Give me the Ridiculous

It’s probably just me, but it’s the ridiculous that I want to see in a keynote address. 

Large screen photo of 2009 Keynoter Malcolm Gladwell ((Domestic Digerati, . “DSC_0148.” Ddigerati1’s Photostream – Flickr. 28 Jun 2009. Web. 1 Nov 2009. . ))

Ok, let me see if I can retrace the thoughts that led to that conclusion.  I am seeing more conferences, these days, embracing (and sometimes grasping at) collaborative Web applications (Web 2.0) to enhance and extend their event.  The Long Island Technology Summit, last week, announced early on that the Twitter hash tag for the conference would be #litechsummit09 — and to reinforce the point, they displayed a Twitter Camp (left) with the emerging tweets on the main screen as people were ambling into the general keynote presentations.  The result was an archive of 206 (at this moment) short messages about the conference and it’s contents, posted before, during, and after the gathering by people who were there and by many who were following the event from afar.

ISTE is trying something truly bold, and something that truly embraces the spirit of the new Web,

Going collaborative,

Valuing the wisdom of the community. 

ISTE 2010 is employing its community to help select one of its keynote speakers.  In DIGG style, ISTE members have been invited to submit topics for the address, and then to vote for topics, in the same way and through a similar interface, that articles are ranked in DIGG.

The project runs in three phases, as described on the web site:

Phase 1: Topic Suggestions (October 15-November 15)
Submit your ideas for topics and keynote focus. Share your thoughts, comment on suggestions from other ISTE members and educators, and vote on your favorites.

Phase 2: Speaker Suggestions (November 16-December 15)
We’ll set up forums for the top 5 suggested topics from Phase 1, and you can suggest speakers (and vote on speakers) within each of these topic areas.

Phase 3: Final Speaker Selection (January 4-15)
During late December, ISTE staff will contact the top speakers to check for availability and affordability, narrowing the list to a top 5 that will be voted on during Phase 3. The grand prize of “coffee with the keynoter” will be awarded to the first person who suggested the winning speaker.

Now I think that this is a great thing.  It is empowering the conference attendees, it’s consumers, with the authority and the responsibility to select the content to be delivered.  And, again, I think that this is the way conferences should be done, given our ever shifting needs and capacities.  But I am not so sure that the keynote is the best place to do this.

Certainly, ISTE has not completely turned keynoting over to the masses.  It’s only one out of the three keynote events.  But the keynote address is not necessarily the place where I want to learn something that I think I need to learn.  That is for the general breakout sessions, lounges, and poster presenters.  The keynote is where I want to be pushed, where I want holes punched in the walls of my box, and to be pulled out of my comfort level.

This is why I voted for “What does web 3.0 look like and why aren’t we there yet?”  I think it’s a ridiculous question.  If we knew what it looked like, we’d be there.  We won’t know until it’s around us and we realize, just like with Web 2.0, “Hey, this is Web 3.0!”  It’s ridiculous, and it’s the reason why it would be a good keynote address.  It would, in all likelihood, be wrong.  But it would just as likely push my thinking into directions that I would not, under normal circumstance, wander.

I think that this is a wonderful experiment, and we may get the very best keynote ever out of it.  But I have to wander if perhaps the best place to empower the consumer is in the sessions we go to in order to learn what we need to know.  Why not, at some point, open up the full session proposal database to ISTE members, and allow us our input on selecting the presenters and topics we’ll make choices about come June?

Again, this may just be me, early morning, when I should be planning for the sessions I’ll be doing this week on my 5,574 mile trek from here to yonder.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.