Monthly Archives: February 2010

PodCamp Wickedness: The Unconference

You’ve heard of unconferences, right? Those participant-driven geek affairs that have effectively saved the world from having to take out second mortgages on their homes in order to enjoy a good conference now and then.

Unconferences were actually born back in the mid-80’s when Harrison Owen developed the concept of Open Space Technology. The term “unconference”, though, wasn’t popularized until BarCamp and BloggerCon came onto the scene in 2005-ish. They’re typically centered around new and social media events and are organized for its participants, by its participants, and definitely aren’t filled with a bunch of stuffy, talking heads. The community is ultimately responsible for the success, or failure, of an event, which requires that you be an active participant rather than just an attendee – but active in making real progress and not just status quo. The sessions facilitate this type of interaction: they’re experiential; they often foster lively discussions and collaborative solutions that ultimately create truly sustainable communities; and require new tools, new perspectives, and better collaboration.

PodCamp Toronto is just one of these unconferences. You’ve probably heard of, and hopefully listened to, a podcast; PodCamp, though, shouldn’t be confused as being for podcasters only. In fact, PodCamp is for anyone interested in new media, including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and social media networking whores. What you definitely won’t find at PodCamp are suits and ties, that’s for sure. One of the unique things about PodCamp is the use of the “law of two feet”, meaning that if you aren’t getting anything out of the session you’re in, it’s not at all considered rude to walk out and go to a session you might deem more useful. Don’t you wish we could do that all the time^^? But I digress.

I attended nine sessions over the two day conference^ and, because I know you’re dying to know what I thought, I’ll review some of the wicked highlights here. You’re welcome.

1) Integration, Integration, Integration: Communications in the New Social Media Ecosystem by Dave Fleet. An excellent and lively

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discussion about social media and how it integrates with traditional media. Dave talked about the three types of media: owned, paid, and earned, as well as about the “ecosystem of communications” and how to manage the sum of those media reactions. We all decided that Molson had done an amazing job embracing and weaving social media in with its traditional media, especially with the Molson Canadian Hockey House at the Olympics, but decided that their success could also be due to their delicious Canadian beer. Anyway.

2) Lunch! My friend Chris, with whom I attended, and I ate Chinese-style burritos at Chino Locos. Pan-fried noodles and guacamole, anyone?

3) The Inside Scoop on Social Media Analytics by Aubrey Podolsky. An analytics girl, I am not. I’m fairly certain my blog isn’t going to make me a zillionaire, so what’s the point? I don’t pore over stats about who came to my blog and how many times, because I just don’t care. That said, I thought it would be good to get some high-level ideas on how people measure as I realize it’s a vital part of growing the channel. This particular session didn’t cut it for me with the exception of one thing: the deck style he used was amazing! It’s called Prezi.com and is fabulous! I saw two people use that style of presentation deck over the weekend and I could hardly get home to download it fast enough. PowerPoint, you’ve met your match.

4) Is Email Marketing Dead? This session was close to my heart as it may or may not have something to do with my day job. Nevertheless, I’m fairly certain I could have given the session myself, unfortunately. For example, the presenter suggested that you add someone to your email newsletter just by virtue of them leaving a comment on your blog. EGADS! I can assure you that that is *not* best practice and would advise you not do it — ever — unless you want to end up on every blacklist out there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5) Twitter and Dating by Jeremy Wright and Melissa Smich. No unconference would be complete these days without a session on Twitter and dating, coined as #twating by these delightful presenters. The session was lively and amusing, and included some great tales of major DM fails, but also some major DM loves. Much discussion was had around the creative uses for hashtags. The best part of this session, though? Red velvet cupcakes. FTW.

6) Tod Maffin’s “Awesome-Izing Your Podcast: Secrets from Radio by Tod Maffin. My last session of the weekend was a highlight of PodCamp. A podcaster, I’m not, but a public radio fan, I *definitely* am. I have pretty much shirked all music in favour of all public radio, all the time*, so when I found out one of the grandfathers*** of podcasting, Tod Maffin, was presenting, I kicked the “law of two feet” into overdrive and practically hurdled myself into a frenzy by sprinting to his session as fast as I could. I’m really glad I did, too. His presentation style was totally engaging, his material was clear and concise, and he articulated a ton of detailed information rather than just more of the tree-top ideas I’d seen throughout the weekend. He’s obviously been around the public radio block, so to speak, and offered us a smorgasbord of do’s and don’ts, along with live audio examples that brought it all to life. In fact, if you have any interest in writing, podcasting, public radio, or any combination thereof, you might want to check out Tod’s book, Idea to Air, where you can peruse his awesome tips at your own, non-PodCamp pace.

