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What Went Wrong

Page history last edited by Johnnie Moore 11 years, 5 months ago

or What Needs Improving?

 

The response to Amp08 has been overwhelmingly positive but it's important we improve if we we're going to hit our stride with Amp09, Amp10 and beyond. Please use this page to list what went wrong or anything that we could have done better. Also all suggestions of stuff we just plain forgot more than welcome :)  Cheers! - @sizemore.

 

One thing I heard was a mixed response to the live streaming. Some people were uncomfortable going out live (while others were surprised not everything was streaming). How could we have handled this better? (@sizemore)

As I understand it, the main benefit of this was supposed to be to allow others to participate in real time.  Personally, I'm glad that we aimed high and missed a little rather than not trying at all.  The interactive bits seem to me to be most problematic, could we look to getting broadcast sorted first?  Getting people to participate online means that session moderators and meatspace participants need to be forewarned and prepared to interact. (@lloyddavis)

I noticed in every room I was in that the sound for the live streaming was not working, and the people who were signing in on chat kept making remarks about the inefficiency of it all. I guess if it IS going to be livestreamed then things like sound need to be sorted out, and we need someone to respond to what people online are saying as they type at the side. (@anjali28)

I think you need to be very clear if you're going to live stream. Some people like to formulate and discuss their thoughts before going live to the whole of the internet with it. There is room for on and offline discussion. I think the photography was on overkill too. And again, you should make clear that folks are going to be photographed and allow people to opt out of having their photo taken if they wish. @technokitten

Although I think that live streaming the sessions is a great idea it's difficult to do without moderation and advocacy as people have mentioned. Maybe a compromise is that people send in questions prior to the sessions a bit like Question Time, it would mean that the sessions would need to be set in advance though. Also you need a lot of people to technically oversee and moderate the amount of activity that went on (@julianlstar)

 

Space allocation issues? Lots of people squeezed into small pods while the large conference room had plenty of space. Should we have managed that better? (@sizemore)

This is tied in for me with the timetabling issue - practically all the pods were pre-allocated before the event started. (@lloyddavis)

The best session I attended was the smallest one with 8 of us. Provision for multiple small spaces would be great. @technokitten

 

Feedback from a remote visitor who landed from Mars @dahowlett

Across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded Amplified08 with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us. @sizemore

 

Hard to respond to lots of great feedback because it's all been added as comments. Feel free to log in to the wiki and just edit the page rather than commenting. I've tried to copy the main points of criticism back up here where we can play with it. Just look for anything in a red font and then go ahead and let us know if you agree/disagree or have more to add. Cheers! - @sizemore.

 

To me the only issues was the space in the corridor and not being able to see or hear what was going on. (@julianlstar)

 

Sessions were too short.

Couldn't agree more. We need to speak to those running each session for feedback on this but as an attendee they felt short. An hour would have been nice. @sizemore.

Agree an hour works well for many things, but there's room for shorter snappier stuff too. (@lloyddavis)

+1 for Lloyd's comment @technokitten

With the amount of people in each sesssion and no moderation I felt that not everyone had a chance to participate. (@julianlstar)

With enough space, people would be able to book two consecutive slots for their conversation.  Also people need to take responsibility for improvising if they want to carry on talking (@johnniemoore)

 

Sessions needed guidelines (detailed suggestions by Jim Mortleman in comments).

This is something we can throw together in the next few months. I'll set up a page on here to get the ball rolling. @sizemore

I think we need to be willing to adopt a whole range of styles here and use those that work, rather than trying to shoe-horn everything we do into one format.  I'll set up a session typology page (@lloyddavis)

For the larger sessions a moderator or facilitator would have helped I think. There may also be a need for someone in sessions to capture information in order to share it. The more information and knowledge we share, the more it needs filtering by good editors to give it some coherence and to get to the point. @technokitten

Agree with the above, think it was down to many people not being familliar with the unconference ethos. (@julianlstar)

Very wary of appointing moderators to conversations, the most important guideline needs to come at the start: the law of two feet - don't sit their expecting things to magically engage you, you have to engage yourself. I think it's too easy to ask for moderation instead of taking action oneself eg leaving boring convos, intervening, creating your own.  Agree with @julianlstar that this is about people understanding how unconferences work. (@johnniemoore)

 

Fewer sessions needed/ More sessions needed.

