“Letters from Russia” – prezo re-cap from Northern Voice, 2009

Letters from Russia in action by Retrocactus on Flickr


Here’s everything to do with my presentation of Letters from Russia at Northern Voice 2009 – a volunteer run social media conference in year #5 and Canada’s biggest shindig of its ilk.

Letters from Russia: Folio, letter 4
Letters from Russia – page from dossier of letters

I am in year 4 of presenting my mixed-media messages to a diverse and enthused audience. Previous years included Fck Stats, Make Art; 3 Ps of Podcasting; and Blogging your Passion. This year i also participated in a panel “Social Media and the Olympics: Then and Now” and moderated “Rock n’ Roll Photo” panel.


“Dave Olson talks about the sources of inspiration, the creative process and publishing your work in this lively mixed-media presentation. Watch this and you’ll understand why Dave has been dubbed a “local cultural artifact”. From Northern Voice 2009. Note: Contains adult language.”

Shot, edited and posted by Bruce Sharpe, Singular Software, 25 Hour Day, etc.


Audio version of video above at: “Letters from Russia” – prezo re-cap from Northern Voice, 2009


Slides from the preso:


“Whether blog article, photo, video, podcast – social media should tell a story. The best stories are retold and shared with others, and the very best stories create conversations which might live on for generations.

Northern Voice 2009
Letters from Russia by PeterOA on Flickr

How does a content creator elevate their work from craft to art? The same creative parameters apply whether the delivery method is digital or analog or both. When applied with vigour, the work elevates to something beyond an ephemeral musing.

Using a mixed-media project called “Letters from Russia” as a example, Dave will discuss practical tactics for harnessing inspiration, plotting the big picture, grinding out the “real work”, and finally creating a satisfying tangible artifact. Dave will discuss the role of blogs, podcasts, reader interaction, RSS, and self-publishing with chapbooks and/or on-demand web services as efficient methods of sharing and distributing the project to an audience.”

“Letters from Russia” dossier (wood, hemp, paper etc) by Dave Thorvald Olson, as photographed by Carla Bergman at Northern Voice conference, 2009
“Letters from Russia” dossier (wood, hemp, paper etc) by Dave Thorvald Olson, as photographed by Carla Bergman at Northern Voice conference, 2009


  1. Build your own copy of Letters from Russia
  2. Presentation slides for Letters from Russia
  3. Presentation notes for Letters from Russia
  4. Flickr set of the Letters from Russia art – grab em hi-res for your remix
  5. Letters from Russia with illustrations in .pdf – Print it, sew it, make you own
  6. Letters from Russia without illustrations in .pdf or plain text
  7. Spoken word literature podcast Postcards from Gravelly Beach Postcards from Gravellybeach blog or subscribe via iTunes:
  8. Audio from Letters from Russia on Santa Cruz Free Radio

 Reviews, Comments, etc.

John Lyotier from 5 Things I learned about Blogging, Twitter, Social Media, and Myself at Northern Voice 2009:

Dave Olsen – I attended this unconference session by accident sort of. I was chatting with some of the attendees after the conclusion of Chris Heuer’s “Death of Advertising” talk [ed. note: meh… ], and then in walked this odd looking chap: floral shirt, a tickle trunk, smokey-grey fedora, and a smile that said that he knew the next 30 minutes was going to be fun. I asked those next to me what this session was about. They said, “wait and see”, and I am glad I did. Dave gave one of the more enjoyable presentations (”Letters from Russia”) that I have seen in a long time. Summarize it? I don’t think I can, and even if I tried, it wouldn’t do it justice.

Miss 604’s live blog: Northern Voice 2009 Dave Olson Letters from Russia

Today he was talking about the process from idea to publication while sharing his personal journey surrounding his Letters from Russia series. I wasn’t live blogging his session as I wanted to pay attention and focus on his message, delivered as he stood before a packed while sporting a smoking jacket.

