Tag Archives: gathering

London and SitC

A trip to London and SitC 2011.

Went down to London for a week recently. Got down there at the tail end of that period of rioting. However all I saw was Londoners (and tourists) all just getting on with life. The reason for heading down from Glasgow; to attend the three days of Summer in the City YouTube Gathering (SitC) and also have a few days in London of just being a tourist.

SitC was good. I don’t know how many attended over the week-end, perhaps six or seven hundred. A bit of Hyde Park, a bit of Regent’s Park and a bit of Jubilee Gardens; and in the evenings some music sessions. Nice to see some familiar faces and nice to make some new contacts. For a few people this is the only time throughout the year that they get the chance of face to face meetings with their internet social contacts, especially when these people are located in different countries.

One area that seem to have become a surrogate home for many YouTubers is Camden. An interesting area of shops and markets, lots of food places and the canal going through the middle. Walking around there the day after SitC had ended and I was bumping into many I knew, all just winding down. Although not really my style of clothing, heading off into The Stables market area and a wander around CyberDog is always fun. A few years ago if someone had asked me if I’d like to live in London I’d probably have said ‘no’, however I’ve going down there to Gatherings over the last three years my attitude to the city has changed, and if I could afford a property there, then I would happily move there now.

Back to SitC – an amazingly friendly get together. Yes, with that number there there will be personality clashes and the like, on the other hand it is so large it’s easy enough to avoid those you may not wish to see. No barrier to gender or age, many there in their early teens, others there retired. Spread across Friday – Saturday – Sunday some just turned up for one day, but what did surprise me was the numbers there at the start on Friday lunchtime. Walking into Hyde Park and seeing in the distance this huge crowd of people was just amazing. I’d expected (and we got) large Saturday numbers, but to see so many there so early at the start was great.

This was the third SitC and at least this time YouTube bothered to send some representatives which was nice. Provisional dates for 2012 are for the 17th – 19th of August. I hope to go.

DevMeets and Gatherings

DevMeets and Gatherings and nice social events.

It must have been late autumn 2007 that I became curious about the ‘YouTube’ thing, signed up with an account in early 2008, then started uploading videos in the middle of that year. This led on to things like attending YouTube Gatherings and generally getting to know people within that community.
It was then through a comment made by a YouTuber on their channel that got me aware of DeviantArt, and so signed up and uploaded a few pictures I had taken that I rather liked. DeviantArt was very much a ‘minority interest’ thing to me; video, YouTube, and the social community based around that was where my main interest lay.

However December 2009 found me down in London for an evening YouTube session – Tom Milsom’s Painfully Mainstream gig, but I had heard that there was going to be a DevMeet that day too, so thought I’d go and have a look. Something to keep me occupied till Tom’s gig in the early evening.
(There are videos of both the DevMeet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NACMzrqv-U) and Tom’s gig (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQOSnXxpsCw) on my YouTube channel.)

Finding out about the DevMeet really was a chance thing, and I couldn’t stay long, but did enjoy myself there.
However this meeting did encourage me to look more to DeviantArt, so when I heard of various DevMeets happening in the summer of 2010 (DeviantArt’s 10th birthday), I thought I’d get to one. So on the 21st of August I found myself heading towards Marble Arch and *UncleWoodstock’s picnic meet. (http://www.youtube.com/user/StressedTechnician#p/u/0/g-q43SNZ_Ac)

In many ways the DevMeet crowd was a similar crowd to that of a YouTube Gathering; young dominated, above average intelligence, expressive group of people. However there was one interesting difference; this crowd uses DeviantArt to show and express themselves through their work, whether it be drawings, photographs or whatever. The YouTube crowd so often use their videos to show and express themselves, this is ‘me’ showing myself off for everyone else to see.
This difference in outlook, this is me through my work (but I shall remain hidden), and this is me, on video, most definitely not hidden, but both coming from a similar ‘expressive’ group of people I found quite interesting.

As for anyone reading this who has not yet been to any of these DevMeets and Gatherings – get to one. They’re great days out and a wonderful way of making friends and meeting some really nice, fun people.

Winter Gatherings

Tired.
We recently had a YouTube winter Gathering up here in Glasgow. About a dozen people attended so an okay sized crowd. However there was a bit of a personality clash between two of the people there which added a bit of unwanted tension to the day. Well, you can’t go through life liking every single person you ever meet, and you can’t expect every person you meet to like you too. What goes to make up your own character is how you handle these sorts of situations. If there’s someone there you don’t like do you let it get to you (and your negativity influence those around you) or do you have the strength to accept such situations and enjoy the fact that there are more people there that you do like than you don’t.
This was very quickly followed by a run down to Manchester and a Gathering there. I like Manchester. It does have the advantage of being centrally located and relatively easily accessible to the majority of the country’s population. A bit over a couple of hours on the train up from London. Close enough to Glasgow (and Edinburgh) to make day trips from these places practicable.
That was then followed the next week-end by a hop across to Dublin. Was quite surprised how expensive the ‘little things’ were across there. More expensive items were not really that hugely different, it was things like paying twice the price for a cup of coffee in Dublin than in Glasgow or Manchester that caught me out.
The week-end after that was Tom Milsom’s Painfully Mainstream album release event. Not a typical YouTube Gathering, but an evening music session in the upstairs room of a central London pub. However just about everybody there was YouTube connected, and had ‘gathered together’ in one place; you can make up your own mind if you want to call it a Gathering or not.
Before Tom’s evening session there was for me an interesting diversion in the shape of meeting a group of Deviant Art types who were holding a DevMeet, starting at lunchtime in Tate Modern. A really nice crowd.
Then this last week-end and the London Festive Gathering. At one stage a quick head-count counted 35 people. Assume a few were missed, so say a bit over 40, but the count was done after some had left, so we’re talking around 50 to 60 people there at one time or another. Note to Gathering organisers; If you are going to do a middle of winter Gathering, make sure you have the option of meeting in a location that has at least some level of cover and shelter. Standing for an hour or so exposed out in the freezing cold on grass that was rapidly turning into mud is foolish.
Then on the way back from that a very pleasant diversion via Manchester and meet a (YouTube) friend. Yet another example how internet contacts can become Real Life friends.
All great week-ends, one after another, but there comes a time when enough is enough and some alone-time is needed. Things can get tiring, often more mentally than physically. However it is coming up to Christmas which is not really an alone-time period.
A period that also does show how lonely it can be even when you are in large crowds of others.

Gatherings. Friends & Relationships.

A few thoughts on Gatherings, friends & relationships.

So, three Gatherings over three consecutive week-ends. First a run down to Birmingham and the ‘Boomingham’ birthday gathering. The last one a run down to Bristol and Jacob Dyer’s gathering. With in the middle the Summer in the City gathering in central London.
Every Gathering has its own style and character, but this SitC was something different. An event spread over three days with people coming from all over the world to attend. On the Saturday I counted just over 200 people that had formed one large circle. Add to that those not in the circle, those who turned up later, those who just attended on the Friday or Sunday; I will guess overall something around 300 there at one time or another. I only met a very few of those I had hoped to meet, but with so many there with different groups forming doing different things, that was only to be expected.

However it did get me thinking as to what actually is a ‘friend’, and where do you differentiate between acquaintance, friend, and good friend. Now, I know how I see others, with various people I know falling into any one of these three groups (a bit arbitrary perhaps just having three groups, but you have to start somewhere), but how do others see me? Or more importantly from my perspective, how do *I perceive* their relationship is to me. If everything is on an equal level, then no problem. Even if it is on a lopsided relationship – I’ve watched their many YouTube videos (both entertainment and personal vlog stuff), seen them on BlogTV or Stickam, maybe even met them briefly at a Gathering – I may see them as a ‘friend’, however I do realise that their only contact with me is probably by a couple of chat comments on BlogTV and the brief Gathering meeting, so to them I will be no more than ‘an acquaintance’. That gives me no problems what so ever. So long as I know where I stand and can act accordingly and know what level of action I expect from them.

