Blogfest 2014

WOW, what a day!! Today was the much awaited Blogfest 2014. I bought my early bird ticket back in August and have been looking forward to it since.

To say I was nervous is an understatement. While most friends can’t shut me up think I’m a chatterbox, I’m actually extremely shy, until I get to know you. I walked into King’s Place on York Way feeling like I did my first day of university. Looking for a friendly face, wandering if everyone around me was as nervous as I was and hoping someone would come over and talk to me while I stood in the corner quietly drinking my cappuccino and pretending to take in my surroundings.

The morning started off with a keynote panel discussion between Sarah Vine, Beeban Kidron, Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, Susie Boniface, Tim Dowling and Anita Anand as the chair. The topic of discussion was “How does technology shape the way we think?” and inadvertently it moved on to how the internet and technology affects our kids.

Children born today don’t have a “before” social media/internet life. It’s all they will ever know. My 2 1/2 year old knows how to log onto my Skype and call my best friend in Ireland when he fancies a chat. Yes, 2 1/2!!

The concern that was raised was “Will our children struggle with their identities and self worth without their online lives?” Beeban Kidron mentioned a girl who decided to put her phone outside the house in a rubbish bin to stop herself from checking it when she woke at night as it was affecting her sleep (and probably her sanity!!) But one night in and she found herself outside, in the pouring rain, rummaging about in the bin looking for her phone (yeah, insanity!). Sleep disorders are on the rise because of our phones.

And when it comes to children, how do we police their time spent on the internet? It’s important for parents to make it their business to understand what their children are doing online. Although Sarah Vine has given her 11 year old a mobile phone, she’s installed apps that let her see what her daughter is doing on her phone as well as track her every move. While that may sound a tad overprotective, it’s an issue of knowing more rather than less when it comes to our children and the huge world wide web.

Some classic quotes from the session were:

“The internet doesn’t come to you, you go to it.” Tim Dowling

“A rat in the lab of Google” Beeban Kidron on being a young person surrounded by technology.

“If you don’t learn how to be alone, you can end up very lonely.” Beeban Kidron

We then had a coffee break before we divided into groups for a breakout session. I went to the “How to make money from your blog” session which was very informative. This was followed by 5 minute “think bombs” from Suzanne Moore, Camila Batmanghelidjh (who’s speech was so thought provoking) and Francesca Martinez who delivered a moving speech about what we call normal.

During the lunch break I met the lovely Amy Duthie in the line in the loo (as you do) just when I was starting to think I was going to be “natasha no mates” all afternoon. She introduced me to fellow third culture kid and mummy blogger Amie Caitlin.

Right after lunch I got to say hello and have a quick chat with Kate Sutton who’s blog I love and read regularly. I felt like a bit of a stalker knowing so much about her life but I guess that’s the whole point of the blogging community?!

I then attended Paul Armstrong’s Advanced social media master class. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the terms went over my head, I’m still quite a newbie when it comes to social media. But, I’m glad I went because I now have a head full of new ideas to get myself out there more (in the blogging community ofcourse).

There was another breakout session before the day started to wind down with a keynote panel discussion titled “The power of writing”. The speakers included Nick Hornby, Harriet Lane, Lynn Barber, Rachel Joyce, Lisa Jarmin and Erica Wagner as the chair. What an amazing line up!! I feel so inspired to keep writing after that session.

The closing talk was by the amazing comedian Lucy Porter who had the whole room in hysterics. The perfect end to what was an absolutely mind blowing day!

After a quick drink and chat with some of the bloggers I met today I headed home (in the pouring rain). But not before I collected my goody bag!!

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So, full of inspiration and lots to think about, you can expect more from me this month. Stay tuned for the perfect Christmas gift lists for those little boys and girls in your life…coming this week!

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