Over There… Posted on March 9, 2009 by Dan Gillmor I’m guest-blogging this week ande next at the wonderful BoingBoing site. See ya..
I caught your posts over at Boingboing, was surprised to see that you’re a UVM 81 alum as am I. I think I remember meeting you, I used to work at Hunts and caught all the local bands there and at Nectors. Congrats on the gig at BB and I strongly agree with your post on the NYT, the only disagreement is that you didn’t go far enough. There seems to be a journalistic mindset that includes a strange “conventional wisdom” and many other problems, although the NYT is hardly the worst or most flagrant.
Once again, congrats! I hope it gives you more exposure on your critigues of the media.
Dan, it’s too bad the discussion on your very interesting post degenerated into ad hominems about Al Gore’s physical appearance and rants about whether climate change is really happening. You’ve raised a couple of issues that are very interesting from the perspective of conferences and conference content. I’m responding here because I don’t want this to get lost in the larger fracas that seems to be developing over on BoingBoing.
* First, if Gore is restricting access and reporting, he’s missing the real value of his speech, but he isn’t alone. Whatever he (and his speaker bureau) might earn for a keynote appearance at CTIA, it is a tiny fraction of the value he stands to generate if his content is reported, disseminated, debated, thought through…and if people the take action as a result. That should be the point of any keynote — if a keynote doesn’t get that, they should give up the podium to someone who does.
But as I say, this isn’t about Al Gore. As a meeting professional about to celebrate 25 years in business, I can tell you that our industry’s whole economic model is founded on what we consume, not what we produce. When we study the economic impact of meetings and events (http://theconferencepublishers.com/blog/meeting-professionals-international/the-numbers-tell-a-story/), we focus on the conference halls we book, the guest rooms we reserve, the food and beverage we consume — when our real economic impact flows from the knowledge we deliver and the outcomes that flow from that knowledge. It’s a mistake that needs to be corrected, but focusing on one speaker might obscure the scope of the problem.
* Second — the suggestion that participants let a thousand cell phone videos and blog posts bloom is the best available under the circumstances, but it’s an imperfect solution. The really sad thing about Gore’s decision to ban any form of balanced reporting is that the rest of the world will inevitably be left with a collection of unmoderated opinions about his talk, but no common, balanced reference point for what actually happened in the room. The sheer venom of some of the BoingBoing discussion is actually a great example of what’s likely to happen.
This is not to say that there’s no value in the blogosphere. Quite the contrary. But there’s a reason that print journalism separates the news from the editorials and op eds, and usually puts the op ed page farther back in the paper. It isn’t that the editors don’t think the editorials are important (good gracious — they write them!), or that they don’t try to find the best and brightest opinion-makers to write the guest columns. But the assumption is that readers will want the facts first, just the facts, so they can begin forming their own opinions before reading someone else’s. This is a subtlety that is usually lost in the blogosphere. And it’s lost in the world of meetings and events, when we assume that a small army of bloggers can replace reporting, as opposed to serving as a tremendously valuable adjunct.
Hank, thanks for the kind note. I do remember Hunt’s with great fondness — and miss Vermont all the time.
Mitchell, I agree it was too bad that conversation degenerated into such crap. And yes, a zillion cellphones is no substitute. But it’s a great addition….