December 13, 2005
Global Voices Part 1
At the front someone is standing with a microphone, having their say about the state of the global blogosphere, making points, taking questions, asking some questions of their own. That is conversation number one at the Global Voices London Summit '05 - organised by Global Voices - "the leading online portal and guide to international blogs beyond North America and Western Europe".
All around me, delegates are typing into their laptops while the speaker speaks, blogging on the conference as it happens, commenting on the speaker and keeping their readers up to date around the world. That is conversation number two.
One woman to my left is speed-typing every word that comes out of the speaker's mouth, providing a live blog transcription for anyone tuned in. The session chairman is writing a list of bullet points on to a screen projected at the front of the room, summing up the main points of the speaker's speech as she makes them. The bottom of the screen is also displaying a live IRC chat about the state of the conference's sound system – "It's distorting", "How's that, any better?", "It's still too loud".
Behind me another woman is keeping track of messages and questions coming in from bloggers listening in around the world. She occasionally breaks into the session, putting the questions to the speaker and typing back the replies. When you go out of the room for a 'comfort break', there are at least three guys with microphones waiting to interview you for their online radio shows about what you think about what you just heard.
Those are conversations number three, four, five, six and seven. And I haven't even mentioned the email list serv, the planned release of the entire conference as a collection of MP3 files or the post conference brainstorm wiki.
This is all probably old hat to those of you who spend your lives trekking from blogging conference to blogging conference. But this was my first one and it was all a little dazzling.
It would have been easy for all that technology to have over-powered the point of the conference - to get bloggers from different corners of the world together in one room. There is always that risk in getting carried away with IT. You can get so obsessed with the gear that you end up being that uncle at a family wedding who spends his whole time behind his video camera, missing the actual celebration.
But the impressive thing about all the communications technologies at Global Voices was that they all added something to the event. The main conference was a success; it was useful to watch a live bullet point list building up; the radio shows were fun; the live transcript is proving to be an invaluable resource now that memories are starting to get a little hazy and it was nice to know that someone was taking care of the microphone distortion.
Posted by aheavens at December 13, 2005 8:21 AM