Twitter and Conference Rage

[NOTE: this post originally appeared on Datachondria, a blog dedicated to technology, data, and modern life.]

An interesting post by Michael Fienen about David Galper's keynote presentation at a recent HighEdWeb conference -- and the Twitter backchannel that resulted (it starts at 12pm).

Twitter allows two things to happen very well: mobs feed on themselves, and the slippery slope gets very steep and extremely slick. There’s also the snowballing analogy... Bottom line, there was a lack of respect for the topic, a clear void in researching the audience, and just bad presentational ability. A perfect storm, if you will. And once the tweeting started, it simply became more fun to be in the stream than put up with the presentation. In a way, it was less about being snarky towards the speaker, and more about amusing each other by sharing and exaggerating the pain.

We touched on this a few months ago: the idea that Twitter is, as yet, a social space largely unregulated by norms of behaviour. There are further thoughts elsewhere about this particular example and some possible lessons: are we moving from a model of passive consumption in conferences to one of active participation? Does the 'unconference' model so successfully employed by, for example, BookCamp Vancouver last week, provide more value to attendees? Has the burden changed from audiences (to pay attention to the presenters) to presenters (to better know their audiences)?