From September 2005 to June 2006 a team of thirteen scholars at the The University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication explored how new and maturing networking technologies are transforming the way in which we interact with content, media sources, other individuals and groups, and the world that surrounds us.

This site documents the process and the results.

alternatives to panelism

my hope in writing this this blog entry is to get some debate going amongst theis site's readership about approriate conference models for netpublics. i've thown in my two cents from the experiences i've had in organizing events, i hope others can do the same. after its last meeting, the netpublics group started looking at lovink and scholtz's description of their experiences in putting on the free-cooperation event in theit text the abc's of conferencing. lovink and scholtz's critique on panelism rings true to experiences i have also had in organizing events.

geert dicussed his panlism theory with me about a year and a half ago when i was organizing the seventh art+communication festival in latvia, and i wish i had listened to him. in retrospect, i've never done much of a post mortem on that or any of the many other locative events i've been involved with planning. in briefly revisiting the experience i'm struck by how we might have worked at coming up with a more inventive model than that of simple panelism to help encourage exchange between the diverse set of actors we had gathered. regretably, the better part of the event was wasted in slideshow expositions of work that was well documented online, rather than using the opportunity for a genuine exchange of ideas (this in part had to do with the fact that the hosts and producers had developed a formula over the years, and as latvians, they were by nature averse to risk-taking). i had a similar experience with the sampling the spectrum event in montreal another insterdisciplinary get together of locative media types in which i was centrally involved with structing the discourse. when it became clear to me that the event was destined to repeat the panelist i withdrew from anymore involvement in the event. i would like to try and avoid these stale formats for the netpublics event, but i'm still not sure what would work best.

kazys suggested the architect's charette, where small groups are given problems to solve and report back to the larger conference at the end. some of the more spontaneous locative events, like RAM5, for example, used this form successfully. but, in my experience, the approach doesn't work without a clear problem to be solves, and some sort of motivation to collaborate and learn from each other (in the case of RAM 5 it was bricks and mortar architects and locative media artists and information architects sharing their approches to authoring space).

coming from the game department of usc, i'm currently thinking of ways to transform panels into games. lovink and scholtz's apparently tried staging a kind of game show where the invitees played characters i wasn't there but i imaging it might have turned out something like a satirical debate. why not make it entertaining? on that note, my experience has generally the best part of the conference usually takes place over a meal or a drink in a pub or a club, when these people who only knew one another as isolated project finally get a chance to come together and for a moment dream of what it might be like to work together. for the netpublics conference, i would like to perhaps propose putting on a netpublics party, curated with some relevant interactive art, and perhaps interspersed with some discursive performances on stage. basically a netpublics salon.

Submitted by mtuters on November 26, 2005 - 8:29pm