Participation 3.0: Thoughts on attending web events

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Gerd Altmann/AllSilhouettes.com

Before we start… Yes, I have published this post as Partizipation 2.0 in German some weeks ago. Now, after having been to different other web events like i.e. TEDx yesterday, people told me to translate the post, upgrade it to 3.0 and make it part of the series The Social Society (Part 1: Social Networking and Part 2: Social Engagement & Jobs). So, here we go with part 3… Participation 3.0.

In the last weeks, I have followed different reviews on web events. And I have to admit, reading the latest posts caused wrinkles on my forehead. Doubtful on the real long lasting output. Questioning what impact those events have. And also, asking myself, what is the best way to attend these events and participate in the content and context these events have to offer?

What is the additional value in participating in all these events that are taking place in London, Paris and Amsterdam (although the last one was definitely the best of those!).

With all these future of web events, I am always asking myself: „To go, or not to go? Attending, or leave it?“. Attending is more work than ever before. Would you agree…?

Only if you really participate, as we call it today. So what is participation in the future? How do we define the luxury to attend an event offline in the future? Writing Tweets, editing and creating live blog posts, following and commenting on the latest conversation around the event – apart from participating in other realtime online conversations that are interesting? It is a challenge… and exhausting. Or do we see participation 3.0 more as listening offline, starting communications around the speeches and panels? Lively discussing with attendees „face-to-face“ instead of „digital-to-digital“. Or both? Won’t we loose the visionary and revolutionary of thesis, the essence and matter then? It would be more than hard work to listen to everyone, right… Resulting in a „social media hangover“ as Michael Brenner describes nicely in his post…

So what is participation 3.0 at web events in some years? My view of participation 3.0 looks as follows…

Participation 3.0 is interactive, i.e. a modern offline discussion panel that shares latest real-time knowledge among participants. No monologue of a great speaker, evangelist or business leader. It is moderation rather than presentation, stimulation not penetration, that these people on stage offer. Stimulation instead of penetration. Giving attendees the opportunity to be completely focussed on the discussion. No distraction. No wandering around between offline and digital conversation strings. An open for communication build lecture or workshop that asks, that enables knowledge sharing. People who understands sharing, disturbing and double-checking conversations as the imperative of speeches and presentations.

When have you seen somebody being inspired or animated by the speaker or presenter to giving their input? When did you see someone getting involved in the speech? And when is a participant criticising the speaker on stage (thought about the Aristotelean theatre are allowed)? Or would this be too spontaneous, unpleasant and disagreeable for the „homo connectus“ in our nice offline world 1.0? Is participation 2.0 just one step too far away for us human beings…?

For years I am asking if the invested time in these „future of web events“ will pay out? For years these events come along as usual events, very well-behaved, not hoody-styled, not freaky, not… whatever. Style 1.0! For years, I am waiting for the symbiosis of offline and online discourse which not even Twitter walls achieved to get going (if at all available and from the moderators used as an input tool for the conversations).

How sensible is it to listen to the web avantgarde without any interruption, or exchange ideas or visions with them when offline engagement does not exist, or is not even close to being alive? Remember how the „inner circle“ was sticking to their smartphones, their talets or notebooks at the last event you participated? At the last events I joined, I followed tweets and comments where attendees wanted to drag the speaker or moderator off stage. Don’t even think someone shouted out loud… Did the critics really participate in these futuristic events?

Quite often I got the impression on national as well as international web events that a community in a community is self-inventing, self-justifying and „self-centrifying“ their social world. And yes, it seemed they have celebrated their existance – without even participating in the event anymore. „Heard this speech and statement from the speaker already twice, let’s grab a coffee…!“ Quotes I have heard often… Is it not essential to cut through the presentation and motivate people to think ahead in order to aggregate, catalyse and animate „shared knowledge“? Are we not standing offside and neglect our leadership position without realizing it – resulting in not added value for all?

Some years ago, it was seen as a premise to be part of the web avantgarde and to be invited to attend these events and to sip from the fountain of futuristic web intellect and insights.

Today, as of the old-fashioned event set-ups, traditional speeches and marketing intentions of the speakers 1.0, these events tend to become sum-ups, networking parties and reunions. Nohting special anymore it seems as everybody thinks the trend of shared knowledge does not offer any new input on stage?

Where is the realtime offline mapping of online conversations of participants following the event? Moderators often forget it and don’t get input from the technical staff. Somehow the boring monologue of the presenters seems to become the sleeping pill for the dialogue-fatugue audience – definitely during the speeches you can see it.

As soon as the event is over, the thirst for conversation starts immediately in blogs, forums or communities again. We find critic and virtual tapping on the shoulder. The blogosphere is alive again. During the event silence rules. No engaging offline conversation. No Wifi. Lack in bandwith. Lack in motivation for real participation initiative or motivation? Although, attendees feel the pressure to engage and participate in the offline monologue on stage, often nothing happens…

Maybe all this is the reason why the bloggosphere seems to be untouchable, outstanding, extraordinary? Or did these web geeks just find a way to differentiate from the community of the „web normalicus“ by not really engaging anymore in the offline discussions? That would be a superficial approach as a specialist, wouldn’t it…?

So where is the barrier between participation 3.0 and thought-leadership 3.0? Or is this new type of web thought-leaders learning, growing and adapting and thus will always use this to build a gap between them and the mainstream user? Or will the event input get more sustainability and long lasting intensity out of „after-event participation“ in online conversations? Then participation 3.0 would be even more interesting. Although some might see chaotic scenarios at events…

Maybe these are some thoughts are going too far away from reality, might be too revolutionary… What do you think about participation 3.0?

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