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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.)
This week, I’ve been thinking about the future of publishing and the power of going deep.
The idea that the future of media depends on serving niches rather than being all things to all people is not new, but it becomes more meaningful when you meet people who are living that concept in real life.
I met some such people at Digital Storytelling in Alberta, a “speed-dating” event at Guru Digital Arts College on Oct. 6. The purpose was to get digital folk, publishers and filmmakers together to talk about the future of publishing. It was put together by Lyn Cadence, a Calgary publicist and the publisher of the newly formed Frontenac House Media, and was hosted by Owen Brierley, who runs Guru and sits on the board of Digital Alberta (and is at the centre of the photo you see above).
Here’s what I learned.
There’s no shortage of books in the world. There is a shortage of time to spend reading them. So publishers have to go after those people who love their books so much that they will drop other things to spend their precious time with them. They need to provide those books in every format those fans like. And they need to provide other opportunities to engage with those creations (and make money from them), whether it’s through film, graphic novels, games, conferences, speeches, newsletters, forums, podcasts, social media or whatever else comes next.
Big guys like Seth Godin already do this. But there’s nothing stopping little guys from doing it, too — in fact, it’s probably even more important for little guys, who have few resources and a smaller market to start with.
All of what I just said applies to journalism, too. Broadsheet newspapers were built on having something for everyone, and their websites tend to be the same. But that’s not the way of the future. Inch-deep, mile-wide coverage won’t cut it, especially as the culture of recommendation takes over from Google-gaming as the way to get your stories in front of the people who want them. Specializing in doing a few things very well, deeply and vertically, has more hope. It’s also way more fun.
I had lots of great conversations — thank you, Ron Manke, Karen Gartner, Faye Boer, Gary Whyte, Tamara Stecyk and Kieran Flynn — but the most inspiring chat was with Merle and Jerome Martin of Spotted Cow Press.
Spotted Cow is very small, and judging from its titles, it doesn’t put out a lot of bestsellers. But three things impressed me about the Martins:
- They love what they do.
- They don’t waste time seeking grants; they bootstrap everything.
- They aren’t afraid of trying something new. They sell e-books. They offer free downloads. Jerome has a blog and is on Twitter. They are doing on a small scale what everyone needs to be doing, and they’re hungry to learn more.
So I’m adding the Martins to my heroes list. Thanks to Lyn and Owen for a delightful time. If you were there and want to share what you learned, please comment on this post.
And now, rounding up:
— Meshwest Edmonton on Oct. 4 was another opportunity for future-of-media ideas to burble. I really enjoyed hearing Ali Asaria, founder of well.ca. He is unabashedly focused on Canada, not because it’s the patriotic thing to do but because it’s the right niche for his business. Customer service is at the core. He also had interesting things to say about cultivating a creative workplace. So much of what he said has applications to the media business. For more recapping, see Justin Jackson’s excellent post. The next Meshwest is in Vancouver on Dec. 5.
— Meshwest also brought social media superstar and GigaOm writer Mathew Ingram here. He shared some nice Edmonton pictures on Instagram. Every little bit helps, when it comes to promoting our fine city.
— Tickets are on sale now for the FIERCE awards, Mom Magazine’s night to honour “women who make a difference in the lives of others, whether it’s within their own household or on a global level.” By the looks of the nomination list, it will be quite the night, orchestrated by Tamara Plant, one of the fiercest women I know.
— There’s a whole blog post (or 20) to be done on the good works going on in Edmonton’s social media circles. Here are a few that have crossed the transom: User Created Content is raising money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital by playing video games for 24 hours; The Going Blue 4 U campaign aims to raise money and awareness to fight mental illness; John Winslow and others are raising diapers for the Terra Centre; and the list goes on. Check out KikkiPlanet’s #yegenda for more.
— It has been both heartwarming and heartbreaking to watch the Twitter community’s embrace of Jason Konoza after the death of his beloved wife, Wendy. Jason’s response has been remarkable. You can donate to the Wendy Konoza Memorial Award in Education at the University of Alberta. Rene and Kari Mayer set up a site to gather help for Jason and his kids.
— The next Girl Geek Dinner is on Oct. 13. I’m bringing my daughter with me to hear Victoria Arbour talk about dinosaurs. This is an all-ages affair, with an amazing speaker and yummy food at Chianti’s. And it’s about DINOSAURS. Plus it’s on Dana DiTomaso’s birthday. How can you not go?
— Finally, the one and only Sally Poulsen has made me a website! I cannot begin to tell you what a pleasant and educational experience it was to work with Sally — I highly recommend her. Shout out as well to Janice Belyea of Crayon Creative, whose business-card design became my logo. Thank you, ladies!
You can always find more media talk on Mack Male’s Media Monday. Feel free to respond to my ramblings here, on Twitter or on Google+.