We'll scrap some / add some more then :) Unless we can come to a concensus on the perfect number... @sizemore 

There will never be a perfect number! @technokitten

You feel like it's a bit of a candyshop situation, too many goodies so you never know which one to go for. Although there was no session register, it would of been interesting to see what session journeys people had. (@julianlstar)

Disagree.  "Too many sessions" - you don't have to go to all of them, make a choice and don't wait for daddy to tell you what to choose (or worse, appoint yourself daddy and tell everyone else.  "Too few sessions" - then you need to create one yourself. 

 

Session slots should be bagsied/allocated at least 24h in advance

Nice in theory. Lots of people like leaving this to the last minute. Do we set firmer 'rules' for this? @sizemore

 

I strongly disagree with this and don't understand why it is important.  The whole group coming together to agree on what the discussion and priorities are at the start of the event is an important and valuable experience.  In addition, I wanted to hear a pitch for each session from the session leader, and to know who was leading sessions.  The barcamp approach to introductions (with tags) works well for this, though it requires a little more time in the timetable - I had no idea of who some people were. (@lloyddavis)

 

@lloydavis - this idea works well for those coming in remotely so kills several birds with one stone. It is something I referred to here @dahowlett

@dahowlett - I can see that, and I understand that you have a different perspective as a remote participant. I don't believe we should change things to favour those coming in remotely at the expense of those in the room.  The majority of participants are in the room and stay for the whole event.  By all means lets discuss the sorts of things we want to talk about here and on the blog, but fixing the timetable in stone beforehand favours the needs of a minority over flexibility for the majority. (@lloyddavis)  

 

For those who like to plan in advance and/or do some research, then there is a place for having some sessions being planned in advance. It also means you can structure popular sessions so they don't clash. As long as there's space to add stuff, then that would make sense. Also going forward, in order to reach more corporate parts, folks unused to the unconference style will just find this completely confusing and daunting so some structure will allow those folks to join in more easily. Otherwise, we'll end up just talking to ourselves again which won't create any kind of change at all. @technokitten

 

I agree with @technokitten. There does need to be some structure especially when some people are travelling long distance at sometimes considerable expense. The unconference style can be liberating but could also be barrier as not everyone is used to the set up. (@julianlstar)

 

I think I agree with@lloyddavis and @technokitten and @julianlstar -If people like to put things down in advance, fine.  If you like advance notice, go to ones booked in advance.  No need whatever to punish the spontaneous. (@johnniemoore)

 

Need max no. of people per session

I agree. This should be set by the person running the session perhaps? If a session is oversubscribed do we repeat it or split it in half? @sizemore

Would prefer just more slots and proper explanation of "rule of two feet" to allow movement between sessions.

Here is a search link to the Law of Two Feet: @dahowlett

Thanks Dennis, but that link doesn't work for me right now. For those who don't know this is a good explanation of the principles of Open Space, which is where I met the "law of two feet" (though as it says "law of mobility" is probably better, I upset a wheelchair user once by being inadvertently insensitive) My point was that this wasn't explained properly at the start of the event - needs to be fed into our discussions on methodology (& philosophy). (@lloyddavis)

Agree it should be kept open, but then we definitely need larger spaces - there were sessions where people were just too crowded in to participate comfortably. (@anjali28)

Yeah, let's open more space! And let's be wary of imposing our own notion of what is or isn't too big on other people.  Don't object violently to session hosts setting limits, surplus participants can be encouraged to set up a parallel session if they want. (@johnniemoore)

 

Properly defined session start times

Anyone else confused by start times? I thought this was pretty clear, but I may be in the minority. @sizemore

Things ran over and then the timetable slipped.  I personally couldn't see the need for the plenary sessions except at start and end. (@lloyddavis)

Agree plenary sessions only needed at the beginning and end, and the sessions didn't keep to their time. To avoid confusion we definitely need people to stick by a timetable, or we're going to get people walking up and down looking like lost sheep searching for the session they want and thinking they are late or in the wrong place. (@anjali28)

I couldn't see or get to the board most of the time to see what was on so I didn't know what sessions were on where. They also weren't explained very well so it could be very hit and miss what you ended up in. @technokitten

Some of us got very confused in the Future of Online Video. Where there were six of us who had our own session for 10-15 minutes, which was very interesting BTW. We also missed the roundup at the end. (@julianlstar)

 

Expand to two day event?

Well it's certainly going to expand. I'll set up a page elsewhere on the wiki where we can start putting together details of the first Amp09 session. @sizemore

Yup, I'd go for a two-day barcamp style approach, using the basic barcamp rules and having the traditional arguments about whether or not it's really a barcamp :) (@lloyddavis)

2 days is a big commitment for folks. I like the idea of doing shorter sessions of 4 hours or so and building up to a bigger event. @technokitten

For people travelling any distance the longer it is better use of time. Although there could be an argument for organising regional summits then bringing people together for the final event. (@julianlstar)

 

Ensure debate continues.

