Category Archives: Event Musings

Here’s where I collect my thinking and ideas about events and conferences, how to organize them, what’s good and less good.

A Conference Where I Hardly Knew Anybody!

I had a really lovely time at Coworking Europe — it was actually very relaxing to be at a conference where I hardly knew anybody to start with. I got to know the two people I’d already met a bit better: Ramon Suarez of BetaGroup Coworking in Brussels, and Linda Broughton who founded and ran Old Broadcasting House coworking in Leeds, and was also one of the speakers at Going Solo.

It was really a change to not have the pressure of wanting to catch up with an inordinate amount of people I already knew and liked and would end up spending only a few minutes with, as it often is when I go to my “usual” conferences Lift and LeWeb.

A conference full of “new people” is like a library full of unread books. I certainly missed out on getting to know some other great people, but I did get a chance to hang out with and get to know some really lovely people I hadn’t even heard of before coming to the conference.

I love how the world is always ready to present you with new stimulating encounters. I personally like taking the time to know people a bit and tend to hang out with the same crowd throughout the conference. This is fine if you don’t know too many people. It can be very frustrating if the people you’re not hanging out with are also people you already know and appreciate and aren’t spending time with during the one occasion in the year where you have a chance to. And then I end up writing posts like this one.

It was also really nice to be in an uncommercial conference. To have a day of unconference included (I ended up hosting a session, something I absolutely hadn’t planned to do, and did on the spur of the moment because I wanted us to question the assumption that “more” is always “better” (more people, more money, more networking). I got the same kind of “high”, inspiration and remotivation that I got from my participation in Startup Weekend Lausanne earlier this year. I think I need to start going to slightly geekier events again. Like Paris Web.

Some of the people I met and got to spend a little time with, in addition to Luis and Linda: Rebecca, Stefano, Julie, Philippe, Anna, Tony, Adam, Pierre, Nicolas, Pascale, Anna… and a few more of you whose names I can’t recall right now or never learned. Say hi in the comments!

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Posted in Event Musings | Tagged conference, Coworking, coworking europe, people | 3 Comments

Activités de groupe: l’importance de l’inscription

[en] "Who will be there" is an essential part of group activities -- which is why it is so important that people attending announce their presence on Facebook or doodle, like with the first Lausanne Jelly that will be taking place at eclau on November 19th. Say you're coming!

Quand j’organise un Bloggy Friday, un apéro, ou encore un Jelly (c’est vendredi de la semaine prochaine, déjà!) je passe une grande partie de mon temps non seulement à informer les gens de l’événement, mais également à insister pour que les personnes qui m’ont dit qu’elles venaient… s’inscrivent.

Même pour des événements gratuits et ouverts à tous, l’inscription publique est primordiale. Un des intérêts de ces événements est les gens qu’on y rencontre. L’inscription sert à rendre visible sa présence — et les personnes qui participeront à l’activité de groupe sont en fait presque une partie du “contenu” de celle-ci.

Qu’est-ce qui fait plus envie, un apéro (ou un Jelly) avec trois personnes annoncées, ou le même avec 20 ou 30 personnes?

Allez, hop, j’insiste encore un peu: si vous comptez venir travailler à l’eclau le 19 novembre lors du Jelly (c’est gratuit et ouvert à tous!), annoncez-le. Parlez-en autour de vous (Facebook, partager lien, etc.) — et même si vous n’êtes pas sur Facebook, il y a doodle (le nec plus ultra, c’est encore de s’annoncer sur les deux).

Entre les inscrits et les annoncés-mais-pas-inscrits, je compte une vingtaine de personnes — ça va être sympa (vous en faites pas, il y a amplement la place).

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Posted in Event Musings, My projects, Social Media and the Web | Tagged activité, annonce, communauté, doodle, événement, facebook, gens, groupe, inscriptions, jelly, lausanne, rsvp | 1 Comment

Live-Blogging vs. Live-Tweeting at Conferences

[fr] Live-tweeter une conférence, c'est l'équivalent d'être actif dans le backchannel IRC de la belle époque des conférences de blogs. Il n'y a rien de mal à ça, mais il ne faut pas confondre ça avec le live-blogging: en effet, passés quelques jours, semaines, mois ou même années, qui va replonger son nez dans le fouillis des tweets ou des logs IRC de telle ou telle journée? Comparez ça avec un article sur un blog, qui sera lu, relu, et encore relu -- qui conserve donc sa valeur une fois que l'excitation du temps réel est passée.

