Session Picks for Northern Voice 2009

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February in Vancouver means that the Vancouver blogging event of the year, Northern Voice, is just around the corner, happening on Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21st at the UBC Forestry Sciences Centre.

The speakers were announced a couple of weeks ago, and includes Social Signal's very own Rob Cottingham keynoting, appropriately, on Teh Funny (Saturday, 9:45am).

Five years going, I'm also pretty stoked to see that the conference organizers are continuing to keep the content and format of the conference fresh, with a slightly rejigged workshop "MooseCamp" day on Friday, and action-packed sessions on the Saturday.

Here are a list of the sessions I'm most excited about and looking forward to...

  • Twitter, Yammer and More - Bite-size Blogging: Richard Eriksson (Friday, 3:00pm). If you've followed Richard for any length of time on Twitter, you'll know that he's the king of pointed one-liners. Humor aside, if you're wondering what the deal is with the excitement around microblogging, Richard's insights and perspectives will serve you well in navigating these waters, having helped forge Raincity Studios' approach to using this channel in communicating with their customers.
  • Keynote: Nora Young (Saturday, 9:15am) CBC's podcast/radio show Spark consistently provides insightful and thoughtful commentary on technology; I suspect this is driven in large part by Nora, who I had the opportunity to interact with briefly last year. I'm looking forward to hearing from her experiences at the intersection of highly participatory social media, and traditional radio journalism at the CBC.
  • Coping Digitally: Airdrie Miller, Isabella Mori, and Tod Maffin (Saturday, 10:45am). I'm interested in this on a couple of angles: one is being exposed to the work of Pete Quily, who coaches and blogs about his advocacy and work with adults living with ADD. Another angle is through my peripheral involvement with Tyze in my work here at Social Signal. Tyze is an online application that helps build and maintain support networks for people with physical or mental challenges, in order to help keep them from feeling socially excluded. I'm looking forward to hearing from Airdrie, Isabella and Tod on how self-expression through blogging and social media has figured in their advocacy and experiences.
  • Passionately Local: Briana Tomkinson (Saturday, 11:30am). I'm interested to meet Briana, mostly because I've had a chance to meet her sister Jocelyn, who, along with Briana and others, writes about New Westminster at the group blog Tenth to the Fraser. Building community in suburbs, which are often physically oriented towards specific kinds of physical connections at the expense of others, is one of my interests, and I'd be excited to see how successful they have been in drawing interest to the New West area.
  • Mobile: Irwin Oostindie (Saturday, 4:15pm). Getting re-acquainted with the Fearless City project, which bridges the digital divide in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside using mobile phones, is becoming something of a Northern Voice tradition for me. That said, thanks to Twitter (and Raincoaster's tireless twittering in particular), Fearless City's activities are about ten times more visible to me than ever before. Even so, I look forward to getting the story behind the 140 characters tweets, and hearing about Fearless City's recent successes - like their Phones for Fearless donation campaign, and engaging the public in art through mobile phones at the Vancouver Art Gallery's November FUSE.

You may have noticed that I'm not saying much for Friday - that's because I'm keeping it open for the unconference and mobile tracks, which will have topics chosen during the "Moose Wrangling" session on Friday morning.

Vancouver twitterers and bloggers are passionate about Northern Voice and, judging by some recent controversy around political parties and sponsorship, what blogging is and should be more generally.

Are there any sessions that you have your eye on that you think we should be at? I may not be able to clone myself, but there are plenty of other Social Signal team members...!

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