Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reflections on #cnbloggercon (2)

Still being compiled, however, is a list of feedback provided from the larger community that attended the conference. Tentatively, that includes:

-the conference wifi was more of a loogie than an actual bubble;

-seemingly random rotation of emcees gave an air of disorganization;

-the audience at times got disorderly and out of control, especially that noisy bunch seated at the back as well as the presence of certain special guests which led to a spontaneously-organized not-so-covert counter-stakeout mission;

-noise from Venue A totally pwned people trying to speak in Venue B as the two were semi-connected;

-an unforgiving concrete floor was no good for those who don't like sitting on top of chairs;

-due to it not being announced or, along with all Venue B round-table discussions, even mentioned on the official program handout, the single by far most captivating session, the first at Venue B on the morning of the first day of the conference, went completely unattended!**

-no 'thank you' to attendees and sponsors at closing for making the entire event possible

Actually, judging strictly from the number of times it has been reposted and commented upon, we're probably looking at Yang Hengjun's conference-closing talk, 'We Chinese: Look, the Future!' as one of the most memorable, in which Yang touched on a number of topics: Obama, the importance of mothers, morality and recent internet hot topics and, mentioning Martin Luther King, Jr., the dreams we all share for the future: "Yes, we can!"

Liveblogging in English was done this year by the team at CN Reviews who managed to cover all the major bases.

There's that character we love to love elliott ng photo


From the front row to those who couldn't make it, the greater Asian perspective to the freshly local, they captured everything from the rational to the cynical about the conference, the personal:

"life is something like making a good meal, we need time to let it mature to make it taste really good."

...the motivational:

The laws in Egypt say that it can be considered treason even if you are telling the truth. Wael gets hidden camera videos of police brutality. And government corruption. A popular one is of a government person stuffing a ballot box during an election. He has millions of people who see these clips on YouTube of government corruption and policy brutality. One day YouTube mysteriously took them all down. And then when bloggers started to complain about it and NYT learned from the bloggers what had happened, they mysteriously reappeared.

...and then (as the conference's opening keynote) there was Anti:

Since 2000, especially on the Web, there has been tremendous media liberalization in China. There is indeed hope for the Chinese blogosphere. A key question is: will blogs have professionalism or not? Blogs could be considered as part of a free extension to the media.


Pluralism and sensible discussion is crucial...If we cannot express ourselves, and we still want to do a citizen society… something must give.

Must it! But what first...that general malaise? It's a long uphill battle of words for those on the 'change we can believe in' side of things, and those on the illiberal side have the advantage of their most worthy of opponents blipping silently off the network, or being sent to prison and ending up apprentice welders. The post-conference party (that was actually postponed a night because police called the venue and told them: desist) was peppered with shouts of 'Yes, we can!' and @zuola took his shirt off and jumped up on the table and did a bunch of push-ups, raising RMB 500 for 1kg.org in the process. Last year, Daxa got hammered and passed out; this year/that night, he says, he was only just, "tired". Beifeng kept organizing big-ass blogger feasts. TheCarol the Taiwan Twitter Queen brought her tweeps and held a Punch Party that everyone who went said made the whole weekend a blast. The Hong Kong delegation of twenty-something came with their own custom-made t-shirts and flooded Flickr with well-posed photos. Anti made his cnbloggercon debut and kept getting interviewed the whole way through. He Caitou and I had a nice, friendly chat. Even the police spy who stood out like a sore thumb started clapping at one point!

Getting a little excited here...

2006 was too business-y; last year was too PR-heavy; what some will most likely say about this year's event was that it was too unharmonious (actually, people were already Fanfouing that first thing in the morning on Day 1—it was held in Guangzhou, what else did you expect?). I think most people will stand by the line-up; in fact, one point that's already been made is that two obvious omissions this year were a) citizen journalism & grassroots media and b) bridgeblogging (yah!). Can't please everyone, and if you did they'd probably call you stale and move on. Given what little I contributed to organizing this over the past six months or so, I've been quite lucky to be a part of it, working with passionate, professional and very smart people who hold as a core value in approaching cnbloggercon that it's something that by definition has to keep updating itself in order to make any sense to others, managing to do so while upholding '2.0' in practice to every extent possible.

One last thing, some firsts in Guangzhou Bloggercon: an open-air venue, (mostly) simultaneous sessions, Zuola t-shirts, semi-virtual mingling space and something else just a wee bit innovative that should be ready by mid- to late January.

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