Well here we are :) But yes we need to keep all the conversations going. Pretty sure that will be possible with great suggestions like the next one. @sizemore

 

Each session should have its own space on the wiki.

Consider it done. Then its up to those running and attending each session to populate the page. @sizemore

 

A list/lists of further questions raised somewhere on the wiki.

Great idea. I'll get on it.

 

A How To page that lists tech and platforms used such as Twitter / Better explanation of hashtags.

Will do. And I think Nik Butler mentioned putting a video together too. @sizemore

 

Pitted olives!

I think olives are disgusting in any form outside of a Martini glass. Aiming for a pizza budget for Amp09. @sizemore

Food & drink are important.  Cups & glasses were quite an impediment - at barcampberlin, I hacked my paper cup so that it could be attached to my lanyard.  Worked well.  Part of sign-up needs to be about food preferences, allergies and other requirements - I miss pizza, but if I eat it someone might end up with an axe in their head. (@lloyddavis)

 

More focus on the purpose of building to Ampified10.

We had this mentioned a lot and it's a main takeaway for me. We'll ensure we have a dedicated page here and on the blog. @sizemore

I wasn't clear on the goals or purpose of amplified for either the organisers or participants. It all seemed very process orientated (which has its place) but I think the goals and 'what's in it for me' needs to be better expressed otherwise you won't get the goal oriented types involved. We'll just get bored and move on and that would kinda miss the point of the whole thing about inclusivity. @technokitten

 

Sessions about specific networks

I think with time being so critical that sessions on each network is a luxury. Would a dedicated page on the wiki be a good idea? Or simply more ways for those networks to build their profile here and on the blog? Would love more feedback on this question. @sizemore

Define 'network'. What you actually had was a room full of connectors or hubs who, if they're involved in a network, are typically involved in more than one already. I think 'network of networks' could be a red herring and more thought needs to be attached on the ultimate goals and audience. I also want to understand the finances behind all this (whether there's none or whether there's funding from Nesta or other orgs). @technokitten

I think that there should be network bios that are available somewhere and maybe a map or some way of locating them. The map thing might also be useful if you were trying to be geographically inclusive, allowing you to target areas where there was no representation. (@julianlstar)

 

Earlier start! / More awareness of people who had to travel a distance to attend / Expansion beyond London

Amp09 has a wider scope than just London. We're hoping for sessions in other cities and towns. So the need to travel to London will be less, but the timing issue is something we'll look at carefully. The idea was to find the perfect time so that both those bound to an office and freelancers could attend. This is something we'll continue to chew over I expect. @sizemore

My preference for this would be to have smaller simultaneous events happening all over the country, with a session that was a national tie-up (like the bingo national game, or the eurovision song contest)  (@lloyddavis)

+1 for Lloyd's point. @technokitten

Smaller simultaneous events will run into the same issues encountered in point 1 only more so.(@julianlstar)

 

More than one board between 200 people :)

Wow you guys are GREEDY :) A very valid point. Especially since I carried an extra whiteboard to NESTA for this and we kinda left it in storage :/ Our bad and something we should have fixed on the night. Quite happily fall on my own non-permanent marker for that one. @sizemore

flipcharts would be good too and the ability to put up notices and the like. Consideration should be made to a more formal facilitation style such as pinpoint so we can finish some of the conversations and move them on to the next stage. @lloyddavis - what do you think about this? @technokitten

Or maybe a board that was a bit higher up a bit like old style bookies. (@julianlstar)

 

Update wiki during event

Great idea. Need to make more boring sessions so people are happy to skip them in order to do the admin :) We were too focussed on meatspace - that itself is something we should fix. Sorry guys! @sizemore

I think it's important to encourage more self-sufficiency among participants, those organising shouldn't have to do everything for us.  If you want the wiki updated during the event, you need to update the wiki during the event. (@lloyddavis)

If we're going to update wikis and the like, then power needs to be made available so we can plug laptops in easily. Or have 'recharge points'. Maybe a recharge point is the new watercooler? @technokitten

It's a role and responsibilities issue. I'm sure people would volunteer if they were adequately briefed beforehand. (@julianlstar)

 

More time to mingle and chat / Proper afterparty.

