After 24 years, I think I’ve finally passed into adulthood. It happened this past Saturday when I voluntarily woke up at 6 a.m. to attend a conference for my job.
The conference was called So Connected or SoCon12 for short and it was held at Kennesaw State University and was a basically a field day (minus the sack races and water balloon tosses) for social media nerds.
When you think of social media, what comes to mind? For many people, this is the extent of it:
When in reality, social media can actually do a lot for people and businesses when used correctly.
After drinking a few cups of decaf coffee that had maliciously been mislabeled as “regular” we filed into the auditorium to hear the keynote speakers. The first presentation was fairly interesting as it discussed the projected future of social media.
During the second speaker’s presentation, however, I started to fade. I’m not sure if it was getting four hours of sleep the night before, the lack of caffeine running through my blood, or the subzero temperature in the auditorium, but I had to resort to doodling to keep myself awake. This is what I came up with:
One of the funniest parts about the whole thing is that I didn’t even have a smartphone when I attended the conference. At one point, one of the keynote speakers actually asked the audience if anyone didn’t have a smartphone. One of my coworkers smirked at me with anticipation–I had been ostracized at work for not having one–but I lucked out when a man in the audience raised his hand.
I found out later that he restored ancient books as his profession and really had no need for a smartphone. Which led us all to the question, what was he doing at a social media conference in the first place?
After the keynote address, we parted ways and went to the first individual “breakout sessions” for which we had signed up. I picked a session called The War on Stupid (follow on Twitter: @TheWaronStupid) which I obviously chose for the name alone.
It turned out to be a very engaging and inspiring session. Here’s a short summary of The War on Stupid:
- Our access to information is ever-increasing. (An information buffet).
- Our sense-making abilities is not increasing at the same rate.
- The gap between these two is the stupid factor.
- Common side effect are that we are easily manipulated by the binary opposition we see in the media, etc. (i.e. liberals and conservatives arguing over politics) and we learn nothing but other people’s opinions.
- The solution is Translators.
- Translators are creative types (animators, sound designers, illustrators) who pair with sense-makers (journalists, academics, scientists) to make large amounts of data make sense visually.
After that we took a break for lunch at the Kennesaw cafeteria and went back for the afternoon breakout sessions. The second session I attended was called “Quit the Daily Grind: A Former Newspaper Reporter’s Social Media Journey to Freelance Success”. This session was held by Maryn McKenna, a very down to earth science writer who gave some excellent advice on freelancing and showed some funny links including the Tumblr “Things Organized Neatly” which I had seen before but totally forgot about.
The final session turned out to be a bit awful. It was supposed to be a session about how your words can affect people on the web but it turned into a 30 minute discussion on how to arrange the words in a particular sentence to make it stronger writing. It was like English Composition all over again. Terrible. However, we did finish off the day strong with drinks and more networking at Mellow Mushroom.
All in all a great first foray into the world of adulthood.