Last Thursday and Friday I attended some of Blogtalk 2010, taking place on the campus here at NUI Galway. Of course, attending a conference on campus means that you get called away to meetings and try to keep up with email and issues as they arise during the day. So, I didn't get to as many sessions as I'd have liked. But I did very much enjoy those sessions I did see.
The conference was very well organised by John Breslin, leader of the Social Software unit at DERI, co-founder of boards.ie and member of staff in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering discipline at NUI Galway.
Unlike some of the other bloggers who have written about the conference (Mark Cahill, Emer Lawn), I was there very much from a teaching and learning in Higher Education perspective. So any of my comments will be from that angle.
Darragh Doyle (boards.ie) who we are, what we do, where we are going
This was a great talk from Darragh Doyle about boards.ie which is quite unique, there is nothing else like it in Ireland or the UK. It is the most popular forum in Ireland and Darragh suggested that it has replaced the town hall in the community. What I find interesting is the social networking going on in the NUIG forum, with students asking questions about their courses and college life before they even arrive on campus. Everyone is welcome and every question is answered, sometimes helpfully, and other times with a large dose of mis-information. It's a lesson for those of us who spend so much time trying to get accurate information out to students.
Anyway, Darragh's talk has inspired me to actually register with boards.ie, though I haven't posted anything yet, I'm doing a bit of lurking.
After the first talk, I had to attend meetings and follow up on a couple of small crises before they got any bigger. So I didn't get back to the conference until lunchtime.
Dan Gillmor (Keynote) A new kind of media literacy
Dan Gillmor is director at the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and a respected American technology writer. He raised some interesting points around the question "what is journalism" in this world where everybody can easily report on what is happening around them. I was particularly interested in his point that consumers need skills in judging the credibility of news. They need a "credibility scale", which should include negative points. Of course, this is something that we've been aware of for a long time in HE, with many major initiatives around information literacy for students. Wikipedia is the least of our worries.
Gillmor wants to persuade consumers to be "active media users", to be sceptical of everything. This is an extremely important life skill, which should be addressed not just in higher education, but also at first and second level.
Finally, Gillmor spoke about principles for journalists (accuracy, thoroughness, fairness, transparency, independence). He asked why there isn't a revision history for journalism; at least with wikipedia we can trace where the information came from.
Charles Dowd (Facebook) The Facebook Platform
Charles Dowd has the "best job in Europe", as manager of platform operations in Europe. He described how popular facebook has become, particularly in Ireland where there are 1.4 million monthly active users (and I am one). He spoke about the "like" button and how it works - just 5 "friends" liking something is a magic number.
After this, though, things got scary, as Dowd spoke about the facebook future and the ways that applications will be able to interface with our data. I know I wasn't the only person in the room with concerns, but probably among the minority. Sure, we can set our own privacy levels, but there are also social norms involved and I'm not sure that these are being considered.
Panel Session on Social networks versus conversational networks
This was chaired by Ade Oshineye (Google) and involved Charles Dowd (Facebook), Blaine Cook (Osmosoft) and Darragh Doyle (boards.ie).
Ade presented a nice social network spectrum with social at one end (Facebook) and conversational at the other (Twitter). The classification was interesting, and reflects my own use of the tools, but is an oversimplification. The lines are definitely becoming blurred and, as Darragh Doyle put it, what about social conversation?
There was an interesting conversation about authenticity. Apparently Facebook supports authentic identities and connections, reflecting the real world. Hmmm.
At this point, I had to get back to work and so missed the final keynote of the day from Bill Liao. By all accounts it was excellent, so I'm looking forward to seeing the recording when it becomes available.
(Update: here it is Bill Liao Keynote)
Post about DAY 2 to follow....