I had the opportunity last week to participate in the Future of Media session at the Fast Forward '07 conference. I attended several of the morning sessions on Friday and, although search technology isn't my area of professional expertise, it was quite interesting to learn of the many areas of business and social media that intersect with and rely on search technology.
Chris Anderson, Editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail, gave an interesting keynote with some nicely quantified and visualized examples of results and benefits from pushing demand down the long tail.
The Future of Media workshop was terrific. Organized by Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells of Social Media Club, the workshop was organized in a nice "un-conference" format developed by Chris and Kristie.
*UPDATE* Chris Heuer commented to note that the format was actually a: "World Cafe (http://www.theworldcafe.org) session, which was 'developed' by Juanita Brown, David Isaacs and many other gifted contributors since."
The excellent line up of panelists kicked off the workshop with short presentations designed to provide food for thought to the workshop participants. Then, we were provided with a few questions to discuss around each of the small tables (4-5 people at each) at which we were seated. After about 1/2 hour of discussion each table shared their conversation. Chris captured the results in mind mapping software projected to the room. We then sat down at new tables and answered new questions and again shared our discussions.
The result was a stimulating conversation about interesting ideas and questions with a bunch of really smart people and I thoroughly enjoyed the session. I hope this kind of session also takes hold at other business conferences. Narrower technical discussions have their place but more expansive, less structured sessions that push people to think and move towards the future create enhanced value for attending industry conferences beyond just the networking opportunities that most people show up for.
Speaking of high value, non traditional conferences, readers of Fizz can receive a $100 discount on the full conference registration fee of $699 for BlogHer Business '07. Enter code BHBAC-DSC where requested on the registration page. And, be sure to let me know you'll be attending so we can connect.