However what happens when you believe they see you on one level, but ‘things happen’. Say a group activity of some sort where you know everyone in the group and believe that they see you as a friend, but when you ask to join in, they turn their backs on you (and for no apparent reason). Or you help someone or do them a favour as friends do, but at the end they just walk off as if you meant nothing to them. How do you handle that sort of thing, and what in the first place led you to think that they saw you as a friend? No answers for you I’m afraid. It’s no good saying that they probably are not the people you want as friends anyway, it’s too late, the (emotional) damage has been done. The only thing you can do is to lick your proverbial wounds and just get on with things as best as you can.

Ah, getting on with things as best as you can brings me back to SitC. People have said that it has been the best time of their life / most wonderful week-end ever / etcetera, but I’m going to buck the trend and say that though it was a good gathering, I have been to better. I definitely have no regrets in going and though next year’s is 11 months away I’ve already been looking at flights down for it. However if I change as much in the next year as (because of YouTube!!!) I have changed over the last year, I will be a very different person at the next SitC (and I kind of hope one or two others may have changed too).

Something else I must say – Sometimes life is not always what it seems.

Nerdfighter Gathering

Attended the Nerdfighter Gathering last week-end. (27th June.) Including this one, I’ve now been to 10 gatherings that have required long distance travel. Sat down and worked out an overall approximate cost – and nearly required a change of underwear!!! Travel costs plus accommodation plus general spending; it all came to a rather scarily large amount. All I can say is that it has been worth it.

However this last gathering I did find a little different, and I must confess, not really my style. The previous ones have been dominated not just by YouTube users, but by YouTube video ‘producers’ or makers. People who find (need?) the method of communicating and expressing themselves through things like YouTube to be important to them. A specific type of character who might not find directly talking to strangers and those they are not familiar with particularly comfortable. Far easier to initially talk to others from the safety of the camera (and so of remoteness and distance). Make your own video, in your own time, no one pressuring you, and if you don’t like what you’ve said, then re-record it. No one else will be any the wiser. Likewise people can respond in their own time, safely from a distance. So on any first eventual encounter, you are not total strangers.

On the other hand this gathering had a large number of purely ‘user types’ there. A different character of person. Many principally there to see Maureen Johnson, an American author of novels and short stories aimed at young adults. This certainly gave the gathering a different atmosphere. A large group which was not one of active two-way communication, but of ‘principle participant’ with a relatively passive audience, and a second group of more interactive people. Overall, as a middle-aged adult, I did not find things totally comfortable, and for a first time ever at a gathering, found myself with feelings of stress.

I guess the day generally was an okay day. Re-established contact with one or two familiar faces. Met one or two new ones. Ended up going to a Julia Nunes gig; but I’ve got to ask myself was it worth the cost of the train fare, the travel time involved, and then the cost of overnight accommodation for two nights in London. Ummm…. need to think on this. If it had not been for two, no, three people, then definitely NO. On the other hand can I really expect *every* gathering I ever go to to be brilliantly wonderful? To be muttering about only one out of ten is not bad going. Also it itself was not ‘bad’, just ‘okay but…’.

Anyway, another time, another place, and another gathering will happen. Already thinking on my next one.

Be There!

Moods and Friendships.

Often find it a bit odd how my mood can change quite quickly, especially on week-ends.

As a guy with a job my week-days have a degree of enforced structure. I must be up early in the morning, every morning, then into work. Obviously there are good days and there are bad days at work, but it is relatively predictable. Regular, routine interaction with familiar faces, lunch taken at a similar time each day. The amount and type of work can vary, but within a limited range, then finishing work at the same time each evening. So there is this sort of regime which may not control, but certainly influences my attitudes and moods, though only within a given range.

Week-ends though are so different. There is the expectation and excitement towards the end of the working week of looking forward to the week-end and the break from work. Then the week-end arrives, and does expectation match actuality? There can be the feeling of O.K. it’s the week-end, so now what do I do? Some week-ends can be busy with planned things, but for the others not so, then just doing what-ever happens to happen. Also, so often it’s the little things that can turn a ‘nice day’ mod into one of anxiety and depression. May be a case of doing your best for someone, but not getting a thank you. (Possibly the opposite, a simple ‘thanks’ or acknowledgement can really brighten a down day.) Maybe informal arrangements to meet friends, but they don’t turn up. The expectation of the meeting, then the disappointment when they are not there. Perhaps something said in the chat on messenger, said in a light-hearted manner by the sender but found hurtful or misunderstood by the receiver. Of being ignored in some group chat session where the group is made up of people you know. A bit of peace and quiet is often needed to give you your own space to get things done in, but social isolation can be devastating (and so much more devastating when you don’t understand why the isolation is happening).

