.
  • do more run-throughs, with a small audience to feed back. Not a big deal in this case, but it'll be important to present well in my future, and I'd like to get into the habit of practicing in front of people instead of in front of my TV screen.

How to Get Comments On Your Blog

As for the content of the presentation, I flubbed an question that I had a good answer to. Someone asked about how to get comments, and my unsatisfactory-to-me answer was to "comment on your own post". I still think it's legitimate, since it's more elegant than typing "Update:" and gives you a timestamp in the database (and with some systems, you get an RSS feed for comments). My other reasoning for doing it is that I tend to click on a link that says "1 comment" more often than one that says "0 comments", so it's a sneaky way to get your view count up. The best way to get comments, though, is to write a full blog post, but afterwards cut out the last paragraph of your post, save it somewhere else for later, and let one of your readers say it. That lets people fill in the blank you left, and if they're mistaken or you need to add something, then you can paste back in your conclusion as a response in the comments. Blogging is not a monologue.

What I Was Happy About

During the run-throughs all by my lonesome at my apartment, it became clear that I needed something to do with my hands. Last year I stuck them in my pocket, but this year, with good presentation software, I realized I could use the cool little remote that came with my MacBook. Not just as something to push slides ahead—a little awkwardly, since my computer was beside me and not in front of me—but it would keep my hands occupied just enough not to distract from the overall performance.

My slides with only one or two words on each. I used them not because I knew it was a best-practice (I either didn't know it, forgot it, or internalized it: Jeffrey Keefer reminded me of Seth Godin's tips after having attended my presentation), but because after reading from the screen during last year's presentation, I wanted reminders to talk about what I knew really well already, not a script. Karen suggested I did it because I liked other, good presentations that did it, and she's absolutely right. I'm glad I didn't go with stunning photos. That would have been too much work.

I took off my sweater and felt okay about wearing a t-shirt from work. It turned into a short conversation piece when one of the audience members asked what was on it, I think believing I was supporting a certain American elected official.
If I hadn't taken my sweater off, I would have over-heated, contributing to a vicious cycle of nervousness. Instead I sacrificed a little class for a little calm, and I'd do the same thing over again.

What I Did Before Presenting Blogging 101 at Northern Voice

Here's a list of things I did on my computer before attaching the overhead projector to my MacBook. They're by no means best-practices, but they were in response to presentations I've seen before.

  • Closed all email, instant messaging, RSS reader, and anything else that might bounce on the dock or send a Growl notification to the screen. At least two presenters either forgot to do this or left them on intentionally. Distracting! The only two applications that were open were the ones absolutely necessary to the success of the presentation: Keynote and Firefox.
  • Pre-loaded all my websites I was going to show in browser tabs. It's better than typing in URLs and waiting for stuff to load, assuming you can get reliable speeds at a conference were a dozen people are already uploading their photographs.
  • Disabled the Bookmark Toolbar, which has links to sensitive information. I didn't need it, otherwise I mis-click and give access to everybody in the room and watching online to my work areas.
  • Deleted the browser URL history. Everybody has a URL or two that they're ashamed of. And if you're not, you're lying.
  • The night before, I cleared my desktop of icon clutter. Nobody needs to know that I download The Wire via BitTorrent. Rather, nobody needs proof.
  • Just before presenting, I tested that the presentation software (Keynote) will display the right thing in the right screen. I used someone else's presentation to make sure that the presenter's notes showed on my laptop screen and not the projector. For this I was lucky I was the first presenter, so I had time to do that. You might not have that luxury.

Forthcoming are what I think I did right during the presentation as well as what I could have done better or forgot to do.