There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the lineup at mesh ’09 in April, but we are pleased to announce another very special one: a surprise appearance by Toronto mayor David Miller, who will be doing a one-on-one interview on April 8th, the second day of the conference (there’s a full version of the two-day schedule here — and be sure to register soon, because tickets are going quickly).
Mayor Miller will share with mesh attendees some of his thoughts on the idea of an “open city,” with all that that implies about issues such as civic transparency, data sharing and connecting directly with citizens. Toronto has made some major strides in that area recently, including some ongoing steps by the Toronto Transit Commission to open up and share its data, as well as the Mayor’s own use of Twitter to connect directly with residents.
This conversation with Mayor Miller fits right in with one of the themes of mesh ’09: the rise of what might be called “politics 2.0″ — a move towards more transparency, more direct civic engagement and the use of social-media tools as a way of empowering citizens to speak out about a host of important issues. Much of this wave is due to the success of the Obama campaign in the U.S., and that is a topic one mesh panel will be discussing in detail: how the campaign took shape, what it is like to cover the new politics from a media perspective, and what it suggests about how politics as a whole is changing.
Moderated by former Huffington Post writer Rachel Sklar, the panel includes top political reporter Jonathan Martin from Politico.com — one of North America’s leading new media entities — and Micah Sifry, co-founder of TechPresident.com, which has been tracking and analyzing the changing nature of politics and the Web since Howard Dean first discovered the power of the blogosphere.
We also have a panel that will look at the increasing use of the Web and social media as tools for advocacy and citizen engagement on civic issues. Moderated by Darren Barefoot, the panel includes Duarte Da Silva, one of the co-organizers of the massively successful Hohoto charity event and Sarah Prevette — who ran the Toronto version of the international charitable event known as Twestival.
If community management is your focus, we have a panel that will tackle that issue head-on — a panel including George Tsiolis, founder of the small-cap investing community Agoracom.com, as well as Howard Forums founder Howard Chui and Keith Bilous, co-founder of ICUC, a Winnipeg-based company that handles community management for the CBC and CTV. There’s also a panel on word-of-mouth as a marketing tool that includes Sean Moffitt and Freshbooks community manager Saul Colt.
In the media stream, meanwhile, we have a panel featuring Gabe Rivera — founder of the popular tech aggregator Techmeme.com — as well as Rachel Nixon, news director of Vancouver-based NowPublic.com, and David Cohn. David has been involved with several “citizen journalism” ventures such as the OffTheBus project with The Huffington Post, and is the founder of a new “crowd-funded” journalism venture called Spot.us.
And in the business stream at mesh, we will have a powerhouse panel featuring Paul Kedrosky — whose Infectious Greed blog is one of the most popular finance websites, and who advises several venture funds in the U.S. — and Howard Lindzon, a venture capitalist and investor who is also the co-founder of the video blog Wallstrip (which was sold to CBS) and the investment network Stocktwits.com.
There’s more — much more — including a special one-on-one interview with David Usher, one of Canada’s most social-media savvy musicians; a panel on managing your advertising buy online; a panel looking at the risks and benefits of developing for platforms such as Facebook and the iPhone; workshops on dealing with iTunes as a content provider, monetizing your video content and managing your online persona.
Please think about getting a ticket soon — they tend to sell out quickly, and we’d love to see you there. Mesh on!