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September 27, 2009

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Teresa Boardman

I don't believe in anonymous comments. Anything I have to say I put my name on. Backnoise is here to stay. There are a lot of people who like to make snarky remarks.

Mike Whaling

I agree, Tom ... put it front and center. I'm actually encouraging more conferences to do this, because I think it can add a lot of value to the conversation (or add a conversation where there was previously just a speaker). It gets everyone involved, even if just as a more engaged, more informed spectators.

twitter.com/socialmediabham

Let me first say that I was there and I was just about the only person using my Twitter handle during Brogan's presentation/talk.

1. Is the backchannel here to stay? Yes. Great tool. But like many great things, people tend to manipulate it. Backnoise, for me, is still in beta.

2. Is there a place for anonymity? If so, when? Was it appropriate for a conference designed to appeal to marketing professionals? No. Accountability is key in social media and trust.

3. Does anonymity only serve to leave room for things to get ugly? At conferences, should identification of the person commenting be required? Again, accountability is key in social media and trust.

4. Is civility a thing of the past? Should rudeness, inane commentary and personal attacks be tolerated? No, but people shouldn't be afraid to be direct and blunt. There's a line between direct/blunt and rudness/personal attacks

5. Who is responsible for controlling the conversation, or is control even possible? Is self-governance via the wisdom of crowds sufficient to do so? Self-govenance is fine if people can/are held accountable for what they say

6. Is there room for "should" and "ought" in social media, or is it truly a wild west where anything and everything goes? Anything goes, as long as you don't violate a person's personal rights. That's what happened at #nmatl

7. What does this imply for conference organizers and speakers? Make people be accountable for their actions.

8. How can conference organizers and speakers/presenters/panelists prepare themselves for what might come? Know that if you put yourself out there, this is a possibility. Celebrities know that. Speakers are not an exception.

9. Should we even pay attention to the backchannel or get on with business as usual? Great way to relate it back to social media. You have to pay attention. The conversation goes on no matter what...

10. What does the future hold? Will this type of behavior continue and even grow? How will this effect the development of future conferences? All that depends on the development of the tools and how people continue to use them.

While most found the backnoise to be distracting, I found it to be a great tool with tons of potential. Maybe I have my rose-colored glasses on, but there's more potential in BackNoise than there is disadvantate (that I can see).

PS - Coming down to Montgomery to hear you speak since I missed you at #soso. Can't wait!
--DW
SocialMediaBirmingham.com

Stacy Williams

Paul, thanks for continuing the conversation! Here are my answers to your excellent questions:

1. Is the backchannel here to stay? - Yes, I'm sure it is, and that's not necessarily a bad thing - it depends on how it's used.

2. Is there a place for anonymity? If so, when? Was it appropriate for a conference designed to appeal to marketing professionals? - Great question, and I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm sure if I thought long and hard enough, I'd come up with an example of when/where there's a place for anonymity. It wasn't the anonymity per se that was a problem, it was the rude/vicious/irrelevant stuff that people were posting, which they'd probably be less likely to post if the weren't anonymous.

3. Does anonymity only serve to leave room for things to get ugly? At conferences, should identification of the person commenting be required? - Anonymity does serve to leave room for things to get ugly, but it doesn't "only" do so. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to require identification. I'd hope people would be mature enough to respond appropriately whether or not they're anonymous (but obviously that didn't happen last week).

4. Is civility a thing of the past? Should rudeness, inane commentary and personal attacks be tolerated? - Sometimes it sure seems that civility is a thing of the past and that our society is degenerating in general. But who knows - perhaps our grandparents thought the same thing. No, obviously, rudeness, inane commentary and personal attacks should not be tolerated.