Again with time at a premium it's hard to fit more in especially if we're to expand the session running times. But it would be nice with so many cool people in one space to have a chance to mingle more. An after party in one venue would solve that - but also bring more stuff to deal with. Let's continue chewing this one over. Any more ideas? @sizemore

If this was a two day event it would happen naturally. But the networking element is key especially when many people don't get the chance otherwise. (@julianlstar)

 

Next one held at NESTA?

We were at maximum capacity already. The next London one will have to upgrade if we intend to bring even more people together... @sizemore

I'd prefer somewhere with a greater variety of spaces.  That large room is very difficult to use for anything with more than one point of focus. (@lloyddavis)

we had too many people to make the best use of space at Nesta. It looked to me like the main room could be partitioned or maybe that was my imagination? @technokitten.

Lovely space, worked out how to get into the pods after a while. There needs to be a bigger breakout space but that might be down to creating a flow of people around the space instead of everyone crowded around the boards (@julianlstar)

 

Too little structure.

I heard just the opposite too. Something we may have difficulty finding a concensus on. Anyone feel constrcicted by too much structure? @sizemore 

I don't think we needed more structure, but I think we could have done more explanation of the structure and some activity to bond a bit better as a group at the start  and to emphasise personal responsibilities (@lloyddavis)

I think there wasn't enough structure. One session I attended had no one at the helm and people were looking at each other not knowing what they were supposed to discuss and how. For an unconference style event, I know it can be argued that we don't need a moderator but in practice I think we definitely do. This links back to the timetable issue - I think it's much clearer for everyone when they know what the topics are and when, in addition to who is helming it. Since a lot of sessions happen simultaneously, I'd like to be able to choose which ones I want to go to in advance, rather than congregate around the whiteboard in a huge mass right before the start. I don't think this is being too fussy :) (@anjali28)

I don't normally advocate structure, but it could have done with a bit more - especially if you/we want to include those not used to the unconference style @technokitten

I think the key is to be very clear about what formal structure there is, not to add much more.  People who complain about too little structure usually aren't noticing the fabulous emergent structure that unconferences create. (@johnniemoore)

 

Transfer of knowledge: a roster of people who could talk/visit other networks. Amplified people go and explain to the wider population about what is trying to be achieved.

Love a little cross pollination. Do we physically need to attend each others networks though? More virtual hook ups perhaps? Amplified ambassadors or just a better written wiki and blog? :) Let us know! @sizemore

Difficult to go explain when we're not sure ourselves what is trying to be achieved.  Also how big is too big? When will we know that we've included *enough* people? (@lloyddavis)

Nice idea but who's going to pay for this? @technokitten

If Amplified10 is going to be the event that it is supposed to be then someone needs to start putting their hand in their pocket - after all it is supposed to be benefiting the whole nation, else it will end up with the same people talking amongst themselves. (@julianlstar)

 

Comments (27)

Jim Mortleman said

at 11:49 pm on Nov 27, 2008

Overall a great evening. Met some fab folks for the first time and finally put faces to other online familiars. The unconference style is great, and I love the slightly chaotic-organic nature of such events. My only comments for this bit would be that the sessions were (a) a bit *too* short - lots of people had lots more they wanted to say but there just wasn't time - 1hr15-1hr.30 would probably work better. I also think that despite Toby's pleas for people to be fair about their listening/speaking ratio, it is inevitable that certain dominant voices will emerge in sessions, which can mean others don't get the chance to speak even if they want to (and I don't necessarily count myself among them - I just got that feeling in some sessions). This problem could perhaps be minimised by ensuring that those nominally moderating sessions follow a few predetermined guidelines to facilitate inclusion of all those who want to say something.

David Terrar said

at 12:06 am on Nov 28, 2008

Agree Jim - some of the guides/moderators were trying to be inclusive like that to maximise participation, but it wan't universal - we probably do need some guidelines

Jim Mortleman said

at 12:27 am on Nov 28, 2008

A few practical suggestions...

1. Fewer, longer sessiions.
2. Session slots should be bagsied/allocated at least 24h in advance
3. Max no. of people per session
4. Properlt defined session start times
5. Those suggestiong sessions are also nominated moderatior and should ensure:
(a) everyone has a minute at the start to introduce themselves and say what s/he hopes to gain from the session
(b) everyone has a fair chance to speak in the ensuing discussion, and no one should be allowed to dominate (compelling oratory/insight that wows everyone obviouly excepted - but if everyone has had a chance to say what they hope to gain, it should be clear to the moderator if someone is rambling or going off on a tengent that most people don't want to discuss. And if that someone is the mod tim/herself, then if everyone knows the rules of engagement in advance, then there will no doubt be others in the group with the courage and "authority" to intervene - albeit with tact, one wouild hope!)
(c) the session is drawn to a close with a brief summary and any further actions 5-10 mins before it is due to end.

