Hard News by Russell Brown


It's NetHui Week

As the internet charged into the mainstream in the mid-90s one of the more popular social predictions was that we'd all get so virtually networked we might gradually lose the ability to engage with each other face-to-face. What actually transpired was a new age of meetups, transactions and conferences.

Anyone who has attended a Webstock will be familiar with the heightened communications vibe of a modern geek gathering, where rockstar presenters raise consciousness that is duly doused with evening refreshments. The sheer virtuosity of modern conference presentations is a thing to behold.

InternetNZ's NetHui conference, unfolding for the second year at the SkyCity Conference Centre this week, dwells at the other end of the spectrum. It is a grassroots affair, cheap as chips to attend and shaped to such an extent by user feedback that the concluding afternoon on Friday is blocked out as an unconference, its topics to be decided on the day.

It's for the various tribes who use the internet: teachers, lawyers, health professionals, programmers, merchants and marketers.

I haven't had the time to engage with the hundreds of emails flowing through the preparatory mailing lists, but I'm fronting for a couple of jobs. I'm moderating the discussion at the TPPA meetup at 6.30pm tomorrow (I know! A copyright discussion! What am I thinking!?) and then, of course, there's the Orcon Great Blend on Thursday evening at the Civic Wintergarden, where we'll discuss creativity in the internet age before settling into a proper party.

Others will have their own paths through the sprawling schedule and I thought it would be a good idea to open up a discussion here about whatever unfolds. Me, I'm going to have my head down on prep a lot of the time. Such is my lot ...

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