I finally made it to Canada for the first time ever. Growing up in the Cold War, I always knew Canada as the place I would be if I ever got drafted but I never was and now I'm too old to fight anyway. I went to iSummet in Toronto and it was the nicest conference I have ever been to - great space, the technical setup and food were awesome, and especially the organization and the people in attendance. Here is a kinda-run-down:
First I can't let another moment go by without saying that the best time I had, as hoped and expected, was hanging out with the commandN gang. Even though I only had one beer, after being around Amber and Mike at The Berkeley Church (a church where rock-music and open bars are okay), and then driving around the streets in circles, I felt like I had about 6 beers and maybe had even been dosed or something.
After recuperating for the next day, the panel I was on, Sex, Lies and Podcasts went really well I thought; several people told me they were inspired to get out there and do some really intriguing things. The panel was moderated by Eli SInger of Cundari, who allowed it to really flow, and included Steve Pratt, a superstar podcast director who is making the Canadian indi-music scene very popular (every single person at the conference knew of his production on CBC Radio3), Brian McKechnie, also from commandN and also really great - Brian was saying, and I agree, that building up a big audience with free content (which is a great thing to do!) but then throwing up a gate one day to say pay or no play, is kinda lame, and maybe not the best way - and Nikhil Hasija to round out the panel for his involvement in advertising solutions for podcasters.
Overall, after being on the final closing panel as well, attending two full days of other great conversations, panels and about three parties, the main thing I gathered, besides the notion that Amber and Mike are really crazy, is that the professional and up-and-coming broadcast industry and media arts of Canada is relatively isolated in Canada, but there is a major momentum to transcend the weird historical territorial boundaries in place; now couldn't be a better time to take hold of a global media influence. Because they have such a strong media hub already, it seems like they are already a step ahead. commandN and CBC Radio3 in particular seem to be leading the entire country in the progressive exportation or their culture.
With companies like Flickr, a big creative game industry, and a lot of media arts and even fine arts, Toronto is being called the third coast (after NYC and L.A.). It reminds me of Austin calling themselves the third coast for a destructive late 90's boom because the nice standard of living and the city's conscious effort to draw in the film and tech industries by providing unheard of tax incentives and treats led to the industry creating itself. Toronto is really flying now and maybe it is large enough to support this kind of growth.
The one thing everyone in the audience knew was that this is the time for shifting media to i.p. distribution, but the one question everyone had was 'HOW'. How?
Think of the internet not as a bunch of swirly code and statistical equations or a field for anonymous mayhem only, it's really a live world out there full of rules and ways of being too, I like to call it internet culture. If you move to a new country, with a culture you are unfamiliar with, it's not going to do you much good to stay at home. You may want to get out there into the environment and walk around to discover things about how the systems work, what kinds of things the people like and don't like. It's like a new wild west with rhymes and reasons. Whatever it is, it might become more clear if you spend some time out (t)here to understand it for yourself.
Now that you've been to Toronto, you'll have to come up and visit Montreal!
I wanted to come to your theatre thing next week, but I can't get the time off of work to go on vacation. It's a shame, but I'll still get to see you guys at Vloggercon, I'm sure.
Glad you had a good time in Canada. When I was young I always thought the US and the USSR were really far away from each other... I didn't realize that Canada was right in between until a few years ago! (Guess I was too busy mapping out where Klingon and Romulan space was...)
Seeing as I missed attending iSummit, I am pleased to see you will be speaking at Mesh. I'm registered and hope to attend your session. Well, maybe some other sessions, too.
I am interested to see what issues surround blogging in industries other than my own; I am co-teaching a day-long course on "blogging for the enterprise" at the Special Libraries Association conference in June, so it will be great to get this wider perspective.
I think it's going to be a lot of fun, too. See you there!