RSS-Winterfest — the liveliest teleconference ever

Over 1000 participants participated in the RSS Winterfest voice-blog-wiki-IRC multi-model conference last week. Socialtext hosted the “Eventspace” wiki-blog — we hosted the application, and we also helped to host the online party. It was lots of fun, included insightful conversation, and created useful resources.
Participants in IRC improvised conversation on the themes of the sessions. Bloggers posted session notes and questions and resources. Wiki participants built collaborative pages on RSS Tools, RSS Authentication, and other topics.
Here are some of the practices we used that helped make the conference lively:
* create weblogs with relevant topics
* set up sign-in space for people to describe themselves and learn about each other
* pre-populate the wiki with the conference program and other resources
* real-time gardening — link interesting pages to the home page, consolidate related resource pages, help harvest quotes and references.
Maybe most important, we helped weave questions, comments, and insights from the IRC and wikiblog into the voice conference. It’s a salon facilitation skill, translated to electronic media.
This RoperASW/Tandberg polllast year revealed the crushing tedium of traditional teleconference. Less than half of attendees actually pay attention to conference calls. With audience participation tools, you get an event that is more lively and intelligent.

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