[iDC] Conferencing Formats and Welome to Marc Tuters

mt at x-i.net mt at x-i.net
Tue Jan 31 14:15:51 EST 2006

A few comments on John's email, leading to some reflections on the use of
chat groups in conference or seminar settings.

SO, John's example of the concurrent break-out space at the CIRCUS event,
reminds me of the TAZ concept from Next 5 Minutes, where the conference
organizers provided an un-programmed but fully equipped presentation space
in Amsterdam's Balie for which participants could sign themselves up.

The idea was to create open zones in the festival for impromptu
presentations and gatherings, spaces for contestation and difference.
Registration for the TAZ were open to all festival participants and worked
on a first come first serve basis. Timeslots were for an hour: 15 minutes
setup, 45 minutes presentation. The room was equipped with the standard AV
setup and could fit 60-80 people.

A crew of us signed-up to carry on a discussion going on in the
hallway/dining area, and managed fill the room to capacity with no
promotion other than word of mouth in the building, a get together that
seemed to plant seed for one of the attendees, that eventually grew into
this rant for mute magazine:

I'd be eager to hear more about some of the experiments that occured at
the Free Co-operation event. I remember from the article that one of the
proposals was to localized hotspots (WiFi Bedouin), presumably to situate
im chats in space --an idea that really appeals to me (so for instance,
one end of the building has a bunch of cluster of laptops usrs chatting
about politics while another area has a better dressed bunch of people who
it turns out are chatting about aesthetics, for example).

On the note of "situated chats", at USC we've been experimenting with
breaking up seminar's discussion with an Instant Message "BACK CHANNEL"
chat that's projected next to the speaker's Powerpoint. I have my issues
about the Back Channel, as it often seems that it impoverishes the spoken
debate, but at least it brings the laptoppers back into the space. I think
that a real benefit here would be a chat interface that was less linear,
something that could group threads as they form (since, as we all know,
what tends to happen in chats, is that some of the more thoughtful
comments get drowned out by fast-typing jokers). Funny that Sara Diamond
keeps coming to mind, but I think that her Code Zebra project was an
attempt to make something like this. OWuld be interested if anyone had any
experience with a chat interface like that, as I think the Back Channel is
a great venue for that.



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