{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Posts Tagged ‘edmonton’

IABC Edmonton’s Social Media Workshop Recap

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Translate online interest into offline action.Yesterday I was able to attend the Edmonton IABC’s half-day social media conference ‘Connecting the Dots’, in part as a participant and in part in a slightly more ‘official’ capacity as a representative from my company Redengine, which sponsored the event. I spent most of the day live-tweeting on Redengine’s Twitter feed using the #IABCyeg hashtag.

First up was a keynote from George Siemens, a high-level definition of social media and how it impacts PR and communications professionals. Trying to define social media is always an interesting challenge for me in my client presentations, but I’m particularly fond of the way George Siemens defined it as “a shift from broadcasting to conversation, from telling to engagement”, and how he spoke about moving from the ‘.’ era to the ‘/’ era (as in ‘company.com’ to ‘twitter.com/company’). This statement is particularly good at calling out how many people (especially in my generation) are now looking for companies and brands to communicate with them on their terms in their own spaces; people want to engage with business on their own terms. George’s slideshow is up on slideshare, and definitely worth a look.

Next up was Mack Male and the City Centre Airport debate social media case study, something I was following during the summer and somewhat familiar with, but it was interesting to hear Mack talk about it, especially given he was one of the driving forces behind the Not My Airport campaign. It was great to hear Mack champion blogging: some of the new social media forms get a lot more coverage right now, and platforms like Facebook and Twitter have great value, but to me nothing beats the kind of great, ‘real-life’ content ordinary people are creating all over the world in blogs. He also gave voice to the idea that you don’t always have to create ‘new’ spaces or tags for discussion: a lot of discussions are already taking place, and it’s usually better to join them rather than start new ones or try and shift the party to a new local. Find the enthusiasts and point to them rather than try to herd them. If a hashtag or group already exists, use it!

Mary Pat Barry presented the Edmonton Stories case study. Edmonton Stories is a fascinating example of user-generated content and crowdsourcing, and while I haven’t had the opportunity yet to browse through the stories they’ve collected it’s something I’m definitely going to do after hearing more about it. It sounds like they tried to get an honest (though over all positive) view of Edmonton, and have tried to include as broad a range of personal experiences as they could. Some people may thing the staff stories ‘skew’ the content, but to me it’s important to seed content and help users understand what you’re looking for when you crowdsource online.

After the break was a panel discussion featuring editor Karen Unland from the Edmonton Journal, Norman Mendoza from Redengine and Seek Your Own Proof, blogger Dave Cournoyer, and Edmonton business owner Chris LaBossiere.

As an interesting twist, behind the panelists was projected the live Twitter #IABCyeg conversation, and as a result most of the discussion was very Twitter-centric. Because of it, the discussion actually kicked off with several questions about the etiquette of tweeting and live-tweeting, whether or not live-tweeters multi-task effectively, and what the value of having the online conversation in tandem with the panel conversation was. There was a lot of commentary both in the room and on the screen (by people in the room and outside it), and it was interesting to see how the rest of the discussion played out on Twitter behind the panelists after; I wonder if any minds in the room were changed?

There was also a lot of discussion about controlling social media (and the fact that you really can’t, and if you try then you’re doing it wrong), and controlling social media use in a work environment. Mack tweeted this, which has always been a strong personal philosophy of mine when it comes to the things I say and post online: if I’m not comfortable with the entire world — including work, clients, and family — knowing and reading something, then it doesn’t get posted online.

Really great event in a great venue, and I met some interesting people. I’m going to try and go to the Social Media conference at Athabasca University in September if I can.

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TEDxEdmonton Recap

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Stage at TEDxEdmontonI spent all day yesterday hanging out with fellow TEDsters at the first TEDxEdmonton organized by the great folks at artScene Edmonton. It was a really superb event (even including a little technical difficulty and the tech table collapsing on the audience — oops!) with a great set of speakers, and I met a whole host of fascinating people based right here in Edmonton.

One of the highlights for me was the chance to listen to a talk from Cathy’s Book creator Sean Stewart about the new era of storytelling which he’s coined as the Transmedia Era. The whole idea of storytelling that spans across different medias and moves into the idea of storytelling-as-alternate-reality is really exciting to me. It was also really great to hear him talk about the idea of transmedia as being a social and participatory media, where storyteller and consumer blur together; he showed a slide of the book category of fanfiction.net and pointed to the half a million pieces of Harry Potter fanfiction stored there (including some of my own, which — not gonna lie — made me smile), remarking “most of the words written about Harry Potter have not been written by J.K. Rowling”. It’s great to hear professional authors encourage and delight in remix culture, and tell the room “art at this point is not about dictating to another person, it’s a dance… hold out your hand, and ask, do you want to play?”

I also really enjoyed Grant Skinner’s ambling talk about his own personal path to success and the juxtaposition of putting his talk back-to-back with Cameron Herold’s very different talk about entrepreneurship. Two different paths and stories and value sets, both as interesting as the other. I also chatted with Cameron Herold a bit at the after party about the TEDx event he went to in Vancouver and the gender mix of both events.

The thing that blew me away most of all was Andrew Hessel’s talk about open source biology and the parallels he drew between the way computers and tech evolved in geek’s basements and garages and how biology is doing the same now. I’m especially interested in watching his Pink Army Cooperative and how much success they have creating custom, personalized drugs to fight individual people’s cancer. The idea of a co-op drug company that doesn’t actually sell the drugs it produces, just hands them over to the individual they were custom built for, is a very cool idea with potentially huge implications.

You know what was the coolest part about TEDxEdmonton, though? That all the speakers were Edmonton-based or Edmonton-born. I love that the organizers found local talent to speak and carry the day, and I hope that policy continues into future Edmonton TED events.

