Blog Dinner Gent

28 Jun 2005

So, today was my first Blog Dinner. I must say I really had a great time chatting with other bloggers, especially with Maarten Schenk. If there is an ubergeek, surely folks, this is the man. Of course there just wasn’t enough time to see everybody I wanted to see, and to talk to everybody I wanted to talk to, but the summary of the night leaves me with a lot of stuff to think and blog about.

Things kicked off just great when I picked up Rik Boey, who needed a lift to the FondueHouse. I was there at six pm, but traffic from there on was hell on earth. We drove slower than a pedestrian for about two or three miles, just to get to the access route to the highway. Man, that took like half an hour already. I had my doubts of getting there in time, so I called ahead to Talie Van Hecke and Ingmar De Langhe, who we were supposed to meet before ‘going in’, and told them traffic was jammed.

Then after the hectic circus called the biggest construction site of the century [choose english - top right to have a good laugh], We were tempestuously heading for Ghent at a steady 150 km/h. (93 miles an hour or so) Normally the speed limit is 120 km/h but if I kept it, even the trucks passed me by. We listened to some French rap on the way there, the album of Antilop Sa (L’encre enguise de larmes) and the one from La Boussole (On fait comme on a dit). Entering Ghent, we had to look around a little before we found our way, but my co-pilot had done his homework. Seven’o ten and parking.

So in the end, we made it even faster than we had planned. Talie and Ingmar had found a spot in the sun already and were cozily drinking some freshly poured alcohol. Sweet. Bring it on. We joined them and ordered ours. I was dessignatedly driving, so the wuss in me said no. Mentally I was up for it, I swear. :)

While enjoying the sun, we started to look around for faces we could pin a blog upon, and with some youthly excitement we started to discuss ‘nerdly’ things like Google’s Video User Submissions that had been released today. More specificly, we talked about some problems Philipp Lenssen from Google Blogoscoped seemed to be having getting his video’s ‘out there’. Also a few of Nathan’s remarks were quoted. Like this one : ‘Searching for actual video is difficult, since it is mixed in with all the television content that, while just as relevant, is not viewable.

Nathan has a point. Google should try to structurize things a little so you could perform a more directed search. (*nodding heads)

Apparently the guy at the table next to us was no one other than Michel Vuijlsteke himself, nature’s closer upper. You should definitely see the beautiful pics he makes from earth’s multilegged creatures he finds when he’s out in the open or sitting in his bath tub. Apparently he ‘does’ humanoids as well. I wasn’t aware of that. Didn’t had the time yet to go through his archives. Here’s a cool pic I’m particularly fond of :


Shortly after the discovery of Mister Vuijlsteke, Maarten Schenk arrived at the scene. Rik, my co-pilot for the day and night, had already worked with Maarten on a project for their common youth movement interests, so he was the first one to recognize Mister Typepad. We had a few drinks and laughs, and it was six thirty. Time for some fondue !

Apparently we weren’t the first to enter, but that was just great. I hate it to be first. Cindy De Smet (Smetty) from and Erwin Van Hunen from DopplerRadio were there to welcome us with open arms and an appetizer ‘maison’, some peach flavored bubbly wine with Blue Curaçao in it.

We checked in, gave up or refused to give up our rights to be photographed and displayed on the www, and x-marked the box that allowed your e-mail address to travel other places. Yeah. Privacy issues. A major issue for bloggers :)

We all made ourselves an old fashioned nametag, but I’d brought mine, as I had promised Randy, the R|Mail inventor I hooked up with a new logo. I’m trying to get the word out, so Maarten, the Dutch page is coming to a blog near you before the end of this week ! In the end, most some of the nametags were a collection of url’s that ‘kind of’ represented the name in between the addresses. What else did you expect from geeks like us?

Then I had a talk with Bart De Waele from NetLash, Jan Schuer from SmartSchool, Maarten Schenk and some others of which I only remember the faces. Sorry guys ! Well it wasn’t really a talk. It was more like an open-source or wiki discussion where people just added phrases and comments to what was being said. A cool way to converse. Goes really fast and many topics get ’scanned and analyzed’ in fact we covered about the entire actual blogosphere in fifteen minutes, I think. Then it finally was dinnertime.

I wish I had a chance to talk to Ilse Baetslé [kerygma] about how schools could use blogs to really integrate ict for starters and next to create a community that goes beyond the school walls. I’ve been talking this through with Jonas, a friend of mine who’s a teacher. He really likes the idea of a schoolblog with categories for each class and each subject, and maybe even a forum where kids could post competition announcements for their after-school sports clubs or more personal things. Rik Boey said kerygma was into this, I didn’t know. Damn. Well, if he’s going to be a journalist, he sure has the gift to target interesting folks. She’s on the ‘must talk to’ list for sure.

I’d also like to talk to Fred Truyen from the university of Leuven once. I think he should have some very interesting visions about how e-learning and scolar-ict should look like. That’s something I’d like to know more about. Next time. On the list. :)

So… the fondue. It was great. A cool photographer from DeStandaard
hung around our table practically all night and we had a superb time. We laughed a lot, and Maarten Schenk even had a small competition set up between him and the photographer. They both took a picture from each other and compared who would have his picture published first. So Maarten then uploaded his pic the moblog way. 1-0 for the new media versus the old. Hahah. Nerd humor. Ain’t it cute?

During dinner we kind of talked about things we thought were about to arrive, about cool stuff that has vanished and about technological gadgets. We also talked a little about the things we’ve done already and people we know in the places that are way too cool. That’s part of the naming game. Maarten really had a ton of luck ending up at Six Apart. Working from home, getting paid to talk about blogging and spending time with your kid. Indeed. Only the simultaneous presence of whoppers and wi-fi could possibly alter this degree of happiness.

At this time Maarten is participating in a rather big wi-fi project. A few hundred people have received a pda, and the entire city of Hasselt has access points all over the place, so users could log in virtually anywhere to do virtually any virtual stuff. Virtually. Cool thing to participate in. He got the pda for free, for his contribution of ideas to the project. Lucky prick ;)

After dinner, we sat on the terrace outside, where the photographer who didn’t say his name was GPRS’ing his pictures and some other work to the paper and probably other people. Maarten pulled out his laptop and blogged another thing, on the expense of some poor soul who has neglected the encryption of his local wireless network. Too bad for him, lucky for Maarten. At 12.15 am, we said goodbye. A lot of interesting people were there, I wanted to talk to many more… but there was no more time. I had to drop off Rik in Antwerp again, and then drive to my home, another 20 minutes of asphalt.

Empty highways. A driver’s dream.

UPDATE : I almost forgot : a scoop from Bart :
Our prime minister’s xml from his podcast [Dutch]

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Posted by Miel Van Opstal in Uncategorized


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