Emerge mini-conf review


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Review by Web Heroines' friend Marion Catlin

Just finished my first Web Heroines Emerge web conference session! I have attended webinars before which have basically been online web tutorials run by large companies and you expect them to be slick. And they have been generally effective in a distant kind of way as a way of learning about something though a bit impersonal. But Emerge is produced and hosted in Norwich, my home city, and is a closer and less corporate than the others I have attended so I wasn't sure what to expect. The idea behind a web conference is a bit weird isn't it? I mean, how can you really meet people and get the same buzz that you get out of attending a real conference? Then again, you don't have to get up early, get a train and put aside whole days and it's free, so I registered (as I am generally up for trying anything new) and at the appointed time, 10am, followed the link and waited for it all to start.

And it was fab, I mean by that, much better than I really expected. I have a big screen IMac so I thought - I can have the webinar on in one corner, so I can keep working on the report I have to do, but in fact the talk by Rachel Andrew from edgeofmyseat.com about developing and launching a new product kept my attention throughout the hour of the broadcast. As it happens, I am thinking about how I can develop my own arts and cultural network into a 'product' which will add to my income in some way, and although it is not directly applicable, much of what Rachel was saying can be transferred. the webinar environment worked well - it was funny to hear the 'out-takes' which somehow made it more genuine, more of a real, live experience.

I wondered what it would be like not to be able to see people, and not to go off for a coffee in between sessions to talk to other people who had also been in the session and I missed that joint experience, so afterwards I started to explore the site. I filled in my profile a bit more, uploaded a profile pic so that I am not a grey square (never liked that image), looked around at the other delegates and saw a few I knew. It is not quite a 'real' conference environment but maybe if I poke around a bit more, I will start to join up with other delegates and exchange experiences and thoughts. I'll let you know how I get on with that later.

Back to the session itself - Rachel talked about her business edgeofmyseat.com and the skills she already had as a web developer on large, bespoke CMS systems that she and her husband work on together before they developed their product Perch. What they were finding was that their ability to generate income was limited by the man/woman-hours in the day and the going hourly rate for their kind of work. There was only so much they could do between the two of them without employing junior people which they didn't really want to do. There as no way around this other than by coming up with a product that could sell itself whilst they were doing something else. A basic principle of a product versus a service I guess. It is pretty obvious but sometimes obvious things slip by! So that made me think for a start.