Malmö in southern Sweden has for the last two days hosted MediaEvolution‘s “The Conference“. A cynic might point out the ridiculousness of naming your conference “The Conference”, but I’m told many people have cats named “Cat”, I guess it makes some things less confusing?
They had an amazing line-up of international speakers and did a good job of ordering the many different topics into 3 headlines: Who’s Next? Man & Machine and Creation – each kicked off by one of the Keynotes – and they were magnificent; we’ve toured the design exhibitions of MOMA with their curator, heard how a cyborg anthropologist perceives us, the cyborgs (and why she had trouble sleeping as a child), we’ve been “the17″ in Bill Drummonds choir and last but not least heard how AlJazeeras social media approach has helped the people spark and fuel their revolutions in the Arab spring. (More about all those in other posts soon)
And in each topic the keynote was followed by 2 tracks of sessions related to the same topic. Nice tidy idea – and the hostess did a great job of keeping us with the programme from the big stage - But somehow the sessions just didn’t seem to be on the same level. And I found myself wondering why. The topics were interesting, the speakers often central to the topics, well prepared, and yet… it wasn’t really working. Chatting with @Funzafunza and @tschlichting today we finally worked out that it was the format screwing it up; each session had a moderator and 2 or three speakers. But for some reason the moderator (who wasn’t moderating but curating) – and had the same amount of time alotted as the speakers – which they were desperately trying to fill – some of them with well-rounded introductions to the theme for the session (working out nicely for explaining complex titles like Disruptive Thinking – but IMO crashing and burning for the intro to augmented reality) – The session speakers on the other hand had too little time to get into anything really interesting – and even so it only left for a couple of questions, but no discussion afterwards.
Just such a shame to bring in foursquare co-founder @Naveen and then only let him speak for 10 minutes and answer 1-2 questions – that never made it to the interesting bits… I think the sessions would have worked better with a brief intro, slightly longer presentations and a Q&A-session with the moderator and the presenters. Oh and since I’ve slided into the complaints section: Never ever, EVER, arrange a techconference, attended by cyborgs and provide them only sucky internet. That does not make for a happy crowd, no matter how nice the food, how plentiful the stream of coffee and little chocolates. Cyborgs need their internet!