If I were anywhere else, it wouldn't even occur to me to sit here while the speaker is talking to us and write a blog post. As it is, I'm in a ConvergeSouth session with Robert Scoble, the king of multi-tasking and all that is high tech. He makes my ADD look like a joke.
This session is concerned with video production - a topic about which I'm intrigued but know next to nothing. I have, what, 2 videos on Vimeo; 2 or 3 on YouTube? They're all of my toddler nephew. Meanwhile these folks are discussing media at a level that's over my head, but I'm still fascinated. A little of what's being discussed is seeping in.
What I'm equally fascinated with is the ability I have to peek over people's shoulders and see what they're doing while Scoble talks. (From my vantage point on the back row - are you kidding me? Like I was
gonna' set up my laptop closer to the front of the room!?) It feels so voyeuristic. Unintentionally so, but a little wrong, nonetheless. (Not so wrong that I don't look, you might notice.)
- One guy's watching a listing on eBay,
- Another is taking serious notes, just typing so much of what is being said in the room,
- I'm not familiar with this site the buy beside the eBay guy is using,
- People are checking email,
- And lots of folks are on Twitter. (With their computers, as well as their handheld devices.) Twitter is enormously popular today. To join the voyeuristic party, you can see what folks are saying about #convergesouth here. Every little while I get a little notice that there are x number of new tweets. I refresh and see what's just been written this second. (Lots of people are saying more interesting things than I do.)
Here he jumps from site to site, we watch or follow along on our own computers. And toggle from tab to tab, quick checking what he says, now checking email, now peeking at the conference's "twitterverse."
It's fun to think that these are at least acceptable methods of taking in information. Phrases like "the wave of the future" come to mind. And yet evidence from discussions with those who usually surround me in person ("IRL") would suggest that this is not, in fact, a standard slice of a life. That it's not an appropriate way of participating in a conference presenter's session. That I (and "my people") are just rude.
For me it always comes back to context. While I'm a blogger, am connected on several of the big social networking sites, and this feels very refreshing to me, as it seems an exaggerated version of my usual day, I know it's a mere slice of a very specific niche.
Never mind: I'm loving this niche today.
Although there's going to have to be a follow-up post when there's more time (and energy,) it's important to share that I've had - if not a change of heart, at least a revision in my thinking. Having spent the hour that followed in Anil Dash's session, I realized perhaps I'd been too sweeping in my assertions about tech conferences in general. I believe, instead, that the inclination to tweet or blog or do any manner of other tech-intensive things while a presenter speaks may well be more aligned with the actual speaker than with the conference itself. Subject matter, too, comes into play.
I'll say, as a lead up to what I'll write later, that it would not have crossed my mind to write an entire blog post in the session Anil led. His talk was more like an intimate conversation between a (large) group of friends and colleagues, and I would have missed too much if I were even distracted even long enough to peek at Twitter. Which I didn't want to do.
Maybe part of me is drawn to Scoble's style because my brain is more closely aligned with his manner of processing information. My mind floods me with more, More, MORE and is always overstimulated from the inside, looking for parallels on the outside. Meanwhile, because of this, I crave calm, balance... a Less Stimulated stream of thoughts. And so Anil's session - especially in such proximity - seemed significantly different from the one I'd attended before.
I enjoyed them both. And if I don't stop now, I won't want to write later. So much for a quick follow-up...