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.