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Amplified08 (or Amplified 08 depending on what google says…)


For years I’ve been interested in the way that people interact online, from chatting via the terminal at college, through blogging LiveJournal, to the constant barrage of Twitter and it’s new ilk. These days these are all rolled up under the rather inclusive banner of “Social Media” a term that I feel has little meaning. Last week saw one of the largest social media gatherings in London so far, Amplified08. Largest, at least, in terms of an event to talk about social media as a concept, rather than meeting through social media (and normally trying to drink a sponsor’s bar tab).

I won’t talk much about the talk that me, Annie Mole and Chris Meade presented, as Nicole over at the London Geek Girl Dinners has already done it much better than I on their blog¬†and the slides are up on SlideShare. However, the big thing I took away from the talk was what Chris said – books aren’t about the paper, they’re about the words and the experience they inspire inside your head. When we get over the hurdle that the constant interconnectedness of the medium and the content of a book the ebook will take off, but until that time it’ll be slow going.

The conference itself was great, although the overriding feeling I left with was one of mild confusion – what was it meant to be? It was billed as the meeting of the “Network of Networks”, getting the groups within social media together under one roof to talk. However, the sessions themselves seemed to be a bit short (as we discovered when we thought we had an hour, only to find that we only had 40 minutes) and the fray of people outside of the main conference room was not an environment entirely conducive to conversation. I had a really good time, talking about books, the parallels between improv theatre and interaction in social networks and the future of online video. However, the most useful conversations I had were sitting in rooms waiting for sessions to start, or carrying on conversations after they ended, as well as a short time in the overflow pub, talking with Rachel Clarke and Steve Lamb. Part of the stated aim for amp08 was to set up amp09 to lead to amp10 as a big social media event, but this really felt like the ground work, basically a scaled up version of Tuttle and the other groups that meet regularly.

It was organised where it needed to be, it was disorganised where it needed to be, but overall it didn’t have much direction, which I think was probably a good thing. The purpose will crystallise over time and I don’t envy the organisers the task of collating these opinions and trying to drag out the ideas that will form the basis of amplified09. However, I’ll help where I can and I suspect that anyone else who likes talking will do the same.

Overall I think my take home from the day can be summed up quite neatly. I bumped into Christian Payne shortly after turning up and he told me that he was interviewing as many people as he could, asking them one question – “What do you think the future of social media is?”. I ran away before he could get his camera out as I can’t answer the question other than with another question – “What do you think social media is? I’ve not got a clue…”

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