Overall, my first PodCamp was awesome. I learned a lot of stuff, some great and some not so great. I learned that you should not be a keener and sit in the front row; it’s difficult to take advantage of the “law of two feet” when you’re practically sitting on top of the speaker. I learned a lot about social media, the analytics of it, and how to (better) figure out what’s valuable and what isn’t in the digital space. I learned a lot of goodness over the weekend, but do you know the biggest thing I learned? I want a Mac. 🙂

^Because I am a keener geek. Apparently, the “real” PodCamp networking happens in the hallways while the sessions are going on and is affectionately known as “LobbyCamp”. Next year!
*Also, I’m 94.
** Kidding.
^^ Like work, or people going on and on about the pains of their  childbirth. Gawd.
*** Although he certainly doesn’t look like a grandfather. 😉

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The Mayor of Mount Sinai

I never really thought of myself as being Mayor material, but apparently I was wrong. I’ve been spending so much time at Mount Sinai Hospital of late that I have officially been named its Mayor by FourSquare^!

For those of you who like to roll old school and who shirk all things social media, think of FourSquare as a location-based Twitter. You “check in” when you arrive somewhere, your friends are notified of where you are, or, to which of your friends you’re in closest proximity, and when you accumulate the highest number of visits, you become the “Mayor”. At some places, there are perks to becoming Mayor, like getting a free coffee or 10% off your bill. Because I ‘ve only been named Mayor at a few places, none of which offer these lovely perks, I haven’t yet realized any of these niceties! Also, because of the fact that Canada has universal healthcare, my Mount Sinai visits are free and, therefore, do not come with any perks other than getting well again. Ahem. There are about one billion other places I can think of for which I’d rather be Mayor and can assure you Mount Sinai isn’t one of them. Although, I had a CT Scan there this week and I thought I looked pretty cute in the blue dressing gowns. Formless cotton may just be my thing after all*. 😉
 
 
 
 
 
^I really prefer Gowalla, though — the UI is way better and, even though I don’t get to be Mayor, I have both a metal robot and firecrackers in my backpack, which we all know is way better than being Mayor. 😉
* Not!

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Luck Be A Lady

Je suis gagnant! Yes, you read that correctly — I played my very first Ontario Lottery ticket and (spoiler alert) I won! And get to add yet *another* Canadian adventure to my list. Sweet.

I’ve never really been a gambler, even on the lotto, primarily because in the States, you give up about 50% of your winnings to Uncle Sam should you beat the odds^ and win. I mean, we’ve gotta pay for healthcare somehow^^. Also, because I don’t like taking my hard earned dollars and literally tear them up into pieces for no reason. But I digress. In Canada (or maybe just Ontario?), you get to keep 100% of your winnings, the very opposite of what you’d expect from this exorbitantly taxed, but especially awesome, nation. So when I was ambling along on a recent weekend excursion and found not one, but two loonies* on two separate occasions, I figured it was my lucky day. I marched straight into PetroCanada and bought $5** on LottoMax, a ticket that would have netted me a cool $42 million. Let me just pause here to say that I can think of about forty-two million things I could do with $42 million and none of them include the words a)work or b) 9-5. Ahem. 

As it turns out, it was my lucky day, but only $5 lucky, because I won a free play. Still, free is free, so I have my fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes crossed that tomorrow night will be my big night! And if it is, I’ll take each and every one of you — my tens of readers — out for a lovely, lovely time. You can bet on it. 😉
 
 [Ed.Note: the $5 quick pick I won yielded four of the seven LottoMax numbers, so I won $20! I was so close to hitting five numbers, I could taste it — the fifth number I needed was 32 on my ticket and 33 on the draw. So. Close.]
 
 
^ Odds that favour you getting struck by lightning over winning the lottery. Still, I remain undeterred!
^^ Wait a minute…….  😉
* That’s a $1 coin for the Americans.
** Each ticket is $5 here, though, so I only got one row of numbers. Bogus.

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And They Said It Would Never Last

My parents have been married forty-two years today. Forty-two years! And that doesn’t even include the years when they were just dating. Can you imagine? The upper limits of my attention span are often tested when I’m in a conversation that’s longer than forty-two minutes, much less forty-two years. 😉  I know they tried providing me with good, strong, make-a-commitment-forever-and-ever-type genes, but I like to say that I’ve held off tying the knot so I don’t have to spend too much time with the one I love^…especially not forty-two years with the one I love! Anyway.

My parents still hold hands in the mall. They still call each other when they’re just running up to the store to get milk and will be home in, like, five freaking minutes. They still fix coffee for each other in the morning. They still leave little notes for each other on the bathroom mirror, just because, and my dad still goes and gets gas for my mom when her car’s on “empty”. They couldn’t wait for me to turn 18 so I could go off to university and leave them the heck alone. And even after forty-two years of marriage, my mom still digs deep inside the recesses of her kitchen cabinets to pull out the champagne flutes they used at their rehearsal dinner forty-two years and a day ago, so they can use them at their anniversary dinner.

