The traditional conference configuration is obsolete

For quite a while now I've been arguing that the traditional conference configuration is obsolete. Of course I'm not alone in asserting this. The incredibly popularity of the Camp phenomena represents a grassroots demonstration of why interactivity and spontaneity are becoming assumed qualities for any gathering big or small.

It's no surprise therefore to watch the fallout from the Mark Zuckerberg Q&A at the SXSW conference in Austin this past weekend. The session was hosted/moderated by journalist Sarah Lacy, and by all accounts it was a total disaster. Why? Sarah failed to either prepare for the panel itself, or be able to effectively engage the energy of the audience.

Add to this the power of twitter to give the audience a collective voice that can effectively organize and overwhelm the stage first with tweets than with heckling.

I've been organizing an event to be held at MaRS on March 18th, and one of our plans from the beginning was to have a big screen with an active twitter feed. This was meant as one of many means by which the audience can become an integral part of our event.

For a long time I've been working on ideas to expand the spontaneity and interactivity of live events, and this upcoming event at MaRS will serve as one of a series of beta tests I'll be doing to test out some of my concepts.

The Permanent Campaign: The impact of technology on politics
While the Internet has played a role in elections for well over a decade, we've now reached a turning point where the influence of technology on politics is pronounced and pervasive. We're witnessing the emergence of the Permanent Campaign, a non-stop political battle for attention, momentum and influence. This “Cloud Campaign” involves a combination of a traditional campaign team with an autonomous and diffuse coalition of bloggers, micro-fundraisers, and grassroots video journalists.

Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: MaRS Centre
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