Skills day 2008: panel session: pains and gains

 The discussion saw some interesting differences of opinions on the ‘amplified conference’ – read on to find out more…

Andy: Have heard nothing about web 2.0 and how that is changing events. For the kind of events I go to now – blogging, Twitter, Flickr etc are drastically changing the way we do things. An amplified conference is where everything gets tagged and everything can get pulled together after the event and it brings huge benefits. No tag for this conference?
Is web 2.0 changing the way we approach things?

Paul: The event today was really a response to requirements and needs for this community. Perhaps in the future the next event may cover these kinds of questions.

To answer your question, the amplified event is on the rise. We have been doing it for three years and are very careful with tagging etc. It is easier for us to do this – our audience are very tech savvy. AT our last event we had about 25 Twitterers. And I think increasingly events are going to have to think ab out it. More appropriate for some events than for others but again I go back to audience and each organiser knows their audience. But in the domain I work in, absolutely.

Penny: last year the theme was web 2.0 technologies in relation to communications so we did cover quite a lot of this.

Delegate: re choosing the venue and not just picking the one you like best but are these new technologies offering new options – would some audiences prefer to be unplugged rather than amplified. It’s about matching the right technology to the right audience. It might not always translate to some of the academic communities I’m serving in Bristol

Maryse: down to scaleability? we have to be sure we have the resources in our team and match the audience needs.

Wendy: our main event workshop still gets people in feedback sheets complaining about people using laptops in the sessions. We have to fit in the different kinds of audience and it can be difficult for an organiser. And the tech at the venue has to be able to support it eg if presenter asks for multicast. It is a balance and have to respect that some of your audience will feel confident and some won’t.

Paul: we do all work with an organisation – JISC – and JISC is about risk and innovation and so we have to be conscious of that in the work that we do.

Andy: when I talk about web 2.0 I don’t mean virtual worlds. But related to that, I think the whole point about web 2.0 is that it happens if you like it or not. If there were no wireless network I could still live blog the vent and Twitter because I have an iPhone. It has a big impact on the kinds of events we hold and we need to be thinking about them and encouraging them

Grace: agree with Andy and do understand Emma’s point but what Andy is saying is true – there I almost a revolution taking place with delegates almost doing what they want and we can’t ignore it. Most people who have their laptops on are blogging and it does add to it. It allows people who aren’t here to get involved. people are engaging in an event that can’t be here. Hector will back this up with the JISC conference – this year we dipped our toe in the amplified waters and people wanted more – the demand is out there and we have to accept that this is the way forward and we can’t control it but have to incorporate it.

Dicky: one of the things within JISC we have a duty to do is put as much as in the public domain we need to make every effort to broadcast events. One of the things we don’t talk about enough with new technology is the culture – where it is being used is very important. Gives some examples of where we tried things and it cost a lot but didn’t quite work. Need to be able to allow people to multitask and we have to be open to that.

Bernard: web 2.0 conversation – there has to be differentiation in terms of the events we use – they cannot all be web 2.0 because of the cost or lack of infrastructure. I have an obligation to support different groups so can’t advise them to run events using tools they are not comfortable with. Have to be aware of bandwidth issues. Where we are now is about differentiation.

Paul: world is changing around us and it’s about how we adapt. We have to think about that. It’s happening and we can’t just ignore it.

Cary: agree with something everyone has said. Support Emma that there are certain events that not appropriate and off-putting but others where it is absolutely accepted. Not all web 2.0 applications are accessible. We are working on a project and started with 140 and after six months 40 of those have disappeared. It is constantly changing and there are questions to be asked. Need to be careful around knowing your audience but appreciate that Twitter is difficult for a blind user who uses a screen reader. Stop and think for a moment – you need to build it in from the very beginning.

Paul: agree that if introducing them as part o the conference organisation but regardless of what we say there will be people Twittering. It’s different if you are saying that the only way to access the conference is by Twitter.

Lorna: am organising a conference and spoke to Wendy about getting a database of names of people to contact but this might not be legal…

Wendy: if you have your own database you have to notify them about what and how and why

John: yes, events are involved in collecting personal data and must comply with legal clauses around notification. It’s all on the JISC Legal website.

Penny: if you’re taking names from the JISCMail list you have to apply the same data protection and ask them if they want to be involved. If you have names in a database you have to let individuals know that you have that.

Andy: seems to me that the DPA question is the wrong question. Why have a database and then spam people so issue of whether it is legal or not is irrelevant! In my world you would promote an event by pushing it out through blogs and Twitter etc- new ways of getting to people.

Delegate: I’m organising an event with Microsoft aimed at fiannce directors and they do not go near blogs the only way I can do that is by creating a one-off mailing list and reassuring them that I will not be passing it on to Microsoft.

Dicky: again, it’s all about knowing your audience

Discussion moved on to issues of sharing information and databases. You have to let people know why the data has been collected. Have to specify the purpose. Cannot just transfer it willnilly. Still comes down to the question of purpose. Think about what it could be used for before you collect it and ask for permission.