Post 13, 2009: Events need to get over the artefact, too

I’ve written several times before that I try not to attend real-world press events. They are nearly always overly-long and contain too much marketing-speak, so are not often particularly good uses of my time.

I’ve been thinking about why, and I think there are some hints in the decline of newspapers.

The thing about newspapers is that while they are nice artefacts, the journalism they contain is what is really important. The artefact of the newspaper has massive cultural inertia for many people, but the sheaf of cellulose that arrives on my doorstep each morning is now just one of several ways to distribute and monetise journalism.

I’m beginning to think that press events (and many conferences) are in a similar position to many media outlets, i.e; wedded to the artefact of the get-together in a big room with adjacent catering facilities, when the real issue is not how to run good events but how to preserve the information transfer they allow while thinking about how to use technology other than that embedded in today’s most popular artefact.

There’s one barrier I perceive: no-one’s very good at using the technology yet. I’ve attended webinars that were just the usual drone-and-slides affairs. If I had any real wisdom in this area, I’d be starting a consultancy around it right now, to help businesses take advantage of web conferencing and similar technologies to improve the effectiveness of their communications. Because I don’t have that wisdom, I’m hoping someone else does so they can lead a charge towards new ways of sharing information that take the good bits from the meeting/event artefact of today and take steer it in useful new directions.


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