This is not to say that they don’t argue — every couple does — and if they didn’t, I’d probably stare at them as if they were true freaks from another planet. But the bottom line is that my parents actually still like and respect each other, and are still very much in love. Here’s wishing them an amazing anniversary filled with lots of love from the people whose lives they enrich by just being the amazing people they are.

Happy 42nd Anniversary Mom and Dad!

^ likely excuse 😉

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May These Gates Never Be Closed

Canada, like the rest of the world, is in the midst of serious Olympic fever. I’ve personally contributed to that fever by watching so much Olympics coverage that I now know the minutiae about things that never occurred to me to matter before now, such as the proper landing positions for the triple axel and the triple lutz, and the difference between the skeleton and the luge. Really, Canada has every right to be uncharacteristically* Canadian during the 16 days that Vancouver is hosting the Olympics; they have every right to be filled with glowing hearts. They are doing a fabulous job of managing the expectations of the world, even without snow…at the WINTER Olympics, to be sure.

There has been article after article, show after show, and video after video about the Games, but it wasn’t until I saw^ the video Tom Brokaw produced for NBC that I really took notice. The video apparently aired in British Columbia just prior to the start of the Games as an “education” piece about Canada for Americans. God knows we need it, too. Watching this video made my heart well up with pride and my eyes with tears for *both* of my countries — the one in which I was born and the one in which I choose to live. A better piece of journalism has never been produced, imho!

Now do you see why I love Canada? Swoon!
 
 
 
 
 
* By which I mean allowed to go crazy and show their passionate pride for their country, something that actually took urging from their Prime Minister! Those crazy Canucks.

^ I actually found it because it was trending on Twitter.

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Sexy Cool: The Event

Every once in a while, you get the opportunity to hang out with the cool kids. Count yourself lucky because the iYellow Wine Club “Sexy Cool” event this Thursday, February 25 at 8pm is one of those times. If you’ve never heard of iYellow Wine Club, a Toronto -based social wine club with more than 5,000 members, or attended an iYellow event, you don’t know what you’re missing: socializing with the in-crowd, shaking what your momma gave you to the tunes of some of Toronto’s hippest DJs, noshing on seriously good apps, and, more importantly, sipping wine you can’t get anywhere else (no, not even at the LCBO).

Sexy Cool will feature more than 12 yummy (and seriously sexy) Australian wines, so if you’re feeling like you need to take a break from the frozen wasteland that is Toronto and take a quick trip to the Outback, Sexy Cool’s your gig. Head west to the hip Edward Day Gallery on Queen Street West at Shaw and experience a winegasm like none you’ve had in a while. Trust me — I’ve seen God and it’s in the form of an iYellow Wine Club event.

If you want to witness Angela Aiello single- handedly bringing sexy back, go here to buy your ticket…and be sure to say hi to me as my eyes roll into the back of my head from the sheer wine goodness! See y’all there.

Note: if you’re planning to drink (which I certainly hope you are), take transit, a cab, or find a designated driver. Period.

Update: within two hours of my post, Sexy Cool sold out. I don’t know that my wicked blog skills had anything to do with it, but I’m just sayin’ — SOLD OUT. 😉

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101 Things in 1,001 Days

List: [list] -noun. A series of names or other items written or printed together in a meaningful grouping or sequence so as to constitute a record.

If you’re anything like me, you love to make lists. Grocery lists**, lists of things to pack, everyday to-do lists, lists of movies to see, books to read, lists of things about yourself, and lists of things you’ve already done just so you can cross things off said list.

The original idea of the “101 things in 1,001 days” apparently began a while ago and continues at DayZeroProject.com but, since we all know I’m not necessarily an early-adopter^, I sat back and waited for a while just to make sure the thing took hold. 😉  Apparently, it did. So, after much brooding and thinking and mulling and deliberating and reasoning, here’s my list of the 101 things I plan to accomplish in the next 1,001 days. If I start today, I should complete the list by.

So, after much thinking and pondering and mulling and reasoning and excogitating, I’ve come up with my list. Let the crossing off begin! 

