Niagara-on-the-Lake is not the first place I’d think of to host a social media event.  John Meadows, Keith Burtis and Bill Deys on the other hand, knew something about the location and timing.  The three of them collaborated to organize the first of what could be many summer-based events in that region.  While partners and families weren’t part of the geeky program of the weekend, the organizers made several efforts to include the social media widows and orphans during meals and a tour of Inniskillin on the Sunday morning.  It was great to move beyond the fishbowl and meet the people behind the scenes — a lot of very nice and patient partners and children.

NOTL2008, as it is known, was a gathering of about 30 people at the Prince of Wales Hotel in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.  It was a small and engaged group despite the over-the-top posh room the event was held in.  While the room was a concern of mine from the beginning of the day, the sessions were extremely interesting and the layout of the room quickly vanished as I focussed on the conversation.  My favourite session was Sean McGaughey‘s talk called I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like in which he discussed podcasting, friends and community, relating real life now to real life then.

There were a lot of conversations during the weekend about the kind of event that had been originally considered — a BBQ with a few speakers which apparently had to be changed when the venue discovered it was double-booked.   Then there was talk about what the event could be including something a little more cozy like an actual gathering at a campground.  Despite all of that talk of what could have been and what could be, NOTL2008 was many things that other events haven’t been and sported a more cozy spirit which included all-you-can eat homemade chocolate chip cookies (thanks, Keith’s mom!).

It was particularly nice to see people who have largely taken a support role at other events move into a more visible role by organizing this event.  I hadn’t considered that August was a good time to meet.  I had actually dismissed the idea and discovered that it was a great time to regroup and gear up for what has historically been viewed as the coming of a new season of social media production.