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Thank you Jane!
To my mind (I know you won’t mind me speaking frankly) the pre-COVID KM World and its associated events represented both the best and the worst of the “old” conference model.
The best: It is an incredible attractor. There is no other event that compares for bringing together such a wonderful mix of speakers and participants, and for having participants across the entire spectrum from folks who are grappling with the most basic challenges in KM, to folks with more practical experience on a fingernail than I have in my head. The quality of the participants is a better mark of a great conference to my mind than the quality of the speakers. Of course the speakers matter, but without active and varied participants the event is just an empty shell (and I have suffered through a few of those). The questions in workshops and plenaries and breakouts and especially the conversations around the programmed sessions, the informal gatherings, and the experimental fringe events you curated, are wonderful and exhausting in a very good way.
The worst: the size of the event and especially its economics conspire to relegate us into basement convention halls and breakout rooms, with no natural light, sitting en masse and watching the flickering screens as I mentioned. Some people love and expect that, they are there to soak up as much as they can. Others get more out of the spaces between programmed sessions. You had managed to curate much more interactivity within those sessions in the years since you moved to DC, and the exhibition area and handling of sponsors also provides economic constraints, but I think you had managed to blend the social interactions within that space really well.
I know that you curate other conferences. What did you learn about the shift to digital last year that you would like to experiment with, in a new in-person event? How will the new KM World be different from the old?
You mentioned how the shift to digital last year positively impacted the accessibility and breadth of speakers. Do you have a sense of how it impacted the breadth and quality of participants?
On 28 Apr 2021, at 1:27 AM, Jane Dysart <jane@...
Thanks for this timely thread, Patrick! I am the program director for KMWorld and our call for speakers for 2021 is now live and we hope to host the event once again in DC – but who knows?
the theme, Impacting The Future: New Models & Tech For Knowledge Sharing
Our 2020 event was the first virtual experience for the KMWorld community, was definitely a success in the producers eyes, and I believe in the attendees as well. It did allow for speakers who were in different countries to share more easily and if allowed for a larger universe of speakers!
I have always thought of KMWorld as a meeting place for the sharing ideas, insights, experiences, processes, tools and technologies for knowledge sharing in communities, governments and organizations, etc. That includes speakers who make us think in different ways, diversity of thinking; speakers who have tried a technique or tool and were successful or not & want to share their lessons learned – one of the best ways IMHO to learn; speakers who have engaged their communities to participate in building knowledge sharing intranets, or other platforms, especially on a global or remote basis; basically the building of learning environments/ecologies that can problem-solve, crunch data & analyze it for good decision making (perhaps using AI & machine learning), organize & find information, experts & knowledge (taxonomies, etc)
I believe in practical experiences that can be shared, or ideas that spark innovation/change, and lots more…. But you get the idea. I want conferences that make me think, try something new, connect me with others who are doing similar things or trying something different that I can learn more about. Not every session is going to be appropriate for everyone but if you can learn a few new things, make some new connections, find sone new avenues to pursue, I think that’s a win.
Interaction is so much easier and wonderfully serendipitous in person, but we are (after a year and a half) learning new ways to do so online. Certainly some advantages to meeting online, but I do no think that will totally replace in person events, enhance them maybe, but not replace.
My opinion & I looks forward to your thoughts!
Jane Dysart, Program Director
KMworld Connect 2020
Curator of Curiosity
Twitter & Skype: jdysart
As Peter Drucker so memorably opined: With the lights out, It’s less dangerous, Here we are now, Entertain us.
I suspect that post-COVID, trad conferences will return. I rarely go to those kinds of events but people seem to like them.
I hope that we get more purposeful and we think about what we are trying to achieve and what that means for format.
On Apr 26, 2021, at 1:16 PM, Patrick Lambe <plambe@...> wrote:
I’m posting the question in the subject line to both SIKM forum and KM4Dev, so apologies if you see it twice.
There was a question on KM4Dev about speakers for a conference. Bev Wenger-Traynor morphed it into a question about people with something to offer. Arthur Shelley distinguished between speaking and facilitating. Nancy Dixon has been speaking for a while about the importance of dialogue.
I am wondering how our conception of conferences (and other convening events where large audiences are expected to listen to/follow small elite cadres) will change post-COVID? I am wondering how the economics of such events might change.
Let me give an example of post-COVID shifts in how we at ISKO Singapore are experiencing new ways of interacting. We are the Singapore chapter of an international organisation. Each country chapter runs its own programmes.
We used to have monthly in-person events. We would book a venue and refreshments, and get a speaker or a panel. We always tried to have networking and discussion, it wasn’t just listening. We got on the zoom wagon early, because we had attracted a couple of members from outside Singapore, so we would do live streaming for our overseas attendees, with them whatsapping questions or comments to be interposed. We started bringing in speakers/panellists by zoom as well to interact with the local panel. Our horizons broadened.
Since COVID all our events have gone online. We have become completely “leaky”. Our last event attracted folks from 12 countries. We have barely no costs. Our society’s members are essentially patrons, providing the volunteers and minimal funding to offer events to anyone who cares to attend (or see the materials afterwards) - very much on the SIKM Leader’s Forum model, but with a core group that has a shared Singapore identity and agenda. We are now starting to wonder what it means to be a country chapter. Old conceptions are starting to break down.
Mainstream conferences, to survive, have started to experiment with new formats in a digital environment. I am wondering if we do have an in-person event this year or next year, how could it be different? How could we make better use of folks’ time being in the same space? Will conferences become “leaky” too, distributed over time, and with digital and physical components? How will the economics work? Or will (sponsoring) employer expectations force us back into our old passive habits?
I do think it’s worth bringing folks physically into a shared space in order to interact, ask questions, inquire, and share. I’m not convinced of the egocentric personality model where the “names” are the principal actors. Yes, names are good, as seeds for convening or to share experience or insight or to spark discussion (as Bev says, folks with some experience/skills to offer, and enough confidence to share). I would not even go so far as to recommend the use of the word “facilitator” because I think that has become contaminated with the notion of a special person (s/he who tells us - sorry suggests to us - what to do next).
I prefer the terms convenors (to frame the invitation) and brokers (to help folks make connections with each other or in dialogue). The more convenors and brokers the better. In fact, we should all be convenors and brokers. We should all be pointing up other people’s good work so that they get curated into events.
So how will conferences change? Or will we slip back into dark-panelled ballrooms with no natural daylight watching large screens flicker expecting to be entertained and fed, and shuffling from session to session?
Bev, I would be fascinated to learn what your experiences with BEtreat might suggest.
By the way, if anyone is curious about our upcoming ISKO events check out www.iskosg.org
- all welcome.