Collective Intelligence and Meetings

March 12, 2008 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

My SXSW experience left me feeling that meetings and the communication between the speakers and the audience is radically different than it was 2 years ago. Both for good and bad.

It wasn’t so much the Zuckerberg incident that was the big news at SXSW to me – it was the audience. The audience was the big development. In a comment left on allfacebook about the Zuckerberg interview Michael Lambie says, “this interview almost took down twitter today.”

At SXSW the meeting rooms were setup with a Meebo chat, and also the vast majority of the audience live twittered the speech. Two years ago, this speech would have just been bad and boring. Today it is news. Everyone that could get through on the internet connection was able to discuss in realtime behind the scenes their thoughts and feelings.

The crowd was able to organize during the interview and make real time discoveries. They found:

  1. They are not alone
  2. They can take action
  3. They could voice themselves

The result was organized and realtime feedback.

This feedback takes a great deal of control from the speakers – who have enjoyed isolation from the audience. Speakers are now at the mercy of the crowd. If a speaker is not serving, the audience can organize around them. What will happen in politics, movies, church, business, as this type of behind the scenes communication reaches a more critical mass?

The next morning I went to a panel where the audience was organizing questions for the speaker while she spoke. It showed that some others in the audience wanted to know the same answers and provided much deeper questions. In this case it was a good thing.

But what will happen when people can revolt in realtime against things they feel are unpopular. I can imagine scenarios in high school that will leave teachers exasperated. Power to the audience.

Only time will tell. I will twitter it in real time.

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