Highlighting the power of online social media, Saturday’s IDEAfest, which was largely organized through Facebook and Twitter, drew over 100 Edmontonians to the University of Alberta on a snowy Saturday in March. The event was open to the public, and saw three presenters in three different rooms present every half an hour on an idea or topic of their choice. A big congratulations to Michael Janz (@michaeljanz) for organizing the excellent day-long event.
There were many great presentations, but the two that stuck out in my mind were Andy Grabia‘s (@agrabia) presentation what the experience of listening music means to him on a personal level, and Alex Abboud‘s (@alexabboud) “15 Steps to Making Edmonton a Better City.” Both were excellent, well-prepared, and very interesting. Other great IDEAfest presenters and participants included @zoomjer, @bingofuel, Colby Cosh (@colbycosh), @chrishenderson, Mack Male (@mastermaq), Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic), Ian Bushfield (@thzatheist), Alain Saffel (@alainsaffel), Shawna McConechy (@out_inc), Cam Linke (@camlinke), @brendantrayner, and many more….
Thanks to everyone who showed up to my afternoon presentation, “The Fall of the Media Empires and Rise of Citizen Journalism.” My presentation focused on the evolving nature of mainstream media, and the growing number of citizen journalists filling the gaps in community and political media coverage created by layoffs in the industry (which you can follow at @canmedialayoffs). Though some people may argue that examples like CanWest teetering on the brink of bankruptcy protection will herald the extinction to the mainstream media, I argued that the downfall of the major media corporations is simply an evolution of the media industry. I was glad to read that the event and my presentation were reported on in Sunday’s Edmonton Journal (and I can understand why a CanWest-owned newspaper wouldn’t want to include the main point of my presentation in their article).
While Chris Laboissiere (@chrislabossiere) and Ken Chapman (@kenchapman46) wrote some positive blog posts about the event, I was surprised to read a blog post by presenter Derek Warwick (@derekwarwick) in which he argues that the lack of gender or skin-colour diversity among the presenters was due to an “embedded racism” among those involved in the event. I should probably know better, but as someone who was involved in the event I feel the sheer ridiculousness of this accusation requires a response. Warwick’s visual observation are fair, but his “embedded racism” theory doesn’t seem to be grounded in any sort of reality. IDEAfest grew though a very open and organic word of mouth process (over 1,000 people were invited to the event over Facebook) and offered the opportunity for anyone interested to present on the idea or topic of their choice.
I could spend all day writing about the diverse range of topics and ideas covered in the presentations, but you will just have to come to the next IDEAfest (date to be announced) and enjoy it for yourself!