All the Edmonton talks will be edited and put up on the internet, hopefully in the next week or so. Links will follow when they’re available!

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Unless the Gods Delight in Tragedies

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

I made my first of two annual trips to the Hawrelak Park amphitheatre on Tuesday for Edmonton’s FreeWill River City Shakespeare festival. We thought we were going to catch the comedy, Comedy of Errors, but it turns out we had our days switched and Titus Andronicus was showing instead.

Titus Andronicus is one of only six or seven Shakespeare plays I’ve never read, and the first time I’d seen Shakespeare performed without having read the source material, which was kind of a neat experience. Pair that with excellent staging and acting, and it was one heck of a night. Quite possibly the best version of a Shakespearean play I’ve seen done.

The staging and blocking was really well done. Often Shakespeare can feel drawn-out because directors don’t know what to do with all that talking, and an audience is left with nothing interesting to watch while they struggle following iambic pentametre. Other times there’s so much disconnected blocking — movement for movement’s sake — that it’s distracting.

The action seemed very purposeful in this play. Well-directed and thought-out, driven by character motivation and — most importantly — what was being said. It was an extraordinarily physical show, yet almost nothing felt tacked-on or extraneous. The physical flowed with the vocal performance, and actually assisted in conveying the meaning of the complicated Shakespearean speech-patterns in many places. The fight scenes were dynamic and engaging (best knife fight I’ve ever seen on stage, albeit too short), and the actors who portrayed Demetrius and Chiron created the creepiest pair of villans I’ve seen on the stage for some time.

In a genre of theatre that generally involves more off-screen than on-screen deaths, this show embraced and pushed the most graphic elements of the plot, whether they were sexual or violent, and tied with the post-modern setting and costuming, created a marvelously creepy and sinister world. The director and the cast didn’t ever let the audience off easy. Lavinia’s slow and anguished slide down the main stair after her assault was extended, brutal, and uncomfortable to watch on a starkly lit stage, and her tongueless cries were agonizing to listen to. Props to the actress who played Lavinia for committing so completely to the role and the moments that she did, which carried her character arc from innocent to assault to vengeance to death seamlessly and convincingly. It was chilling to watch her stare one-by-one into the faces of Chiron and Demetrius while her father sliced their throats and the blood drained into the bowl she was holding beneath them. Like, whoa. Props also for committing to the position she landed in for what must have been an agonizing fifteen minutes after her character was killed. Not easy.

This show gets a high recommendation from me. Hopefully Comedy of Errors is similarly well-done. I’ll find out when I see it next week!

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Wizard of Oz and Good Theatre Tech

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

I went to see The Wizard of Oz at the Citadel last night, and it was pretty good. The casting was well done, most of the singing was top-notch, the munchkin children were adorable, the dog was perfectly trained, and the design was visually very interesting. My only complaint is the same complain I have of every Bob Baker show that involves a lot of tech, which is that he doesn’t seem to know how to fill those tech-heavy moments with interest to deflect from the fact that you’re waiting for the tech to finish. Glinda flies in, but it takes too long for her to get to the ground, and they hold the dialogue until she does. Flying is cool, yes, but not really on its own unless there’s acrobatics involved. If you’re just bringing in Glinda and having her pose stiffly while you do it, why wait for the dialogue?

I like tech. I love tech. That’s why I went to technical theatre school. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of good tech in this show. But sometimes it was just tech for the sake of tech, which makes it feel tacked-on. Bob Baker is having this love affair with video projection right now, which can be really cool, but it can also just as easily slow everything down. At what could have been a point of high action during the tornado, everything slowed down to accommodate a too-long video interlude while Dorothy was flipped around half-heartedly on a bed, so the whole scene fell flat and over-extended for what it was. Good tech should be fully integrated, cohesive, and above all never displace or slow the drama; if it does, it should probably be re-examined or cut.

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Oliver!

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

So, Oliver wasn’t so bad. Certainly better than Peter Pan last year. The kids didn’t annoy me so much that I felt I might march up on stage and start telling them off for being irritating. The show was less about the boy Oliver than I expected. And, once again I have discovered another very popular Barbershop song started out as a musical theatre piece. Barbershoppers have edited it heavily – they only left in the upbeat happy parts – but that’s Barbershop for you. You’re not allowed to be depressed unless it’s about a girl who done broke your heart or a man that died in a war somewhere. Otherwise, you must be chipper at all times.

The female lead had a hell of a voice, though. Blew the top of the Shocter a couple of times. And it was neat to see Tim again. He was the kid we got to play young Guido in Nine last year, and he played the Artful Dodger well. I had heard they were getting all the kids to move around those set pieces and at first I was pretty skeptical, remembering what it was like getting kids to reliably and quickly move props and set pieces in Beauty and the Beast, but they did pretty well with a lot of complicated moves. It was still a little slow in some parts, but there were a lot of pieces moving on and off and round and round, so they did quite well considering the complexity of the moves.

Neat break-apart set, though, with each chunk of the stairway an independent piece. It allowed them to create some pretty amazing sets with what amounted to stair-shaped building blocks. Well thought out and mostly well executed.

Who knew Oliver was such a tragedy… I certainly didn’t. I mean, Oliver gets his happy ending, but he’s about the only one.

Does anyone else agree with me that the seats in the Shocter are about the most uncomfortable things to sit on in the entire world? No padding on the backs. I had trouble making it through the first act. My back is killing me today. Next time I’m stashing a pillow in my purse.

To all of you who are camping this weekend: bring your rain-boots and some thick jackets! In true May Long Weekend fashion, it’s going to be cold and rainy. Have fun in tents being cold. Suckers.

 

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