Digital Communications and Social Media: Trends and Technologies at High-Tech Communications Exchange

It’s not a secret that I’m trying to learn as much as I can about social media and web copywriting, so when an event like the HTCE talks shows up, I certainly do my best to attend. It’s all part of my personal education plan (that I still need to write… among so many other things).

The event was suggested to me by my now good friend Lois. Even though she couldn’t attend, there were still some people I knew from Twitter who were there and Raul even made an appearance. I had no idea he was coming!

The theme of the September 12th discussion was Digital Communications and Social Media: Trends and Technologies. For 20$, you get in and have pizza and juice. Not a bad price to hear Darren Barefoot, Gillian Shaw and Dennis Pang discuss social media and communications.

Darren Barefoot: Web 3.0

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen that I live-tweeted the event. The highlight of Darren’s talk was the development of the web 3.0 (where has 2.0 gone already??). While 2.0 was about getting as much information as possible through social networks, the web 3.0 is focused on personalizing and filtering the experience for Internet users.

In other words, RSS is dead: apps and startups like, Zite and others produce filtered newspapers and magazines that help you focus on what you really want to read. Zite has been doing really well and the more I use it, the better the results are. However, it has not replaced my RSS as what I follow on RSS is really different from what I programmed in Zite.

Darren discussed the engagement ladder (interesting theory!) and described how we need to use different channels to send different messages. There is no “mass market” anymore.

Gillian Shaw

Gillian is a tech reporter for the Vancouver Sun and brought a different perspective. She discussed the responsibility of the journalist towards information found on social networks, i.e., not help spread rumours. She argued that journalists are now simply part of content producers along with bloggers and copywriters.

The most interesting part to me was how she discussed the way news dissemination has become a two-way street; no longer do we rely solely on traditional media for our news. Journalists and readers now feed each other news, blurring the line between “friend” and “journalist”.

Darren Barefoot and Gillian Shaw

Dennis Pang

Dennis went another direction, discussing how mobile technology is changing the way retail and restaurants are doing business. Smartphones are now outselling PCs, and some businesses are catching on by making the shopping experience more social, whether through FourSquare or other mobile apps.

He cited an interesting statistic where brands and businesses miss 70% of user-generated content through lack of or deficient social media monitoring. This can be dangerous, as bad publicity on social media can spread like wildfire.

Dennis said that businesses need to embrace the social at all levels and not only in the marketing department. It’s all about being social, not doing social.


I must say I had a great time. The talks were short (10 minutes) and left us a ton of time for questions and discussion. It brought some interesting thoughts and debates, too. I’m really happy I decided to go (I’d been hesitating all day). It was a 20$ well spent, and I’ll be sure to attend future events when the topic fits my interests.



Filed under Events, Reviews

2 responses to “Digital Communications and Social Media: Trends and Technologies at High-Tech Communications Exchange

  1. Anabelle — I’m so glad you enjoyed last nights session. Lots of great nuggets. I’m glad you decided to attend after thinking about it. I hope you met some interesting people. We’re fortunate we’re able to get such great speakers to freely share their wisdom – we all benefit in the end. For me, the HTCE is a great way to keep current and Vancouver has all kinds of experts who can speak to the myriad of new communications channels opening up. I trust we’ve been able to turn you into an HTCE fan!

  2. I have to say that it was lovely to see my friends (both the ones who spoke and the ones who attended), and that I enjoyed the bits and nuggets of information that Gillian, Dennis and Darren presented.

    It was very annoying to me that Catherine almost cut me off when I was trying to make a point (and yes, I am publicly posting this, and I have no problem doing so – regarding precisely the point I was making on privacy – I DO want this in print). I think that for events like this, the learning comes from having an actual conversation. If you cut off someone BEFORE they have made a point, you risk losing them as an audience member and alienating them (as Catherine did – I am not planning to attend any future HTCE events, and I’m certainly not speaking at one, even if invited!).

    The most value one gets from events like this comes from the question/answer period and I was shy to ask any further questions even though nobody really probed or pressed the real, larger questions. My questions were left largely unanswered (I love Darren to the bottom of my heart but I don’t really buy the idea that privacy is something we geeks are concerned about and normal human beings don’t).

    Glad you got value out of it. I got the most value from seeing my friends. When I want to ask (or be asked) the larger, probing, in-depth questions, I’ll find other venues :)

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