Ten years after attending my first South By South West Interactive conference, I figured it was about time to attend its sister conference North By North East. It's a bit silly it took this long given that I'm in Toronto at least 4-6 times a year. Yes, let's do the math, 40-60 trips to Toronto, and amount of times attending NXNEi, 0.
Early on in Plank's life, co-founder Christiane Magee went to NXNE when the "i" in it was quite small. Geoffrey Weeks went last year and enjoyed it but didn't give it his highest rating. To sum up my experience and the quality of the conference I would have to say it was a 6 out of 10. Obviously, my opinion of NXNEi is based only on the few panels I saw — I'm sure with a series of different choices, someone else may have had a completely different time.
In choosing what I attended I stayed with what I had learnt at SXSW: choose what to see not based on what I had the most expertise or interest in, but who the best speakers or what I knew the least about. That way, I was sure to learn something new rather that just reinforce what I already knew. When I made that mistake at NXNEi for one panel, I found myself just sitting, and judging if I knew more about the topic than the people on stage.
In the end, I found the music and cultural panels much more interesting and I got a lot out of them. I walked out of "Punk: A Not so Unbiased Take on How it Shaped All Modern Music With Damian Abraham" with a list of 20 bands to discover. I bought a book on the spot so that I could learn about Canadian music history after "A Conversation with Bernie Finkelstein". I was happy to see Iranian culture jams with "My Anti is Bigger Than Your Censorship: Combating Internet Censorship Through Art and Satire With Saman Arbabi". I remember seeing him on The Daily Show with John Stewart a few years ago and was really impressed.
Happy NXNEi 2012!