The new way to videoconference

From Robin Good at Kolabora:

Cluetrain Style: First Large Live Videoconferencing Event Makes Impending Socio-Technical Shifts Self-Evident

If there is something unique to say about the first Kolabora Live! online event, is that it was absolutely unlike any other Internet event I have been before.

Set to break many of the conventions and formalities typical of online Web conferences and presentations, the Kolabora Live! premiere showcased six live presenters in the glory of full and audio and video and seven simultaneous a/v feeds. For the over one hundred registered participants who attended live, the format of the event itself became the most interesting thing outside of the actual issues being reviewed in it.

I was delighted to be part of the show.

Most synchronous meeting tools are imitations of the classroom (e.g. Centra) or the lecture hall (e.g. Placeware). There's an authority in charge. The rest are listeners. A listener may (metaphorically) raise his or her hand; the authority-figure may or may not respond. The teacher has PowerPoint slides; the listener has a chat window. The traditional sync set-up is a one-way event. Even audience questions are usually filtered before being asked. While we don't always realize it, our tools shape the way we look at and do things.

In real life, people learn from conversation. The interaction of several people is invariably more interesting than the dogma of one individual. Give and take. Dialog, not monolog. Think you're the equal of Jay Leno or David Letterman? Stop kidding yourself. And even they would lose the audience if they droned on alone for more than ten minutes.

In real life, people speak in the vernacular, not in PowerPoint-speak. The Cluetrain got that absolutely right. In the session, I mentioned an experiment at Harvard School of Education. Two groups of students were given the same paper to read, being told they would be tested. The group that was also told the paper was controversial retained more of the information. Why? Because uncertainty engages the mind.

Yesterday's event was like live television. (Kids, we used to watch the Perry Como show because it was fun to see him grimace when he forgot the lines to the song he was singing.) No one was ready for it when Nancy and I put on masks during the event. I imagine people were watching a little closer after that.

The technical glitches were a disappointment but quite understandable. If you don't have a few screw-ups, you're not being daring enough. Sorry I disappeared early, but I experienced enough to have a real fire in the belly for this approach.

Posted by Jay Cross at February 25, 2004 07:57 PM | TrackBack

Jay, we missed you after you left. I was all ready to try and throw a ball to you to see if you could "catch" it. Towards the end we decended into pure play. I wonder about the audience reaction. I know I was having fun. At times I had to improvise because I could not hear the audio. As we started to pass non verbal cues, the layers of communication grew more interesting (and potentially frantically distracting!)

I had FUN and was so happy that you were willing to be playful as well. I'm tired of the serious, productive me. Lets let loose our tricksters!

Posted by: Nancy With The Mask at February 26, 2004 02:15 PM

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