I finally managed to get everything organised to get myself on an early train from Manchester down to SocialMediaCamp London on the 4th October. It’s my second venture into the community; my second BarCamp style event too.
First thing I noticed was that the facilities were great at Wallacespace in St Pancras. It’s a pretty well done out building; modern and friendly. Everyone I met, straight out of my zombied train mode, were really welcoming, especially Vero who organised the event.
The site of the board waiting to be filled up with sessions got my nerves going. I think I had a bit more preparation than with my first BarCamp at Brighton a month ago but sometimes you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone…
I can’t remember everything I saw or heard but the day started for me with Carl of Fellow Creative‘s talk about Hedgehogs. I know – what has hedgehogs got to do with social media? That was the beauty of what Carl does – there were loads of meandering ideas, which in turn encouraged ideas from the people in the session, but it did have a point! He is after all a ‘creative midwife’ ;) Good to bump into him again after Brighton.
Damien‘s ‘Scrumping 2.0′ was actually was about scrumping but more in relation to community projects and somehow using more contemporary web technologies to help sections of a community garner support to achieve their goals. It started the old cogs turning, thinking about engaging with technical and non-technical people within the community and what kind of structure any web platform would need. Should there be personal achievements or should together achieving a goal be enough? Could you use RFID or would it work to use that and offer other formats through a single tiki-tag like QR codes or SMS short codes?
I caught most of Peter O’Neill‘s talk on metrics and how we can measure the impact of social media, which was pretty informative especially as there is only so we can go. We can tracks visits to our websites but keeping tabs on the ‘buzz’ we’re trying to create especially through newer social channels is difficult. Food for thought and one to keep looking into.
From what I can remember, I think I sauntered into LLoyd Davis’ session about being a one man/woman social media empire. Illustrating the great contrast you can get in talks, Lloyd’s was interestingly practical. He once had a canvas bar in which he carried everything he’d need for work, blogging, podcasts, interviews, etc but his latest experiment is to try to downsize that and see how little kit you can get away with. His Nokia N95 was hooked up to the huge plasma screen and the little bluetooth keyboard showed that with the right apps, it was possibly although clunky and for the more technical proficient. He demoed how using a Python app, he could take a photo (upload to Flickr through ShoZu) and write a blog post and submit to WordPress all relatively pain free – the results of which are on his blog. It shows we’re getting closer to the mobile dream but there’s still a way to go till it’s convenient for most people.
I managed to make it up to one of the ‘nest’ rooms to catch Alison‘s session about her creative/web project. I’d spoken with her throughout the day and it was clear that there is real mileage in her ideas to help creatives embrace collaboration but that aside from technical solutions there would need to be a shift in the community to actively encourage sharing of skills and ideas – to maybe use her solution as a means to land bigger project through collaborating with similarly minded creatives.
It was my turn to take to the stage. I’d done a bit more preparation for my presentation this time although suffering from major dry-mouth and nerves, I got through it and actually enjoyed it! I didn’t really know who I was pitching to so in retrospect I might’ve thrown too many concepts at the audience. Although it wasn’t completely technical, that side of it underpins the more philosophical ideas I was trying to get across. Maybe it’ll need more work and try version 2 out next time…
Ben‘s talk about FOAF/XFN & Dunbar’s number was exactly the kind of thing I’m into but it immediately raised my pet subject of context of social relationships to my mind as FOAF, which it is practical for basic mapping of relationships, leaves no room for negative relationships, saying how we know each contact, etc. XFN was briefly touched upon (or was that just in my mind?), which I like and try to use on my own code but is another static technology whereas the web needs live social data or we’re not much farther forward than we currently are. Great talk though and it was interesting hear more about Dunbar and the kind of research that has been done on a more anthropological and psychological wavelength about human social interaction.
There was a real mix of people from developers like me to PR and journalistic types to marketers and entrepreneurs to creatives and freelancers. Judging by the success of this one, I’m sure Vero would be looking to do another sometime next year and I’ll be there! The food and drink supplied by the sponsors was welcomed after a day filled with so many ideas and so much conversation. Good to meet so many people, such as Peter from viewmy.tv/brandstation.tv, Matt from localmouth.com, Mary from JuiceCaster and Goldmund from The Sun. I’m sure I’ve not name-checked everyone , but it was a pleasure to meet you and I’ll hopefully bump into you sometime in the future.