After a very exciting weekend in Vienna, where bloggers from all over the world meet and discuss the media of today and tomorrow, I needed some time to collect my thoughts and calm myself down before writing this post. Why? Cause it was fucking awesome!
After receiving the invitation from the main man of the show, Ritchie Blogfried Pettauer, I was honoured and curious. “How the hell did they find me?” was my first question, since I blog almost exclusively in slovene language and to my best knowledge, we never met. “Hah, I ran your blog through Google Translate and I found it very interesting,” was the answer. I guess I owe Google for having a great time then 😉
Day One: Flight and sleep
My all expenses paid trip to Vienna started very early on Friday with the trip to the airport. The flight took a little under an hour and I found myself at the Vienna airport at around nine o`clock in the morning. First challenge – remembering the PIN code to my phone which I turned off before the flight. “It`s OK,” I said to myself before flying, “I`m not going to print the instructions for the route to the hotel, since I have it on my phone.” Right. After discovering my phone was locked and there was no way to reach Baja who`s the brains of the family I panicked. A little. Running around the airport, cursing my stupid brain I saw a guy holding a sign with my name on it. You know, like in the movies.
After a short drive to the hotel with a very amusing taxi driver (quiet cursing included) I found myself in the lobby of The Ring hotel. My room wasn`t ready yet so I had time to rest on a soft couch observing the people coming in and out, meeting others participants of the World Blogging Forum. I checked into my room, took a shower and…went to sleep. I guess Sting and Satriani (I still have to write a review of the show!) took a small toll on me.
After a few hours of sleep, I woke up and went downstairs to the hotel bar where the participants of the forum met for the first time, among them Marko Rakar, Darko Buldioski, Onnik Krikorian and others. Few drinks later we boarded the bus and went to the Nordpol restaurant. Food was interesting, similar to the Germany cuisine experience we had a year ago and we chatted away till midnight. We then returned to the hotel and went to bed.
Day Two: “Raise your hands!”
The second day was dedicated to the main part of the forum – the lectures. Three panels were planned, each with its own unique theme (future of digital media, politics and web and prosumers and web).
I found the first panel the least interesting, I guess we all needed some time to wake up and get our brains going. On the other hand, it was helpful since it showed the pulse of the audience and gave me time to think about the opening joke and stuff. The best talk was about Open Data, but for me personally it was lacking the depth. Of course we all want the data to flow free, but as Marko Rakar remarked, “you need context to go with the numbers”.
During the first panel, we actually executed a flash mob on foursquare. After unlocking the “Swarm badge”, everybody started tweeting about it, inviting their friends to geocheat and check in the same venue. We`ve managed to unlock the “Super Swarm” and the “Super Duper Swarm” badge which your normally get when more than 500 people checks in the same venue at once.
The second panel was the most promising and did in fact delivered. Onnik blasted everybody away with the lecture about using citizen journalism in countries where the media is weak and/or censored, Rakar told his story about government pressure in Croatia, Ollek presented the Global Voices and the real citizen journalism which works under extreme conditions (censorship, non-existent media…) and Tunc Kilinc told a very amusing story about anonymous favours campaign.
After such two excellent speakers I was starting to worry how am I going to top those two speakers. At the same time I wanted to shock the audience and make them see another point of view. Up until then all of the lectures were very positive about the web and online communications and I was there to reality check them. So I told a joke. “Everybody in the audience, raise their left hand!” I told them.
They were looking at me funny, but when I repeated the request, hands were raised. “Now stick out your index finger!” and this time they responded quickly. “Now do this!” and I showed a poking gesture, jabbing Marko in the back. After the whole audience poked their neighbour I went “This was the original poke! So you see, in a way, social media is nothing new!”. They all laughed and I picked up a badge from my bag, raised it high and told to the crowd: “This is the only real World Blogging Forum Vienna 2010 badge and however comes to the stage *and at that point a guy from the back of the hall started running towards the stage* gets it!”
With the crowd warmed up I proceeded to tell a story about the minister of justice, Aleš Zalar and how his usage of Twitter pissed of the media. It went well, there were some questions from the audience and a lot of twitter love. So, thanks again, everybody.
After lunch where we talked about the blogs, twitter and online communications in general (I met a fellow-wordpress-soul, a designer from Switzerland (the name escapes me right now) and Dieter Zirnig from Vienna who realised we have a common friend), it was time for the third panel. I was again part of it, this time as the loyal opposition to the panel of start-ups directors who were again very excited about the possiblities of the online world. I could not help it, sadism is sometimes in my nature, but the best thing was they did not hold it against me and afterwards we went to get something to eat together.
We wrapped the day up with a party in a club. I actually liked it but mostly because a bunch of geeks ended up talking about the web and experience in this field. I was really surprised what kind of low level of involment we have here in Slovenia in this field and just more willing the foreign companies are willing to experiment and support in this field.
Day Three: Tourists, food and the run to the plane
After a good night sleep we got together for the final part of the forum – sightseeing! We went to the Stift Klosterneuburg, a monastery on the outskirts of Vienna, where they gave us the tour of the halls and the wine cellar, where they produce and store their own wine. We toured the place for a while and then we went for an excellent lunch in a near-by tavern. After that we packed and headed back to the airport where I caught the last check-in call and boarded a plane to Ljubljana. A weekend to remember.
- The entire event was perfectly executed and the organizers deserve nothing but praise
- The people/guests were very interesting, I can`t wait for next year to meet them all again
- I did not realise up until now how diverse the media landscape is and how many different approaches there are