BlogOut 2007!

Belated blog entry, I have been busy with various things, but finally got to type out my experiences of the blogout event today. The first BlogOut 2007 event was held in the Geek Terminal on 24th May 2007 and organised by The Digital Movement (TDM) in Singapore.

I was invited for this by Yoke Ching of moblog.com.sg where I’m having my personal blog to rant about my daily life. As I’m very interested in the concept of blogging and using it for serious applications like education, and information sharing as well, I was eager to sign up. In the process of signing up I already learned about some new web 2.0 communities, like ping.sg and the TDM themselves… It was also my first time to sign up for wikispaces, although I had looked at it before, I didn’t have a reason to sign up earlier.

Wikispaces is an interesting concept whereby all members of the group can participate in editing the text. This has advantages that everyone can just write on it whatever ideas they have and add on to other people’s ideas as an information sharing platform (I’m not using the term knowledge here, because it’s really information, knowledge might be generated from it). It has disadvantages as well with a high reliance on the moderating skills of all participants, it could easily end up in a mess and information that was posted there earlier might be lost over time. A good illustration of this was that when the final program of the evening was posted a few hours before the event started and an email was sent out to notify everyone of this, a few minutes later somebody had accidentally deleted the entire program!

My main reason for signing up was hoping to meet other bloggers who are interested in discussing about using blogs in education, but also to hear more about new web 2.0 communities in Singapore. Unfortunately on the evening itself the topic on education seems to have been scrapped of the list, but I did learn a bit more on new technologies and met some interesting people.

The evening started of with some socialising and some food. The venue looked nice for a café setting with a limited group of people, but for the 120 odd people that were on the list it was not properly equipped. The chairs were rather bulky and the small round tables were put together, didn’t really create the correct atmosphere. At an event like this with catered food and drinks it would be handy to have high tables where people can stand around and still have a space to put their glass or plate. Especially since we were asked to bring laptops as well, it didn’t fit the bill. During the socialising I first talked with Yoke Ching and her 2 colleagues, all of them I met last year during the 2 moblog gatherings (the first one organised by myself and few other mobloggers). As we were relatively early, we managed to get a seat at one of the tables near the front next to the stage.

The first item on the agenda when most people had arrived was a welcome and a music video by Genie, apparently a famous blogger. Apparently she is the first Singapore artist to bring out a cd that was born because she started her blog and posted her songs on it and the fans of her blog liked her music. An example of blogging used as marketing.

The panel discussion had a number of interesting guests who were to discuss on the web 2.0 in Singapore and share the stories of the blogging communities they represented. The discussion itself however was hard to follow, firstly because from the position where I was sitting it was impossible to see the speakers (people were standing in front of my view) and secondly because the sound system started making annoying shrieking sounds, which is something I’m totally allergic to. Furthermore the presentation screen showed the wrong websites when talking about a certain topic or the internet connection failed. That’s all act of God, not the fault of the organisers who did a really great job! Walter of NHB, who is in charge of yesterday.sg (a really interesting website I must say about Singapore’s history), and who has his own personal blog as well moderated the discussion really well.

The more interesting part of the evening started when the discussion tables were opened. There were 4 different discussions going on, with people sitting or standing around the tables that were arranged for this. Each table had a leader for the discussion and participants were free to walk around and join any of the tables and change table if they wanted to. I choose to sit in and participate with the corporate blogging table. The discussion was interesting with some participants who are in marketing, some having a small company and considering setting up a company blog and some who already do corporate blogging. Initially the discussion was tilting towards the SME blog, as we all thought that for large corporate organisations it will be difficult to maintain a blog unless the blog would be on the intranet to let your colleagues know what you are doing in your free time. However we were wrong in that respect, as Microsoft has a corporate blog that is maintained by various marketing managers around the world and what they feature are new interesting inventions by some of the technical staff, cool developments, news, etc. Sort of a global corporate newsletter. Bernard Leong of SG Entrepreneurs who chaired the discussion, summarised it all really well on his blog.

At the end of the evening I went to back to sit with the moblog gang, chatted a bit with shanewei, littlegeo, micah, lagoon and TheGuyOverThere (Howard). And two of them won a price in the lucky draw! Lagoon was lucky enough to take home a Window Vista and Micah got a thumbdrive of 1GB.

Take-aways:

  • learned a bit more on what’s going on with corporate blogging (might want to use it for my own company as well)

  • ping.sg community, brilliant in its simplicity! It shows the latest updates of blogs of people who subscribed to it and when a certain post is very interesting it gets more “pongs” and moves up in the list.

  • still not convinced that twitter is the way to go… who is interested in what I’m doing now and what’s the point of wasting spending time to post that? Oh well, maybe I’ll change my mind about it in the future….

  • IconnectE.com community – this is really new, and meant to do networking, offering services. E.g. I offer software consultancy, but am in need of someone who can help me with marketing. That way I can look at other people’s profiles and see who matches what I’m looking for and get in touch.

  • I met some interesting people…and a few interesting blogs to follow as well.

  • All in all it was a great event, considering that so many different communities were approached and present at such short notice! Kudos to the TDM team!!

Feedback for next event:

  • Venue: make better use of the space, like take away the bulky chairs and replace them with temporary stackable seats that are easier to move around and take up less space. Also good to have some high tables for people who are standing.

  • Topics: the first BlogOut2007 was very broad in its topics and intending to introduce people from the various communities to each other. Maybe the next blogout can have a more focused theme, or organise an event purely on e.g. corporate blogging, or educational blogging or new IT technologies, etc.

  • Keep discussion tables smaller – and have more topics for discussion. That way the dynamics will be better, at our discussion table there were only a few people participating actively and the rest just standing around listening. It was hard to hear what people on the other far end of the table were saying. I liked the concept of moving around to different tables which some people did, but it was kind of hard too as there was not much space to move around freely.

When is the next BlogOut? 😉