Sunday, October 07, 2007

NZ Blogger's Cafe

NZ Blogger's Cafe
Originally uploaded by *** ICT U Can!
This post is as a result of my thinking after reading:
Bump on the blog
Tim Holt - Preaching to the ... You Know

Ulearn 07 was a very different conference for me. I have taken some time to try and figure out why. This is the 7th ICT/Educational conference I have attended in the last 3 years. What made the difference? I thought it might be that I presented more workshops than I attended and therefore I was intellectually drained. But that wasn't it, as I would hold this conference up as the best so far. Then it came to me. After attending so many conferences I have made many connections, I know a lot of people. I stop and pass the time of day with them and discuss what powerful learning they have engaged in, but it is somewhat superficial. This year at Ulearn 07 with the Blogger's Cafe, I made some strong connections. Meeting people who I have virtually known for the past year at least was remarkable. It was as though we had a foundation to build a community on. It is interesting, I have read about how the internet can help extend real friendships, with the Blogger's Cafe, I found that F2F can help extend virtual friendships. It was a privilege to spend the time with these talented NZ (and Scottish) bloggers, and I rushed back from each session to the cafe to continue with the discussions.

There has been discussion in the blogosphere about whether or not these Blogger's Cafes are a good thing.
Almost to a person, the best part of the conference really had nothing to do with the conference itself, but rather was the blog cafe. All of the bloggers talking to other bloggers. Sort of an incestuous feeding frenzy of writers not discussing the conference, but discussing themselves.

Nice blog Bob. Thanks Larry. Nice Blog. That’s quite a big widget you have there Bob. Why thank you.
The argument saying that the bloggers are removing themselves from the rest of the conference, forming a select group and spending all their time promoting themselves. I can understand these comments, but I will argue vehemently that we did not remove ourselves from the rest of conference, but that our participation in the Blogger's Cafe added a whole new dimension to the conference. It is also argued that it is near impossible to find the 'secret handshake' for this select group. I know for a fact that during our time at the conference there were many people who came up to the Blogger's Cafe to find out about blogging, and there were many people willing to share their time and expertise. For the current bloggers it was a treat to meet other bloggers, however the Blogger's cafe definitely served two functions. As I said before, our cafe was for both 'blooming' bloggers and 'budding' bloggers.
The bigger picture here, is of course, wondering how to get more members in the club. Is there some point that the dissemination of knowledge becomes so large that it becomes counterproductive?
This quote from Tim Holt is the position I was wrestling with in my post Troubled. I was so concerned about the sheer expanse of the Web community I was worried about it overwhelming me. My fault is that I'm an overachiever and if there is a blog out there then I must read it! But finding balance is important in all areas of our lives and this is just another moment in life for me to practice this skill :)

This conference and issue has raised more questions for me than answers, especially about the quality and functionality of virtual relationships. After attending ULearn 07 this year I now know the value of my online community and my virtual friends.


Marnie said...

I am just sorry I didn't talk with you - so much to do and so little time at these conferences. I think the bloggers cafe was great - it let me meet the people who have been keeping me afloat and teaching me all year. Found some more to bounce with in the future too! Why work alone or only within your school when you can be part of an online community - it is the way of the world and as educators I think we need to 'model' it.
I too am working on that balance thing! You are not alone ;-)

gregcarroll said...

Hi Jane, Sounds like the conference went really well. A real buzz on blogs around the Bloggers Cafe.
I have really noticed the difference this year dropping out of the f2f networks with clusters, mostly on my entusiasm for spending the necessary time on reading blogs and really reflecting on the content. I think it IS the lack of f2f that is making the difference. I prefer engaging with a real person in the holistic sense rather than just their intellect in the written form. It is the real-time, f2f conversation that is most valuable I find.
It is fun to be riding the wave though ay.... Lets hope the next bloggers cafe photograph has a whole lot more faces in it. :-)

Heymilly said...

I come from the viewpoint of a novice blogger and I think the Blogers cafe was very worthwhile and definetly not a clique gathering. I didn't spend long here but when I did I met some very friendly new people and got some great tips. The interactions I had with these new people alo changed the dimension of the conference for me this year. It was interesting to have people discussing and/or challenging the concepts that were being talked about as aposed to sitting back and just listening to them. - Amanda

Fiona Grant said...

Hi Jane, I was also really pleased to see new bloggers coming up to the cafe asking questions about blogging and asking for help to get started etc. I had many good conversations with new bloggers at the cafe and saw other more 'seasoned' bloggers doing the same. I initially set my blog up to support my cluster however the incredible amount of new learning that I have experienced from interacting with others cannot be ignored.
As one of the keynotes, Ewan McIntosh, said...
"Anyone can know How, but you can only know Why by being In".

Mr Lietze said...

Hi Jane.
1stly - I want to say that it is great to read your posts as you are honest and up front. I am inspired by this. I love honesty!
2ndly - I did feel a little secluded from friends as I interacted at the Cafe but this was b/c there wasn't enough tables for all of us (something we can easy fix next time).
3rdly - u have started a great thing. F2F in my books establishes roots no online interaction can develop.
So thanks for making it happen!

D A Kinane said...

I never quite managed to make it to the bloggers cafe, I guess that I had a different agenda. But the buzz was tangible throughout the entire conference. I think that if it is not an oxymoron we all came away buzzed and drained. The contrast on Friday was obvious, end of conference blues and no doubt the odd hangover or two!

Simon said...

Hi Jane, as you are aware the whole blogger cafĂ© thing was a highlight of mine. I had few experiences, like our meeting… where we think we recognise someone in a de ja vu sort of way, only seeing realisation come across their face at the mention of your blog name.
Secondly, and really the reason for writing a comment is the emphasis that Derek placed on ‘the back-channels’ both opening and closing the conference. It was very powerful and hopefully raised the profile and importance of the edublogosphere as a means to further your PD.