Jim Mortleman said

at 12:28 am on Nov 28, 2008

Apologies for all the typos in the above - it's late :)

Jim Mortleman said

at 12:52 am on Nov 28, 2008

Further thoughts...

The structure proposed above is a starting point only, and is certainly not meant to be prescriptive or restrictive - rather an attempt to facilitate the most productive and inclusive discussion possible without impeding the dynamic flow and interchange of ideas inherent in the unconference style.

On point (2) above, people might decide it'd be good to leave one or two 'open' slots for the night.
On poinr (5), moderator could be someone other than the person who suggested the session, but I just think it's easier if the 'default' mod is the session originator - he/she may wish to delegate the role if another participant offers to do it - and everyone in the group (knowing the rule of engagement) should kind of "co-moderate" naturally anyway.
On point (5a) - I think this initial intro bit should be fairly ruthlessly timed: a lot of rambling intros have a habit of eating into the session so much that there's little time left for discussion.

JulianTait said

at 1:25 am on Nov 28, 2008

Although I do like the unconference style, I don't think it worked too well here especially when Amplified08 was trying to cover so many things in such a short space of time and that time was critical. It could of easily been a two day event and maybe it should be with more time for planning and preparation by both speakers and participants alike. There should also be opportunities to carry on the debate afterwards and to that end maybe each session should have it's own space for on the wiki.

Jim Mortleman said

at 2:08 am on Nov 28, 2008

One final thing...

As I see it, the main reason for people feeling excluded from discussions is that dominant folk either whip in as soon as someone has finished speaking with a point they've been brewing (while not listening to the previous speaker) or worse, interrupt. In the worst cases, a discussion becomes just a series of interruptions among the most dominant participants, all jostling to get their points out and collectively not taking the discussion anywhere constructive. Meanwhile, the majority of attentive-discursive folks sit there unable to get a word in. (I hasten to add this didn't occur for any prolonged duration in any of the discussions at Amp08 I attended, but I have been at events where whole sessions have gone that way.)

How can we ensure this *doesn't* happen at Amplified? What 'rules of engagement' could be put in place to encourage fair and inclusive participation in disussions withouting inhibiting the flow of discussion?

A "no interruptions" rule? Maybe, but then how do you ensure someone doesn't go off on one? Sometimes people *need* to be interrupted. I think it comes back to the need for a moderator. "Raise a hand to speak, and only do so when the moderator indicates" might be a possible rule.

But if people didn't want a moderator, is there another way of preventing a discussion from degenerating into a series of interruptions? One idea I had was that if one person wants to interrupt another, they must clap three times first. That might discourage casual interruptions since people would have to think consciously before they interrupted, rather than just exhibiting their naturally 'conversationally dominant' tendencies.

An interrupt for the potential interrupter, if you like. Just a thought. I'm off to bed.

Thanks again to all of you who moved and shook to make Amp08 happen.

David Terrar said

at 6:29 am on Nov 28, 2008

Jim,
It's a perrenial problem, but we need to hear from anyone who thought they were excluded yesterday. We were trying to achieve this with the "2 ears 1 mouth" guidance and setting the right atmosphere for the event. I'm not sure your suggestions would be practical, but let's see what other people think.

David Terrar said

at 10:13 am on Nov 28, 2008

Just had a long, valuable conversation with @dahowlett who had some things to say about the value and intention of the conference as a whole, as well as some constructive suggestions on how we need to dramatically improve our online presence/experience for next time. Hopefully he'll post highlights and suggestions here.

Tia Azulay said

at 1:35 pm on Nov 28, 2008

I really enjoyed the event and felt privileged to be a part of it. I do resonate with the issues raised, including those by @dahowlett, but for me, the evening was still a success, bearing in mind that one function of a first meeting of an ongoing network is in fact 'simply' to introduce participants to one another. Another function currently being fulfilled is the generation of feedback to make the next event even better!

A few disparate thoughts:

Textual outputs could include not only random "what's going on" and "someone just told me" tweets, but also a list/lists of further questions raised - questions that were actually voiced, but also those that occurred to participants who didn't have the time or, perhaps, the confidence, to express them. People could submit them on paper, or electronically and they could be entered into a dedicated wiki page for each discussion topic to provide stimuli for further discussion after the event.