5. Who is responsible for controlling the conversation, or is control even possible? Is self-governance via the wisdom of crowds sufficient to do so? - Another great question, and I hadn't really thought about it until I read Lance's post (http://blog.weatherby.net/2009/09/dont-blame-backnoise-atlanta-new-media-conference.html) on this topic yesterday. Control by some larger authority is not possible and not desirable, in my opinion. Self-governance is the only realistic option, and is likely to be the most effective. IF, of course, the community steps up and self-governs, which as Lance points out, didn't happen at NMATL.

6. Is there room for "should" and "ought" in social media, or is it truly a wild west where anything and everything goes? - Yes, there's room for "should" and "ought" - there should be (and are) standards and cultural unwritten (and written) rules. Of course anything CAN go, but people violating the rules risk being flamed, etc., by the community.

7. What does this imply for conference organizers and speakers? - Hoo, boy! I don't know. In some ways, it'll raise the bar and be a positive influence. As a speaker, I'll probably be a chicken and have someone else scan the posts about me and summarize the constructive ones for me. Yes, I need to "sack up" as James said (okay "grow a thicker skin" is now officially on my To Do list). But I can't imagine that reading comments that hit below the belt will ever do anything but impact me negatively.

8. How can conference organizers and speakers/presenters/panelists prepare themselves for what might come? - I don't know if it'd be a smart thing or a bad thing to suggest to the audience (early in the day) that constructive criticism is welcome on BackNoise or similar sites, but to please keep personal attacks to themselves. Of course, that'd bring more attention to BackNoise than it would have if the organizers or presenters didn't bring it up. (As I said in my post [http://bit.ly/BackNoise], I wouldn't have known about it at all if Jeff Turner hadn't brought it up in his talk. And the old "any PR is good PR" saying comes to mind - I know my attention to this issue has served to let a lot more people know BackNoise exists.) Again, it might be a smart thing to have someone act as a filter - monitor the stream for truly helpful comments and fail to pass along the hurtful stuff.

9. Should we even pay attention to the backchannel or get on with business as usual? - Organizers/speakers should pay attention to it - the constructive comments anyway. The audience probably should not. If you (or your company) are paying good money to attend an event and learn from it, that becomes far less possible if you get sucked into BackNoise or similar sites. I know because I was guilty of this at NMATL.

10. What does the future hold? Will this type of behavior continue and even grow? How will this effect the development of future conferences? - My bet is that yes, it will continue and grow. This is one symptom of a larger trend toward electronic multitasking (you should see my kids do homework with iPods blasting, sending text messages and browsing the web at the same time) and snarkiness in general. There has always been humor at the expense of other people (blonde jokes, etc.), but it seems to me that more humor is based on bashing people than it used to be (and individual people rather than a larger stereotype of a group). How this will affect future conferences, I don't know. Again, it'll probably raise the bar, and I suppose all of us speakers will have to grow thicker skin and become better presenters, for example not relying on PowerPoint bullet point slides. Which is all good, but rather stressful and exhausting, if you want to know the truth. I suppose it'll separate the wheat from the chaff and ensure that only the best speakers survive.

Paul Chaney

Teresa, I've always appreciated how you just put it out there no holds barred and sign your name to it every time. That's what social media is all about in my opinion and you represent the best and highest standards.

Paul Chaney

Thanks for taking time to answer these questions. Great responses. I look forward to seeing you in B'ham. (Hope no one knows about Backnoise! :->)

Paul Chaney

Stacy, thanks for starting the conversation about this topic in your excellent post. Thank you as well for your responses here.

I do think that we judge speakers by the quality of their presentation rather than the substance of their content. That's where popular culture has brought us, largely thanks to TV methinks.

That puts the onus on those of us who consider ourselves "speakers" to do the best job we can...and please, no more bulleted PPT slides! Follow the course set by creative people like Jeff Turner and Kelsey Ruger at Poplabs. These guys rock at PPT and understand that it exists to amplify and illustrate, not be a boring play-by-play of the talk.

Everyone should read Seth Godin's little ebook, Really Bad Powerpoint and How to Avoid It. Here's the link to the PDF: http://www.sethgodin.com/freeprize/reallybad-1.pdf

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