Northern Voice was a big day. By the end I was wiped out in every way. We had walked in the Vancouver rain until it soaked us through, my feet were sore and tired, stomach was empty and my mind was stuffed. And I loved it all. The conference was great. I was prepared for a total blog love-in but what I got was a bunch of great ideas, some good technical advice and support from being around like-minded people.
After the keynote by Anil Dash opened the conference, we went in to a session on social software in learning. The university scene has changed drastically since I was a full time student. There are a lot of web-based programs to help bring education online. The reason I know this is that most people in the session seemed pretty fed up with them all. D'Arcy Norman talked about success using Drupal to get students blogging and using forums as an extension of the classroom. Specifically, Drupal can remove a lot of the administrative formality and busy work if it is configured well. This allows engaged students to self-organize. I've tried Drupal as an admin and a user and I have mixed feelings about it. I definitely believe that with the right person managing it, Drupal can be the right backend for a lot of different content management applications. Specifically, it does seem well-suited to the field of education. With the wrong admin though, users can be locked out of features unnecessarily and quickly get turned off. I guess that's like any good tool - users make good things great.
So it's pretty late here already (12 am Pacific, though my blog is set to Eastern so it's probably going to say it's after 3 when I post this).
So far Vancouver's a cool place, the Blue Horizon is a swanky hotel and the people at MooseCamp were pretty cool too. When Candace and I finally made it to the hotel yesterday we were amazed at the view. Here are a couple samples of the shots we took on the balcony.
Last night there was a dinner for Northern Voice attendees. We found our way there by Skytrain (which, oddly enough, we boarded underground at Burrard Station) and a bus. The food was good but more over it was great to start talking to the other people coming to the conference. We ended up sitting with Roland Tanglao, Catherine Winters, Dale McGladdery and some other interesting people whose names I can't find at the moment. We all talked about a bunch of stuff and it really helped to make more friendly faces at today's MooseCamp. In the morning Roland led a session on Social Media Diaspora. The real seed of the idea seemed to be about reconnecting with roots and how social technology is enabling that, but it got us talking and thinking about what it means to be part of different kinds of groups and what the repercussions are. Have a listen to the podcast on that page and you can get more of a sense of what I mean.