Some people are not always to good at this ‘friendship’ thing and so can over-value those friends they do have. This can bring in problems of its own. To you, they are your ‘friends’, but to them you are just ‘an acquaintance’. A friendly acquaintance, and someone they probably quite like, but not to the relationship level of being a real ‘friend’. So a mis-balance in the way the various people expect the others to act and respond to their actions (or lack of actions). I’m sure a lot of the elitism arguments which were going on over some YouTubers a while ago were because of this.

Developing electronic friendships are all very well, but that bit of physically meeting someone to fully establish how the level a friendship may (or may not) be working at can be so useful. That’s one of the reasons that I think gatherings are so important.

I want to see who these people I know electronically really are – not just a face behind a camera, and I want them to see me for what I am.

I hope a friend.

More on Gatherings and the social aspects of them.

I wonder if anyone actually reads these blogs?
A couple of week-ends ago and it was Glasgow down to Bury St. Edmunds for Tom’s musical Gathering. (Commented on that below.) This week-end just passed involved going down with a friend to London and the Thibils YouTube Gathering. A bit of a diversion occurred when on the train down (Friday afternoon) my phone rang and it was Tom Milsom wanting to know if I wanted to go to the MCM (movie comic media) Expo at the Excel centre. This was happening on Saturday morning, so go to this first then move on to the Gathering in the afternoon. Sounded good to me. If I’m going to spend the time and money travelling half way across the country, I might as well get my money’s worth of events.
So myself (and Brian) met up with Tom and Jacob on Saturday morning and headed off to the East End. Ummm…. Docklands Light Railway!!! Ummm….. Services not running, little information, unhelpful staff, a replacement bus service that involved waiting 45 minutes for a bus… what a load of crap! If London thinks it’s going to make a success of the Olympics an a few years time, it had better get it’s finger out of its arse and get things sorted.
The comic expo was great fun, so glad Tom alerted me to it. Then on to the Gathering. No apologies for saying what I have said before – Gatherings are great places for meeting people and forming friendships. No need to worry about never having been to one before, you very quickly muddle in with the rest of the crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and met quite a few people who up till then I had only ever electronically talked to. It’s really nice to be able to put an actual 3-D face to these relatively remote contacts.
There’s also a slightly more serious side to it. I’m not your stereo-typical young, cute looking, probably musically talented, school / student type YouTuber, but middle-aged adult doing a 9 till 5 job who should have better things to do than to spend time on YouTube and watching BlogTV. But I don’t, so I do spend time watching videos, and occasionally uploading them myself, and I do spend time chatting to some of these ‘stereo-typical young, cute looking, probably musically talented, school / student type’ users. One thing that has amazed me is the way above average level of intelligence most of these people have. I have learnt more off them over the last year of being around YouTube than in any number of ‘real-life’ years being around (dull boring, though still intelligent) adults!
So it’s important to me that these people who I talk to or message can see and meet me, and see exactly who or what I am. They can talk to me, or talk to others who in turn know me, and can then make up their own minds.
Thinking of YouTube, or even Skype, this whole system of easy (not just across national border, but across continents) group social communication thing could have huge repercussions in about ten years time. This is when the current late teenage or those in their early 20s users, who are used to this sort of border-free and cross-cultural system, come into jobs and positions of influence and importance. Their ideas of both social and national boundaries will be very different to that of their parents. Will be interesting to see how things develop.
Anyway, roll on the next Gathering.
See you there 🙂

Friends and the Internet.

