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Conference Dynamics

? Canadian fighting words |


| Hollywood Games ?

May 18, 2006

Conference Dynamics

Heather Green

Yesterday I was on a panel at the Syndicate Conference here in NYC and it was odd. Looking across the room, I was treated to the sight of people bathed in blue light, busily peering into their computers. It reminded me of when I was in school and I actively ignored the teacher during class.

Maybe people were blogging. Or maybe they really had no interest in anything I or the other folks on the panel were saying. But that doesn't make sense, because why did they chose to be there then? Either way (and I know folks have been complaining about the whole conference culture) I don't think there is anything inherently bad about a conference structure. It's a good way to bring people together. But if the problem is interaction or a desire to get more out a conversation, doesn't it take two sides to address that problem?

10:59 AM

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? Laptops in the audience from Meetings Maven

Are attendees who laptop dance their way through a session rude, or so into their notetaking that they can?? bear to look up from the keyboard to follow the presenter? That?? what Heather Green on Blogspotting wants to know. Personally, I t... [Read More]

Tracked on May 19, 2006 06:08 PM

?? Conference Speakers 2.0: Swimming in a sea of laptops from Jeff Clavier's Software Only

Heather Green from Blogspotting fame reflects on her experience at the Syndicate conference, where she faced the same harsh situation encountered by all panels and speakers nowadays: competition for attention from other sources of information/engagemen... [Read More]

Tracked on May 21, 2006 05:55 PM

?? Connection junkies, multitasking slaves from Jackie Danicki

Jeff Clavier links to Heather Green on the subject of trying to give a talk at a conference and seeing most of the audience peering into their laptops instead of giving you their full attention. Heather writes:

Maybe people were blogging. Or maybe th... [Read More]

Tracked on May 22, 2006 07:13 AM

Heather, I was giving the keynote at a tech conference in Austin a year ago, and I noticed that loads of the people there were fiddling with their treos or blackberrys. Demoralizing. I don't necessarily think that they weren't paying at least some attention. But all the machines we carry around encourage us to multitask.

When we speak at these conferences, we're like the TV in a room of college students. They're looking at their laptops, chatting, downloading, gaming, and if and when we say something interesting, they look up.

The true time to be alarmed: When you see them with the white ear-buds in place.

Posted by: steve baker at May 18, 2006 11:58 AM

A business writer I invited to speak to a group I coordinated had to ask an attendee to get his nose out of his book (the writer's book) and instead participate in the discussion.

Some of us cannot keep our attention focused on anything for long.




Posted by: Serge Lescouarnec at May 18, 2006 12:01 PM

My old boss had a strict "no laptop" policy for all group meetings for a good reason.

That said, there is one valid reason why some people have their laptops open. I type all my meeting notes, so a laptop becomes essential. (a) that saves me the pain of typing everything up later (b) I can't read my own handwriting anyway. I suspect that only a small percentage of those you mention were actually typing out notes though.

Posted by: Deepak at May 18, 2006 03:55 PM

maybe they were so enthralled with what you were saying that they were scribbling furiously trying to capture all your pearls of wisdom.

perhaps you should offer notes at your next speaking engagement, and let the attendees know that they can pick up a sheet with all the good stuff at the end of the presentation. that way, they can sit back, relax, and soak up your knowledge.

Posted by: greg at May 18, 2006 05:59 PM

from bruce mau's incomplete manifesto for growth:

"39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces -- what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference -- the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals ?but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

and related, check out the conference dynamics going on in this photograph i'm sure it was brilliant but you can't tell by looking at the people.

Posted by: schadenfreudisch at May 25, 2006 04:09 PM

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