UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events: Backchannel, Amplification, Remote Participation and Legacy

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Nov 2012

The #solo12SMC at the SpotOn London (SOLO) Conference

On Monday 12 November 2012 Tony Hirst and myself are facilitating an hour-long session on “Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events: Backchannel, Amplification, Remote Participation and Legacy” at the SpotOn 2012 London conference (formerly known as Science Online London).

The guidelines for session organisers encourage “community-led discussion sessions. The aim of these sessions is to create an engaging forum for open and dynamic conversation“. We are also encouraged to blog about the session in advance, encourage use of the session hashtag (#solo12SMC) to make it easier to create an archive of the discussions using tools such as Storify as well as exploring ways of crowd-sourcing ideas and sharing of relevant resources.

We has also been asked to avoid use of PowerPoint in order to maximise the contributions form the participants. However since our session is about event amplification we may have the need to have an online resource which describes the session, the structure and the objectives available for a remote audience to access.

“The notepad is a silo”

The workshop session is very timely since it follows on from a talk I gave at the University of Dundee on Wednesday on “Being a ‘connected educator’: the Role of Social Media in Facilitating Collaboration and Enhancing Impact“.

During the talk I encouraged participants to make use of the seminar’s hashtag and suggested that “the notepad is a silo“. After the event I used Storify to keep a record of the tweets posted about the talk. As can be seen this suggestion resonated for a couple of the participants at least.

After I had given the talk I had a number of useful conversations. Normally this would result in an exchange of business cards but (dare I admit this?) shortly after the event I would have forgotten the details of such chats. Nowadays, however, rather than exchanging business cards after talking to people with similar interests I tend to follow them on Twitter, so our discussions can continue in an lightweight fashion. For example, when I arrived at Edinburgh airport on my way home I noticed the tweet:

would you mind reminding me the title of the London conference you mentioned earlier at #inspired12? :)

and was able to give the response:

@nlafferty @AnnalisaManca @notanna1 It’s the Future of Academic Impacts conference –… #inspired12

Email, I feel, would have felt too heavy-weight for asking such questions.

Amplification of WWW 2003

My first experience of what we now refer to as ‘event amplification’ occurred at the WWW 2003 conference. As described in an article entitled ‘Hot’ or Not? Welcome to real-time peer review written by Paul Shabajee, ILRT, University of Bristol we saw an example of how the experience at a research conference was enhanced by what Paul referred to as ‘real-time peer-reviewing’. The article highlighted some of the concerns the audience may have when experiencing use of networked technologies at a conference:

about 10 per cent of the audience had laptops – one person was heard to say that the noise of tapping keyboards drowned the speaker out at the back of the room. … it can be very distracting having someone typing quickly and reading beside you, rather than watching the speaker

 and concerns for the speaker:

It is probable that the speakers will find it hardest to adjust. It may be disconcerting to know that members of your audience are, as you speak, using the web to look at your CV, past work and checking any data that seems a bit dubious

But Paul concluded on an optimistic note (emphasis added):

The added possibilities for collective learning and analysis, comprehensive notes with insights and links, often far more extensive than the speaker might have, are advantages previously unimaginable.

Perhaps the richest potential lies in the interaction between members of the audience, particularly if you believe that learning and the generation of knowledge are active, engaging and social processes.

Paul’s article showed great insight. I felt, into ways in which the amplification of events would start to transform conferences.

Plans for our #soloSMC Session

Tony and I plans for the session are based on the following structure:

  • Exploring what is meant by an ‘event’ and what the purposes of an ‘event’ are.
  • Discussing how technologies can enhance the purposes.
  • Understanding how data analysis can provide a richer understanding of the effectiveness of use of technologies.
  • Discussing potential barriers to the provision of amplified events and how such barriers can be addressed.

However since we wish the session to be responsive to the interests of the participants, we may not follow this plan! But in order to make the most effective use of the sixty minutes we have for the session we’ll be inviting participants to summary their interest in the session and what they hope to gain from the session on the Google Document which has been created (with the URL Since the workshop itself will be amplified we welcome comments from people who may not be physically present.

One Response to “Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events: Backchannel, Amplification, Remote Participation and Legacy”

  1. Reblogged this on Things I grab, motley collection .

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