Melbourne’s Catholic New Media Conference starts next Monday. If you’re in Melbourne and you have time, it might be worth catching at least one or two sessions.

The conference kicks off with the new Archbishop of Hobart speaking on “New Media, New Evangelisation.” Bishop Porteous has form in evangelisation and new media, so he’ll be worth hearing!

After that, the director of Icon Media (“the gold standard in Kiwi Catholic media”) will speak to “Digital Ministry in New Zealand — a case study.”

Monday ends with a choice of two workshops: ‘Social Media 1.0’ and ‘Social Media 2.0.’ I’m gonna embarrass myself and confess I don’t know what that means. I’m familiar with ‘Web 1.0,’ which describes the online experience started in the 1990s: e-mail, discussion boards, and websites. ‘Web 2.0’ denotes the online evolution of the 2000s: blogs, Facebook, Twitter . . . in a word: social media. But now there’s ‘Web 3.0.’ Cue Tuesday’s opening session: “Branding the Faith in the Web 3.0 World.” I don’t want to miss that one!

Later Tuesday morning, the conference’s international drawcard will expound on “Preaching to Jedi, Wizards and Hobbits — how the Church can boldly go beyond its doors.”  This is a particularly Franciscan theme. (The bit about the Church going beyond her peripheries I mean. I don’t know what opinions Pope Francis has on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.)

At 12pm three bloggers front for a Q&A panel: Claire Hewitt, Bernard Toutounji (two blogs: Foolish Wisdom and Proposal to Marriage), and your humble country priest. I suspect that my readership is dwarfed by Claire’s and Bernard’s — not to mention any wisdom that might be forthcoming. But I read recently that being the smartest person in the room is a formula for failure. If you want to succeed, you should surround yourself with smarter people. So from my perspective, this blogging panel can only be a good thing!

Tuesday afternoon begins a session on podcasting: “Broadcasting to the world,” and then one on Facebook: “The Multiplication of the Likes and the Follows.” And the conference winds up with another Q&A panel: “What I always wanted to know about social media but didn’t know who to ask.”

Earlier this year, during his visit to Melbourne, I sought the advice of Fr Tim Finigan, aka His Hermeneuticalness. Fr Finigan talked up Twitter which, he said, accounts for the bulk of his blog traffic. I’m more reliant on Facebook, and despite opening a Twitter account more than two years ago, it’s all a bit of a mystery to me.

I don’t get Twitter, reading papal tweets notwithstanding. By that, what I really mean is: I don’t know how to use Twitter, and I don’t have the will to learn.

Hopefully, the CNMC will change that. Plus I get to meet lots of interesting people to boot. Maybe you, dear reader, will be one of them!