One of the things bloggers brought with them when they started attending conferences is live coverage. Unlike the traditional press, which would provide you with a summary of the proceedings the next day, bloggers would be madly photographing, taking notes, uploading, and hitting publish in the minutes following the end of a presentation.

Live-blogging was born.

(For my personal history with it, see my BlogTalk 2.0 posts (2004) about collaborative note-taking using SubEthaEdit and a wiki, and my notes of LIFT06 (2006). Real proper live-blogging had to wait until LIFT’07 and Martin Roell’s workshop on getting started with consulting (2007), however.)

Then Twitter showed up, and everybody started a-tweeting, and more particularly live-tweeting during conferences.

But live-tweeting does not replace live-blogging. It replaces the IRC backchannel, allowing people to comment on what is going on as it happens, and letting people who are not physically present take part in the fun.

(I’m not going to talk about backchannels here: they’re great, but can also have unpleasant consequences in certain situations. A whole series of blog posts could be devoted to them.)

So when bloggers at conferences neglect their blogs and spend all their time live-tweeting, they are in fact fooling around in the backchannel instead of doing what bloggers do, which is produce content which retains value months, sometimes years, after it was published.

Don’t get me wrong: live-tweeting is fine, so is participation in a more traditional IRC-based backchannel. But don’t confuse it with live-blogging.

Tweets of the moment, just like IRC conversations, tend to be great when consumed in real time. But as the days and weeks go by, they become just as pleasant to read as an IRC log. (Understand: not pleasant at all.)

So, dear bloggers, when you’re at a conference to provide coverage, do not forget who you are. Not everybody is a live-blogger, of course, and some produce very valuable writing about an event they attended once they are home and have allowed the dust to settle.

But tweeting does not replace blogging.

Do you think I got my point across, now? ;-)

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Posted in Blogging, Event Musings, Thinking | Tagged backchannel, blogs, coverage, Events, immediacy, IRC, live-blogger, live-blogging, liveblogging, real-time, time, tweeting, twitter | 16 Comments

Judging Talk Proposals for Conferences

[fr] Très difficile d'évaluer la qualité d'une proposition de conférence basé sur un résumé textuel (ce que je suis en train de faire à présent pour la conférence BlogTalk 2009 qui aura lieu à Jeju, en Corée du Sud). Il faudrait que les candidats donnent non seulement un descriptif écrit de leur proposition, mais aussi un court extrait vidéo (2-3 minutes), soit d'une conférence qu'ils ont déjà donnée, soit d'un "pitch" pour le sujet qu'ils proposent.

Just a passing thought, as I’m spending some time reviewing submissions for the upcoming BlogTalk 2009 conference in Jeju, South Korea.

Just as my proposal was reviewed (and rejected) last year, I am now on the other side of the fence, looking at proposal abstracts and trying to determine if they would make good presentations for the conference.

BlogTalk is an interesting conference, because it tries to bridge the academic and practitioner worlds. The submission process resulting from that led to some interesting discussions last year (academics are used to submitting papers all over the place and are paid for that, practitioners on the conference circuit are more used to being asked to come and talk) and as a result the process was modified somewhat for this year. Practitioners and academics alike submit a short abstract of their talk/paper/research, and people like me (the programme committee) review them.

What I am realizing, doing this, is that it is very hard to imagine if the proposals will produce good talks. I mean, I can judge if their content is interesting or not. I don’t know the people sending in the proposals, so I keep going from “ah, this could be really good if the speaker is competent” to “ew, if the speaker isn’t good this could be a nightmare”.

Already in my long-gone university days, I had understood that content is only half of the deal. Take great content but a crap speaker, you’ll lose half your audience (and I’m being nice).

In 2007 and 2008, I gave a fair amount of talks all over the place and organized my own conference. All this time on the “conference circuit” and amongst regular speakers led me to view it as something quite close to the entertainment business.

So, setting up a conference that will be successful means finding engaging speakers who will be able to talk about interesting topics. When I organized Going Solo (clearly a very different type of conference than BlogTalk, of course), I picked speakers I was familiar with and that I had already seen “in action”.

Back to screening proposals for conferences — of course, if you want an open process, you’re not going to know all the speakers. But how about asking candidates, alongside the written abstract, for a 2-3 minute video excerpt of them giving a talk, or pitching their proposal?

