I COMPLETED MY second pilgrimage to the Congregation.ie this weekend and discovered more faces from dial-up Ireland who came to Cong on the Mayo-Galway border to share perspectives. These weekends feel like TheDoLectures without the campfires.
I got immersed in some particularly interesting conversations.
I finally met Sean McGrath face-to-face. In 1996, when I was thinking about setting up a website with a newsfeed, I read some of Sean's technical discussions with Dave Winer on the subject. Those mailing list threads caused me to set up my first weblog using Radio Userland. Two other people in Ireland, Gavin Sheridan and Karlin Lillington, also appeared on Radio Userland, a CMS platform that maintained a local copy of blog posts while uploading into a shared community and spawning a newsfeed onto my dashboard.
I noticed Sean has started blogging again and I hope he shares more thoughts about the joy of coding with visual metaphors. I think many of his ideas put an A into STEM initiatives, causing a natural evolution of STEM to STEAM.
Nicky Gogan, the video creative I met in 1996 when she returned to Dublin, let me hear a film maker's perspective on topics I discuss on our creative multimedia programme in the Limerick School of Art & Design. I think our third year students will make a studio visit to Still Films in Smithfield before the end of January. I always learn a lot during studio visits and site walk-throughs.
Maryrose Lyons' discussed the impact of porn on pre-teens. As she shared research, I realized how my teaching of social media at third level could support the development of a discussion that all parents should have with their teenagers. Dermot Casey folded some compelling throwaway quotes into the hour-long discussion. I plan to make this a blog post on its own.
Jason Roe, the developer whose 15 minutes of fame wound up Michael O'Leary of Ryanair, teased listeners with hints of social media analytics for politicians. On the back channel, David Quaid tossed in some clever uses of Twitter Cards and the result is I realize I am still an amateur at leveraging social networking analytics.
While sharing a story about who handed me the first book I bought on HTML in 1995, Joy Redmond leaned over and told me the Hodges Figgis sales associate was her roommate. Both women remain dial-up connectors.
On the ride into Cong to meet Eoin Kennedy, the event organizer, I spent a half hour with Marie Boran, comparing ways educators can make learning more engaging with social tools. This needs to be a topic at CESI in February 2015 and I hope Marie and I reconnect for that event to share our notes.
Unlike any other tech-savvy event, meet-ups in Cong give me the opportunity I need to reset the gender balance. Something about Cong gives women with technology a louder voice because my takeaways are more influenced by women than by men. Last year, I sat spellbound when Evelyn O'Connor took listeners into her Tweeting classrooms. I hope next year Catherine Cronin can take time off from her PhD research to influence the 70 people who come from nine counties to share and share alike at #cong15.
And if you think you might enjoy as day of thoughtful discussion with some of Ireland's earliest adopters, I recommend you check out Congregation.ie today, follow its newsfeed, read its mail shots and then reserve time in November 2015 to learn things you didn't realise you needed to know.
[Hat tip to Blacknight Solutions for being a lead sponsor of The Congregation 2014. The event kicked off in Ryan's Hotel in the photo.]