In the wake of the third EventCamp, a community meltdown seems to be occurring. Unfortunately, it appears that some of the observations and questions from the remote participants were construed as personal attacks rather than the open and honest exchange of ideas (see values #1-4 of the Five Core Values of EventCamp).
As I see it, the primary impetus for this controversy (and what initiated the string of questions and observations via Twitter) is largely a result of what attendee expectations within the EventCamp community: online community, technological integration, blended audience experiences, solid adult learning design, etc.
Let me illustrate with my own personal experience..
As a remote attendee of the first EventCamp, I was thrilled to participate in thought-provoking discussion and receive inspirational education without having to leave my young children to travel across the country to an event. Then, as a face-to-face participant at EventCamp Twin Cities, the energy and excitement of the engagement occurring between participants both in-room and from afar gave me chills!
So, perhaps this is the source of the confusion for many the inability to participate remotely in the knowledge sharing and conversation at EventCamp East Coast. And this could be a major issue for ALL event managers moving forward as new generations of attendee expectations continue to evolve.
I see three areas that might have instigated the breakdown:
1) Video Stream v. Backchannel: I completely agree that not every EventCamp or gathering need be streamed via Audio/Video. However, I think it's safe to say that most of us by now have become accustomed to a backchannel conversation. Taking that away was quite an unexpected shock for audience members both face-to-face and remote. I received several messages from attendees onsite who felt they were being disconnected from those who couldn't be there face-to-face and that was not what they had expected. The same happened with remote attendees who (for some reason or another) thought I could explain why there wasn’t a backchannel conversation.
2) Hashtag: After building a vibrant and engaged #ecec10 community, restricting the flow of conversation between community members during the event felt contradictory to the purpose of creating event hashtags. If there are issues of confidentiality, then perhaps Yammer and a closed community are a better option? Then the participants who were included in the promotional/before community building could benefit from the education and knowledge of the during phase…and continue the camaraderie of the after stage of the event when community has the chance to become strongest.
3) Knowledge Sharing: One of the most appealing aspects of being a part of the EventCamp community is the open exchange of ideas. While providing educational summaries of the sessions is so fantastic (particularly with the brilliant Mitchell Beer as the provider of said summaries), it still dilutes the joy of having many perspectives in the room helping to create that content. It also limits the historical recording to one person's voice and interpretation.
In summary, this is clearly not an issue of right or wrong, but rather lessons for all. I don’t have an opinion one way or another about whether or not this was the “right” format. I just offer these journalistic observations and interpretations from someone who participated remotely in the community. Those who were able to attend face-to-face had the time of their life and the unconference format inspired a transformative experience. In contrast, our online community has come to expect certain elements as a norm, one being the ability to participate remotely in some form or another. Over the course of two years many of us have come to rely on these backchannel experiences for staying connected to our socmed bff's J
Wouldn’t it be cool if someone could now blend Adrian’s Conferences that Work model of some of the unconference formatting and create a virtual unconference? Wooooo, now THAT would be cool!
I know I will personally have a whole new insight as we move forward with developing EventCamp Green. So thank you to the ECEC10 organizers for pioneering yet another frontier in the brave new world of meetings and events!!
Next it will be your turn to provide constructive observations and insight on our interpretation of the EventCamp model...and, as Pat Benatar would say, Fire Away so we can all grow and improve together!!