I am curious to “be” at the January 21-22 online conference, RSS Winterfest. Most conferences, in person or online, I generally approach with low expectations– mainly out of frustration over the years that the only format for professional communication that seems to be used is the 50 minute lecture to a passive audience.
I have been at educational conferences where presenters use this format to talk about the need to change the mode of interaction in education, that lecture format must go- the old saw about “Sage on the stage becoming guide on the side….” Their next step is to dim the lights, cue up the powerpoints (and the audience head bob starts). It has happened a million times.
Online conferences seem to push the old format the farthest away from its stale equilibrium position and ones where the tools are left open, they continue to have a life of their own long after the event passes.
But I digress from this week’s event, my words triggered by the email reminder for the RSS Winterfest would be in “45 minute sessions” (lecture?), followed by intermissions of open wiki-posting and weblog activity. Therefore, the most interesting allegory of those dull conferences, the hallway informal conversation, is shoved into the interstices of the online lectures. Better type fast.
By setting low expectations, I leave room to be pleasantly surprised. The list of RSS presenters is full of weblog/RSS technorati indeed, but at this glance terribly weighted towards talking about the technology, and less about the process of using these tools, the outcomes, the stories of what people do with them.
As well stated by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid in the Social Life of Information, “learning is a social process”- not a procedural one, not a technical one. The more we focus on the technology, the Atoms, XMLs, meta-data, the more we miss the mark. It is not to say the technology is not important, not exciting (as my profession is creating and using it), but often the acronym soup takes center stage when really it should be in the wings. Weblogs are much more a social technological phenomena than a technical one. Wikis are even a simpler technology.
But I am curious to see the interstitial social interactions at this online RSS Winterfest- and the first time I have been at an online event where wikis are used in real time. Show up and cause a ruckus.