Had a bit of fun last week-end. Friday morning and hire a car here in Glasgow and then head across to Edinburgh airport to pick up a friend flying across from America. I guess I’d better be careful on the use of the word ‘friend’. This was someone I’d never physically met before, but had got to know recently through things like YouTube – one of those ‘internet friends’ that so many uninformed adults seem so paranoid over.
Back to Glasgow to pick up another friend (someone who I now regularly share a coffee with, but first noticed through BlogTV – internet contact again). Then head off down to Bury St. Edmunds to meet Tom and Ed. These are two brilliant musicians I know, and no prizes for guessing that my first contact with them was internet related (YouTube; Tom – Hexachordal, Ed – Eddplant). Down there they were performing some of their music to a small crowd of others, most of whom I know and had also initially met through things like YouTube.

Drive back up on Sunday, then Monday around Glasgow meeting up with one or two others. Again, one way or another, these others were first met because of the internet. Tuesday, and it’s time for Americans to head back to America.
I now have more ‘Real Life Friends’ who mean something to me and that I meet and socialise with on a regular basis but who I first discovered through the internet, than ‘Real Life Friends’ who were just met in ‘real life’. The same goes for my contact list on my mobile phone – dominated by internet related contacts.
Social networking through the internet is rapidly becoming a very physical-social situation. Social networking sites are no longer just made up of individuals, but of interacting social groups. People know people, groups know groups. New individuals making contact can be quickly checked out and if anything suspicious found, then others can be alerted.

I now feel *far safer* when first meeting someone if I have already made some sort of contact with them through the internet compared to meeting some stranger in the pub or any ‘real’ location where I just don’t know who this person is.

YouTube friends

I’ve met some amazing people through YouTube, I’ve had great fun, I’ve learnt lots – especially about myself!!! It has helped me to gain self-confidence; gatherings have got me to travel to places I would never have bothered to go to – and found them nice places. However all is not roses and happiness in the proverbial garden, there is a darker side to it. I’ve seen abuse and harassment. I’ve seen people have to leave suddenly – not out of choice. I’ve seen new people arrive and be accepted by the established crowd, only to be dropped as soon as the next ‘new’ crowd of people arrive. The trouble is that the established crowd often don’t see it. They have their core element of principle friends, and they have this flow of new people coming and going providing a bit of novelty and extra spice to things. Of course, some of the new crowd will become ‘accepted’ into the established group (and will pick up the ways of that group), but so many can get dropped by the way-side.

However these things all just have to be taken on as part of life. You can’t let them get to you otherwise you’re going to have problems. But then so many people use YouTube for socialising because they already do have problems. So don’t rush things, and don’t go ‘chasing’ people. Get up a video or two, don’t try to impress – just be yourself. In time people will come to you and you will develop your own networks of contacts.
Ahhh… but of course, all this is easier said than done – but at least try.

Students. Gatherings.

I often have lunch in my local university chaplaincy building. It has a small cafe which does baked potatoes plus filling, toasties, that sort of stuff, but at sensible prices. The entrance to it is through a rather narrow staircase. As I was going in recently a large crowd were just leaving (after a lunchtime service) so I backed out of the way to let then through. Not one of them bothered to say ‘thanks’ or even just give some nod of acknowledgement as they passed. Ummm… Interesting. All, of course, ‘good Christians’.
We had a small Gathering here in Glasgow last Saturday. Depends a bit on how you define ‘small’, something between 20 and 25 local YouTubers just chilling out for the afternoon and evening. First a visit to a Dr Who exhibition, then a do-nothing time in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and once the evening arrived retire to the Starbucks inside Borders bookshop. For about one third of them, their first Gathering ever, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves.
Busy time in work (university). Student projects all approaching deadlines, so am in demand, to help them on their way. Really does highlight those who make the effort, and those who just expect things to be done for them! One or two really nice projects coming to a ‘working’ condition. A couple of wireless remote-controlled submersibles, a small two cylinder two-stroke engine, designed, engineered and constructed from scratch, a baby hovercraft… it’s nice to see these reach finishing stages.
But for those finishing, in two weeks time they will be gone. This phase of life about to end. They’ve spent the last 5 years together as a group; studying, socialising, eating, drinking, (sleeping?) with each other, having come in as teenagers, leaving as adults. Very shortly they will be together for the very last time – never again to be as a group. Such is life.