Northern Voice 2012: A scientist and an academic steal the show

Social Media For Change, Social Change & Politics
Presentations about crowdsourcing and authenticity were highlights at this year’s Northern Voice.

David Ng’s presentation about crowdsourcing was informative, entertaining and super creative. I almost didn’t attend this presentation (I wanted to go to Photocamp… and I was hesitant to hear from a scientist), but David told interesting — and oftentimes funny — stories to flesh out his points. His slick and very visual presentation slides helped illustrate his points.

David’s tips about crowdsourcing included the following:

  • Try it.  Seriously, just do it!
  • Have fun. It’s ok not to take things too seriously.
  • Target a specific community. Be very clear about having a target audience. In other words, don’t target everyone and hope for the best.
  • Make the work easy — because if it’s not easy, people probably won’t participate.
  • Incorporate twee. Humour is always a hit on the interwebz.
  • Build relationships with influencers and get them to help you spread the word.
  • Do good. People are more likely to participate in worthy causes.

Crowdsourcing project

On the second day, Georgia Gaden’s presentation titled “Are you for real” stirred passionate discussions and interesting questions. Again, I almost skipped this session because, frankly, I wasn’t sure about a non-blogger (or worse, an academic!) telling bloggers about blogging. But authenticity is a great topic, so I went anyway.

Georgia presented some of the results of her research, which she is still currently working on. Through quotes from bloggers in her focus group, Georgia illustrated the tension resulting from the monetization of blogs and maintaining authenticity.  She posed the question, “is it possible to construct ‘authenticity’ when you’re blogging?”

Georgia’s point about personal voice, about the fact that it’s not the same as authenticity, is worth mentioning. She argued that bloggers can maintain a personal voice while being inauthentic. For example, when bloggers filter or edit what they say (because of personal branding or when trying to avoid offending PR or advertising folks), they may still be using their personal voice but they are not necessarily being authentic.

Often we confuse personal voice w/ authenticity. There's a difference, according to @. Honestly, she's blowing my mind! #nv12
Kelvin (KC) Claveria

It was an interesting session, for sure, and it generated tons of questions and passionate discussions after.

Comparing it to Northern Voice 2011

As this is my second year attending the conference, I couldn’t help but compare it to last year. Some thoughts:

  • Many big names in Vancouver’s social media scene were curiously absent this year. I’m pretty sure it’s not the location — the conference took place in downtown Vancouver, a more central location— so I wonder what it was. That said, their absence was probably a good thing as it allowed other less prominent voices to be heard.
  • There was a heavy focus this year on the use of social media and blogging in affecting social change. Fuck Cancer, Five Hole for Foods, and Open Media were just some of the non-profits that spoke at the event. At least two out of three keynote speeches also touched on this topic.
  • Sessions about food and music blogging were not available this year. I would love to see these sessions come back next year.
  • In general, it felt that there were fewer sessions this year. I can’t remember exactly how many sessions were offered last year, but I seem to remember more variety.
  • Not a lot of attendees wore the Northern Voice shirts this year. (When I came wearing my NV11 shirt the first day, I was the only one who did!) Not sure why that is — could it be because many of the attendees were new?
  • Last year, April Smith’s keynote and Crystal Henrickson’s presentation on community management were so memorable that I wish these ladies came back this year.
  • Most of the sessions this year didn’t focus on blogging tools on strategies — and that’s why I’m not writing several posts this time. Many of the sessions generated lots of discussions, but those discussions really couldn’t be captured in blog posts. (Or at least I can’t.)
  • This year’s attendance felt smaller than last year.  I suspect that it may have been the timing — June is always a busy month — but I wonder if it was also a marketing issue? I’m not sure.
  • Finally, the new location is fabulous. Gastown offers so many great eats.

Northern Voice 2012

The best thing about Northern Voice is the connections you make. Although Twitter is a great tool to start building relationships with like-minded people, nothing beats meeting people face to face.

Visit the Northern Voice website for more info. And for more coverage of this year’s conference, check out these resources:

Photo: Guilia Forsythe

© 2012 – 2014, KC Claveria. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please link back to

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  • Nicolas Demers

    You weren’t the only one! I wore my NV11 shirt too! :)

    • KC Claveria

      Hi Nicolas. I didn’t see you wearing your green shirt! Darn. Haha! Hope to meet you next time. :) 

  • ♔ Nick Routley

    This is a really great round-up. Thanks for sharing!

    • KC Claveria

      Thanks, Nick! Have you ever been to Northern Voice? Just curious!