Panels

I just got back from YearlyKos, where I was an “expert” on a panel on local blogging.

It was the middle panel of a series of three on the issue (local blogging is THE hot topic right now). I thought our panel went pretty well. We got into interesting issues, we had an active audience, and there was good back and forth between the panelists.

However, at the end of the day, we were still people up on a stage talking into microphones to an audience.

DavidNYC, the moderator of my panel, was frustrated with that: it seemed awkward and counterproductive. He suggested to the next moderator that she take all the chairs off the stage and put them down with the audience. She did.

The result? The crowd was forced to move in, and the panelists to project their voices, but in return the whole mood changed. The tone became more conversational. The experts tended to make shorter answers and let the audience follow up with questions. Questioners tended to drone on less, pontificate less. The conversation flowed more naturally, with less pronounced turntaking and more interaction.

Blogging is a new thing, but the proponents of blogging aren’t a new kind of person. There’s always been people with enough guts and imagination to take the chairs off the stage and see what happens when everybody is amplified equally.

Here’s to them.

Prometheus Meets the Enterprise Management System

Prometheus, holding a torch, enters a small office in a corporate IT department. At the desk is Fred, who looks up when he enters.

Prometheus: Behold, I bring you fire!

Fred: Great! We’ve heard about the fire market. Very exciting. So is that it? That flaming stick you’re holding? That’s the product? How many do we need?

Prometheus: Well, no. By “bring you fire”, I mean a set of skills by which you can create your own fire at will.

Fred: Yeah, sorry, that’s not going to work. What if our personnel changes? They’ll take these skills with them, and we’ll be stuck looking for skilled workers to replace them. How much does a firemaker cost? Do we have to pay relocation? You see the problem…

Prometheus: Yeah, but I mean, it’s fire. I’m bringing you fire.

Fred: What if we ASP it? When we need fire, we’ll have an SLA with you that you’ll bring us fire within 20 minutes.

Prometheus: But it’s not a product or a service — it’s a set of methods. The amazing thing is anybody can make their own! I can teach you..here, you take two sticks like this…

Fred: Oh, there we go! Why didn’t you say so? The sticks are the product, right? How much are the sticks?

Prometheus: Um, nothing. Free. You can use any sticks you want.

Fred: That doesn’t sound very safe. Can you supply approved sticks?

Prometheus: No, but I can show you how to select sticks that are appropriate for…

Fred: Once again, there you go with all these skills. What happens if the person you show how to select sticks leaves? We don’t want firemakers. We want a firemaking product.

Behind Prometheus, A Systems Vendor enters, holding shrinkwrapped box.

Vendor: Behold, I bring you the Fire Management System.

Fred: Finally!

Prometheus (sulking off): I’m going back to my rock…

Leigh Blackall: Teaching is Dead, Long Live Learning

So Leigh Blackall is my new favorite edublogger (Sorry Jim!).

If you want to know why, you can listen to this podcast.

Favorite thinker? Not sure. Thinker? It’s odd, but I feel these observations are just so obvious. I’m not sure I ever had to think them up, or that Leigh had to think them up, or that Jim had to think them up, or that Jon had to think them up or that even Roger had to think them up.

So it’s really unfair, but I don’t think of this stuff as shockingly brilliant. What I’m shocked by most often is why it’s not just obvious.

I mean, I put all this Web 2.0-speak on top of my explanations, but what I want to say most often to people is — so have you ever tried to accomplish a real world goal? Yeah? Well, it’s like that.

All the same, when ideas become so obvious that you can’t remember when you first got them, it’s very often because history is hurtling towards an inevitable change. So a historical frame is useful. Leigh does a nice job with that. If you haven’t check out his stuff, I highly recommend it.

You can start with this if you want: