Music and technology work pretty nicely together. These days it seems like you rarely have one without the other, and this has certainly been true for me over the last week as I’ve been participating in Halifax Pop Explosion (HPX) and HPX Digital (the associated media/marketing/tech conference). I’ve been emceeing (that word does not look right to me at all… emcee’ing… mcing… um… being an emcee) and helping out with some of the social media for the conference and it has been great. I’ve met some awesome people involved in the tech and media industries here in Halifax, and the cream of the crop in the tech/digital/media scene from all over North America.
So I’m highjacking my own (oft-neglected) music blog to write a post about the digital media world and the superstars of this conference. Every single presenter I saw was fantastic (which is usually not the case at 3-day conferences), but I’ve narrowed down my top 6.
1) Kyle McDonald (@kcimc): Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Why didn’t I know about him before? McDonald is a media artist from Brooklyn who blew my damn mind with his presentation on giving everything away. Over the course of one hour Kyle demonstrated a selection of his wild, wonderful and jaw-dropping projects using 3D projections. He exists in the most fantastic of spaces where art and technology collide and the the results are nothing short of magnificent. When the robot overloads take over, I definitely want this guy on my team.
2) Boyd Neil (@BoydNeil): This man has 100% more street cred than 99.99% of all people in the tech industry. He started his presentation with a photo of his younger self being hauled off by the police for political protesting. Aside from being an expert who gives and takes exactly zero bullshit, he is an excellent speaker and his discussion of online activisim/slactivism was really well done. The crux of his talk was that if online activism isn’t accomplishing anything, it’s not the fault of the so-called “slacktivists” but the fault of the organizers who haven’t been successful in motivating people to actually act on behalf of a cause. He got the wheels in my head spinning.
3) Saul Colt (@saulcolt): Um Saul… if you ever read this – I want to be friends with you and I don’t care if you’re awkward in small groups (his words, not mine). Who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who self-identifies as “the smartest man in the world”? I have never seen or met anyone like Saul before in my life. He is a genius in the most mad-scientist/magician sense of the word. His presentation on marketing to customers (who don’t want to be marketed to) was beyond hilarious and extremely useful for anyone who has ever been in the situation of having to do a lot with a little. This was the first time in the history of my life that I have ever wished that a slide show would go on longer.
4) Amber Mac (@ambermac): When someone has 80k+ twitter followers and 500k+ facebook subscribers, there is a chance that they might not be very down to earth. This is not the case at all with Amber Mac. After delivering a fantastic presentation on the 7 steps to social media success for entrepreneurs, Amber mingled with attendees and showed why she’s been crowned one of Canada’s top social media experts. Seeing her talk and learning about her success was a real inspiration for all the women in the audience (like me) and I’m sure the men too!
5) Daniel Berkal (@danielberkal): Berkal is a VP at the Palmerston Group in Toronto and had the audience completely engaged with his talk on sociable butterflies and the difference between the people who are truly social, accessible and influential in real life versus the hyperconnectors who appear to be social in the online space, but don’t truly “connect” with many people in the real world. I would highly recommend downloading his presentation and reading it, because it’s fascinating on a personal level AND applicable to businesses and branding.
6) Alexis Ohanian (@alexisohanian): the co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk, investor in 50+ companies, defender of the internet – Ohanian is so articulate and well-spoken, so successful, and so normal. His keynote address highlighted his wonderful story-telling ability and endeared him to everyone in the room. He was fun and interesting, and handled some difficult questions like a pro. Also, this happened:
Anyway, my tech side has been completely indulged during the day in the presence of some amazing industry experts and my music-lover side has been in sweet sweet melodious heaven as I got to take in some awesome acts by night.
It was a fantastic 3 days and I can’t wait to take part again next year.