Turning events inside out

Shane McCracken was sufficiently interested in the social reporting that David Wilcox and I undertook at the DC10plus event early last month that he started to develop a business model around it, dubbing it ConferenceXtra.

The concept is that it’s all well and good for public sector organisations to put on events to disseminate information, or share good practice, but the reach is only ever going to be as far as those that attend. By using the social web, events can be turned inside out, so those that can’t attend still get to find out what went on and an even contribute to what’s happening.

evoiceThis idea was put to the test a couple of weeks ago in Norwich, as Shane explains. The event was the evoice international political forum on eDemocracy, hosted by Norfolk County Council. Now, evoice are not necessarily a group that too many people are aware of, which makes putting their work up online all the more important, so that people can learn and share experience.

I was delighted to be involved in getting a whole host of audio and video online, as well as presentations through SlideShare and photos on Flickr. There’s a real mixture of content, especially video, with formal recordings of the presentations mixed with short vox pop interviews with attendees, very much in the social reporter style.

The site that we put together is hosted at ConferenceXtra, using WordPress (of course!). The great thing with the blog format is of course that is has interactivity built in, and it was great to see some comments being made, and conversations held, on the site soon after it went live. Hopefully the site will become a place where all those involved in the evoice project can convene in the future.

One fantastic project that was highlighted was that of Bus Stop 39, an online youth engagement initiative by Norfolk County Council and partners, which aims “to give young people an insight into their local council and its services, as well as offering the opportunity to be part of one of the UK’s first online teen soaps, enabling them to make informed choices when the chance to vote in local elections arises”.

Here’s one video where Tom Hodgkinson introduces the project in detail:

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Check out the Bus Stop 39 page at the ConferenceXtra site for another clip where young people talk with great passion about the initiative. I, and others, have said it loads of times before, but this stuff works, folks.

2 thoughts on “Turning events inside out”

  1. I think this whole “new conference” idea goes even further. I think we have to be able to find some creative ground between the heavily presentation laden “top-down” format of the great and the good delivering PowerPoints at one end and the anarchistic, bottom-up, open source unconference version at the other. Perhaps we can use the various social media tools as part of the conference planning as well as conference reporting. This would enable the conference format to be more responsive, more lively but also more directly related to what the audience is wanting. The failed attempt to use Twitter at the recent nesta innovation event wasinteresting but failed because it was not fully integrated into the strategy, planning and delivery of the session. Of course I’d also like to see the use of analogue tools and creative spaces linked to digital social networking services. This would enable everyone to contribute, report, participate and agenda set regardless of battery life. Following on from the idea of this as a “business”, I think being able to offer these sorts of services as plug-ins for conference organisers and institutions would be a real winner. I’m up for it…

  2. Hi Paul,

    We’re already working on the basis of menu offerings, which are I guess your plug-ins. The more creative, workable, varied the plug-ins the better. The only proviso is that they can be distributed through the main conferenceXtra site so that they all sit together, accessible in one spot.

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