Passing notes in school

Ugh I’ve had a kind of emotional hangover since about lunchtime yesterday. I feel rotten about getting stuck in a cynical snarky frame of mind. To blame twitter would be like blaming my exercise books for having blank sheets at the back that were perfect for writing notes to pass in class. To blame anyone at NESTA would be like blaming Mr Liberal for not being able to control his pupils. And to blame any of my fellow participants would be saying “they made me do it, sir”. Oh bugger, now I’ve got the Grange Hill theme running round in my head.

But anyway that’s what I did yesterday, I regressed into can’t-be-bothered schoolboy (the one who ended up with average O-levels and piss-poor A-levels), a role I reprised at university as smart-arse know-it-all (who had to pull far too many all-nighters to get a 2:1). People found some of my twittering amusing but it wasn’t really a productive use of my time to sit there snarking, steadily becoming more frustrated and in the end getting, well, a bit depressed really. In fact I felt just the same as when we had that backchannel hoo-ha at LesBlogs2.0. Stuck in a room with far too many smart people not able to say anything while some other smart people sat on the stage and weren’t able to say enough. But I have to recognise that that’s just how I see it, it doesn’t mean that everyone else had the same reaction.

The thing I can take responsibility for is that I went into it entirely unconsciously – I didn’t really look at the programme, as was evidenced by my shock on arrival at the scale of the whole thing. If I had thought about it, I would have known that I was likely to rebel against the keynoting and panelling and would have planned to do something entirely different and positive with the opportunity instead of sitting there and trying to disrupt it. The only bit I behaved in was Bob Geldof’s bit – he’s a great performer and I’ve loved him ever since he tore up that picture of John Travolta on Top of the Pops.

So I’m sorry NESTA for poking you with a stick. I’m sorry Jonathan Freedland for calling you names on twitter. And I’m sorry to myself for using up a valuable day so miserably.

Ho hum. On to better things. I’ve sat in similar events and said “We can do better than this” I don’t think that’s true – it was a great event, but the programmed content was not for me. What I will say is “We can do something other than this – in fact we already are” That’s where my effort’s going today rather than in trying to pull somebody else down.

Bonus Link: The bit that Geldof quoted from WH Murray

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7 thoughts on “Passing notes in school”

  1. I don’t know what it was you were at but I completely understand your reaction. I get very wound up by the “I’m now going to read this overhead/powerpoint to you word by word” type of presentation . I once said the nursing process was “crap,crap and crap” – which it is, but I felt duty bound to apologise to the speaker afterwards.
    It’s interesting how such events can prpduce a sort of road rage/regression to teanage. What was it all about anyway?

  2. Ironic isn’t it for all we ‘bottom-up-network-effect-crowd-sourcing-wikified-barcamped-alternative conferencing-we-thinking’ crowderati that the bit that sticks in the mind and got me doodling and thinking the most was one guy without a srcipt delivering top-down rants… and no I don’t mean the PM.

  3. I felt the same way Lloyd – a bit snarky at Freedland but ultimatley he wasted a chance to do some great interviewing. You can’t lay all the blame at your own door as our expectations of conferences have risen over the last 12 months and NESTA though having some great content went for a very traditional approach – in the morning at least as I had to dash after lunch.

    What NESTA should have done is put a bloody big Twitter feed on screen throughout the main sessions and follow those who were livetweeting. that would have kept us honest and also been an “innovative” way to take some input and questions from the floor.

  4. Hey Lloyd, found the whole thing rather bewildering myself as semi-official Nesta tweeter for the day but that’s another tale. i agree with many of the comments made and would love to incorporate social media more in events in future but not entirely sure how. We’ve never done an event on this scale so it was the safe option i guess to go with the more traditional format. Fundamentally I agree that we should be aiming for a more conversational format but even in conversations you can’t generally have more than one person talking at any one time, or if you do it quickly becomes incomprehensible. As for projecting comments on a big screen – I think twitter is possibly too quick and easy to say stuff you may quickly regret so I still think there should probably be some kind of moderation. But thanks for the post – feels like we learned something, I know I did, and that’s got to be a good thing.

  5. Hi Roland, let’s keep talking about how you can incorporate social media into events more – I’ll give you a ring. I have lots of ideas (and I know that you and others working with you do too) and I’m I’m experimenting with on a small scale with the Tuttle Club, but when you’re working at the huge scale of Tuesday’s event I think there’s a really interesting and important question here which is about what can possibly work when you get 3,000 people gathered in one space.

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