Northern Voice in a (rather large) nutshell

February 24th, 2008

Northern Voice 08 is all wrapped up for another year. I got a lot out of it this year – especially as I could attend Moosecamp. The opening nite party was a hoot, a real blast from the past at the Waldorf Hotel, in the hood at Clark/Hastings. Our party was in the tiki room and there were many gratuitous jokes about trading wiki for tiki and other demonstrations of geek humour. Derek Miller got some awesome shots of the room. The open mic of people reading blog posts – or reciting them from memory – was surprisingly entertaining. Bloggers are brave people, in addition to being (generally) good writers: there was some intimate stuff coming from the stage that night, but again surprising, it wasn’t “too much information.”

Northern Voice: In Session

Moosecamp was fun, and my session with Marc Lee on the political use of blogs for progressive social change was well received. Another interesting session was about Fearless City Mobile (bridging the digital divide – locally). The idea, in a nutshell, is to involve residents and members of the Downtown Eastside in creating their own media, and representing their own voice. In partnership with Mobile Muse (who knew? Richard Smith is everywhere), the project is a “two-way social media system for marginalized residents and artists of the DTES,” aiming to create an interactive communication and broadcast system. Basically (I think) they’re gonna give a bunch of poor people and poor artists cell phones. There has been some resistance to this project – basically the notion that other essential needs must be addressed before something as superficial as communication rights and artistic expression can be indulged in (or something like that). And it’s true. People are way poor in the DTES. It’s scary. It’s desperate. It’s an outrage and fucking shame on all of us for it. I wrote a letter to the Globe and Mail about my first (accidental) visit there in 2002, before I moved out here.

Anyhoo, there’s a lot more to the Fearless City project – TV, radio, blogging. You should seriously check it out The idea of public, accessible, interactive media is a very important one – homeless people dying in the streets notwithstanding. People need homes; people need a voice; and people need to be heard.

Today, the keynote at NV was from Matt Mullenweg, the guy who “inherited” the code for WordPress, forked it and, well, the rest is history. He gave an awesome talk, even awesomer for his tender age (24 – choke). Whenever I used to pop in to the WP site – for documentation, themes, whathaveyou – I’d be like, who’s this Matt guy whose blog is featured on the front page? I enjoyed hearing a bit about the history of WP and Matt having to set up blogs for his friends to “force” them to use his new blogging software. From those humbling beginnings in 2003, WP has grown to the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world. Whaddaya know? I, myself, am enjoying WP, and spent most of MooseCamp and NV sidling up to geeky folk who liked to talk about their WP blogs (and help me with mine) and attending sessions about WP tricks and trials. It was a productive two days on that front, indeed.

The last session I attended (left a bit early for my Hoodies ‘n Heels class – can not miss it) was excellent: Alan Levine’s 50 ways to tell a Web 2.0 story. He opened with a slide featuring the Jolly Roger and the text: “Power Point didn’t kill presentations: People did”. That made me laugh, and think of a certain technophobic professor I know who prefers the awkwardness of smudgy overhead projectors to the evils of PP. Ah well… Anyhow, Alan is one funny guy, and his presentation involved demo’ing several of his 50+ ways to tell the story of his dog, Dominoe. Funny stuff. I enjoyed this fresh perspective, as I rely on visuals to augment my lectures, but of course need to engage (and deal) with the pedagogical difficulties PP brings with it.

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