I don't think it's fair to assume that everyone present (or remotely connected) has the same degree of facility with all the technologies used - people come from many different types of networks and we inevitably know better what we do most, e.g. I use Twitter online, but I've never done so from my phone, so literally didn't know how to participate - easily solved in such a gathering, one should think, but the person I had time to ask for advice didn't know either! Maybe a "How To" page on the site and a similar whiteboard at the event could list basic tech stuff (including the network key) that everyone needs to know to participate fully - not only what technologies will be used, but quick, very basic, "getting started" guides too. This would be a step towards inclusiveness.

Next time, could we have pitted olives, please? Much less yucky and less likely to result in broken teeth during excited conversation!





nik@... said

at 5:20 pm on Nov 28, 2008

Tia : I will make a note to cover a basic .. How to video session prior to and during the event to make many of those issues less 'issuey' thanks for that though.

Pete Ashton said

at 12:41 am on Nov 29, 2008

Very briefly, and I intend to write about this in more depth, but in case I don't get a chance to, my biggest issue was that the event didn't concentrate on Heading Towards Amplified10 and instead got sidetracked with going over subjects that couldn't be done justice in the time allowed.

I'd have liked more time to get to know all these networks that had come along, whether formally or serendipitously.

Ideas might be:

Randomly allocating people into groups and getting each member to introduce themselves and ask the group a question.

Sessions about specific networks. Eg, someone from Manchester on what they've been up to, what they've tried, what worked, what failed.

Maybe sessions on the shape Amp10 might take. I'm seeing it as a SXSWi thing, others have mentioned TED, and the BarCamp model was in evidence at Amp08. All are valid but thrashing them out a bit might be useful.

A longer day. A bunch of us came down from Birmingham for the day (social media surgery on Wednesday, social media cafe on Friday - it's been a social media kinda week!) so had written off Thursday for anything other than Amp. An earlier start wouldn't have hurt.

I know this is in the plans, but getting out of London would be good. It felt a bit chummy at times, which is perfectly understandable and generally a fantastic thing and you're all lovely, but for an event about mixing things up and taking things to the next level it was a bit Londo-centric. I'd say the next one should be in Glasgow. Make the southern/midland types work for it!

Okay, I'll take this to my blog...

But on the whole a very useful, illuminating, thought provoking and encouraging day. Thanks!

shani lee said

at 9:26 am on Nov 29, 2008

I agree with Pete about focus, introducing the networks to each other and getting round the rest of the country. By all means have another event in London, but maybe make that number four or five ...

How about putting out a call across the country for who would like to help host and when and building from there, much the same as you built the sessions for Amp08?

I'm not sure about the longer day. The shorter session that people could travel to and home again in one day, using off-peak travel is a significant access/participation factor. If folks are around for longer, they can always set up their own informal meet-ups around the event.

Annie Mole said

at 9:30 am on Nov 29, 2008

It was a great afternoon / evening and a good kick start to what will be a series of events. With most unconference / barcamp style things, the first is always experimental and you learn from things and it's brill that people are already making excellent suggestions.

I agree with a lot of Jim's points - mainly the one about timing. I would loved to have attended more sessions and three sessions for me was too short. Also the sessions themselves were short and I felt that discussions had just got going when we had to stop. I blame myself for the one we ran on the Future of the Book, as I thought we had an hour so the three of us had planned to speak for 10 mins each to kick off the discussion, leaving 30 mins for a good discussion.

One of the things that has come up is a bit more planning of which sessions were on in advance. Putting the timetable on more than one board would have been great. 200 people trying to look one board was hard. I've no idea if the initial wiki was updated during the event itself and that would have been another way of seeing what was going on.

Large room - worked for the final session of the day when there were four sessions in there - but there's no way it would have fitted five sessions. For the earlier ones which were busy there was only room for two!

The Twitter ONE takeaway or "someone just told me" rule was great as hopefully it reduced the noise for people not attending. Although it's impossible to enforce the rule the principle was a good one.

I feel the pain of the person who was trying to watch remotely - but I suppose much of that pain can be countered, if "what happens next" gives people who weren't there (& also people like myself who were there) a good understanding of what went on and what how things can be amplified to the next stage.

But definitely overall a great starting point and thanks to NESTA & all the main organisers for running it.

Dennis Howlett said

at 10:30 am on Nov 29, 2008

It is a sad fact of life that events held in London attract a far larger crowd than elsewhere (with the exception of Cork, Ireland). It is easy to assume the world and his dog know what's happening when in reality the world is very unevenly distributed. Reality check with @manojranaweera and @stephtara might be worthwhile.

shani lee said

at 10:52 am on Nov 29, 2008

I don't understand the point that you're making, Dennis.

