OMG. Oh. My. God. If anyone ever asks you to chair a conference DON’T DO IT! Seriously. It’s really hard work! (And we’ve already established that I’m lazy). I’m involved with a Enterprise 2.0 conference at the Crowne Plaza and we’ve got about 12 speakers per day. My job is to introduce the speakers – but not read their bio out loud because the attendees have already read them – but I don’t know some of these people! So I ask them if they are on Facebook, or submit to YouTube or blog and introduce them that way. Then I have to pay attention, really pay attention, not just sit there like in school, looking intelligent and engaged but really daydreaming. Because at the end of each presentation, I have to summarise each one in a nice chatty way. Towards the end of the day I started cheating and just picked out a few sentences and go on about that. I think the speakers and the audience were appreciative of the change – it must’ve been painful to watch me struggle on! But really I wanted to be the guy on the other table who’s head nodded a few times during the afternoon, with his eyes closed. Except I would probably drool and that would be a bad thing.

So from now on, I’m going to stick with being in the audience. Or just presenting my bit and then sitting down to listen.

And, in spite of my whining and complaining, it’s been fascinating. I usually speak or attend Web 2.0 conferences where we argue on about how API is, liiiike, sooooo Web 2.0 and not Web 3.0. Or how microformats will rule the world. (hi John Allsop!). Or whether social bookmarking will become the social news or if social news will be the new bookmarks. Ok, I don’t really understand the last one, except that bookmarking is editorial control and publishing of other writers (bloggers) content as a collaborative front page, or list of articles to read. Anyway, see what I mean? The nitty gritty, the cutting edge, ahead of the curve stuff, philosophy and geekdom all rolled into one.

This conference is different, it’s about real people really implementing this stuff into real businesses. Not a Web 2.0 company getting a new concept off the ground, but old school companies struggling with blogs and internal wikis and profile ‘mysite’ for staff. Ross Monaghan from Deakin University, was very droll and entertaining – and a little bit naughty. Jeffrey Cook, from Sydney University packed more into his 40 minutes than I have ever heard before. I mean, I can talk pretty fast but Jeffrey was able to put in an amazing amount of information! Frank Connolly, Victorian State Services and Helen Benge from Kells the Lawyers, gave for me, two of the best presentations. I’m not playing favourites – they were all good. But these two in particular were able to show how something as simple as one blog and one small wiki can disrupt an entire organisation. Particularly when those organisations are the Victorian Public Service and a large rural Law Firm. Viva La Web 2.0 Revolution! Damian Smith from Channel 10 – is always a great speaker probably because he is totally honest and transparent. Not something I usually associate with traditional media. I did some work on the Australian Idol community so I kind of knew what he was going to say. At the end of the day there was a double session with Dwayne Thompson, Bell Canada – luckily it was a fascinating look at how a telecommunications company uses personalisation and seamless online/offline integration (such as click-to-call) to tailor their offerings to customers.

Isn’t it intriguing? These changing cultures, hidden social networks, new ways of having conversations, and such? By the way, I came up with a new phrase “content may be king, but conversation is queen“. Not that I really think ‘content is king’ in it’s traditional form (goodness knows, people will chat online for hours about nothing in particular), but I didn’t want to argue. 😛 Hmmm, maybe the ‘conversation is queen’ bit isn’t new, one never knows these days who is having the same thought at the same time. Apparently it’s common in the science world – remember the Cold Fusion fiasco? But I digress, I was trying to say that there’s a world of difference between Web 2.0 companies (I’m thinking Australia’s Tangler, or The Podcast Network, or Atlassian) and companies implementing Web 2.0 within traditional finance, education, media industries – and it’s clear who needs hugs and cookies more. 🙂 Now I know I really want to present more at traditional industry like conferences on medicine and finance and whatnot and a little less preaching to the converted at my usual haunts, so sign me up! Just don’t ask me to Chair. heh.
A silly cartoon to break up the monotony of text. And cos I’m blogging about my day.

When I left Darling Harbour, I skipped over to DebateIT: Blogging is as Useful as Talkback Radio. I got there late and felt like a naughty schoolgirl as I slipped into one of the back seats, hoping not to be noticed. Which didn’t exactly happen because, when the moderator asked the panel which blogs they read, Chris Gilbey from Vquence (blog Perceptric) named this blog! *waves to Chris*. Very funny, he doesn’t even know me in person! Not being terribly shy I just had to put my hand up yelling “that’s ME!” giggling and blowing kisses and acting like a complete goof. Not exactly professional. You can listen to the debate on the abc.net.au later (when they put it up) and have a bit of a giggle. But you won’t see me blowing kisses cos it’s a podcast. Some of the panellists came up afterwards and said they read this bloggy too – Hugh Martin from APN was one. But I think they were just being polite. *waves anyway*

Back to business: the debate itself was revealing. Two years ago, media and journalists were whistling a different tune. I guess we all were. I was thrilled that not only are blogs being acknowledged as an important part of the new media landscape but that their true limitations are being recognised. Saying that blogs are limited because they are a one-to-many mechanism (new) is an entirely different conversation than saying blogs are full of rubbish and a waste of time. (old) Few to few is better – masses of few-to-few is even betterer. heh. Oh and wasn’t Graeme Philipson different? I was surprised: his quoting stuff about forget copyright and forget brand control, “get over it already”. To paraphrase Ron Weasel from Harry Potter: Who are you and what have you done with the real Graeme Philipson? Actually, he seemed very nice although I didn’t speak to him. Hey! it’s a blog! I can be judging , smirk, change my mind, cast aspersions and occasionally be complimentary. All with little or no basis in fact. That’s the fun of it! *winks*

There was also the usual discussion on why Australian’s ‘don’t’ blog – I think it was Pippa Leary from Fairfax who showed that Australians respond on blogs more than the Brits. Anyone remember? It was something around The Guardian? Ross Dawson and I had a quick chat about that afterwards – there’s no major blog hosting service in Australia, for Australians, which I think might account for the seeming low number. I’m not saying hosting services don’t exist, I know that BigPond have one, but they are not well marketed. Not like Blogspot or WordPress or TypePad or … you get the picture. We wouldn’t even know if some of those bloggers were Australian so I think also think that’s really hard to count. Plus, kids don’t see MySpace as a blog whereas that is where MySpace springs from. And as we move away from blogs, away from one -to- many towards few-to-few (think mini forums, or facebook apps), the take up rate of online conversation by Australians is much higher. Will this blog still be going in 2 years? I doubt it. Hush now, dry your tears. I won’t abandon you. It’ll just be somewhere more comfortable and cosy and intimate. Your mobile phone or mine? *winks*

EDIT: I checked. The term “content is queen” was used in 2003 and then twice again – in May this year and then 3 days ago. Spooky *plays twilight zone music and lights incense* shared unconscious is one thing, but I don’t want global nightmares!