OK it was an experiment!
The opening session of the MEA conference was entitled “Meetings in a New World” and delegates were invited to offer their comments via twitter. These comments were monitored and selected tweets added to the overhead screen during the speaker presentations. A bit like the on screen comments posted during Q&A (ABC TV Monday nights).
Now I find it OK to follow the twitter comments on Q&A and still keep track of the content of the show, however I have also tried sending tweets during the show and find that I’m then trying to catch up with the dialogue – that gets even worse when I try to read the tweets online and follow the show as well. I really do not understand how anyone actually does it.
The speaker presentations in the opening session were relevant to technology and to feedback, they were…
Ed Bernacki from The Idea Factory who was essentially talking about the who, what, where, why of meetings and also about managing ideas.
Mark McCrindle (McCrindle Research) who talked about knowing as much as possible about prospective delegates and how to communicate with them.
Geoff Donaghy (in his role as vice-president of International Association of Congress Centres) talked about the trends in convention centres around the world including technical facilities such as wi-fi.
David Flynn (Australian Business Traveller) looked particularly at airlines
So what happened?
I thought I would be really clever and do a running commentary while also taking photos, edit them, and tweet them with comments – here are some examples…
I simply couldn’t keep it up
Meanwhile – on the screen selected comments were being posted and just became distracting from the speaker, especially when the audience laughed at one and the speaker had no idea what was going on.
So is there a place for twitter in a conference?
I follow Belvoir Theatre on twitter and was bemused by a swag of tweets flowing through on a particular Sunday a few weeks ago. They were confusing at first but then I realised that they were sunning a seminar in the theatre and guests were posting comments and questions that were relevant to those in that theatre.
So as a means of posing questions to a panel it could be quite useful – but not a MEA conference because that conference utilises the responder system from iml which has that facility built in.
How about updates on room or speaker changes? – well yes but only if everyone is following the conference #
What about updates on a particular speaker ?– imagine you are in one session that turns out to be boring so you turn to twitter and look at the comments on the other concurrent sessions and wow that one is for more interesting. Could make for some dynamic concurrents.
For the presenters it could provide an interesting form of feedback.
So what about the presentations in question?
From my observation the one who generated the most twitter interest was David Flynn from Australian Business Traveller, particularly his news on the imminent rebranding of Virgin Blue.
It’s very interesting to look at how his magazine uses twitter. All their online stories are tweeted (something we have adopted at ASE earlier this year) and they do “live” tweets – most notably of late the rebranding of Virgin Australia.
This will give you an idea as to who it went (just a small sample from dozens of tweets)
@hkeithtan Not yet, mate – just trying to grab someone to confirm
Now watching new TV commercial for Virgin Australia
wow – this is amazing
You get the picture. Informative or a waste of twitterspace? I’ll leave that up to you.
But to me this was the most relevant post re what I’m discussing here – the tweeter is referencing the stories and photos.
AusBT AusBusinessTraveller yes, we will upload them this afternoon; internet at the airport (and/or Telstra Next G) is too slow
No wonder it was too slow with all that tweeting going on. But then how many times have you been at a conference, tradeshow or event and found that you cannot connect to make a phone call or even send a SMS. It happened to me most recently at Bluesfest. Because I was working in the photographer pit quite often I was relying on SMS to communicate with my other photographer – got to the stage where texts just wouldn’t send. Too many kids excitedly tweeting about their favourite acts?
So that then brings us back to conference centres and 3G or wi-fi connection.
Remember the days of trying to get a connection on a 2G phone in an exhibition centre and when the centres would charge as much as 12 month’s worth of regular internet access for broadband access at a 3 day expo – it’s not that long ago.
Now that the MCEC have rolled out free wi-fi (which might be free but it is terribly slow) Leigh Harry has certainly put the challenge out to the other centres to follow suit.
So will this free wi-fi promote even more twittering and SMS? Or Facebooking? Another trend that I noticed was the number of tablets (mostly iPads) in use during sessions, while most were being used as notetakers some were definitely being used for websurfing and Facebooking.
Apart from the free wi-fi, wireless data usage charges are finally coming down – Telstra made a huge leap a couple of weeks ago.
And Telstra are set to launch their first 4G phone next month (the Motorola Atrix) with the 4G network coming online toward the end of the year in capital cities. This will offer even faster data speeds, and so people will use it more, and more users mean…..
And don’t get me started on the NBN – I’d love to have a big blue cable on hand to strangle Tony Abbott with whenever he bags it. Wireless needs the NBN to connect to the rest of the grid. And I need the NBN to connect to the rest of the world.