June 25, 2008
SlideShare for Dummies
And I am a dummy.
Oy. The font was all but unreadable. After digging around I figured out why: apparently the Stone Sans ITC font I used is considered an "obscure" font and thus, converts to something else when it's processed. Something hideous.
Moral: humble yourself and read the FAQ when you're using a new app for the first time. This is explained on the FAQ and also visible when you look at everyone else's uploaded presentations, none of which use "obscure" fonts.
I originally chose the Stone Sans ITC because I took the advice of someone (a famed blogger I'll not name here) who does a ton of presentations who recommended using a more unusual font to make the presentation more memorable. I guess that person doesn't use SlideShare.
So, I'm off to spend an hour or so converting a copy of my slides to boring old Arial Bold for the upload. I'll keep the Stone Sans ITC for the live presentation.
I'll post a link over here once I'm happy with the final product.
May 14, 2008
The Best List of Social Media How-Tos and Whys
In preparing for speaking at NACS next month, I wanted to make sure that I'm prepared for questions on all things regarding my topic - using social media to add value to your event.
As more of my daily use of social media tools is for our coffeehouse and local networking and not specifically for conferences, I felt the need for a quick refresher on the broader picture of application usage beyond what I typically use them for.
And there was Chris Brogan anticipating my very need. The best list of "how-tos and whys" that I've ever seen. Saved me a ton of hunting and gathering. If you're looking for a primer on all things social media, I can't think of a better post to start with. And even if you're an experienced user, it's a worthwhile refresher to ensure you're covering all your bases.
Chris is the catalyst behind PodCamps. I've been fortunate enough to speak at and attend a couple in Pittsburgh and found Chris to be a totally down-to-earth guy who (unlike some) can relate to non-techhies. If there's a PodCamp in your area, get to one - you'll learn a bunch and meet a lot of interesting folks.
May 13, 2008
Specialty Coffee Association Conference - Coming Around to the Benefits of Social Networking
Some new posts are forthcoming...
I was at the SCAA convention in Minneapolis last week as both a technical judge for the barista competition and a trade show attendee. But as good as attending both events were, the thing that blew me away most about being there was sitting in the lobby during the barista competitions.
The reason was that there was live video blogging of the competitions. With a real-time chat screen. This was the first time either was attempted at this event (last year's even had some time delayed video, but no interaction). The live video/chat enabled family, friends, colleagues, fellow baristas and coffee growers whose beans were being represented from around the globe as well as curious folks like me to witness the competition with close up camera work while engaging in ongoing conversation as it was happening.
In many ways watching the competition remotely was preferable to taking a seat in the bleachers and watching in person (very little talking inside (kinda rude to do so), poor sight lines, hard to see the details that mattered for scoring).
There was also a conference blog that included video interviews from the show floor, some session reviews and even some light entertainment.
I'm going to post a few things about this event as more information is made available on specifics of how it was done and what the Association hopes to acheive with ongoing social networking initiatives. The dynamics are pretty interesting as several members of the production team themselves are coffee industry bloggers who put their own content aside temporarily to write and produce for the benefit of the Association and its members and prospective members.
All in all quite interesting to see what a mainstream event (non-tech) can do vis a vis live real-time production. And that the Association in question did not have a prior reputation for innovation. Now it does. The feedback from those in the barista community has been overwhelmingly positive. The question is, how to measure the value of what was just achieved and how to interpret those results going forward.
January 11, 2006
Dana Vanden Heuvel wonders what Web 2.0 technologies would facilitate a "Conference 2.0" environment (and hey, isn't that a pretty good name for a conference on conferences?)
Here's his list:
I've come up with these tools so far, please add your thoughts in the comments:
1. A blog (of course)
2. A wiki
3. A Frappr map (like Loic's) of conference attendees, speakers and followers
4. A del.icio.us account tracking links about the conference
5. A flickr photstream with conference photos, tagged with the appropriate keywords
6. A technorati link to the conference keywords & tags
7. Buzznet Buzzwords
There are more suggestions in the comments to the post.
