We awoke Saturday morning to sleet. But believe me, after Friday, I would have taken bad weather over Moosecamp anytime. And fortunately, the actual conference was better organized and more interesting than the previous day.
Anil Dash of Six-Apart opened the day as the keynote. Although a very good speaker, to be honest, I can’t remember anything really concrete or profound to share. Except possibly his comments on how carbon copying someone on an e-mail is really a backhanded insult.
After that, Megan and I spent the better part of, no, scratch that, the entire day in the windowless Room 1003. And because anyone has the option of listening to the sessions on Podcast Spot (the reason why we were there to begin with), I won’t bore with many details about the AM presentations, except to say that I was disappointed that there wasn’t more content directed at secondary or elementary school teaching. The education-oriented lectures focused on academia and post-secondary applications of social software and wikis, and even after squinting, I found transferable applications difficult to find.
Mack playing Hexic on the big screen
Following lunch (at wet & wild McDonald’s!), we were treated to the southern twang of an Owen-Wilson-esque former lawyer in a session entitled “Legal Rights and Liabilities for Bloggers.” Of note was the fact that U.S. law protects those who choose to write defamatory comments on others’ (or one’s own) blog. Also, due to repetition, I now have the phrase “You have the right to blog, but no right to a job” permanently etched in my brain. Funny, with the number of times the speaker had to repeat the fact that he “didn’t know Canadian law,” it made you wonder why the organizers didn’t, you know, host a Canadian speaker instead.
The “Social Web for Karmic Good” session was a write off (I still can’t tell you what was presented in that hour I will never get back), but the last discussion in the afternoon on “Love and Dating Online” was great. Among the panel of speakers was the CEO of plentyoffish.com and a woman who recently married a man she met online. I was very impressed by the moderator who was well prepared with a list of talking points, but more than that, kept the dialogue positive and lighthearted. Topics included how to define “dating” (e.g. a “monogamous correspondence” haha), rules of meeting someone, profile writing, and trends (apparently, there will be a movement in the next six months towards free services because it’s much too tough to maintain paid-only sites). Essentially, it’s not like You’ve Got Mail, and your soul mate probably won’t be a Manhattan millionaire.
Megan and I at the end of Day 2
As Darren, one of the organizers, mentioned in his closing interview, the day did feel kind of long. But at the end of it, though much of the tech information was over my head, I don’t regret coming to Northern Voice. It was definitely a new experience, and not a wholly negative one; I learned many new things, and subsequently would like to believe that I can now hold my own in a cocktail party conversation about certain technologies (“What do you think about wikis?”).
We headed back to the Village for dinner that night, settling on Vera’s Burger Shack. The prices were reasonable at this cute and cozy eatery, but we were unpleasantly surprised with the quality of the food, particularly because their burgers had been voted one of the best in the city by readers of a popular weekly. The menu insisted the patties were made “fresh” and with “full fat,” but for some reason, were ultimately tasteless, as the ground beef obviously hadn’t been flavored with marinades or spices of any kind. On the bright side, the fries hit the comfort food spot just right.