Events Break Out Of The Physical Space-Time Prison. Time-Extended Conversations Are Coming: X-Events
Online (and offline) events should not be confined anymore to the physical time-space of when and where the event actually occurs.
Photo credit: Gavin Whitmore
New media technologies, communication, collaboration, presentation and content delivery and distribution technologies provide multiple and complementary pathways to extend events' reach, duration and possibility for interaction to unconceivable new heights.
What we have considered until now an activity delimited by a public event space and by a finite set of speakers and participants meeting synchronously at one unique space-time location, is now rapidly developing into an extended and ongoing multiplicity of information and conversation channels, which start before the actual event and go on for a long time after it.
These are a new class of powerful, inclusive, popular and engaging events liberated from the straightjacket of space-time by the convergence of usable new media technologies: X-events.
- Physical live events extend to the virtual space: Web conferencing and live presentation technologies allow for live webcasting of any event allowing participants to attend from any Internet-connected location with maximum ease and comfort. Event sessions can be streamed with audio, low-bandwidth video and presentation slides with many different technologies.
- Much larger audiences: As participants don't need to attend on a specific date/time, potential for participation is tremendously increased. Interested parties can access event recordings after the event at their leisure. For physical events this provides a significant extension of the reach and the possibility of scaling the number of participants to at least an order of magnitude.
- Much greater opportunity for interaction: Participants both in the live event as well as in the extended post-event conversations have more opportunities to engage panelists, experts, speakers and companies/products being mentioned or showcased. Through the use of RSS newsfeeds, wikis, blogs and discussion forums, topical interests, themes and live event tracks can be kept alive for an indefinite time after the actual event is over. Better yet: by extending events with online new media technologies, the information channels and conversation areas can activate themselves much before the actual event takes place. The online information in this case actually helps to build-up more attention, interest, and easier identification of the topics and issues customers and vendors have at heart.
- Monetization: X-events generate lots of valuable content which can be edited, compiled, annotated and packaged for digital delivery in multiple formats and with different marketing approaches. Such content can be monetized in multiple and overlapping ways by, for example:
a) Providing paid access to recorded sections.
b) Selling sponsorship space on all distributed content formats. This per se encompasses a wide variety of options (see list of channels available to go x after an event, here below).
c) Offering paid subscription access to X-event content bundles including topic-specific RSS feeds, discussion forums, recordings, etc.
d) Creating premium content by selecting, aggregating and editing most valuable content extracted from live event.
Photo credit: Ingrid Peek
And here are some of the new content delivery and distribution channels that can be utilized to transform a traditional event into an x-event:
- Web conferencing and live streaming services - Web conferencing systems allow conference organizers to extend access (paid or free) to their events to a much, much larger potential audience. The limited amount of opportunities providing virtual online access to both popular or niche events nonetheless the variety of cost-effective technologies to support this application, only further highlights the competitive edge that such use can provide to those who embrace it, as well as the amount of evangelization and proactived education still needed to inform potential users of the advantages offered by this approach. This past week Chris Pirillo and producer Jake Ludington did an excellent job of live streaming from CES in Las Vegas and offering immediately after recorded access to their great interviews with technology vendors.
- Recording systems - Either as integrated components of live Web conferencing systems or as separate services/tools, recording systems capable of capturing with high-fidelity visuals and sounds specific to event sessions, panels and presentations is of immense value. Abilities for these systems to edit, post-produce and convert/encode these recordings into popular rich-media file distribution formats (.mp3, .mp4, .wma, .wmv, .mov, .Flash, etc.) are also of paramount importance. (TechSmith Camtasia, Macromedia Captivate, etc.)
See also this innovative approaches to record online interviews.
- Rich-media on-demand delivery - Web-based technologies that allow easy access to recorded sessions, presentations and discussion panels provide an effective new medium to distribute and deliver rich-media content (audio, video, animations, etc.) in an enriched and simple to access format. Brainshark, Macromedia Breeze and Articulate Presenter are three very different technologies that can perfectly support X-events.
- RSS - RSS newsfeeds are an ideal content distribution channel that can complement in many different ways the different processes, tracks and interests initiated during a live event. Alex Williams and his 2004 RSS Winterfest have been a valuable proof of concept of how well this can work.
- Web aggregators - newsmaster channels - The creation of custom news feeds aggregating breaking news, blogosphere posts, reviews and other commentary coming from the Web, news sources and elsewhere will provide a unique competitive information advantage that will be difficult to match by individual sources covering the event.
- Blogs - Blogs associated to an X-event can provide multiple and complementary information channels to the organizers, to the experts, to the participants, and even to the press. The additional ability for all these groups to post updated content, information and commentary relevant to the preparation, unfolding and event follow-up gives voice and extra mileage to those who make the event possible. Not only. Blogs provide a two-way communication channel allowing participants, partners and competitors to contribute, dissent or submit critical questions.
- Wikis - The use of wikis can provide an easy-to-use collaborative space where everyone is treated on equal grounds. As wikis provide equal opportunity to all users to edit and modify the published content, they can provide significant benefits in the creation of collaborative collections of resources or in the review and analysis of very specific issues.
One living example that shows how effective this can be. From RSS Winterfest again.
- Discussion forums - Use of Web-based dicussion forums to extend expert panels having taken place at the event, or to provide ongoing exchange between key experts, vendors, sponsors and X-event participants can provide significant value and opportunities to all parties involved. End users have opportunity to meet and exchange with event stakeholders over time and vendors greatly expand their association with quality content and expertise while mainitaining fully working demo booths for unlimuted periods of time.
- DLA - custom aggregator - Digital Lifestyle Aggregators or fully customized and branded news content aggregators also integrating A/V capabilities, social networking and feedback facilities have yet to make their debut in the consumer and conference news market. With these small, downloadable news and content aggregators, conference organizers will be able to put in the hands of interested end users a two-way communication tool that is dedicated, focused, content-rich, spam-free and unique in its abilities to keep everyone hooked to an X-event through a software tool.
See Project Du Reader and what I wrote about it for a good example of my DLA view.
- Email Newsletter - The email-based newsletter remains a trusted, familiar and in many cases most appreciated post-event content distribution channel available to X-event organizers. The fact that the newsletter reaches contacts, customers and partners directly in their email inbox, provides for a very personal, intimate and direct communication channel, which, if properly used, can provide great loyalty, attention and further participation from X-events customers. The newsletter is also a qualified channel for ethical and intelligent promotion of relevant complementary events, products and services.
Each and every one of the above content distribution channels (and this is just a small sample of possibilities) offers endless opportunities for either/or subscription, sponsorship and fee-based premium content access which are just ready for the taking.
Far from needing to segregate all of this valuable event output under a barrage of fees, conference organizers and new media publishers can certainly strike much greater profit and sustainability by allowing most of the X-event content to be free, while reserving to fee-based access either a) the convenience of the selection, aggregation, and personalized delivery service or b) the quality of premium compilation work done by expert content editors and newsmasters.
What do you think?
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