NOTE: I'll be putting notes from my panel appearance at, and other stuff about, the Northern Voice blogging conference onto a page you can find at penmachine.com/voice. Right now that URL links to an older post of mine, but I will update it after the conference itself.
There's something to be said for meeting people face-to-face. Northern Voice is the Vancouver blogging conference originally suggested by Darren Barefoot. It will take place downtown at UBC Robson Square on Saturday, February 19, 2005.
I'm thinking of trying to be a speaker. I've frequently been asked to give talks about websites, weblogs, and various other technology topics for classes and seminars at Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, and Douglas College, and for the Editors' Association of Canada. Some people might find the things I've learned in nearly eight years of web work and four years of blogging useful. So I submitted this as an abstract:
Useful and usable websites: how blogging fits in
People who build websites have all sorts of different goals, including selling stuff, building an audience, venting emotion, learning, keeping records, practising their writing, creating a portfolio, educating others, and having fun. Yet no website is much use without an audience, whether large or small.
How do you attract and audience, and how do you keep them around? I will argue that, whatever its creator's goal, any decent website has to be built for its visitors, and to do that it has to be both:
- Useful, so that it lets people do something or find something out.
- Usable, so that they have as easy a time as possible in the process.
I'll explain how weblogs and related technologies (including wikis and syndication) make creating usable and useful sites easier. I'll also reveal why so many people come to my site looking for information about Aeron chairs and Aerolatte milk foamers—and why I don't mind.
Northern Voice also asked for other ideas and comments, so I pointed them to a post about three quick questions to tell if a conference is any good, and made the following suggestions:
The venue needs free Wi-Fi, of course, and should encourage live blogging of the conference, as well as the use of such tools as wikis and SubEthaEdit (Hydra) for collaborative discussions during and between sessions. If some of that stuff can be projected onstage, or monitored by someone up there, during sessions to help add to the discussions, so much the better.
If you're interested in weblogs and other new aspects of building websites, I'd encourage you to attend the conference. It will be cheap—only about $30 (or less). How can you go wrong?