What are you saying:
that events shouldn't be held outside London?
that smaller events aren't worthwhile?
that if we tried events outside London there wouldn't be the critical mass to support them?
or something else?

Dennis Howlett said

at 11:53 am on Nov 29, 2008

@shani lee: Manoj has had a long struggle to get event momentum in Manchester. @DT may have more colour to add as he recently attended/spoke at one of Manoj's events. Steph put on an event in Leeds earlier this year but really struggled to get critical mass and in the end abandoned a paid event even though she had great people lined up as speakers on a topic dear to many people. Total eventual attendance: 20. When numbers are very low, it is difficult to get sponsorship and the format has to be significantly modified.

But as I said elsewhere (http://amplified.pbwiki.com/If+I+landed+from+Mars) - talk to people who have had the experience for themselves.

pilchardmusic said

at 12:17 pm on Nov 29, 2008

Of course population density would play a major part in these things but regional events need not be "big" and can be managed accordingly. Sponsorship need not be an issue either if they are seen as a part wrather than a whole.

shani lee said

at 1:55 pm on Nov 29, 2008

thanks Denis - I wasn't aware of Manoj efforts, but I did know about Going Solo in Leeds.

Local networks and partners are key and, as you said earlier, they will be patchy. We ran an event in Leicester in June 2008 which attracted 140 participants and this built on our own local network of networks and previous work by nlab at De Montfort University. Lee (pilchardmusic), population density is a factor, although Leicester's population is less than 300,000. Possibly more important are clusters of local partners who are able to act as trusted intermediaries.

We do have regional economies and regional need, and regional talent and aspirations, and as you are challenging the assumption that the world and her dog know what's happening, so I am challenging the assumption that things can only work in London. We may not be able to have national coverage yet, but we could make the offer to other places in the UK and work with what we get.

I'd pick up as well, Denis, on your comments about thoughtful leadership. I would suggest that this needs to apply to the planning of the whole series of events, as well as the management of individual events; and to include a thoughtful approach to developing new partnerships and relationships with people that we don't already know.

If anyone would like to get in touch with @shanitomorrow or @suethomas, we'd be happy to share our experiences.

Anna Jay said

at 3:39 pm on Nov 29, 2008

I agree w/ @anniemole about viewing the timetable. Considering we had immediate access to the internet, it would have been nice if someone had updated the wiki schedule with the same details as the one on the whiteboard. Not only 'cos the immediate space in front of the board was so crowded, but 'cos the slots allocated on it weren't large enough for a more detailed description of what each panel was about. I found that confusing and couldn't always find someone to explain it to me, which made me feel a bit like I was missing out on something really interesting (which definitely happened with me in the last session!) So next time maybe some people near the whiteboard could volunteer to update the wiki in real time. I think more than one - I don't mind volunteering myself if someone else wants to also volunteer so they can catch things I might miss.

I also agree with the need for more time. I appreciate that in order for the event to be more inclusive it has to be at a time people aren't in their day jobs or travelling at peak time, but I heard the refrain a lot that there wasn't enough time to discuss everything + not everyone got a say. Maybe if the sessions were an hour long instead of only 40mins?

Anna Jay said

at 3:39 pm on Nov 29, 2008

If you want people to hashtag session numbers on Twitter, they need to know what those numbers are. It's a bit incoherent if you have to go through pages on Twitter search and can't narrow the search because the perameters aren't there 'cos no one knows what they are to use them in the first place.

It would be really nice if the registering session was a bit longer. It would be valuable to have a decent chance to put faces to twitternames/catch up with friends from across the country (as well as not snubbing the people I know in London!) *before* sessions start. It means during the breaks you can continue interesting conversations instead of thinking "I have to go and say hello to X before they rush off at 8 to get their train back to ... (wherever it is they live)" This is the same even if the event is held outside London and I have to travel there instead of people coming to London (which I must say I am in favour of).

I think the basic thing is, we need more time to do things. Is there any way that if the next one is held at NESTA again, we could stay *there* for a bit longer and not all disappear to pubs and restaurants? We could order pizzas or something, and congregate in the conference room or pods or the lobby or whatever, and actually have more of an opportunity to finish conversations? Or would that be too much of a hassle/mess for them to have to clean up? I had a lot of fun in the pub but I think there were lots of discussions that needed to have some kind of cohesive end that night -- not finished, final solutions right then, just something more than "we're out of time, we have to leave now." Or even just if the event finished at 9pm instead of 8pm. I think that extra hour would make a HUGE difference.

