Monday, March 20, 2006

Berkely Cybersalon: what a difference a point of view makes

Last night my partners Lisa and Jory spoke on a panel for Sylvia Paull's monthly Cybersalon.

The topic was meant to be the place of expertise and elitism in a Web 2.0 "user-created" world. lisa and Jory both come from traditional media backgrounds, and have moved into the online world with a vengeance, but they are certainly not your average born-of-the-grass-roots opinion-shapers.

I was unable to attend, and if I read the recaps I come away thinking that there were two different panels:

One, according to Tom Foremski, was "a great evening because the audience, after a respectful 15 minutes or so of listening to panel members droning on--grabbed control over the means of communication."

One, according to Geodog, "the tired old fight that some never tire of rehashing: Journalists vs. bloggers." Or even worse, according to Scott Rosenberg, like taking a time machine back to tired old discussions, which he lays at the feet of moderator Andrew Keen here: "I'm afraid his determination to tar the blogosphere as a force for anarchy and narcissism warped the evening, turning back the clock on the entire conversation about blogging and journalism that so many thoughtful people -- including many in the room tonight -- have been advancing for years."

From what I can read, having not attended, it merely reinforces 2 things I believe make for great sessions:

1. If your panelists are on different sides of an issue, then the mdoerator has to play the objective party as much as possible. There's no pointpretending to have a debate if you can't be respectful to the various positions being represented. If you can't, then just have an advocacy session, not a debate session.

2. By all means audience participation is absolutely key. But this doesn't absolve the person moderating the panel from having a basic outline of what should be addressed by both the panelists and the audience. Sessions that are free-for-alls can be mildly entertaining at best, but rarely enlightening or educational. IMHO of course. I could relate to this Geodog description: "reminiscent of a badly led graduate seminar with a bunch of really bright people mostly talking to themselves, trying to score points off each other, or trying to impress the professor, instead of having the focused discussion I had hoped for." I've been in such meetings many many times. From the discussion notes I've read at the three posts above it's hard to see how some of the commentary from the crowd had anything to do with the subject at hand.

I really wish I was there though. Although I might have rolled my eyes at some of the crap flying out of people's mouths I surely would have been nodding my head in violent agreement to some of the other crap flying out of other people's mouths!

Hi -
if you want to hear the live recording of the Cybersalon you can do so at the podcast..
This sounds like many meetings I've been to, whether in the military or the academic worlds.

The point is to well...have a point...when you have a meeting, debate, get together, seminar, or whatever.

Otherwise, no matter how fun it is for a little while, ultimately, everyone feels like they wasted their time.

disregard the identity. I'm over at
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