May 20, 2005

The Chat as Art, The Chat as Theater

Yesterday, I attended PDF, Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej.

Personal Democracy Forum: Power to the People with Chat

The backchannel was fantastic. During the last panel, it was particularly good. However, there was a panel just before lunch that had the audience laughing so hard, between what the speakers were saying, and the chat behind them.. that one speaker suggested they should just give up speaking so we could just all do the chat. That was when the chat moved to a new level, an art mob of flowing moving commenters listening and speaking through the chat. Not all of it was great.. but there were moments where it was serendiptously so on the mark. The whole audience was engaged, pounding on ASRC.. talking back to the panelists. And the panelists had no choice but to listen and respond and integrate it into their talk. About 40 people were on it, out of 200 in the audience.

At the last panel of the day, there were about 300 in the audience, with about 60 people on the chat. It again ripped into high gear, so much so that the panelists were twisted around trying to read it, while the audience was roaring over the discussion onscreen verses onstage. People were totally engaged in what the speakers were saying, questioning and riffing on it. Jay Rosen later noted that it was a big neck strain to turn to read it .. and Arianna Huffington finally got a laptop from someone in the audience so she could face us and maybe respond to it onscreen, though she didn't appear to type anything. However, she too noted that it had a life of it's own, and maybe their panel should just keep silent in the face of it. But they kept going, as the audience kept on. Weaving a discussion on many levels, fast and furious.

It was a new level of theater, one I haven't seen before this intensely. Good show!

In fact, if you do panels, which in larger setting are required, the chat is a must onscreen behind. And if you are lucky, you'll get this good an interaction.

Last panel of the day (note, Jeff Jarvis had to leave part way through for a media interview):
pdfchat.jpg

Posted by Mary Hodder at May 20, 2005 08:31 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I think this kind of interaction works for people with certain information absorption or learning styles, and not for others.

I recall during Bloggercon III they had the IRC up on the screen in one of the sessions. Now, I wasn't participating in the chat, and maybe I would have enjoyed it more had I been, but I found it way too distracting and mentally chaotic. I mean, what percentage of people do you think are really good at listening to and watching speakers (to absorb both their vocal and physical cues...which I find part of the package) and reading at the same time. Not to mention the eye strain :)

I think I sound like a dinosaur when I say this, but I'll say it anyway...what you're describing sounds like it would have been sensory overload for my poor, particular brain.

Posted by: Elisa Camahort at May 22, 2005 08:40 AM

I think this kind of interaction works for people with certain information absorption or learning styles, and not for others.

I recall during Bloggercon III they had the IRC up on the screen in one of the sessions. Now, I wasn't participating in the chat, and maybe I would have enjoyed it more had I been, but I found it way too distracting and mentally chaotic. I mean, what percentage of people do you think are really good at listening to and watching speakers (to absorb both their vocal and physical cues...which I find part of the package) and reading at the same time. Not to mention the eye strain :)

I think I sound like a dinosaur when I say this, but I'll say it anyway...what you're describing sounds like it would have been sensory overload for my poor, particular brain.

Posted by: Elisa Camahort at May 22, 2005 08:45 AM