I’ve been live-blogging (blogging about something while it is taking place), and more recently, live-tweeting, conferences for a long, long time.
The first time I ever attended a gathering of bloggers (it was, supposedly, the first time any group devoted to “business blogging” ever gathered), I knew that the world was changing because the most interesting conversations were taking place real-time among the people in the audience, not those on the panel (see #9 on my post after the meeting).
Conferences that are filled with tech people have long recognized the reality of the “backchannel,” or electronic ‘note-passing,’ taking place at any gathering. The early geek-favored backchannel of choice was (and for some, still is) IRC, but Twitter is now the audience real-time conversational medium of record. I witnessed, and I guess participated in, one of the first and still most famous melt-downs caused by such audience conversations: a session at the 2008 South by Southwest Interactive Festival that involved the lack of interview skills of the individual moderating a session feature Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Last Friday, I was on a panel at a conference put on by the Online News Association attended primarily by TV and newspaper journalists involved in their companies’ online efforts (with some bloggers also in attendance). A large number of people in the room were online or taking photos or shooting video. While I’m on lots of panels and speak to different groups quite often, this was the first time I’ve been so aware that a back-channel was actively occurring. (Although, come to think of it, a few months ago at BarCamp Nashville, something I said from the audience to a panelist lit up Twitter among those in the room.)
Fortunately, last Friday, people were saying nice things on Twitter and the blog posts I’ve seen were kind to me.
But this morning, conference organizer, the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Jack Lail, posted the accompanying video and I winced at my choice of a phrase to describe how I wouldn’t care if I upset people by moderating comments on a newspaper forum.
I apologize if I p-o’d anyone.