I had a full-on and very rewarding experience on Friday 28th, participating with around a hundred others in the Australian Blogging Conference in Brisbane, at the Queensland University of Technology campus.
The schedule covered a range of topics, from blogging and politics, through legal issues to business blogging and the future of blogging.
It’s a great tribute to the organiser of the conference, lawyer and QUT academic Peter Black, to have sustained through several setbacks his vision of creating this event and finally achieving it.
The proceedings were launched graciously by Professor The Hon. Michael Lavarch, Professor of Law and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, and probably known better outside Queensland as Federal Attorney-General during the Keating era.
That and the rest of the morning part of the event were pretty cruisy for me as I had no official responsibilities till the afternoon. So I was able to relax and enjoy the initial, general session, with Peter Black in the chair and featuring Senator Andrew Bartlett, Professor John Quiggin and Duncan Riley, on :
* Why are blogs becoming so ubiquitous?
* What is unique about the Australian blogosphere?
After the coffee break I sat in on a very absorbing two hour session on legal issues, including copyright and defamation. The discussion was led very ably and authoritatively by Professor Brian Fitzgerald, with Dale Clapperton and Nic Suzor. Lots of food for thought and valuable information for any of us advising businessess on blogging issues. And a moral of the story for me, as a non-lawyer, was: you need to be careful about the legal implications of blogging but if you always anticipate the worst possible outcomes you will probably not blog.
Derek Barry has posted a report on another of the pre-lunch sessions, on politics and blogging.
After lunch – and by the way, hat tip to the organisers, sponsors and caterers for the provision of ample supplies of excellent refreshments – it was time for me to saddle up and join my very knowledgeable colleagues Joanne Jacobs and Nick Hodge in leading the two hour session on Business and Corporate Blogging. Our session was sponsored by Microsoft. We followed the guidelines Peter Black had sent us, especially the section “Think of it as a weblog”:
Think of the conference as if it were a weblog. At the beginning of each session, the leader talks between five and fifteen minutes. He or she will introduce the idea and some of the people in the room.
Then he or she will facilitate the discussion among all the contributors in the room, inviting others to comment and asking questions of others. It is hoped that everyone who would like to contribute to the discussion will be able to do so in the allotted time.
The response to this approach was really good and the feedback we’ve had was that people appreciated the level of participation by the people formerly known as the audience.
Yaro Starak responded positively to a late alert by me about the conference and my invitation to join me in leading one of the final sessions, a discussion about promoting your blog: Yaro has posted about the conference at his Entrepreneur’s Journey site. It was great to have Yaro there, sharing what works – and doesn’t. Again, we worked on seeking full participation and were not disappointed, with some excellent contributions from participants.
One of those participants, John Harking, a SEO specialist, has written a brief report on the session.
Special thanks to Duncan Riley who, seeing I was having a bit of a challenge in both helping to lead the discussion and bring up some sites online, jumped in and took over the latter role, very effectively of course.
Robyn Rebollo on her Accidental Aussie site reports on several sessions, including the other final session, led by Dan Walsh, one of the founders of conference sponsor Kwoff, on the future of blogging (Dan and I are not related, but the listing led to a little frisson of confusion – “Des, how come you are leading two sessions at the same time?”).
At the end of the day’s proceedings, a number of us adjourned to the nearby Normanby pub where over a few ales/wines/bevvies of choice we continued the conversation, got to know more of some new people and others we had previously known only virtually or only by name.
All in all, a great day. Social networking was excellent: as Julie Edwards says, “meeting new friends is great”. And it’s good that Peter Black is keen to continue the event, with Melbourne flagged as the venue city for 2008.
A word on sponsorship. From past experience with helping to organise sponsorship in this country, for even the most worthy and timely of events, I know it is a hard slog. Most Australian companies, in my experience, don’t want to be the first to sponsor something, or to sponsor an as yet untried idea. So in the annals of blogging in Australia, there should be recorded a special mention of the inaugural sponsors and hosts of the Australian Blogging Conference:
- ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries
- Queensland University of Technology
Faculty of Law
If you have posted a report or comment on the day’s events and I haven’t caught it yet, or if you know of other reports of the event than the ones I have linked to here, please share the link in the comments here.