Geek Speak: Tris Hussey, new media specialist for Media2o Productions

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      Tris Hussey says he was one of Canada’s first professional bloggers. The 39-year-old, Boston-born social-media consultant, writer, and photographer often speaks at conferences and regularly posts on A View From the Isle, his personal blog. He participated in a panel discussion about Twitter at the Massive Technology Show in Vancouver on April 1.

      Hussey works as a new-media specialist for Media2o Productions, a Vancouver-based video-production company. His previous workplaces include Glaxo Wellcome, b5media, and Qumana Software. At Qumana, he helped develop the company’s desktop Blog Editor software.

      These days, Hussey is also writing an introduction-to-blogging book, which is due out later this year. He’s engaged to opera singer Sheila Christie, who performed in Rigoletto last month.

      He spoke to the Georgia Straight on his cellphone while driving through downtown Vancouver.

      What makes you a geek?

      I think it’s taking the advice of my dad, because I always read the manuals. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am today. My dad told me—when I got my first computer, my first Mac SE, in 1987—that he wasn’t going to be around to read the manuals, so he said I should read the manuals myself. So, I just started. So, I became the guy in the dorm who always knew how to fix the problems, because I took the time to read the stuff. It started there, and it’s never stopped. So, I get really passionate about whatever technology thing and delve myself completely into it. That’s probably what makes me a geek.

      What does a social-media consultant do?

      Unfortunately, it’s one of those buzzwords that we kind of get stuck with. I see it as helping people use new social-networking and social-media tools in the ways that sort of maybe they’re used to. People have just gotten used to, I say, the Web 1.0 way of doing things. It’s having a Web site and being on-line, and now there’s this whole conversation that happens. I see my role, as sort of a social-media consultant or expert or whatever you would call me, is making it a lot less scary. I say, “You know what? This isn’t so new, wild, and different. It actually is a lot of the same things we’ve always been doing. We’re just calling it a lot of different things, and there’s some new, faster ways to communicate, some more interesting and dynamic ways to communicate.” That’s a lot of what I do: making things easy to understand. You bring them into real life—don’t make them scary tech things. “Oh yeah, you know if you do this wrong, the whole blogosphere is going rip you to shreds.” No, I take a lot more pragmatic and real approach to the way the world works. That’s how I approach social media. That’s how we approach social media with our clients at Media2o—folks like Sony and Molson and YVR. We don’t fill their heads full of buzzwords and nonsense. We solve real business problems that everyone has.

      What social-media sites and tools are you most interested in these days?

      Unfortunately, I have to go along with the crowd. I really like Twitter, and I don’t like Twitter probably for the reasons people would think. I like it for the community and the fact that at least a few times a month I have a question that I need answered or some piece of advice. I just throw it out there, and I get back advice from usually people I already know. But it comes out there, and I get some really great responses. Like, I was just wanting to know which was better, VMware or Parallels. So, I put the tweet out there, and I got about 15 responses over the course of the day. That let me make a choice.

      How would you explain Twitter to a newbie?

      I usually explain Twitter as halfway between IM and e-mail.

      How did you first get into blogging?

      I got into it as a lark, I’d have to say. I was working at a market-research firm, and I wasn’t really happy doing it. So, I decide to reinvigorate my consulting practice and try this blogging thing. That was back in 2004, and the rest is history. I just starting going and didn’t stop.

      What kind of stuff do you like to photograph outside of work?

      I like landscapes, and I like the sort of weird, strange, taking a different look at everyday objects you see in the city. I might go and take a picture of a fountain but get really down close or have it be a really long shutter, so I can have the water blurred. So, I try to take an unconventional approach to give maybe a different perspective on things. I also really love doing portraits. That’s something that I get a lot of satisfaction out of—doing portraits, mostly candid portraits. I love being able to take a picture of someone who says they always hate having their picture taken, and showing them something, and they go, “Wow, I love that picture.” It’s like, “Yeah, because you didn’t know I was taking your picture. You didn’t see me there or any of that. It just happened.” That’s just fantastic. That’s something that gives me a lot of satisfaction, when I can capture something like that in a person. It’s one of those great things. You know a geek when they’re very passionate about a subject that they can just go on and on about the littlest part of the thing that we’re so passionate about.

      How concerned are you about Net neutrality?

      I’m getting more and more concerned. I’ve been—I don’t want to say waxing and waning, because that’s not the right way. For a while, it was really up on my radar, and then things seemed to be settling out, so that was okay. But now I’m very concerned about it, especially seeing how people, the telcos, whomever can control what information people have access to and what start-ups can start up. Because every start-up I’ve been a part of relies on Net neutrality in order to function. We need a free and open Net in order to make it all work. So, without that, everyone’s hooped. Everyone is going to be absolutely hooped. So, that’s where I stand.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at