It?s time for my very long overdue post about WxWM, brainchild Shona McQuillan?s local alternative to SxSWi. What was most amazing about it was that, within the space of about a week, a BarCamp-style event with back-to-back interesting panels had been organised. My very favourites were:
Nick Booth: Me and My Troll[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/nick-booth.mp3%5D
A necessary reminder that the internet isn?t Narnia and, just like in life, there are mad and bad people out there who may want to do you down. There was an interesting discussion around how some environments (such as YouTube) are more tolerant of this behaviour than others (like Flickr).
I feel that I don?t really make an effort to conceal much about myself or my life when writing on the internet, figuring no-one will be nasty or bothered enough to use the details I give out in a negative way. Some of the stories that came out of this panel were therefore quite frightening ? not only how malevolent people can be, but also how ineffective some online communities and the police can be at dealing with it.
Jon Bounds: Internet Memes[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/jon-bounds.mp3%5D
The funniest of the panels, not least because of the last-minute editing Jon had to do to protect young, innocent minds. The theory behind the meme is that if you pop something on the internet, people will want to make it have one or all of the essential meme components:
- The rude
- The weird
- The cute
The time this takes to happen ? the ?time to penis? – is becoming shorter and shorter.
Jon?s parting note was truly inspirational ? that we, as the type of people who do Meaning of Briff, are guardians of the rude, odd and weird. We should let memes evolve without fear of our bosses or parents and, above all, BE WEIRD. Oh, alright then, since you insist.
Ben Whitehouse: Once Upon a Time[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/ben-whitehouse.mp3%5D
An absolutely lovely talk on how we can tell stories and tall tales online. This has been quite recently demonstrated by Dull Accountant on Twitter, who for a few days had us believing he?d nicked the company credit card for a G20 summit protest bender before admitting it was a well thought out April Fool’s prank. Ben was most interesting when he was talking about Twitter, and how the people we follow and interact with is us reading the stories of each others? lives. I was horrified when he asked the question: ?What happens when one of us dies and that character is gone forever?? A sobering thought.
A local blog for local people[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/nicky-getgood.mp3%5D
Not a favourite (because that would be horribly big-headed), but my panel talk about the local blogging journey I?ve been on with Digbeth is Good (film narcissistically inserted at the top). The discussion afterwards was interesting, especially when it got around to where things should go next. Peoples? (very welcome) suggestions prompted John Hickman to ask Whose Blog is it Anyway?
It made me realise that, thus far, Digbeth is Good has had the freedom to grow quite organically. But now there sometimes seems to be an expectation to follow certain types of models, be it a Created in Birmingham style handover or Kings Cross Environment style team building (which I’ve actually come round to and am working on). I suppose John?s post reminded me that, although I can take advice and look at others? best practice, there is no law that says I have to go down a set path. In fact, Digbeth is Good got interesting for me when I stopped following the hymn sheet and made the blog more of my personal take on the area. So perhaps straying from path is no bad thing, even if I do sometimes get a little lost.
Other interesting points raised were:
- Monetising the blog ? If anyone has any further advice on this I?d be grateful. One of the biggest obstacles I?ve hit with Digbeth is Good is finding the time to commit to its development. Finding a way of being paid for the time and resources I?m currently giving to it for nothing, without detrimentally affecting the editorial freedom, would be brilliant.
- Quality not quantity ? Andy Mabbett really struck a chord when he told me he?d rather read one or two good posts a week rather than a daily stream of them. This made me realise I should slow down and concentrate on creating posts with insightful content rather than trying to keep up with everything, which is just impossible.
Phew. It seems that no sooner do I have time to stop and take stock of the first WxWM than the next one is being organised ? Moseley Barcamp, part of Mozfest, is on 29th June. There?s also a BrumBarCamp on the cards.