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Naming Events in a Digital World

As we start to bring more virtual and hybrid elements into our events – should we reconsider how we name these events?

In the past, we might have given an event a local or regional name. This name helped the event connect and identify with the city, state, or region where the event took place. If the event was a big one we might add the descriptor “National” or “International” to the name.

What about in the digital world? Do these naming standards apply?

Let’s look at Event Camp Twin Cities as an example. We called the event – Event Camp Twin Cities – because it took place in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St.Paul. The Twin Cities is the name for Minneapolis-St.Paul around here. We expected to draw most people from the area. So, the name seemed logical at the time.

What happened in reality is that we created something much bigger. We had 75 people participating in Minneapolis. Most people were from Minnesota, Canada (a northern suburb) and Wisconsin with a few East and West Coasters sprinkled in there for good measure.  Then, we had two remote sites that had about 20 people in them – one in Dallas, Texas and another in Basel, Switzerland. Finally, we had over 550 people participating live online from all over the world. These people came from all over the place.

Using digital technology, we took a regional event and created a global one. I think that we are going to see more events doing things like this. Calling these events “National” or “Regional”events – just doesn’t seem appropriate.

So what should we be calling these events? The Big One?

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good point Sam, how about:
    A) Global Event Campus
    B) Event Connect Camp
    C) unCamp
    D) Hybrid Eventers
    E) PODilicious
    F) Almost there
    G) nah these are all lame… How about:______?

    May we have your votes please?

    September 22, 2010
  2. Yikes, Sam, I hadn’t realized we were seen as a northern suburb! Does that mean 25 million of us get a vote the next time Minneapolis or St. Paul holds a city election? (Really, be careful what you wish for…)

    It’s an interesting point: I’ve probably referred to ECTC a dozen times in the last two weeks in online columns or more limited correspondence. Every time, I’ve included the descriptor — 100 people in MSP, nodes in Dallas and Basel, 200 or so online participants. But I think there’s still value in naming conferences in a way that provides an easy reference for the geographic scope that organizers expect — for the largest share of the participant group, or for the major focus of the content.

    This is a bit premature, but we’re in early discussions for a major meeting that will have to deal with the same question, when or if it takes place. We originally thought to call it a Canadian Conference on…, then realized the focus would be North America-wide and the knowledge base would likely be global. In our latest draft proposal, we’re calling it a North American conference, since a major reason to draw on expertise from other parts of the world will be to find smart practices we can apply here.

    Although, after seeing your post, please tell me how this would play in MSP — should we rename this the First Annual *Suburban* Conference on…?

    September 23, 2010
  3. Great post Sam, this was really thought provoking.

    I’m with you on this – but here are a few thoughts.

    I think by this point, we’ve all concluded that in almost all cases of holding a conference, we ultimately wish to connect and exchange the energy that is unique to a physical interaction. While there was fantastic engagement with and between remote members of the audience (via pod or webcast), there is still no match for the eye contact, voice intonations and nonverbal communication that occurred in that room in Minneapolis.

    Couches, bouncy ball chairs, oval tables, Be Events’ beautiful room decor…this was all part of the magic we experienced as a group coming together in a particular destination. The experience we generated in that room was then transferred outwards to a global audience. Although we were also absorbing and bringing the energy and contribution back from the remote audience, our educational content was primarily pushed out.

    I still think it’s appropriate to designate in what location your main experiment, or “Mothership” to the pods, will take place. No matter what, we are still deeming one location as HQ. So, because of this I conclude that we need to specify a location where this will occur. It will clarify where attendees travel to meet!

    On the other hand, if you were to bring in presenters at each of four locations with 200 people each, equally pushing content out and pulling audience engagement from all sites – then maybe you do create a global campus. But that’s a different model from this hybrid design. ‘Nother conversation 🙂

    On another note entirely, I think I’m STILL high on the energy of that blue bouncy ball room. I’ve never seen that kind of energy and collaboration. Beautifully, perfectly executed.

    Midori Connolly, Chief AVGirl

    oh, Ruud…PODilicious? oh dot em dot gee!!!! You are sooooo funny!

    September 23, 2010
  4. @Ruud, @Mitchell and @Midori – Thanks for your comments, insight and additional perspective here. You all made some great points. This is one of those questions that got me scratching my head and asking – What Should You Do, If Anything?

    It will be interesting to see what happens as hybrid events grow, evolve and change shape. I think we can arrive at events that are much more global campus type of events — In some sessions you will be participating face-to-face and in others you will be participating remotely.

    Anyway, it will be fun to see how this changes.

    Thanks again for your contributions.

    – Sam

    September 23, 2010
  5. @Mitchell – we must have replied at almost the same time…I didn’t see your comments while I was leaving mine 🙂

    If you want to bounce any ideas off of me for your upcoming hybrid conference, please feel free! I’ve now been designing and executing this format for over a year now and it’s been really successful. Would be happy to share my experience with you!

    September 23, 2010
    • But of course! I’m being (frustratingly and, I hope, unusually) vague about the project right now — as I implied in my original post, it would have been premature to mention it at all if the topic hadn’t come up. But take it as given that I’ll be back with details and questions, to you directly Midori and to this entire community, as soon as we know whether the project can fly.

      September 24, 2010

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