Communities & Technologies 2011
My brain is ready to explode from all the new ideas that have been crammed into it this week, so I’ll vent a bit of steam by writing about it over the next few days. I’ve been in Brisbane this week for the 5th International Conference on Communities and Technologies, and loved every minute of it – it’s an event that will probably shape my expectations of conferences for years to come.
Optimice provided a great network visualisation tool for the event – left running on a computer in the foyer, so people could see who else they shared some interests with. I didn’t have much of a chance to look at it during the conference, but it’s been handy after the fact: looking at the network map and seeing if there’s anyone else I ought to contact.
I had two events that I wanted to attend, both before the main conference program got underway. On Wednesday I joined ten other PhD students from around the world for the C&T Doctoral Consortium: an opportunity to present and discuss my research with a panel of the conference’s guest speakers, and to tap into the experiences of students from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. It was a very diverse group, with people from anthropology and sociology, urban planning, business, media/comms and computer science – all looking, in some way, at how communities engage with technology.
I left the workshop with a few new perspectives and ideas for my project. I think I stumbled into a bit of a minefield with social media definitions (something I hadn’t realized were quite so contentious), so I’ll need to be careful when introducing exactly what I’m trying to study. I also left with some new friends and contacts into research communities from around the world. I’m surprised that I have any voice left after four days (and nights!) of talking about social research online, offline, and in those complicated places where the two collide.
Thursday involved a full-day workshop on Organisations and Social Network Sites. A misprinted blurb originally saw me going elsewhere for the first session, dabbling a little in speculative design and ethnographic fictions. The #comtech2011 twitter stream alerted me to the fact that my original workshop was in fact about the topic I hoped to attend, and I changed rooms after the break – joining in for a discussion about public sector social media projects, and some design lessons from unsuccessful attempts to engage an audience via local government sites. Michael’s presentation on internal micro-blogging use in large companies was derailed a little by a discussion about context collapse, as work/family/friendship groups merge online – not entirely helped by Google launching their new Google+ social platform during the conference…
It will take a few days to really digest what went on at the conference, but I’m leaving it with some extremely positive experiences. Right at the moment I’m flying back to Melbourne, where the next week promises a frantic few days of preparation for the next trip: Barcelona, for the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. I’m looking forward to the next trip, but I should warn you – C&T has set my expectations pretty high…