Edmonton New Media Roundup 28

MediaCamp Edmonton 2012

It’s about time I got around to writing about MediaCamp, which brought more than 80 people to the World Trade Centre on Feb. 4 to explore the intersection of journalism and technology. I’m still thinking about that intersection, and the other roads that feed into it.

For a recap of what we did and learned, check out the amazing on-the-fly summaries put together by the MediaCamp newsroom. Huge thanks to my co-chair, Mack Male, and the organizing committee: Jeff Samsonow, Owen Brierley, Brittney Le Blanc and Tamara Stecyk, with assistance from Bruce Winter, Sylvia Schneider, Kerry Powell and Chandra Lye.

What follows are my thoughts alone, as the committee hasn’t had a chance to meet yet to discuss the event and our next steps.

Our mission for MediaCamp was to get storytellers and coders together to see how they could help each other do what they do. Did we succeed? Sort of. Because it was programmed instead of being an unconference, we were able to gear the agenda towards teaching tech skills to journos and story skills to devs. The storytellers greatly outnumbered the coders, however.

Part of this may have been timing. Startup Hackathon and Global Game Jam took place the weekend before. I suspect, however, that a lot of the people we were trying to attract just didn’t see what was in it for them. I wonder if it would be easier to go where the techs are instead of trying to lure them over to hang out with the word-mongers.

Startup Edmonton’s recent announcements may provide such an opportunity. I’m intrigued by the courses and workshops that are starting in April. Most are aimed at those who have built something cool and need help to make a business out of it, but some look applicable to working journalists and communicators of all stripes.

Startup Edmonton has also launched Startup Support Communities, an effort to kickstart “local connections and conversations around creative and startup culture here in Edmonton.” And the new space in the Mercer Warehouse aims to be a place to get designers, developers and entrepreneurs together to see what emerges from the collision of their worlds.

I’d like the journalism world to get in on that collision. I don’t know what that looks like yet, or if Startup Edmonton is interested, but I’m keen on anything we can do to infuse the spirit of entrepreneurial thinking into those who spend their days finding stuff out and telling people about it. As Jeff Jarvis suggests, it’s the only practical way to keep journalism happening as the old business models crumble.

Anyway, I’ll keep thinking about that. Stay tuned for more on what MediaCamp plans to do next.

Not that you’d know it if you’ve been waiting for an update, but I have been consuming as much Edmonton new media as usual lately. I just haven’t sat myself down to write about it. Which is a problem, because then it piles up, and the thought of catching up becomes daunting. So here I am, catching up. Consider this one big ICYMI.

— Jen Banks has been writing up a storm on Tech Mommy. She has just the right mix for me: a eulogy for a dead computer on the tech side, a harrowing tale of childbirth on the mommy side.

— I’m way late on this one, but Linda Hoang’s feature story on Edmonton’s Awesome Foundation is definitely worth a read. When she covers something, she covers the heck out of it. The next pitch party is March 29. By the way, Awesome grant recipient Words with Friends holds its fifth event on Feb. 23 at Bohemia.

Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel have replaced DVD Afternoon with a new show call Trash, Art and the Movies. Not only have they changed the format in a way that makes it more accessible to the likes of me, but they’ve also brought in Erin Fraser, who has her hand in all kinds of interesting stuff, including Metro Cinema, Graphic Content and Sequential Tart. The first episode was lots of fun, and I’m looking forward to more.

— Speaking of comic books and podcasts, I’m listening for the first time to Podcast! The Comics, which is part of the Comics! The Blog juggernaut fashioned by Brandon Schatz and James Leask. As I have said before, I’m more an admirer of people who like comics than a reader of comics themselves, but it seems to me this is quite an impressive effort.

— In other podcast-related news, Jay n’ J have a new feature called Jay vs J, in which the two movie buffs debate the merits of a film and ask you to vote. Very slick. Lots of fun episodes lately, too, whether it’s the “sliders” or the most recent full episode with Aaron Clifford. (Also, Aaron, who was awesome at MediaCamp, is making me want to try Pinterest. Aarrgh, no time! And yet…)

(Addendum: Unbeknownst to me when I wrote this post, James Leask is the guest on the actual most recent Jay n’ J podcast. Spooky. Plus he likes The Princess Bride, which is my favourite movie, so obviously, this is a must listen, even though I will never ever watch Ghost Rider.) 