I did however jot down some of his quotes on Twitter and John Biehler snapped some photos so I’ll share those now. (added link to retrocactus uncleweed tag on flickr)

Northern Voice 2009
Dave with “tickle trunk” at Northern Voice, 2009, by John Biehler via Flickr

Raul live blogged some bits and pieces at: Dave Olson at Northern Voice 2009 on “Letters to Russia”

11:32 Dave ended up at this place (I can’t really liveblog with the richness that Dave speaks). So you got to remember – the best part of DaveO’s talks is just listening to him. He is superb.

11:34 DaveO is now reading – It doesn’t make sense for me to really liveblog because you won’t get Dave’s richness. Hopefully people will put up video. 11:41 If you have all the time in the world to do everything, what are you going to do, wake up every time in the morning, getting a lot of creative work done?

Dave and smoking jacket shares stories about Letters from Russia project - photo by Tim Bray via Flickr
Dave and smoking jacket shares stories about Letters from Russia project – photo by Tim Bray via Flickr

Mini Updates

macfarbt: @uncleweed thanks for the sharing and goodness @ northernvoice09. I want to find a way to mash up Letters From Russia with the Nepalese.

retrocactus: @uncleweed you should make that a pre-req for those attending your next talk: craft & bring your own version of Letters from Russia

madmannequin: Lunchtime at #northernvoice09 so far really enjoyed “death of advertising” & “letters from Russia” speakers. Looking forward to the rest!

michaelallison: Great session on the creative process with @uncleweed “Letters from Russia” …that’s presentation session. #northernvoice09

sprice: such a refreshing presentation by @uncleweed at #northernvoice09. letters from russia

jennmae: Watching @uncleweed‘s letters from Russia presentation IMO he’s the best speaker I’ve seen #northernvoice09 http://twitpic.com/1lbe9


stephen_rees: #northernvoice09 Dave Olson – Letters from Russia – laughing too hard to type


The only tweet I managed during this session was “laughing too hard to type”. Uncleweed is a local cultural artefact and we should find ways to get him funded so he can keep on doing his schtick.

That is too funny Stephen. Grants have gone to way less worthy causes – this should be no problem! ? 


seray: Letters from Russia at #northernvoice09. Starting off in Belize, must be good, I want to go to both places!

kel_roberts: Dave Olson up next “letters from Russia”, always good presentations from Dave #northervoice09

theunabonger: Flickr feed shows me @uncleweed is sporting a fine Chapeau today at #northernvoice09 #nv09. Now to find pictures of @scales and rest of gang r

etrocactus: @uncleweed holding court at #northernvoice09 http://www.flickr.com/photos/retrocactus/3295911074/

FierceKitty: @uncleweed I want to clone you and put you in my pocket. #northernvoice09

Miss604: @uncleweed said “What makes a work important is giving it an audience” #northernvoice09

formulaphoto: Love that uncleweed’s sessions are so consistently funny and inspiring – and refreshingly low-tech. #northernvoice09

sparklytosingle: @uncleweed‘s new GTD formula: 80% meditation, 10% execution, 10% inebriation #northernvoice09

Miss604: @uncleweed‘s session “If you snip the kite string will it soar higher? No it will tumble to the ground” #northernvoice09
Miss604: @uncleweed says ideas need to ferment and brew like beer mmmm #northernvoice09

kateleg: @uncleweed is killing it at #northernvoice09 awesome story telling

FierceKitty: @uncleweed I want to marry your smoking jacket. #northernvoice09

FierceKitty: Swooning over the excellence of @uncleweed And @rainzine. I’m sucker for the analog. #northernvoice09

Miss604: @uncleweed said “I came across a ticket that was $420 to Belize. I was like ‘BUY’ … I wonder where Belize is?” #northernvoice09

inkbase: Full house for @uncleweed at @northernvoice09

GregEh: @owlex the only session advice I can give remotely is go to @uncleweed‘s talk #northernvoice09
moritherapy: really looking forward to @uncleweed‘s session here at #northernvoice09 – LOVE last year’s http://www.moritherapy.org/article/dave-olson-blogging-and-creativity/
Thanks – what’d i miss? Add in the comments SVP.
Day 2 - Letters from Russia
Dave sharing Letters from Russia spiel by Derek K. Miller (RIP)

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