There is a point at which this all makes so much sense, yet, nobody (or so few as to be counted) in our industry are sincerely thinking about applying this stuff that even I at times wonder when I'll see any of it applied correctly to a significant non-tech, non-marketing conference or trade show. Hopefully soon.
As a personal aside, I see Dana tagged this post "Wombat", referring to WOMMA's upcoming WOMBAT (Word Of Mouth BAsic Training) seminars. In addition to Dana, Toby's one of the "Wombat bloggers", so it'll be interesting to see what they have to say about this conference. I'm not going, but I admit to being skeptical about applying science and methodology to word-of-mouth. I can hear echoes of John Houseman grousing, "We make customers the old-fashioned way. We EARN it."
I just can't wrap my arms around *wombat* because it was my nickname on Prodigy for several years in the 90s. My wife knew me as *wom* for two years before she knew me as *rich*. It just feels really odd to say the word now.
December 03, 2005
Can't Figure Out RSS? Get TSMR Updates Via Email
Simply use the box on the left (under all the RSS feed icons) and sign up. Once you do, every time we post new content, it'll be delivered right to your mailbox.
Now you have no excuses!
Btw, if you're employing RSS feeds for sending news on your event (and why wouldn't you?) adding a FeedBlitz subscriber box on your site would be a good idea.
December 02, 2005
IAEM: Blog Panel
It wasn't as big a crowd as we'd hoped for - perhaps 30 (we were told more than 45 were supposed to attend) - but we think/hope those that came got the info they were looking for.
Our panelists did a terrific job. Toby Bloomberg (left) was brilliant in conveying the concepts needed for a winning blog. No MBA or technospeak, just layman's terms, exactly what was needed for the majority of our audience.
Kevin Howarth (center) was a great surprise, since he was not an "event blogger" and was a last-minute replacement for Kevin Holland (hope you're recuperating!). Kevin was aces on dealing with more "general" blog issues like their role in PR and search optimization.
Tom Maher (right) was terrific in explaining the benefits of blogging as well as some of the "under the hood" aspects of how blogs work, particularly on RSS, which has proved a difficult concept to get across to non-tech trade show audiences in the past.
Of the 30-odd people in attendance, two were bloggers, one with a personal journal and one with a blog built for providing assistance to Iraqi families affected by the current war. Surprisingly, we did not encounter very many questions, perhaps a half dozen total, which I found disappointing since the panel was more than up to the task of providing help.
In hindsight, blogging is a subject that is far too broad to cover in a mere 75 minutes for an audience that's not experienced with the medium. It would be nice to see a workshop format for this subject in the future where we could do some "forensics" on selected event and marketing blogs and show attendees just how easy it is to build their own and use the RSS, trackbacks, permalinks, other features and supporting apps like Technorati and Blogpulse.
(NB: Have to apologize for the photo quality on all these IAEM shots - seems I reset the exposure or something, which has led to blurring and some psychadelic effects, especially on the Mexican Party photos).
November 16, 2005
Building RSS Readership Through Value Adds
To paraphrase those pretentious financial commercials, "What can a show organizer learn from a British supermarket?"
This is where we're heading in the not too distant future. Faster than you can say, "Holy Whole Foods!".
If you've got a blog for your event (or even if you don't), this can be a mighty powerful incentive to get your audience vested in receiving your daily RSS feed.
Instead of using supermarket coupons, you'd be using show-only exhibitor specials, party/event invites and "insider tips" from your speakers that are not available to the general public.
Pretty nifty concept. Now who's going to try it first?
October 13, 2005
Brain Fingerprinting - Why Use Surveys When You Can Just Probe a Cerebrum?
Hey Skip... are you on this?
I suppose you could combine this while getting one of those ubiquitous $8 massages in the registration lobby. While the masseuse is working your L3 vertebrae, some lab coated geek is downloading your innermost show visitation pattern secrets.
Naturally, the tag would be: "Relax with us while we take a load off your mind."
Link from AdRants.
July 25, 2005
Keeping One Eye On Open Source
An event called OpenTech took place last week in the UK.