— The Unknown Studio is back on track after illness and busyness got in the way of regular podcasting. In the spirit of ICYMI, do listen to the small but mighty Flu Episode to hear Alex Abboud talk about being the Edmonton Journal’s first blogger-in-residence. In my admittedly biased estimation, Alex has been hitting it out of the park, both on his own blog and at The Journal, where he consults, blogs and observes under the aegis of the media lab that I co-ordinate.

OK, way too long, and still too much to say. I should blog more often — then I wouldn’t get so pent up. Comment, tweet or Google+ at me if you like.

(Thanks to Mack Male for the photo, which comes from his Flickr stream under a Creative Commons licence.)

Edmonton New Media Roundup 21

The story of the week was the downtown arena project. I wish I had been free on Friday to Storify the reaction to city council’s decision to buy the land amid news of the negotiations between the city and the Katz Group with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York.
The volume of tweets on #yegarena and #yegcc was overwhelming, as Mack Male shows in this post summarizing the day and the Twitter reaction. Word clouds have had a bit of a bad rap lately, but to me, the clouds in this post and the post setting up Friday’s events do a pretty good job of letting us see what was said.
As Mack notes, Mike Otto of The Charrette also did a nifty little bit of data journalism on opinions expressed about the arena proposal in calls to 311, the city’s information line. (Speaking of The Charrette, Otto’s partner-in-awesome Scott Lilwall recently launched a semi-regular feature called Ask the Charrette, an invitation to ask them anything about urban planning. In this city, at this time, there are a lot of questions that need answering, so have at it.)

For a more elegiac take on the debate, see Zoe Todd’s post on how the arena narrative clashes with her own feelings about the story of this city. The post itself was already a worthy read. Then Journal sports columnist John MacKinnon made a rather rude comment, to which Zoe responded thoughtfully and with class. The ensuing back-and-forth is revealing and also worth your time.

This is a neverending story. If I’m missing something good on the arena issue, let me know in the comments. Now, what else?

— Besides being another great get-together and a chance to show off my dino-loving daughter, this month’s Girl Geek Dinner introduced us to an inspiring young University of Alberta paleontologist named Victoria Arbour. If you like dinosaurs, I encourage you to read Victoria’s blog. You can also follow the U of A’s Dino Lab on Facebook. The next Girl Geek Dinner will be held Nov. 17 at D’Lish Urban Kitchen and Wine Bar.

YegNews has officially shut down after four months of operation. I was skeptical about its editorial and business model from the get-go, and its challenges were all the more difficult to surmount when Scott McKeen departed in July. But I also applaud anyone who tries anything new and hard. Alain Saffel deserves credit for that. Failure is a gift, as long as we learn from it.

— Jay Runham of the Jay n’ J movies podcast was kind enough to take me out to see Page One: Inside the New York Times, which I had been dying to see. We recorded a “slider” episode of Jay n’ J (sans J, aka Jordan Blackburn, who was out of town). The movie’s brief appearance in Edmonton is over now, but have a listen to see if you’d like to rent it or see it on Netflix. It was such a delight to meet Jay in real life. Next up, I believe, is a full episode on Footloose, featuring woman-about-town Brittney Le Blanc.

— The Conservative leadership vote and Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet-making have provided plenty of fodder for Dave Cournoyer on daveberta.ca. With Redford in charge, a provincial election won’t happen until spring, but nominations are well underway. Here’s Dave’s running list of who’s running.

— Efforts to organize MediaCamp Edmonton 2 are in full flight now. We’ve changed the date to Feb. 4 (instead of Jan. 28) so as not to conflict with the next Startup Weekend and Global Game Jam. MediaCamp aims to bring storytellers and developers together to see how we can help each other do what we do. Watch the website for details in the coming weeks. We’re using the hashtag #yegmediacamp on Twitter to seek input and share links. If you’re interested in coming, please fill out this survey so we can try to make it all you want it to be. If you’re interested in sponsoring or volunteering, email me at karen@unlandmedia.com.