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Posted in Event Musings | Tagged abstract, Academic, blogtalk2009, conference, Events, judging, proposal, reviewing, speakers, speaking, talk, video | 2 Comments

Conference Experience Evolution and The Paradox of Choice

[fr] Mes réflexions sur l'expérience vécue lors de conférences comme LIFT08, LeWeb3, SXSW, BlogTalk, à la lumière de ma lecture du livre The Paradox of Choice. Surcharge cognitive et sociale, trop de décisions à prendre. Evolution également, entre les premières conférences où je ne connaissais presque personne, et où l'accent était mis sur "faire de nouvelles connaissances", et les dernières conférences, où je me rends compte que je ne peux pas passer du temps (ni même parfois dire bonjour) à toutes les personnes que je connais déjà.

There’s a lot going on in my head these days, and unfortunately I’ve been too busy/exhausted (that damn anaemia is still around, fwiw) to blog about it. Since a week or so before LIFT08, actually, I feel like I’ve been desperately running behind the train, and the distance between my hand and the handlebar that will allow me to climb back on is just increasing.

One book I’ve been reading these last weeks (months?) is The Paradox of Choice. If you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes to order it now. It’s turning out to be a really important book for me, on the one hand for understanding a few things about how the world we live in functions and affects us in the areas of freedom, responsibility, and of course, choice — and on the other hand for understanding myself.

I suffer a lot from having too many options to choose from: I’m really bad at being a “satisficer” in certain areas (somebody who will be satisfied with an option as long as it meets certain criteria) as opposed to being a “maximizer” — wanting the best option available. In particular in my professional life and my intellectual pursuits, each choice is agonizing, because my brain wirings keep me very focused on everything I’m possibly missing out upon each time I pick a particular option over others. I do my best to tone this tendency down, of course, but it’s there.

There’s a lot I could comment upon in relation to this book and all it is helping me understand (it delves deep into the mechanisms of choice, and that’s fascinating), but suffice to say right now that it’s colouring a lot of my thinking in general these days.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is conferences. Obviously, as a conference organizer (Going Solo early bird price ends soon, by the way!), it’s on my mind, but I’ve also been attending quite a few conferences recently and reflecting of how my experience of these events has evolved (due to “burn-out”, increased network and public profile, and maybe other factors).

For online people like me, conferences are an occasion to see their usually scattered network of relations (friends or business contacts) coalesce in one single geographical location over the space of a few days. It can be very exciting, especially when you get to meet many of these people offline for the first time, but it can also be overwhelming. During my first conferences, I also got to know a lot of new people. People I wasn’t interactive with online. People who “grew” (ew) my network. People I liked and decided I wanted to stay in touch with. People who were interesting business contacts.

As conferences went by, I would find myself in a crowd of more and more people I already knew and appreciated and wanted to spend time with. I think FOWA last November was a breaking point for me — I realized that it was impossible for me to catch up with all “my people” there in the space of two short days. It was quite distressing to realize this, actually.

A few weeks after that, I was in Berlin for Web2.0Expo. A bit burnt, I took things way more lightly. Attended a few sessions. Didn’t even show up on certain mornings. Hung out with people I met there. Didn’t try to blog all the sessions I attended. It went much better.

Conferences are hard. There is a lot of intellectual stimulation (sessions and conversations), and a lot of social stimulation too. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I already feel life is simply too full of interesting things and people. In my everyday life, I struggle with the feeling that there is “too much out there” for me to “deal” or “cope” with — and a conference just concentrates this feeling over 2-3 days. Lots of fascinating (hopefully) sessions to attend. Great corridor conversations. Old friends to catch up with. New friends to make. Business contacts to touch base with. Dinners, lunches and parties. Take photos, blog, video the sessions or interview fellow attendees. To do all that well, you’d need to be superhuman.

I had two “different” conference experiences during these last six months, and they were LeWeb4 and LIFT08. Both times, I attended the conference with a rather clear business objective. It was tiring, but less overwhelming, because I’d decided in advance what I was in for. LeWeb4 (LeWeb3 actually, 2nd edition — don’t ask me why) actually turned out better than LIFT08 for me, because I simply didn’t attend any sessions (aside from half of JP‘s). At LIFT08, I had a press pass, so I did feel pressure to live-blog — and also, it’s my “home conference”, and I really like their programme. I was also giving a speech, so, although this conference experience “went well”, it was overwhelming.