The conference didn't receive a lot of press on these shores, despite the fact that key executives from Yahoo! and the BBC were on hand. Perhaps this was because some of the other attendees might be perceived as anarchists or at the very least dismissed as antiglobalization twerps by those who didn't know better.
But tossing out the baby with the bathwater is always a bad idea.
The "baby" in this case is open source. And it's no longer a baby. It's more like a kicking, screaming, bratty 5th grader. About ten years from now it'll be a college grad and entering the workplace. And when that time comes, there's a very strong probability that open source will be behind many of the tech tools and applications we'll want to use. Sure, Microsoft will still be around. And Google. And Yahoo!
But maybe not MapQuest. Why? Because there will be Open Source Maps. Maps you can customize on the fly. Maps where you can plug in all the features you want attendees to know about. You'd be able to add official hotels, shuttle routes, Kinkos, or whatever else is important to your show. Exhibitors could add venues of their exhibitor parties. Staff and/or attendees could add locations of their favorite restaurants, bars and jogging trails.
You're seeing some of this already. Most of you are well aware of the Linux operating system and the Firefox browser. Some of you already know that RSS is replacing email as the preferred delivery method for newsletters and custom content. We're now seeing events built on wiki platforms. And of course there is open source blog software.
There are also successful open source solutions in the database arena (MySQL), in business intelligence and reporting (BIRT) and in web development (PHP and content management systems). Anything you can do with proprietary software you can do with open source, including security and commerce applications.
Without getting too geeky, the idea behind open source is that developers can take what's written and add to it. This can be accomplished through using existing code that is under a GPL (General Public License) which means that modifications must be published publicly, or through a BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) agreement whereby some proprietary code may remain proprietary. In either case, the idea is that you can customize software to your needs.
The tradeshow world is pretty small and we don't have the luxury of an army of skilled coders and hackers working on our behalf. But if we did (and we still may) you'd likely see open source competitors in registration and attendee management, floorplan management, exhibitor lead management, speaker management and possibly even hotel block and FBO management, although those last two are a bit trickier since they involve third-party hotels.
The impetus to develop open source solutions does take into account that there is a certain amount of "antiglobalization" fervor. You can probably blame Microsoft for that.
This is what the organizers Tom Chance of the Acrewoods Collective summarized the experience of OpenTech 2005 and suggests where the event's future may lie:
"If there is a single message to take from OpenTech 2005, it is an obvious one: the future should, and most probably will, be open. The efforts of the free software community are influencing major content providers, who are using open technology to provide open content.
Despite the barrage of legislation and litigation from advocates of closed or proprietary technology and content, many felt that we were at a turning point in the politics of openness. Though many technical, social, and political issues remain, there was optimism about the future, perhaps because the conference gathered those who believe passionately in that vision, and those who have a stake in it unfolding.
But if those with the awareness and expertise can redouble their efforts to improve, promote, and protect both open technology and content, these conferences may become simply a trade show for the community and industry rather than a talking shop for activism and advocacy."
In other words, Open Tech will know it has fully crossed the chasm when it's considered just another trade show.
I'd have to imagine whomever that show organizer is had better be using open source.
July 19, 2005
ASAE Offers Badge Proofing and a "Band of Bloggers"
Jeff DeCagna is WAY too excited over this development - the ability to see and proof your attendee badge before it prints.
I'm not registered for ASAE, so I'll just show Jeff's badge instead.
I believe this is an eShow application, but I'm not 100% sure. If it's not, I'm sure someone will post a correction within hours.
That ASAE is doing a blog is to be commended, but we'll also note that it seems every other major meetings association event is doing one or will be shortly. That ASAE is doing a blog with multiple authors is what makes this exceptional. Each of the seven authors has gained some measure of credibility from their own blogs and that they're all working together for ASAE (for free, no less) is testament to and an example of the cooperation that is more often than not a hallmark of the business blogoshpere.
As far as the RSS thing goes, I did a post for our coffeehouse explaining RSS the other day that got immediate sign ups for our MyYahoo feed. I think this same type of "novice-level" introductory RSS post would work for ASAE as well.