Day 2 at ONA

What a whirlwind day of sessions!

Bright and early in the morning was keynoter Evan Williams, (@ev) the CEO of Twitter. He had some great insight, not only in Twitter as another tool for journalists (curating and sorting through information to find what really matters, breaking news stories, etc) but also from an entrepreneur’s perspective. He reminded us to embrace uncertainty, to trust our gut and to make things work. I think that’s maybe something we all needed to hear. Especially me. I know that I’m facing uncertainty right now (and not really feeling it), but we’re going to make it work. Somehow. Oh and I snapped some not very good quality pictures of him from where I was sitting. They have better ones up over at ONA’s Flickr pool.

Next up, I went to a session by Amy Webb (of Webbmedia group) on the next top 10 tech trends. SO EXCITING. She introduced so many cool and creepy things and how journalists can use them. Cool like Flock, where you can aggregate your RSS feeds and Twitter and Wikitude, for Android phones where you can move your phone around and little bubbles will popup full of text from Wikipedia telling you all about what you are looking at. Creepy like Face.com, which automatically tags you (thanks to face recognition) and another one (which I can’t remember right now) where you can enter a name in some search engine and it comes back with a satellite picture of your house and your address. I can’t wait to start using these things!

Ironically, the next one I went to was on metrics and using stats (clicks, comments, etc) and how you shouldn’t always rely on them. Unfortunately I didn’t pay very good attention during this session.

At lunch, another keynoter, Leo Laporte of This Week in Tech (podcast) talked about how he got started and how to straddle the old and new media (he was in radio before TWIT).

After that I went to the session on data hunting, which was good stuff. Main things I learned:

  • There is a grip of data out there, and some of it can be wrong and misleading
  • Data can show inequalities, but pure data may not be the only thing that’s (it could be policy)
  • DocumentCloud (from the NYT, OpenCalais) is the next coolest thing for journalism (in a nutshell: unstructured text becomes structured data –> better reporting and transparency)

At this point, my head was hurting from listening and dehydration, so I decided to take a break. But thank God for hashtags– now I’m hanging out in a comfy chair, charging my laptop and keeping track of the important points in the session on economy.

Fun trends at ONA this year:

  • the ubiquitous smartphone (mostly iPhones and Blackberrys, didn’t really see anything else out there–though some guy I was sitting next to in the last session had an HTC phone)
  • Macbook is king (at our table at breakfast/keynote everyone had one)
  • people from mostly print-based online operations (where are the people from local TV–you all have Web sites too!)
  • using Twitter really took off (yay hashtags to follow sessions)
  • broke the WiFi again

I can’t believe this is half over. Boo!

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