So, what am I learning about conferences? They’re “too much”. So, you have to go to them knowing you’ll miss out (which brings us back to what The Paradox of Choice is about). The more connected you are, the more socially unmanageable it’s going to be. People you won’t see. Not saying goodbye. Not spending as much time as you wanted with certain people, but in exchange spending more time with others. So, I’ve come to accept that. I don’t know who I’m going to be able to catch up with. I know I won’t be able to catch up with everyone. I do my best not to plan — and if there is a small number of people (1, 2, 3) that I really want to see, I make plans with them, and that’s it.

The sessions are also “too much”. You can’t sit in sessions for the whole day, take notes, blog about them (or whatever you do) and then do the same thing the next day. Well, you can, but chances are your brain will fry at some point. I know that I can’t do it for two days in a row. At SXSW, I decided at one point to officially give up on attending sessions. I felt bad, because there were lots of them which sounded interesting, and lots of people I wanted to hear, but I also felt relieved because all of a sudden the pressure of making choices had been removed. If I happened to be hanging out with people who went to a panel, or if I stumbled into one — well, good. But I wasn’t going to make decisions about them other than on the spur of the moment. That worked out pretty well.

I did the same for the parties. Too much choice => I refuse to agonize on decisions before the last moment. All open. Go with the flow.

So, bottom-line: very little planning, lots of improvisation, and setting low expectations about doing precise stuff or hanging out with precise people.

To change the subject a little, I noticed at LIFT08 how at one point, there seems to be a physiological limit to taking in new people (certainly some relation to the Dunbar number department). At LIFT08, I was just so socialed out (or over-socialized), between running around promoting Going Solo and being the object of some attention after my speech (watch video), that I realized at some point that I was doing horrible things like:

  • trying to hand out moo cards twice to people I actually already knew (in this case, it was Robert) in the space of a few minutes
  • asking people for their name 3 times in a row
  • forgetting I’d talked to people, even when they took the trouble to remind me what we had talked about a few hours before
  • and of course, totally not recognizing anybody I’d been introduced to recently or at a previous conference

In this kind of situation, you can do two things. “Fake it”, as in “oh, hi! how’s business, blah blah blah” and hope that the person will drop enough info to help you out, or just fake it till the end. To be honest, I hate the idea of doing that, and I can’t bring myself to do it (plus, I’m sure I’d be quite bad at it). So, I prefer the second option, which is being honest. I apologize for not recognizing people (mention that I’m hopeless with faces — people who know me can attest), explain that I’m over-socialized and have simply been meeting and interacting with too many people. In my experience, this approach works out fine.

There’s also a lot to be said about “micro-fame” — the first couple of conferences I went to, the number of people I “didn’t really know” who were interested in talking to me (as in “walked up to me to introduce themselves”) was close to zero. Today, people show up out of nowhere, know me, want to speak to me. Friends want to introduce me to people they know (which is good, by the way!) My first conferences involved a lot of just meeting a nice person or two, and hanging out with them for the whole conference. This is more difficult today (except maybe at small conferences like BlogTalk) because I just know too many people (or too many people know me).

There also seems to be a subculture of highly-travelled, highly-conferenced people I’m suddenly finding myself part of — and I’m sure it would be worth taking a closer look to what’s going on here (hmm… a conference, maybe?)

I’ll stop here, after dumping these thoughts in this not-very-organized post. It felt good to write all this down. If you have comments or thoughts, agree or disagree, experiences to share — my comments and trackbacks are yours to use.

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Posted in Books, Connected Life, Event Musings, Travels | Tagged attendee, blogtalk2008, book, Books, choice, choosing, cognitive overload, conference, connectors, decision, dunbar's number, Events, experience, fame, fowa, friends, leweb3, leweb32007, lift08, microfame, networking, Online Culture, overload, Pieces of Me, Psychology / Sociology, social overload, socializing, stress, sxsw, sxsw2008, the paradox of choice, Thinking, Travels | 8 Comments

My LIFT08 Recap

[fr] Un récapitulatif de ce qu'a été LIFT08 pour moi cette année. En gros, expérience très positive, mais un peu comme une déferlante. Trop de tout, mais c'était bien.

LIFT08 was great, but overwhelming. I think I’ve used this word a couple of times already to describe it. I’ve been thinking a lot these last months about my “conference experience”. I’m not quite a conference butterfly never touching the ground between them (expression stolen from Tom Purves), but between FOWA, Web2.0Expo, BlogOpen, ParisWeb, LIFT, and the upcoming BlogTalk and SXSW, I’m spending a significant amount of my time preparing for, attending, or getting over conferences.

