Nlab Social Networks Conference 2008

Posted on Thursday 19th June 2008 at 00:00
Here we are at the start of the Nlab Social Networks Conference at De Montfort University in Leicester. The schedule for the day is a busy one, but nonetheless, I'm hoping to live blog my way through the various talks and workshops, for your reading pleasure.

I'm actually writing this passage in my hotel room, as last year I had to wait until the registration session, which meant I had to combine typing my introduction with meeting all the other delegates. This year, I'm trying to be organised a little better.

I know it is common for many live blogs to be written in reverse chronological order, with the end of the day at the top of the page, but I figure that since most people reading this will be doing so after the event, it makes more sense for them to read down the page rather than up it.

Here we go:

9:34am - The refreshment room is buzzing with delegates. Some, like myself are on laptops, frantically preparing to blog the day. Most though are stood around the room, drinks in hand, discussing the programme for the day. It is certainly going to be a busy one, with no less than 5 keynote speakers. It'll be very interesting to see what they have to say...

11:00am - Steve Clayton from Microsoft gave a very humorous talk on small business. He discussed issues of trust and the benefits of blogs in business, which can open them up to their customers. It some ways it was similar to last year's MS talk, but the message is still a good one.

Steve Clayton - Nlab

11:53am - Roland Harwood from NESTA explored the metaphor of the Social Network as a city. He drew some interesting parallels between the organic growth of a large city and its internet equivalent. Interestingly, Sue Thomas said afterwards that her work looked at social networks compared to nature, rather than urban development. A lack of power sockets and issues with the air-con are, so far, the only dampeners on the conference.

Roland Harwood - Nlab

1:03pm - Andrea Saveri from the Institute for the Future, Palo Alto gave a quick fired talk on the Future of Work. Amplified Individuals was the buzz word going round as Andrea discussed the concept of collaborative work by internet uses. It seems this idea extends well beyond the obvious blogs, YouTubes etc, and can include projects and diverse as collective fantasy games with real world tasks to complete and companies appealing to people to help them solve their technical problems. For me, her ideas really summed up everything that is good about the internet.

Andrea Saveri - Nlab

The next day... - Well, as with last year's conference, my laptop eventually ran out of battery, and, also like last year, there weren't nearly enough sockets to go around. So, blogging sadly had to be put on hold for the day, but now I shall give you a brief run down of the afternoon:

After a lunch spent networking with the other delegates, Ken Thompson from SwarmTeams kicked off the afternoon session by drawing our attention to Swarms. Followingon from Roland Harwood and Andrea Saveri, he looked at teamwork and collaboration in nature and the comparisons with social networks on the internet. He gave a fantastic demonstration in which the delegates used their mobile phones to collectively reply to questions that he texted to us from the internet. The results could then be viewed in real time on the projector screen. Added onto of the blogging, note taking and Twittering, this extra level of communication took those of us with multiple devices running to the very limit of our typing abilities, but it was well worth it.

Ken Thompson - Nlab

Next up, Jim Benson of Modus Cooperandi looked at the practical applications of social networking in a business environment, with some surprising results. He admitted that many of the most common social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, might not be as good for businesses as had been assumed up until this point. This provoked a delegate into arguing the case for social networking via SMS. By the end of the session it was still unclear who had come out of that debate on top.

Jim Benson - Nlab

We went immediately into workshops at this point. The choice this year as excellent, and I had much difficulty in eventually choosing Sean Clarke's session. This was not to be regretted however, as his demonstration of how to integrate many of the popular websites into each other with the use of RSS Feeds was extremely well recieved by all who attended. I came away from the workshop with my head literally buzzing with ideas and plans for improving my own websites.

By the time of the panel session, the fatigue of the day was clearly begging to show among delegates. Nonetheless, a very stimulating question and answer session was enjoyed.

The Panel - Nlab

When Sue Thomas brought the day to a close, my mind was made up that this was an extremely successful Nlab conference and may have even been better than last year's one.

Sue Thomas - Nlab

If you want to read a more detailed blog of the day's events, Jess Laccetti expertly blogged the whole day for the conference website.

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