I promised to report on the act-km conference (day 2) that I attended on the 15th October. The papers from the conference are up on the web site.
I won’t go through my notes on this one because I want to focus my thoughts on a broader discussion around conference formats. In particular, I want to discuss conference presentations and workshops.
Most conferences have traditional stand-up-the-front presentations, usually accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of varying degrees of quality. Such presentations usually take 20-60 minutes, depending on whether the presentation is a keynote or not. The presenter is often rushed because of insufficient time – a problem that many speakers don’t address before getting started. But still there is the challenge of makng presentations more interesting. [On a personal note, I’d love to be able to give a conference and Powerpoint presentation like Al Gore in the documentary, An inconvenient truth!]
One response from conference organisers is to make the conference sessions more interactive. This at least keeps the audience on their toes! And one method of audience interaction used at conferences is what might be described as a mini-workshop.
A mini-workshop approach was used by a couple of presenters on the day I attended the act-km conference in Canberra. One workshop in particular was of great interest. The workshop by Laurie Lok Lee from Optimice on value networks was really very interesting – people at tables had to play the part of two archetypes and discuss how they would view the value of their particular knowledge management initiative and the value of the initiative from the other archetype. Value was to be determined using a scorecard that covered a value for both tangible and intangible activities. The archetypes would need to work together (partner) to get the knowledge management activity happening.
The workshop would have been improved with more time and this is often a problem. The benefits are not fully realised because the workshop is allocated the same time as for a stock-standard presentation format. A workshop and a presentation have different time management needs.
I am wondering if the workshop approach needs to be an actual conference highlight, akin to a keynote, where extra time can be allocated. The impact of the workshop could be enhanced by linking the issues with later standard presentations. A final workshop wrap-up (with sufficient allocated time) would tie everything up and maintain a good level of participation and thinking. Too often the final conference presentation is a panel where not much happens, or where a couple of selected presenters give their impressions of the conference for the rest of us.
I must say in this penultimate paragraph that I really enjoyed the act-km day, appreciate the efforts of all involved, and thank them for stimulating my thinking about a range of issues, including workshops and conference design.
I’d be interested in hearing any opinions on whether workshops really do add value to conferences and/or how conferences can be improved through different presentation delivery methods.
A couple of months ago WordPress started adding automatically generated links to the bottom of the comments section on WordPress blogs. WordPress calls them “possibly related posts”. The rationalisation was that these automatically generated links gave the commenter or comment viewer the option of seeing similar blogging posts from WordPress bloggers. The idea seems to make sense, based on the options one has on Youtube and Amazon (although I have more faith in Amazon than the others).
However, I have noticed some interesting links popping up at the foot of my comment sections. My post yesterday generated a couple of comments and so the automatically generated links were added by WordPress, one to a site on rude cartoons. Now I am definitely not prudish, but I didn’t really feel that such a site was really appropriate to the kind of stuff I want to talk about and the tone of my own blog.
By inference, these links are associated with me and the character and content of my own blog. I have no control over what automatically generated sites WordPress chooses to associate with my blog. I have no say over whether the content is appropriate, according to my standards. WordPress and their monkeys at Sphere determine these links using a “document genome” to do the link matching (sounds exciting, doesn’t it?).
The other issue is that maybe I don’t want my readers traipsing away from my site to explore these automatically generated links. I may want the readers of my comment section to stay on my blog and browse the rest of the site’s content without being drawn away by possibly related posts. And “possibly related” hardly fills me with great confidence that the linked blog posts have any commonality at all.
Furthermore, I can see how this particular automatically generated linking feature could be extended into the realm of advertising, akin to Google ads. How much of any revenue stream will be made by WordPress and how much by the bloggers? I’d be interested in hearing if WordPress is looking at commercialising the automatically generated links to make advertising available in this manner.
Now I want to give WordPress a chance with their automatically generated links to other WordPress blogs. I do believe in serendipity and I do think that cross-linking with other blogs on similar topics is an interesting feature (although doesn’t a blogroll perform the same or similar function?). WordPress said that they are looking at “tweaking” the results to your liking so this is a move in the right direction.
WordPress does allow the automatic linking feature to be switched off all together. I will monitor the automatically generated links more closely in the coming weeks and decide how useful or distracting these links turn out to be. I want to give WordPress a chance but I am annoyed at the lack of control I have as to the relevance and appropriateness of the automatically generated content.
I am playing “wait and see” for the moment.