I plan to write a bit about LIFT08 first, and then come to more general stuff about these “tech” conferences and the worlds revolving around them — but you never know which way a blog post might decide to take you, do you? (I can already see I’m going to write it differently… fasten your seatbelts. Actually, I’m going to write separate posts. Or this one is going to turn into a 10-page essay. And nobody wants to read 10-page essays, do they?)

So, what do I take away from LIFT08 — knowing that this year, I’m looking at things through an event organiser’s eyes?

  • Many hats: I’m a live-blogger, I’m a “speaker” (workshop, open stage, and an informal discussion), I’m a friend, I’m a freelancer on the lookout for new gigs, I’m promoting Going Solo, and looking for anything or anybody who can help me put on a great event. Too many hats.
  • Live-blogging: I’m not happy about my job as a live-blogger this year. I think I was too stressed by my many other hats to really concentrate well on what I was doing. Also, as I had a press pass for it, I felt under pressure to do it seriously. Lots of partial notes, not “live” enough, didn’t tag my photos (help me!, and lots of talks I skipped. I want to post some slideshots still, and notes I took during the workshop with real live teenagers (e-mailing first to make sure I won’t publish stuff that might get them in trouble). I’ll write a summary post with links to my notes.
  • One track: really really great that there was only one track (as in, no separate rooms, no choices to make in the programme). Just sit down somewhere and the choices are made for you. Thanks for having the courage to make those choices for us, Nicolas and Laurent.
  • Water: bottles are really better than fountains. I’m not going to walk around with a glass, and I always forget to bring a bottle with me. I didn’t drink enough. Not sure Going Solo will be “as I’d want” in that respect, though we should have big bottles of water on the tables in the conference room.
  • WiFi: up and down, of course. Why does conference wifi always have to be so wobbly? There’s room for some serious analysis and reseach about that, in my opinion. Getting wifi for Going Solo is one thing I really worry about. There will “only” be 150 people there, but still… Given my track record for criticizing, I’m going to be lynched if Going Solo wifi fails.
  • Videos: great videos, but. No permalinks to each video (I e-mailed Nouvo about that). Also, some organisational (?) glitch which prevented the open stage talks from being edited and uploaded at the same time as the other videos — as an open stage speaker who was relying on that swift publication, I find it very frustrating. The tapes are safe, Laurent tells me — but had I known, I’d have asked somebody to quick-and-dirty shoot and upload to YouTube.
  • Content: I think the two-many-hats problem prevented me from fully getting all I could out of the various talks. I’ve also noticed a shift in content (the audience reflects this) from “more web” to “less web”. It’s a good thing, because it broadens my mind, but it also means there is less pointy stuff I’m directly fascinated with. (Don’t change anything guys, though, I like being stretched.) Maybe this had an influence on how easy (not) my note-taking was.
  • Speakers: at one point I started wondering if it was a new trend for speakers to read their talks. Please don’t do that! It makes it very hard to follow what your saying. Lots of really great and entertaining speakers, and general level was very high (despite the reading).
  • Food and drinks: nice! nice! yum! No breakfast though, I missed that. And also, no orange juice during the breaks?! I didn’t find it if it was there. Not everybody drinks tea or coffee — and I had a really hard time finding the tea.
  • People: lots of them, lots. My “conference experience” is changing, as I said above, and I need to blog about that.
  • Intense: LIFT is intense. Great people everywhere. Great talks you should meditate upon during a month.
  • LIFT experience: I was too busy running around to enjoy all the “offline stuff” LIFT08 offered, and I really really regret it. I didn’t even get around to having my own handwritten font made, and didn’t send anything to the editor of the not so empty book (I blame the wifi — it was just too much effort to send an e-mail). I really think that the not so empty book should go and tap into technorati and flickr tags to steal content which has been published online. I had my photo taken though… not sure where it is now, however.

So, still landing. See you tomorrow night in Morges to talk more if you’re in the area.

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Posted in Event Musings | Tagged conference, event, Events, experience, feedback, lift08, notes | 2 Comments

Badges at Conferences

[fr] Laurent est tenté d'éliminer les badges lors de LIFT. En effet, il y a des tas d'aspects désagréables à ces badges: ceux qui font du réseautage industriel en cherchant tel ou tel type de personne, et aussi, tous les préjugés associés à certains noms d'entreprise ou types de badge ("presse", "marketing", "speaker").