I’m going to blame the tardiness of this week’s roundup on my grief over the retirement of the edmontonian. It may not be an entirely accurate excuse — I was busy getting ready to teach and finishing off a super-cool project I’ll tell you about one of these days — but it is completely true that I am choked to lose one of my favourite blogs.
Many others share my sadness. Jeff Samsonow and Sally Poulsen have made a tremendous impression on this city, and the response to their decision to move on surprised even them, they told Mack Male in this interview. Mack’s was one of many fine tribute posts (Gregg Beever had another good one and so did Adam Rozenhart of the Unknown Studio).
So I thought I’d do something a little bit different. Here’s a Storify curating the best of the Twitter reaction, and Sally and Jeff’s reaction to the reaction, starting with their announcement on Aug. 29 and ending with their inspiring final post on Sept. 9.
Judging from the reaction, one of the most beloved services offered by the edmontonian was the daily headlines roundup. If you are clever, well-read, super-focused on local news and thinking “I’d love to blog, but what should I write about?”, do this. An audience is poised to gobble your words.
OK, what else has been going on?
— The Unknown Studio is about to get going again in earnest, and you are invited to join the audio fun. You have until Sept. 30 to pitch a segment for the podcast. This is a great opportunity for anyone eager to break in to podcasting, as this one already has a considerable audience.
— Speaking of podcasts, I am so happy that research for this post led me to subscribe to DVD Afternoon. It is such an enjoyable listen. Co-host Paul Matwychuk has launched a new Tumblr for movie nerds: The Cinematic Jokebook, a compendium of clips of movie characters telling jokes. If you know of such a joke, Paul wants to hear from you.
— Also on the movie podcast front, Jay n’ J have started doing “sliders” — mini-episodes the slide in between their big monthly podcasts. Here’s the latest.
— In awwww news, tech mommy and SEO ninja Jen Banks shared some awesome news on Mom Nation.
— Plans are underway for another MediaCamp Edmonton. We are aiming to have it on Jan. 28. If you would like to be in on the organizing but you aren’t on the MediaCamp Google Group, email me at karen(at)unlandmedia.com. We’ll be meeting again on Sept. 19 before splitting off into committees; stay tuned for details.
— Meshwest is coming to Edmonton on Oct. 4, and tickets are on sale now. It’s pricy, but I got a lot out of the Calgary event and I bet this one will be good, too. Plus it will bring Mathew Ingram here, which is always a good thing.
— The formidable Dana DiTomaso is offering a seminar on social media for business at Guru Digital Arts College on Sept. 20. I learn two or three new things every time I talk to Dana, as I did at Edmonton’s first Women in Wireless event, a nice little get-together put on by Lisa Hagen.
— Dana is one half of the dynamic duo behind Edmonton Girl Geek Dinners, the other half being my favourite unicornologist, Brittney Le Blanc. The next dinner, on Sept. 15, features Karin Weekes of BioWare. If I could go, I would, so if you can go, you should.
— And finally, speaking of things you should go to, Pecha Kucha Night 11 is on Sept. 14. It’s at Myer Horowitz Theatre at the University of Alberta, which is a big venue, so there are still tickets available. The speakers list is full of cool and crazy stuff. If you stay until the end, you will see me give a talk called What Journalism Needs Now. If you can’t come, it will be livestreamed on edmontonjournal.com. And it will be all over Twitter at #PKN11.
When I started doing this new media roundup, I aimed to have a new post every Monday. I’m going to keep with the regularity, but my new publication date will be Fridays. So I’ll see you then. If I’m missing something, comment, tweet or Google+ at me. You can always get more media news in Mack Male’s Media Monday.
(If you want a T-shirt like the one you see up top, it’s not too late to buy merchandise from the edmontonian, a bargain at twice the price.)
“I’m not so much a girl geek as scientifically minded, but OK.”
That’s what my nine-year-old daughter said when I asked her to pose for a picture wishing the Edmonton Girl Geek Dinner a happy first birthday.
So, yeah, she’s a geek.
But I mean that in the nicest, proudest way. I love that she made a Venn diagram comparing herself with Kari Byron from MythBusters. I love that she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up, and has wanted that since she was three. I love that we read books on prehistoric life at bedtime. Pure geekery.
I have met many wonderful role models for my girl at the Girl Geek Dinners. Every time I have attended, I have talked to fascinating women who do amazing things. This has become a valuable networking event, and it is always a good time.
So thank you, Shauna McConechy and Brittney Le Blanc, for bringing this institution to Edmonton. Shauna is about to depart on an adventure in Toronto, but I think they have created something so good that we’ll find a way to help Brittney keep it going. It’s got to stick around long enough for my girl to be old enough to go. Nine more years, OK?