There’s always so much more to say, and yet, that feels like enough. Feel free to add more in the comments, on Twitter or on Google+. More media news can be found on Mack’s Media Monday.

(Speaking on Mack, that’s his photo up top, taken in May 2010 at an open house on the Edmonton Arena District.)

Edmonton New Media Roundup 19

What the Truck 2 in Edmonton
The theme of this week’s roundup is inspired by something Kathleen Smith (aka @KikkiPlanet) said on the most recent episode of the Unknown Studio.  

The discussion turned to people who leave Edmonton for Vancouver or Toronto because they think there’s nothing going on here. “They’re complaining about a city that doesn’t exist anymore,” she said.

I think she’s exactly right, and this past week is the perfect illustration. There is so much going on here. Both the Edmonton International Film Festival and Western Canada Fashion Week generated buzz, but there were lots of smaller events as well that brought enthusiastic, creative people together. For example:

DemoCamp Edmonton: The 15th edition brought about 200 people to the Telus Centre at the University of Alberta on Sept. 29 to see developers/makers/wizards demonstrate cool stuff. I loved being in a room surrounded by people who like to solve problems instead of just complaining about them. Mack Male has a comprehensive summary of the evening. It was also a great night to hear about other events that Startup Edmonton and others have in the works; read to the bottom of Mack’s post for the list.

Social Media Breakfast: Social media enthusiasts (and a few who aren’t there yet but want to learn more) packed d’Lish Urban Kitchen and Wine Bar to hear MLA Doug Griffiths on Sept. 30. It seemed like a very big crowd, which may have been because Griffiths had just finished sixth in the Progressive Conservative leadership campaign and people wanted to hear from him. (He was impressive.) I get the sense, however, that this monthly event has started to generate its own momentum under the effervescent influence of Steven Hodges and the here-to-help spirit of people like Jacqueline Fraser. This one was live-streamed by fusedlogicTV, which is a good way to bring even more people in.

— And, coming back full circle, Sept. 30 also saw the launch of KikkiPlanet.com. Kathleen Smith’s new online magazine aims to be a showcase for the best of Edmonton, focusing on the young movers and shakers who love their city and work hard to make it even better. Her inaugural examples are Brittney Le Blanc and Seth Glick. KikkiPlanet was going to be a blog, but Smith decided to turn the focus away from herself and onto the world around her, which is what I would call a journalistic approach, and one that I naturally approve of. I didn’t make it to the launch, but I’ll be watching with interest.

So that’s just two days in the life of #yeg. October is already shaping up to be busy. I’ll be going to Meshwest Edmonton on Oct. 4, Digital Storytelling at Guru Digital Arts College on Oct. 6, Girl Geek Dinner on Oct. 13 and, I hope, the big Guru party, The Subsequent Fall, on Oct. 20. For an anti-social person like me, that’s a lot of sociability.

It’s hard to keep track of everything, but ShareEdmonton is a good start. Feel free to plug your own events in the comments.

A few more notes:

— The gaming guys at User Created Content are now doing a bi-weekly videocast call New Game +. Here’s Episode 1 and Episode 2.

— There’s a new podcast in town: Shutter Time with Sid and Mac, a discussion of photography by Sidney Blake and Mac Sokulski. You can subscribe in iTunes and follow the show on Twitter.

— Finally, I don’t usually talk much about mainstream media, but I’m proud of my former colleagues at the Edmonton Journal, which has been nominated for six Canadian Online Publishing Awards. Ryan Jackson and Lucas Timmons had a lot to do with the work that was nominated, and as their one-time boss, I can vouch for their amazingness. But really, this is a recognition of the whole newsroom’s digital efforts.

OK, that’s plenty. Comment, tweet or Google+ at me if you like. I blew my Friday deadline by a lot this week — will try to do better next time. But as you can see above, it’s hard to get spare time in this town.

