Consistent with the always on theme they used an interesting mix of cutting edge conference technology:
- The whole event got webcasted and all sessions will be archived. Kudos to AlwaysOn and their sponsors for offering that service for free to the online world. (Registration required).
- Wifi was provided throughout the conference, which after a rocky start enabled the people on the floor to have an eye on and participate in the webcast chat, as well as being distracted by their inbox and the Internet. Once in a while the chat was also projected to one of the big screens on the floor.
- They had Online polls, where the goal is to bring in the opinion of the online users as well as the audience via the Wifi connection. No sure whether it was the questions, but it felt a bit forced and didn’t really enhance the panels.
- Conference Wiki (What is a Wiki) was a bit hidden in the Webcast window. I personally love the possibility of enhancing a conference by changing an area of its web page on the fly. I think Wikis will blossom in the next few years, as soon as more people understand and then use them. Check the list of other conference bloggers, I discovered Tim Oren’s Due Diligence there.
Maybe I was still jet lagged, having just returned from Germany, or other things were on my mind, but after the Webcast was in full swing I had problems taking notes while following the panels, the chat and voting in the polls.
Everyone has to find their own comfort level with how many things can happen simultaneously while they still get the most out of an event. You need the discipline to shut certain things off that go beyond your threshold.
Should we do any of these things at our upcoming TechEds in Las Vegas or Basel? We are already realy good at Webcasting sessions. You can check them out via the SAP community: 26 replays available from last year’s TechEd in New Orleans alone (registration required). What is missing for an “always on” experience is a conference Wiki, and of course the ubiquitous Wifi.