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Off to SES Toronto

I’m spending the next two days at Search Engine Strategies Toronto where I’ll be part of the “Site Clinic” panel today and the Get Dugg WOM panel. If you’re in the neighbourhood stop by and say hello! The conference appears to be rock solid this year and has something searchie-goodness for everyone.

I’m not one for live blogging, but hopefully we’ll have a few bloggers on hand to provide summaries as we go for those not attending this year.

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ICE Conference in Toronto

Alas, it has been a while since I got a post up here and for that I apologize. I can only say that it’s been a whirlwind three weeks with TFC (all good of course!) and I’ll be back soon with a couple of posts I have on the backburner.

In the meantime, ICE 2007, the “Interactive Content Exchange” is happening on March 21/22 at the Carlu in Toronto, where I will be the panel: It Had to Be ‘You’ the afternoon of the 22nd.

From the abstract -

There’s no doubt that Social Media is big business – and big business has taken note. News Corp. bought MySpace. Google bought YouTube. Yahoo bought Flickr. Are these the new ‘mainstream media’ of social media? And if so, what’s coming next on the fringes? ‚Ķ or is social media looking for a direction?

That’s one tiny piece of the conference which covers Mobile, Broadband, Games and Social Media. With over 100 top-notch speakers, it should be an informative and enriching two days.

There will also be pre-event podcasts from some speakers, or “ICE Cubes” as Alan has dubbed them :) – details to come.

To round out the social nature of a bunch of people getting together to talk shop, TFC is hosting (per Joe: it is a collaborative effort – see the comments) Third Tuesday as usual on Tuesday the 20th Wed the 21st. Based on the turnout for last month’s it should be a packed house. Check Meetup.com for details on the venue and to RSVP.

See you there!

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Back in the saddle…

In case you were wondering, I am alive and relatively well with a serious case of catch-up looming over the next few days. I’ve been unfortunately dealing with a family emergency and a touch of the flu the last couple of weeks so blogging has been pretty low on the priority list, but things are back to normal and the posts are backing up!

I’ll have a few up in the next couple of days.

In the meantime on the event front…

UsabilityCamp is coming to Toronto on Nov. 14th in conjunction with World Usability Day. Mira Jelic is organizing it and it should be a wonderful addition to the ‘camps’ that are bringing together a great network of people. Registration is closed, but keep an eye out for the next one! (Mira, apologies I was so late getting this up!)

Also on Nov. 14th Word Up! Canada’s Word of Mouth conference will be in town, and Shel Holtz is back for Third Tuesday.

Just a thought… we may need to start coordinating the dates of all these events ’cause I most certainly want to attend them all, but… umm… there’s only one of me. :)

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What’s wrong with Toronto event planning?

I’ve recently attended a few professionally organized events in the city, ranging from the Virgin Music Fest to the Canadian Opera Company’sOperanation” gala last Friday, and in each case, for various reasons, the event planning was just… off.

They ran out of beer at the Virgin Music Fest and the rainy Saturday didn’t even draw a sold out crowd, which is just inconceivable in Canada, home of people drinking suds. But even worse was the planning surrounding the Operanation event at the brand-spanking new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a fabulous time, but the event itself, and the ambiance of the FSC left a lot to be desired. The truly tragic part was that with a little forsight it could have been a smashing success. Which leads me to the question – what’s wrong with Toronto event planning?

For starters, although beautiful and modern with fantastic views, the venue itself on a fall evening feels cold and cavernous. Walking into the event I was struck immediately that although the building was built to house our two world-class performing arts companies, the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada, there was nothing that felt like art. No history, no pictures of past performances or costumes anywhere in the lobby. Just metal, marble, glass, and wood. Nothing warm and inviting and dripping in culture. But there was a Land Rover. ;)

Which leads me to the event itself. The concept was fantastic – the food and drinks were themed around different opera’s, from bratwurst and beer for the Ring Cycle, to sushi and lychee martini for Madame Butterfly. Each station was housed in a different location, encompassing 3 floors of the lobby. Except… they were in horrible locations for foot traffic flow and ease of access. The sushi bar was at the top of the main staircase right next to the champagne reception area, and a small walkway that led to the tapas and sangria bar. To say the least it was difficult to navigate, and by the end of the evening, after the alcohol was flowing freely, it was difficult to navigate without getting spilled on. Did no one do a dry run with the number of people who would be expected at the event? Or a computer model of natural gathering places and walk space?

Last, but most certainly not least, was the acoustics. Part of the appeal of attending the event was to hear the DJ mixing arias and beats, as well as the three live performances of arias by up and coming opera stars. Well, good luck hearing anything much in that space. The positioning of both the live performance and the speakers was horrible. For the first opera performance we were standing directly above the performers (who were tucked away off to the side in a corner of the lobby) on the walkway of the second floor. We could barely hear them and there was no announcement that the performance was about to begin, or where they were located for the people who didn’t happen to be chatting above them. For the second performance we made it to directly in front of them, one row of people ahead of us. We couldn’t hear them at all. The crowd noise, the terrible acoustics at that location, it was awful. And frustrating. Again, where was the dry run with crowd noise and the noise of food and beverages being served? Why were they in a corner?

What’s wrong with Toronto event planning? Where is the pursuit of excellence that is so evident in events held in other world-class cities around the world? And who’s idea was it to have so few wait staff? Waiting 20 mins for a lychee martini only to have a manager come over and make them eventually didn’t feel “Opera Chic” to me.

Update: I almost forgot that my food options as a vegetarian were limited to bread or pastry at the French Bistro or an eggplant tapa at the Spanish Bar.

[photo credit: Bamcat on Flickr]

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Social media gone wild

Yesterday marked the second time in a span of 7 days that a Shel has been in Toronto. Not that I’m complaining mind you, it’s been a wonderful week of social media connections and conversations. Last night Shel Israel was in town to speak with 50 of us social media types at the inaugural Third Tuesday hosted by Joseph Thornley & crew of Thornley Fallis Communications. As comments and posts can attest to, the night was a resounding success and an amazing example of how conversations (okay, Naked Conversations) are changing the world. Shel is exactly what his business card says – a Nice Guy. And a fantastic, bright, engaging speaker. Dave Forde & Joe have uploaded photos from the evening to Flickr so far, but I saw a lot of flashes going off last night so I hope to see more pics soon!

The conversation is happening, you can either embrace it or get buried by it.

On that note, Shel Holtz passed around the mike at our recent gaggle of geeks in Toronto to find out what social media meant to the 20 of us at the dinner. Some clips are in the latest edition of FIR, and the full file is available here. It’s quite interesting to hear the different takes from a variety of marketing, advertising, and technology professionals… everyone has their own perspective, yet the common theme is conversations.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make CaseCamp tonight, which at last count had 100 people signed up on the Wiki… too much social and still deadlines looming… There’s always a next time though!

[photo credit: scienceduck on Flickr]

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