I’m still reeling from the Denver experience. It truly was a great conference with lots to see and do. Even more powerful were the connections with others to be made. Meeting up with fellow educators and software developers at the Canadian Consulate and then at the Discovery Canada events really affirmed that many have got past the hardware and are making the best of networking.
Combining both ensures an opportunity for success for all.
The connections that are made at events like this can be worth the price of admission alone. Of that, there is no doubt in my mind. But, there was one frustrating element. Where is everyone? You really do have to go to the event to realize that you can be in a group of 15 000 people and still alone and lost!
Most people at the conference were connected in a manner unlike no other. I saw Netbooks, Notebooks, portable devices of every type at every turn. What a terrific opportunity for networking and connecting them all. ISTE took a huge step forward this year with the development of their own application to allow i* access to many of the resources that ISTE makes available. And yet, most sessions started with the presenter announcing the hashtag for their session. Even before the event, there was debate and discussion about what hashtag should be used throughout the four days. I know that, in my world, I just set up another search in my Seesmic Desktop looking for the term ISTE. It gave me what I needed. I tried to let folks that were trying to find me where I was by using the FourSquare application. I was really impressed that others, including myself, were not only indicating that we were at the Convention Centre but also what room we were in.
I kept thinking – wouldn’t it be nice if there was a confluence of all of these ideas at least for the conference to make it easier for all? I’m envisioning an enhancement to the already created application that would have Twitter and FourSquare or Gowalla access built right into it. Use the geolocating abilities to automatically tag locations and times cross referenced to the final program. Sure, there’s an element of privacy to be considered but you’d only use the application during the event for the purpose of letting friends know where you are, what you’re doing, and what’s currently inspiring you. There are OpenSource applications that could be melded into a product of this source or it might be an opportunity for a developer to step forward with a modified version of their product that you could purchase for a couple of bucks or support through advertising. Heck, you could even make it a tick box when you’re registering online. In advance of the event, have all of the conference locations already defined; build in whatever hashtagging schema that is desired and then turn it loose. You could even build in a session and conference evaluation component.
The result could be a more connected and networked entity. Imagine a consistent format for messages and locations throughout the event. You might still be lost in the middle of a crowd but you’d have an idea of where everyone else is!