Pour ma part, étant très peu physionomiste, je regretterais la disparition des badges. Souvent, lorsqu'un visage un peu familier m'aborde comme si on avait gardé les vaches ensemble, je n'ai aucune idée de qui il s'agit. J'ai besoin du nom pour me souvenir qu'effectivement, on a gardé les vaches ensemble l'été passé.

J'ai deux-trois idées concernant les badges, tout de même:

  • mis à part le nom, laisser la personne décider ce qui y sera écrit
  • faire de badges double-face, car ils ont la fâcheuse tendance à se mettre du mauvais côté
  • éviter comme la peste les badges autocollants qui se décollent ou à épingle qu'il faut accrocher pile sur le sein gauche
  • essayer de trouver une solution (bandeau! ;-)) pour que le badge soit plus près du visage...

Bref, les détails... c'est important.

Laurent Haug blogs about conference badges and his desire to make LIFT a badge-free conference.

Funny, I was also thinking of badges at LeWeb3. But actually, the main thing I was thinking was: when are conference organisers going to stop making one-sided badges dangling at the end of a thingy that is designed to let them rotate freely?

I personally like badges and would be quite unhappy without them, because I’m a very bad physionomist. I index “person data” by name. Dozens of times at conferences, people come up to me saying “hey, Steph, how’ve you been?” — sometimes their face looks familiar, others it doesn’t even ring a bell. Half the time, I’m saved by the badge. I catch a glimpse of their name, and all I know about them, our shared history if we have one, comes back to me. I index people by name.

So, take away the badges, and I have to use the awkward “excuse me, before we say anything more, would you mind telling me your name, because I’m so bad with faces?” — I do it (I’m not one of these people who can pretend very well), but I really prefer the badges. I’m one of these rude people who’ll turn your badge around to read your name — but the presence of the badge makes it easier, because it suggests that we’re going around reading people’s names.

Also, I know a lot of people online without knowing their faces, and badges do help with that.

There are things I do not like about badges, though. I’d like to highlight two of the “cons” Laurent points to, because I agree with him:

> – Chest navigators. People who walk through the conference starring at badges looking for keywords like “CEO”, “Facebook” or “Press”, usually for bad reasons. You end up losing your time with these 95% of the time. > – Misconceptions from titles. This is especially painful for people working for big companies where you HAVE to have a lousy and arrogant title. From a really cool dude I met at Leweb working for Microsoft: “People see Microsoft on my badge, so their crap filter goes up one level. Then they see Marketing and they start to draw strategies to get away from me”. The guy is brilliant, open, helpful, all the opposite of the stereotype that his badge could push you into.

Laurent Haug, “Badges”

I would definitely go for the following:

  • get rid of “castes” on badges
  • get rid of formal company names or job titles: let people choose what they want written on their badge
  • print them on both sides!
  • look for creating solutions like headwear — or maybe stranglers?! — to get badges off people’s chests
  • absolutely avoid pin-on or sticky badges (as a woman, I have to say I really don’t like putting them smack on my breasts, I’d rather have something hanging around my neck)

Some thoughts in the “Devil’s advocate” department, though:

  • there are situations where it is useful to know what company the person you’re talking to works for, or what position they have
  • badges printed on only one side are handy: write something on the back, stick business cards in, or the programme of the day
  • no badges adds serendipity to networking, which is good.

Feel free to share your badge thoughts and experiences.

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Posted in Event Musings | Tagged badge, conférences, Events, identity, laurent haug, lift, nametag, networking | 7 Comments

Give Us Time to Digest Talks

[fr] Le format des conférences (particulièrement celles avec un public de blogueurs, donc producteurs actifs de contenu) doit changer. On nous fait écouter des choses intéressantes, il faut nous laisser le temps d'en faire quelque chose. Après deux présentations, j'ai de quoi bloguer ou discuter au moins une heure! En rajouter deux de plus par-dessus, même avec une pause d'une demi-heure, ne fait qu'accélérer la grillade de cervelle.

Talking with a couple of people during the SHiFT closing party, we agreed that the conference format has to change. If you’re putting a bunch of people in a room, particularly bloggy people who are used to producing content and thinking on keyboards, and you’re hopefully providing them with thought-provoking thoughts and speakers, you need to give them time to digest the talks.

