To the day itself – here’s some of the things others said:
we could rant in stereo about their spivvy sales tactics and crass treatment of SMEs #digieng> hear hear
Digital engagement conf #digieng ‘please turn off mobile phones’ oh dear
is #digieng being livestreamed @10alps??? @digitalengagement … anyone?
Have followed most of the early tweets covering #digieng. The quality of the stuff they’re coming out with is pretty crap. £850!!!
Is it the “elite” attending #DigiEng Conference, or did the tickets prices reduce to under £100 from £895
ok – at #digieng event that is not being live streamed and apart from practical common sense of @marthalanefox it has been shocking
#digieng Panel leader should have a laptop in front of him with Twitterfall on it, taking Qs from Twitter. Basic.
If you’re going to show us a slide of links & contact details PLEASE leave it up for longer than half a second. @digiengagement #digieng
Losing the will .. Am I at school or a conference …. Drinks beckon .. #digieng
#digieng For a conf on digital engagement there’s very little digital engagement. Great comments on Twitter go un-seen/hear.
#digieng any1 who’s not in plenary but wants to ask a question can tweet through and we’ll put them to the panel
A selection of recent tweets on the #digieng stream (none of them mine, by the way). It’s a pretty negative story, to be sure. But there are few, if any, positives to balance it. These particular tweets have been selected because they all relate to the event itself – and largely offer advice and suggestions that should have helped the organisers and presenters.
The last tweet is from the @digiengagement account. It invites questions via Twitter which weren’t then (as far as the tweeters could discern) actually fed to the panel for a response. [Do put me right here, @digiengagement, if they were – but the audience perception was that they weren’t.]
[UPDATE: I've had direct confirmation today from a panel member that they didn't get any questions passed on.]
But it’s not all about Twitter, as I’ll be the first to acknowledge. The event itself wasn’t that bad – some compelling speakers (Peter Gilroy, Helen Milner, Martha Lane Fox all stood out), what looked to my untutored eye to be a great signing service – you don’t see that at every event, working wifi, and food which to this writer at least (even if not to @technicalfault) was very good indeed. And I see that full content is going to be made available online.
The “lack of live streaming” comments raised a particularly interesting point, though. They, coupled with the comments about external participation not really happening, point to an interesting phenomenon:
This conference was itself being seen as a digital engagement exercise. Now that might not have been a primary aim (or desire) of the organisers. The business model for a closed conference is different to one where participation is widely shared and invited – but as I hinted in my earlier post, conferences are increasingly seen as ‘public’ due to the uncontrollable openness of their participants – particularly on this topic! More people can say things to more people… as the great man once said.
And if your panel includes the likes of Martha Lane Fox who have serious public engagement jobs to do, you can expect the outside world to be showing great interest. That’s a sign of their success, I’d say. Well done Martha – your feedback was very positive, as I’m sure you saw at the time.
Yes, they could have been a bit more savvy about the use of engagement technologies to make the day richer. Yes, there could have been more along the lines of the excellent example set by @helenmilner – who acknowledged to the audience that she’d modified her intended material based on feedback she’d picked up. (Notably, she began by clearing up the distinction between digital inclusion and digital engagement.) Yes, there were a few technical glitches that could have been ironed out – there always are. But the venue was a good one (for That London), as Julia Chandler points out. And I stress again that some of the digital engagement made by Aisha from the conference organising team in particular – such as that on Anke Holst’s blog post – was made in the right spirit.
And I must have got really unlucky in a seminar session on ‘data’ – which avoided all the interesting angles around mash-ups, user contribution, different models of data ownership, VRM etc. and chose to focus on a classic 1990s information management view of the world – seriously: a good digital engagement event would have used some peer review (it’s easy to get if you ask, guys) to spot things like this and weed them out. In contrast, the Redbridge session got some great feedback.
But the real irony lies in the way that the openness of digital engagement has a profound impact on the way that digital engagement itself gets talked about.
I stress again; this isn’t all about Twitter – it just happens to be one tool that’s perfect for very quick, very real, direct engagement. For speakers, the backchannel (conversations going on between delegates – and the wider world – in real time as they are presenting) is an invaluable source of feedback. Used properly, it can build a sense of real participation in an event like nothing else can.
I look forward to the next event along these lines. And wonder if I’ll be banned? Or indeed, invited. One can never quite tell with this stuff.