The TBEX conference in Toronto, Canada, got down to business Saturday morning, starting off with an opening keynote (with slides) by HDR photographer extraordinaire Trey Ratcliff. (Even if you don’t know who he is, you know his work – his dramatic, highly saturated images are omnipresent on the web.)
photo by Dave Cynkin via flickr
Trey’s talk was fascinating on many levels: Immediately obvious was that he was wearing Google Glass, which he loves and was happy to talk about. His talk itself was organized in a way I found intriguing – divided into sections with six stories in each section; a roll of a dice determined which particular story will be shared. (I can think of some presentations of mine that would have benefited from this sort of presentation.) He had a fascinating personal story – a story of finding great success while following one’s passion, however unlikely that may seem. Then there were his slides, projected in all their glowing beauty on massive screens. Wow! And, if that wasn’t enough, he provided some practical advice and a code that allowed attendees to download one of his (very thorough) tutorials for free.
So by 10:00 a.m. on the first “real” day of the conference – between the Toronto pass, the photo tour, the art tour, and Trey’s talk – I feel like I’ve gotten back what I paid for my spouse and I to attend about three times over. Not a bad return – and there are still almost two full days to come!
The conference featured a full range of sessions aimed at bloggers and other “new media” (anything digital) types. There are two sets of breakout sessions each morning and one each afternoon for a total of 30 sessions to choose from. Of course, like all conferences, it was sometimes hard to know what a session would really be about and sometimes the one I wanted to attend was so packed I couldn’t get in the room. In addition, we had a personal activity planned for Sunday afternoon, so I had a few less options to choose from. Frankly, I didn’t choose sessions as well as I could have this year.
In what seems to have been a theme this year, my first choice turned out to be much less interesting than I anticipated. The speakers seemed knowledgeable and interesting, but they never articulated what they were talking about in a way that made any sense. In this case, while I’ve struggled with what I want my blog to be and know I really need a “content strategy” (and have a very vague idea of what that means), nothing in the session helped me understand how to actually develop one, let alone maintain consistency with it.
However, my second session, led by photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström more than made up for it. Lola’s presentation was funny, informative, and well-targeted to my needs. I walked out of the session with a whole new way to think about taking food and location pictures. (Hint: Focus on how people are interacting with the food or place, not the food or place itself.)
With too many good options after lunch, I decide it was time to learn something about Twitter and attended Sheila Scarborough’s session on Creating and Using Twitter Chats. While it is useful for me to know that Twitter chats exist and the session got me thinking about the opportunities this offers, it also raised many more questions about Twitter without answering any of my really dumb basic ones. (How do you learn to use new social media? Does anyone offer Twitter 101?) But I did learn a few things I can put to use. Besides, Sheila is fabulous and I’d go to any presentation she gave just to hear her, so I don’t regret that it wasn’t particularly applicable for where I’m at right now.
The first day’s sessions ended with a keynote by Dave and Deb of The Planet D, a couple of Canadian bloggers I met last year. Their talk was a revelation for me on two counts. First, they began by talking about how old they are (ancient!) because they have been blogging since 2008. 2008?!? I’ve been blogging since 2005! Here I’ve been thinking of myself as a newbie because I haven’t been trying to make monetize and market my blog. Maybe I need to give myself more credit.
The second revelation was that it isn’t too late to build a new media travel business, that it’s still a growing field with lots of opportunity. Although Trey said much the same thing at the start of the day, it still was refreshing to hear that – so often the story line is that it’s too late to start now. It’s nice to think there still are opportunities out there.
Toronto 2013 Travel Diary
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