After two talks, I’ve got enough stuff in my head to blog for an hour or talk for the same length of time with the people who were in the same room. After four talks in a row, even with a thirty-minute break in between, my brain is fried and I just stall.

That’s why I’m really excited to see how the LIFT’07 concept works out. One day with lots of small talks (select those you want to see, skip the rest), and another day with keynotes and huge chunks of time around them.

Looking at what awaits me tomorrow, I’m feeling a tad apprehensive…

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Posted in Event Musings | Tagged bloggers, Blogosphere Interest, breaks, conference, digest, Education, informationoverload, lift07, organisation, organising, overload, public, shift06, talks, Theories | 8 Comments

Back to Being a Low-Tech Audience

[fr] Dans une conférence où beaucoup de blogueurs sont présents, on a besoin de pauses-blogging ;-) -- et peut-être aussi de présentations qui tiennent bien dans un billet? Suivent quelques suggestions pour les personnes qui font des conférences -- sachant que je ne fais certainement pas tout ce que je dis.

Running a bit late for Emmanuelle‘s talk on anonymity online, I decided to go in without my laptop, which was in the other room. Decision also fueled by my earlier cogitations about my decreasing attention span.

Well, there we are: I was more attentive and took notes on paper.

I was telling Robert that conferences like this lacked blogging breaks. The audience is in the real-time information business if you have lots of bloggers in the room, so if you don’t want them to spend half the talk time uploading photos, chatting, and writing up blog posts. So, how about give us blogging breaks, and plan post-sized talks? Wouldn’t that be neat?

For many people, the most interesting moments of a gathering like this is around and outside the talks. Try to change the balance a bit? I know there are organisational imperatives, but I’m sure a solution could be found.

Other than that, some ideas for speakers (and I’m aware I don’t do what I preach when I’m giving a talk):

  • Give me an outline of the talk, paper would be best (I’ll get lost somewhere else by trying to find it online). If I tune out of your talk for a minute (and I’m bound to) I need a chance to tune back in. An outline will help with that.
  • Be theatrical, keep me listening, or make me participate. Effective use of slides is good, but I don’t know how to do it so I won’t give you any advice on the topic.
  • Don’t talk to fast, particularly when the audio in the venue isn’t too good. Articulate. (Yeah. Sorry.)

Update: I took hand-written notes of Robert’s talk too. Lesson learnt.

My Notes of Robert Scoble's Talk

Now let’s see if you can decypher my handwriting!

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Posted in Event Musings, Live Blogging | Tagged advice, attention, Audio, blogging, Blogosphere Interest, blogs, concentration, conférences, distraction, laptop, lift06, notes, paper, public, speakers, speaking, switzerland, talks, venue | 6 Comments

Attention Span and Partial Attention

[fr] Est-ce que l'habitude du multitâches devant l'écran m'a fait perdre mes pouvoirs de concentration? J'ai du mal à  suivre les conférences, alors qu'avec dix ans d'uni, on pourrait considérer que j'ai de l'entraînement...

I spent ten years at university. During those years, I attended lectures on a variety of subject, sometimes from 7am to 8pm, taking notes and understanding most of what was said.

What’s wrong with me now? I can’t seem to follow most of the talks given here. I remember having the same problem at BlogTalk 2.0 a couple of years back. Is it the partial attention thing, because of course, I can’t follow what is being said when I’m typing up a post or chatting in a backchannel. Or uploading photos.

Should I put the computer away and take notes by hand? My writing sucks now, and RSI clearly will prevent me from taking notes during two whole days.

Is it worse that that? Have years of multitasking in front of a screen impaired my ability to concentrate and focus on a single thing? Have I lost the power or the will to concentrate? That, I have to admit, is a scary idea.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just poor audio output in the room (thanks, Jérôme, for making me feel less alone about this) coupled to my usual not-so-good audio input, plus, in some cases, the fact I’m not used to following English spoken by non-native speakers (particularly francophones, because I usually speak French with them)? And the fact that I’m tired?

Oh well. It’s probably a mixture of everything. I wonder if I shouldn’t have posted this on the Cheese Sandwich Blog — but it’s a little late for that.

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Posted in Connected Life, Event Musings, Personal | Tagged Audio, conférences, feedback, hearing, Languages / Linguistics, lift06, Pieces of Me, speakers, switzerland | 2 Comments