Are Panels Dead?

Are Panels Dead?
Lying awake at night after feeding my daughter a bottle…

My organization, HBS Tech, is going to be holding a blog event. We want it to be interactive and blog-friendly, the question is how? The standard panel format seems too rigid and conservative. It simply doesn’t fit with the way blogs work.

I talked with Tony Gentile and Jeff Clavier at HBS Tech’s Business 2010 event last night. They were talking about the need for a backchannel.

My midnight brainstorm is to create a blog especially for the event. We’ll use Google’s Blogger/Blogspot, or, if we get an account donated or a big sponsor, 6Apart, Yahoo, or Microsoft.

We’ll have three projectors–one projecting the blogger’s screen (we’ll need a volunteer to blog the content in real time), one projecting the blog itself (that station will be open, and anyone who wants to comment can do so by coming up to the station and coding one in), and a third projecting the blog of the speaker.

The room will be Wi-Fi enabled so that all the bloggers who bring their laptops (including the other speakers) can blog and comment in real time.

After each “post” by a speaker, the audience will have a chance to “comment.” If they comment by talking, a volunteer will enter the comment into the live blog. Or, as described before, they can comment on the blog itself.

What do other people think? Will this work?

4 thoughts on “Are Panels Dead?

  1. Chris – I think it’s a great idea to have an event….hard to think about the idea of an event-blog until some bigger questions are worked out. Is the event aimed at bloggers themselves? Nonbloggers who want to get up to speed on the issue? Gen’l HBS alumni who mainly want to network?

    I’ve always had second thoughts on the whole “live blog” deal during a conference. If everybody takes the time to get togther in-person, then it seems people should take advantage of the richness of in-person interactions and not waste it by posting a “comment” onto the viritual discussion. I’ve also found that people tend to be distracted by looking back and forth from the live conversation and the projected one. I think it can reinforce the false notion among nonbloggers that bloggers are just a bunch of socially-awkward techies.

    But the first question about audience is really important – i met one VC last night who didn’t know the first thing about blogs…so a how-to could be interesting for those types.

  2. The audience is going to be HBS alumni in the tech industry that want to learn more about blogs. Many will be newbies. My friend Patrick, for example, is an entrepreneur who now works at eBay. His wife works at Google. He doesn’t read blogs.

    What I have in mind with the live blogging is to provide a live demonstration of the blogging metaphor. But I’ve never seen it done, so suggestions welcome.

  3. Hm, I’m not too sure I feel about the live blogging. For me, blogging is important because it’s a new social phenomenon vs. technical. It’s not critical to teach people HOW to blog, but rather WHAT blogging is all about. I think it’d be much more revealing to show a video of a blogger out at a cafe, having some great insight about “the next big thing” because of a conversation he overhears ,see him rush back home and blog about it and show the results of what happens. It’s all about the “a ha!” moment of all these people writing their brilliant thoughts and insights out on the Internet, and how that can be leveraged for your business. These folk that are coming to the conference, they can figure out the technicalities of how to blog later. They’re probably going to have to re-learn it all anyway. You can still show a demo, but maybe not so in-depth.

  4. Lily, was nice meeting you last night. Ben; sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet… perhaps at the next event.

    Chris… Lots of thoughts here (but I bet you guessed that, lol).

    1. At BloggerCon III, IRC ran concurrently with sessions; this was the backchannel Jeff and I mentioned. This gave people at the session a chance to comment even if they were too shy to grab a mike; more importantly, it enabled placeshifting, with people all over the world tuned in. Worth considering

    2. There’s a lot to discuss w.r.t. blogging, RSS, its intersection with social networking, etc. Ultimately, it’s all lumped together in “social media”, and that’s about a great many things, but mostly (IMO), about democratization of voice… or said another way, self publishing. Understanding “the movement” shouldn’t just be about tech and business, but also about the impact on cultural norms.

    3. The real question, as usual, is “what does success look like”. Should everyone walk out empowered, educated and enthused about starting their own blog? Or should they be thinking about the disruptive nature of RSS on their or their partner’s businesses? Or should they know who all the major players are so that they can go do deals? Or???

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