The final section of my introduction to events 2.0 was about the concept of the backchannel and beyond that the whole concept of ‘amplifying’ the conference. Now as you can see from the links at the bottom of the page I have been thinking about some of these ideas for quite some time now and to one extent or another I have been able to implement these ideas at a couple of events (and watch as my old team took my ideas and ran with them at JISC09 with me just a spectator).
Events don’t just take place in the room(s) anymore – the web, wifi and mobile technologies have changed all of that. for alot of people the lobby or coffee breaks were the point of attending a conference – now more and more the backchannel is where the action is..
The tag is the glue that holds a backchannel together – it allows a distributed conversation to be tracked the attendees and an online audience – without the tag people are just speaking to the cloud but add the tag and you are speaking to the crowd..
If you are going to do this you have to be prepared to join the conversation – its not about moderation but it is about conversation. an ability to monitor and converse with the backchannel is an amazing source of realtime feedback that can often allow readjustments to be made on the day of the event to improve things..
Traditionally conferences and events took place behind closed doors and if you weren’t lucky enough to attend there was little chance of getting the scoop on what was said. Thats all changing – live blogging, Twitter, live video streaming, Slideshare, pictures uploading in real time, edited videos post event are all increasingly expected – the difficulty is obviously how do you make attending the event worth the money? for the time being this is achieved due to the face to face opportunities an event offers but eventually this is going to get even tougher..new models will have to emerge.
Going to keep quiet about this one for now – I am working on a project that is based around my ideas on this topic but its not quite ready to be out in public yet…soon though, real soon..
Its always possible that this kind of open backchannel can backfire – famously the 2008 SXSW closing keynote with Mark Zuckenberg fell apart as the backchannel moans leaked into the room and the heckling essentially took over. To a lesser extent this happens on occasion and it requires a rhino-like skin and the ability to stay calm and deal with the crisis – easy it is not but nor is it the end of the world. A calm head and an even hand is usually enough.
Despite all this online networking and discussion the face to face element is still important, but that has also changed. The days of wine receptions with vol au vents and waiting staff are rapidly being replaced by meetups with beers and pizzas. often informality is the key – senior investors and lawyers mingling with developers and designers.