“Do you remember the presentations that were later on videotape? Do you remember the special screenings of movies? Do you remember the crowded cocktail parties? Bumping into a net celebrity? I don’t.” – Seth Godin commenting on conferences like SXSW and TED.
And, here’s a thought from the blog post of another marketing touchstone, Luke Sullivan:
“I’m not sure where I land on this topic, this idea of trying to pay attention to competing streams of information. Check out this guy.[in the photo]”
The photo is of a lecture attendee dividing his attention between multiple sources of technology seemingly ignoring what is happening in the space he occupies [You’ll have to go to Luke’s blog post to see the photo; I haven’t lost all scruples for what I’ll copy].
“I snapped this picture of him during one of Saturday’s sessions. He’s checkin’ his iPhone for either email, phone messages, text messages or his Twitter feed. He’s got his laptop open and from its screen I can tell he’s not taking notes and has open what appear to be two social streams. Meanwhile, the thing he paid $700 to see is happening 50 yards away and just out of his line of sight.” – via Luke Sullivan’s blog
For those who weren’t born into this techno-info onslaught, it’s a dilemma, a quandary, and a battle for position with conventional creative productivity, i.e. what are we missing and is it replaced one for one by what our tech distractions gain us?
While I’ve not attended SXSW, I have attended my share of conferences and industry exhibitions. I agree with Seth Godin that the biggest value is in personal contact; it’s what I specifically recall. We all know the benefits working the network.
Yet, the ideas tossed about in the break-out sessions burrow themselves into my knowledge base so completely that I forget how they were acquired. I own them; they’re mine – I have no need to remember from where they came. Sometimes sessions serve as mere reminders; equally valuable.
I think we’re relearning the value of staying present. As the message channels explode, we’re also learning selectivity. We’re letting go of the low percentage hits in return for our analog surroundings. When will digital media reach it’s apex, do you think it ever will?
During the chase for ideas, information is more caught than taught, but if we’re to make practicable ideas on our own, it’s time to go old school. Once the chase is over it’s time to go analog and turn off the streams for a time.
As for the second part of Luke’s Listening/Speaking post take his words as gospel: nothing – absolutely nothing – replaces message delivery. If you have the best story ever told you won’t get the message across if delivery is marred with static. Got a great story but can’t speak? Find somebody who can. Have something to show but no visual sensibility? Find someone who does.
3/16 – UPDATE: Also visit Luke Sullivan’s follow-up post on his SXSW experience.