(Photo of What the Truck?! 2, another illustration of how there’s never nothing going on in Edmonton, is from Brittney Le Blanc’s Flickr channel.)

Edmonton New Media Roundup 14

I took some Edmonton podcasts with me on a trip to southern Alberta last week, so this week’s roundup focuses on some of fine shows produced right here at home. To wit:
DVD Afternoon is an erudite but highly accessible weekly conversation about movies between Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel. I don’t watch a lot of movies, but I like hearing smart people talk about them, and DVD Afternoon delivers. It’s a bit like eavesdropping on a really good film studies class. It is geared towards the latest DVD releases, given that Heather manages The Videodrome, but they also talk about movies in repertory theatres (e.g. their discussion in Episode 71 of The Big Lebowski at Metro Cinema at the Garneau), and their recommendations would likely to useful if you’re a Netflix watcher, too.

— For talk about more mainstream movies, tune in to Jay n’ J, a monthly gab between Jay Runham, Jordan Blackburn and a guest. They’re not as polished as Paul and Heather, but they’re also a lot newer to the game, with three episodes under their belts compared to 72 for DVD Afternoon. Listening to Jay n’ J is a bit like eavesdropping on smart guys talking about movies in a bar. As it happens, Paul was the guest on their second episode, reflecting the collaborative spirit that, to me, characterizes Edmonton’s new media scene. Episode 3’s guest is Colin MacIntyre, whose Tuesday morning CJSR show, Makin’ Whoopee, is also available as a podcast.

— The Prairie Belles podcast is a weekly look at Edmonton’s arts scene with Lisa Nicole Grace and Daneel Irons.They talk about music, theatre and the like in a delightful way, and they have introduced me to a number of excellent bands. They’ve been at this for 66 episodes as of this writing, but I don’t think they got into iTunes until Episode 47, and I didn’t discover that fact until recently. Anyway, I’ll be listening regularly from now on. (While we’re talking local music, let me throw in a plug for yeglive.ca, which sponsors Prairie Belles and is an comprehensive source of information on live music in Edmonton.)

The Unknown Studio, a twice-monthly podcast about all things Edmonton, took the summer off, but hosts Adam Rozenhart and Scott C. Bourgeois did do a special episode on the Folk Festival and the Fringe. I’m looking forward to Season 3, which they promise will start the week of Sept. 12.

User Created Content, the gaming podcast, is also taking a little break, but you could easily fill your days listening to the 85 episodes recorded so far. Hosts Ramin Ostad, Matthew Dykstra, Cory Satermo and Anthony Bacchus are (to these non-gaming ears) enormously knowledgeable and passionate about their subject matter. They are promising regular video when they kick off Season 4, so that’s something to look forward to.

— Podcasting is a medium that lends itself to niche audiences — take, for example, Equinely-Inclined, a podcast for horse-lovers. Sylvia Schneider and her co-host Diana Balbar have been at this since 2007, which makes them local podcasting pioneers and worthy of salute.

What other Edmonton-based podcasts do you listen to? What kind of podcast do you wish existed so you could listen to it? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, or on Google+.

I listen to a lot of non-Edmonton podcasts as well. Radiolab, This American Life, all of the Slate gabfests, On the Media, Planet Money, Stuff You Should Know, This Week in Google, The Moth, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Wiretap, Media Talk, Freakonomics and New Yorker: Out Loud are among my favourites.

I subscribe to all of these through Stitcher, a handy app that streams the latest episodes on my iPhone without making me plug in and sync. I don’t know if it’s worth it for local podcasts to partner with Stitcher, but as a user, I’d love it if you were there, so if you’re interested, here’s the form.

I listen to three of these regularly (Hang Up and Listen, Culture Gabfest and The Moth). Will try more in new year.

Tags: Podcasts

This is the Radiolab link I meant to share in my last post. Still getting the hang of this.

Tags: Podcasts

I just listened to this old episode of Radiolab, my favorite podcast, as I cleaned the basement to make way for Christmas toys. And then I see this in my Twitter stream, via @Brad_King: http://me.lt/9GjT. Cosmic.

Tags: podcasts