After three years of virtual conversations, finally meeting Alan Levine, Cogdog Blog.
I'm just back from SXSW and exhilarated and exhausted. It felt like social media Hollywood -- everywhere you turned you would bump into a social media celebrity! It was a huge conference, with lots panels and parties and places to hang out and make the scene. I was on overload.
It was also awesome to run into so many of my colleagues from the nonprofit and education worlds. (Holly Ross, at NTEN, learned how to use utterz and did some quick interviews from nonprofit folks attending - here)
What I found really exciting was to finally meet a couple of people face-to-face after following them on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, or their blogs.
One such person is Alan Levine who writes Cogdog Blog. We've been commenting on each other blogs and bumping into each other all over the social web. So, it was great to be able have a conversation face-to-face and feel like you know the person already. I also got to meet (finally) Betsy Weber from TechSmith (she put a Jing sticker on my laptop and still searching for the photo in flickr!) and Lee and Saatchi (who I connected to Mongkol and they ate weird duck eggs in Cambodia!). I also got a chance to meet briefly Kami Huyse - we share a passion and interest in ROI and metrics. And, Rox of Beachwalks!
What keeps me excited about social media is the ability to connect with people who you have never met and have a conversation about ideas you care about. And, the weaving of the face-to-face with the virtual. But these individual connections can also lead to a groundswell (the title of a new book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff from Forrester.
Jeremiah Owyang has a meta synthesis of the SXSW experience and has identified four points where this groundswell occurred. He also raises a few good points about how what we observed at SXSW may change conferences in the future - remember SXSW is a conference for tech innovators and early adopters - so these are the early warning or where we can see the social impact of social media and how it is going to change us.
Being one week away from the NTC COnference, the nonprofit technology industry's major event - his points about the shift from Me to We and conference panels are really important:
Speakers, Panelists, and Moderators must monitor back channel
Recently, I wrote a post that has been passed around many conferences on how to successfully moderate a panel. I’m now adding a section suggesting that the moderator first poll his community using some of these tools, and to also monitor the back channel in real time, while not all conferences will embrace a back channel, it’s safe to assume that Twitter will be found at many tech and marketing conferences
Back in 2005, I got a little obsessed with backchannel - after my experience at the London Global Voices Summit. Those were the days before twitter and when we used IRC to facilitate a chat discussion with both remote participants and people in the room. What Global Voices did that was particularly effective was to appoint a "Back Channel Advocate." I can't remember if it was pre-assigned or whether the moderator asked for a volunteer in the room - but that person monitored the back channel and moderator looped them in read out loud the comments or ask speakers questions.
There are different methods of incorporating the back channel depending on the format of the panel or session. What are the best practices for blending face-to-face and online so it adds to the conversation in the room and doesn't cross the line to "rude" or "heckling"?
Now I'm wondering how to do this for the NTC social media ROI Case Study Slam I am facilitating. I think because we're using the "Ask Later/Ignite" style, I'm going to ask people to also @kanter their questions and then after each presentation take the five minutes of questions from the room and the tweets. It is another layer to facilitation a session in the room.
What has been your experience incorporating the "back channel" in your facilitation at a conference panel, a conference call/meeting, keynote, or other instructional situation?