Feb 26 2009
Northervoice 09 is now history – thousands of tweets, images and blog posts. It is time to reflect a bit. I enjoyed every minute of NV again – there is something warm and welcoming about it. I don’t mind the bits of chaos. I love the diversity – especially for a tech oriented gathering. And there are plenty of women! It was another visually oriented gathering for me. Continuing on from my “writing on the walls” from ’08, I again did a lot of visual work in this digitally focused gathering.
On Friday, as already noted, I ran a lightening fast Graphic Recording 101 session which was pure joy. There is a video here. And lots of pictures on Flickr. It was great to hear people say they not only enjoyed it, but were able to move their own practice forward. Yay! More hands on pen and chalk! We started by drawing circles using our full bodies, then horizontal lines, then text (with the tips about headlines the width of your palm, text the width of 2 fingers), then the terror zone – human figures. We practiced start people and squiggle people. The the final burst of color with the application of chalk. It was glorious how color brought even simple practice sketches to life. It was a think of beauty to watch. The artifacts we left behind were then a backdrop for the Photocamp session. Fitting, eh?
A first for Northern Voice, I graphically recorded a keynote – and what a performance it was to try and capture! The seriously funny Rob Cottingham had the capacity crowd in stitches talking about the funny side of social media. I had to draw as fast as the wind. It ended up being two panels, even though the keynote was just under 45 minutes. Thanks to Roland Tanglao for helping get up a second sheet.
It was interesting to think about the process. Prior to the talk all I knew was the title and that it was mostly stream of consciousness stand up comedy with some “serious stuff at the end.” I got this information from 5 tweets from Rob, so you know the information was under 700 characters. I’m glad I just went with the flow. It was risky, but fun. I had thought about some sort of timeline image in advance, but that would not have worked. And because they ended up having me draw from the front of the room right behind Rob and under his slides, this felt a bit more like preformance art than just graphic recording. (Some coverage of the keynote here, here and here.)
After it was over, I needed to go outside and lay on the grass and have a quieter conversation with a friend. I felt like I had just run a race, or taken a really hard yoga class. I was physically tired.
Later I noticed something as I skimmed the Flickr pictures tagged “northernvoice09″ — the vivid social media chart was behind all the subsequent speakers. It provided a different sort of backdrop and I found great pleasure in that. (Photo by Tris Hussey)
I had the great pleasure of being on a “trio offering” with Barbara Ganley and Laura Blankenship. Our topic was “Doing the Limbo: Navigating the space in between – Create relationships, not distance.” How is that for a long title? Sheesh, what WERE we thinking?
We wanted to give an experience of boundary crossing, so we started the session with a paired drawing exercise (for details, see here and here) for the technique I learned from Johnnie Moore.) The basic premise is without talking, people take turns drawing facial features until they have created a shared face and named it, one letter at a time. As always, this great exercise gets people interacting with each other and then people are amazed at how they let go of their preconceived notions about drawing something and how beautiful their images are.
Then we moved into videos from Barbara and Laura which again set a very multisensory tone – images, poetry, music. As we moved into conversation, I then captured the conversation visually. We wrapped our session with an invitation for everyone to come down front and dance!
After the session the three of us sat down, along with my friends Dave Pollard and Sue Wolff, and did a debrief of the session. We all really enjoyed it and realized we opened a huge pandora’s box that we could not even begin to explore in a 40 minute session. There was so much everyone wanted to say. How about a whole day? Sue twittered out our comments. Later, Laura blogged about it here. I’m waiting for Barbara’s blogged reflections.
The last experiment of Saturday was with Alan Levine using his Livescribe pen/paper to visually annotate his presentation, which itself was on the role of visuals in blogging! For the details, see Nancy LiveScribed Me on Flickr – Photo Sharing
By the end of the day, my chalk was down to the nubbins! It was visual, collaborative, somewhat chaotic and fun.
Just in — Laura made a “Thank you NVoice” video!