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Social enterprise highlighted at Northern Voice 2012

On June 15th and 16th, the Northern Voice blogging and social media conference took place at the W2 Media Café and SFU Woodwards.

Northern Voice began in Vancouver in 2005 as an informal, accessible personal blogging conference for techies and newbies alike. This year, one of the strongest themes running through the conference was how to use the internet, blogging and social media to effect change for the benefit of society.

Influential young voices in Canada

The conference began with a keynote speech by Reilly Yeo, the Managing Director of OpenMedia.ca. Open Media is a group focussed on safeguarding the possibilities of an open and affordable internet. Yeo talked about how social media can change current and proposed government policies, which affect things such as how we as internet and mobile users are billed, to how access to our online data is controlled.

Yael Cohen, the superforce behind the awareness campaign Fuck Cancer, talked about what it was like to go from the life-altering devastation of finding out her mother had cancer, to the movement that aims to activate Gen Y into engaging with their parents about early detection of cancer.

Social change advocate Tyler Morgenstern talked about Reimagining the CBC, a massive public brainstorm that made use of online tools to ask Canadians what they think the future holds for public media. Personally, I was surprised to find out that youth and young adults cared about the CBC.  So it was refreshing hear from Morgenstern that young and old Canadians cared enough to know how the CBC as a public broadcast media is run, and how it could be improved.

Richard Loat was also on hand to give a talk about combining passion and social good. Using online and social media tools, he founded Five Hole for Food to encourage and engage a demographic that doesn’t normally get involved in fundraising, volunteer recruitment, charity. He ended his speech with a statement that best describes the internet savvy social changers who rocked Northern Voice that weekend.

“One of the things I’m often asked is: Who are you to change the world?” said Loat “My response is the message I’d like to leave you with today: Who are you not to?”

Something for everyone

There was something for everyone at Northern Voice, and many sessions focussed on some of the fun things that made Northern Voice a popular grassroots community. Sociotechnologist Blaine Cook’s keynote was a philosophical rant about keeping the internet as open to creative expression from as many voices as possible. Dave Ng, a geneticist at UBC, gave an extremely entertaining talk about crowdsourcing for fun and science. Shane Birley, author of Blogging for Dummies, talked about the ups and downs of writing a personal blog. Bloggers Amber Strocel, Samantha Reynolds, and Crystal Stranaghan gave advice on how to stay inspired when writing a blog. And lawyer Martha Rans from Artists Legal Outreach gave practical advice about copyright and legal issues when sharing content, like photos created by other people, on your blog.

Since this was a 2-day event with concurrent sessions, a lot more happened at this great event than what I’ve been able to highlight here. To learn more about the conference and other sessions that took place, visit the Northern Voice 2012 website.

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