Note: I’ve been working on this list for a while and just so happened to do some of the things on the list before I published it. And because I’m the master of this domain, I say they count. 🙂

  1. Make a personal book of recipes
  2. Write a letter to myself to open in ten years
  3. Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day
  4. Sleep under the stars
  5. See the Northern Lights
  6. Join a book club Joined a foodie book club at Nicholas Hoare
  7. Go to a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight
  8. Go to SXSW
  9. Send a secret to PostSecret
  10. Take a hot air balloon ride
  11. Watch a meteor shower
  12. Go on a picnic
  13. Buy a bicycle — and ride it!
  14. Start my own business — I haz ideas!
  15. Finish Infinite Jest
  16. Make a bucket list
  17. Try colouring my hair brown
  18. Complete a half marathon
  19. Do meditation once a week
  20. Go snowshoeing
  21. Find out my blood type (I think it’s A-, but not I’m not + :-))
  22. Build and sleep inside a blanket fort
  23. Start doing yoga
  24. Buy new furniture (dining room table and sofa)
  25. Go to the Texas State Fair and eat a fried Twinkie
  26. Start recycling
  27. Start playing tennis again
  28. Drive across Canada
  29. Learn to sew a button
  30. Delete my MySpace account
  31. Visit an apple orchard
  32. Visit the wineries in Prince Edward County
  33. Go dogsledding
  34. Take a multi-vitamin everyday
  35. Find and meet with a financial advisor
  36. Create my will
  37. Balance my chequebook everyday
  38. Adopt a cat or a dog
  39. Ride the Polar Express
  40. Learn to play Hearts and Texas Hold ‘Em
  41. Watch “What the Bleep Do We Know” in its entirety
  42. Grow an herb garden
  43. Go to cooking school for a week
  44. Finish watching every season of “Lost
  45. Watch at least one full season of “The Simpsons
  46. Spend a weekend at Le Scandinave
  47. Get nominated for the Junior League Board of Directors Nominated as the Communications Director for 2010-11
  48. Skate down the Rideau Canal***
  49. Watch “Roots
  50. Publish an article in a travel publication
  51. Finish knitting the scarf I started in July 2009
  52. See A Prairie Home Companion live
  53. Watch the complete AFI Top 100 Movies
  54. See the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
  55. Eat at The Doctors House, Splendido, and Harbourd Room
  56. Clear out the 765 emails in my Gmail inbox Completed February 22, 2010! I deleted more than 1,600 emails from my inbox! W00t!
  57. Figure out if I should keep or sell my condo in Houston
  58. Go up the CN Tower
  59. Read a book written by someone with whom I disagree (which shouldn’t be very hard)
  60. Fly on the new Boeing 787 (cannot. wait.)
  61. See the Tragically Hip live
  62. Move my blog over to WordPress.org
  63. Hike four Ontario trails
  64. Attend the BlogHer Conference
  65. Find a plane spotting group in Toronto
  66. Try Ethiopian food Ate at Ethiopian House in Toronto with my Yelp friends. Let’s just say I won’t be going back. Ahem.
  67. Set up the 1TB external hard drive I’ve had for six months
  68. Put together a first aid kit for my (newly paid off) car
  69. Play golf at Pebble Beach
  70. Become a docent at an art gallery
  71. Complete a Berlitz French course
  72. See a play at the Stratford Festival
  73. Go to High Park
  74. Frame all the unframed things I have lying around my house
  75. Actually finish the Flickr “365-Day Challenge”, rather than starting it and finishing it after 45 days. Ahem.
  76. See contemporary dance at the Winch at least six times
  77. Start taking hip-hop dance classes again
  78. Participate in NaBloPoMo twice a yar
  79. Try out roller derby
  80. Provide school supplies for an underprivileged family
  81.  Buy a MacBookPro, because I’m really tired of double-clicking 🙂
  82. Get rid of my landline
  83. Fly a kite
  84. Go camping in an actual tent and not what I like to call “Hyatt” camping
  85. Learn how to use my Canon DSLR I’ve had for two years rather than just shooting on Auto
  86. Go see a sport I’ve never seen before (I’m looking at you, soccer)
  87. Write down ten things for which I’m thankful everyday
  88. Begin the courses towards becoming a master sommelier
  89. Get my eyes checked
  90. Eat dim sum…and dim some more!
  91. Watch 26 movies that begin with a letter in the alphabet
  92. Travel to: Asia (Angkor Wot, Thailand, Hanoi, China); Canada (Banff, Halifax, Winnipeg); Chile and Argentina
  93. Backup my computer
  94. Skate at Harbourfront Centre
  95. Complete my digital afterlife
  96. Build a snowman****
  97. Stop swearing for a whole month
  98. See a baseball game at Wrigley Field
  99. Make a key lime pie
  100. Try to make heads or tails of Canadian Parliament and their constant proroguing. 😉

 

^ although I’m not necessarily a late-adopter either; to wit, I have three close friends who don’t even have Facebook pages. Also, they drive horses and buggies. 🙂
** I ❤ the Grocery app on my iPhone. No more losing my arm in my purse looking for a pen and paper!
*** Completion which requires actual cold weather and not this hovering-right-above-freezing all winter. The skateway is actually closed because it’s not cold enough!
**** See above. This task also requires snow and we haven’t had any snow this year. In fact, Vancouver’s having to *ship it* in for the Olympics. Global warming, indeed.

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Filed under I Love Narcissism, Life Stuff