Bengardner135 said

at 4:31 pm on Nov 29, 2008

What could we do better?
1) There was too little structure to the meeting - In my experience an unconference can produce interesting discussions but I don't think this format really works for getting things done.
2) I agree with Pete Ashton we need to dedicate time towards understanding who we are, what were the 40 communities that attended? Where do they meet, what are the ties that bind them?
3) Location and time - I suspect this was unsatisfying in one way or another for everyone. Location convenient for those who work in London but not good for those who don't. For those based in London it started within normal working hours and finished early. For those not London based the late start time meant that most of the rest of the day was written off and the length of the meeting was relatively short for those who had to travel.

On the location issue I agree that London is a not ideal for everyone however it does represent a balanced compromise for the rest of the country. Remember people live both North AND south of London and for those of us in the South we would have to travel via London to get almost anywhere. It might be worth think about this question in terms of ROI. If people can get enough value from these meetings then the question of location and travel becomes more mute.

JulianTait said

at 10:27 pm on Nov 29, 2008

The point about ROI is salient. I traveled from Manchester to be at the event so the investment of time and money was quite large. What the return will be I'm not quite sure yet, it was good putting faces to names and the discussions were interesting, but lacked the time and direction to get anywhere. I'm sure a lot of these debates will continue here or in other spaces and am looking forward to that. There is a lot of goodwill around to make Amplified09 working more effectively. I was representing the Social Media Cafe Manchester #smc_mcr and I think events like this are essential for the transfer of knowledge and new ways of working. On the transfer of knowledge thing. It might be a good idea if we can share the Social Media love and get a roster of people who could talk or visit each other networks. Or one of the Amplified people who can come and explain to the wider population about what is trying to be achieved.

Billy Abbott said

at 7:43 am on Dec 1, 2008

The big thing for me was the lack of overall direction - lots of people turned up trying to get lots of different things out of the afternoon, but there wasn't much of a "this is what we are trying to achieve". I think think this is probably a good thing, but with the short time it did mean that I didn't get as much out of the time as I maybe could. Also, due to the layout of NESTA the "corridor track" ended up being shouted down by the large number of people all crowded in front of the whiteboard and main conference room - if you did manage to break out into a pod, room or the other end then you could grab and talk to people quite nicely, but everyone congregated in a shouty mass.

When it comes to the scheduling, I liked the last minute thing - people making things up on the spot is good, but having the schedule on the wiki (with descriptions) would be rather useful. Having a "whiteboard master" who organised the scheduling and electronic duplication would have been good. A good example of people not quite getting the use of a whiteboard was the swapping of sessions around by drawing arrows - it's a whiteboard, you can just rub things off and write them on again...that's what it's for.

"Social and Creative media" is a wide church, so I think the biggest thing was that all the different people came along with very different expectations, ideas, experiences and all the rest. That's a really good thing when it comes to getting the "network of networks" together to meet and talk and come up with ideas, but at the same time causes loads of problems when there's not enough time or space to really effectively talk. It was definitely a good start towards Amplified09 though.

wikiwriter@amplified08.com said

at 11:47 am on Dec 1, 2008

Also a question: does Amplified '10 intend to be TED-style? In which case don't we need to start thinking along the lines of having speakers at defined sessions? We can also have half the allotted time in a session for discussion/questions. That will adhere to the unconference style of things.

wikiwriter@amplified08.com said

at 7:55 pm on Dec 3, 2008

@katchooo: Just going to paste in the last bit of my post (which is here at http://tinyurl.com/63hf2s) which has these 3 suggestions:

* more visible hashtags so I can catch up on all the sessions I wanted to see
* more soundproofed conversation areas so I don’t have to bring my ear trumpet
* more introductions and insights into the attendees and a meet-up slot - perhaps profiles of contacts up on site well beforehand and opportunities to arrange a meet. Maybe a little ning to go with the wiki?

Essentially more more more, as the song goes.



Alex Craxton said

at 1:41 pm on Dec 9, 2008

My feeling is that being a first event, people started to get a feel for what works and doesnt, the only way to find where we are heading is simply to do more Amplifieds. Each new amplified should bring a better understanding of where it is going, but we shouldnt get obsessed with an end goal, nor should we get emotional about the organisation and communication ... these will resolve as we repeat and learn. One thing that kills creativity, apart from too much order is negativity. Can we move the 'whats wrong' down the front page and get on with the positive stuff please?

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