I'm taking a softly, softly, catchee monkey approach. I think (and my order book shows) that we have agreement that it's a "good thing" or at least a "nice thing" to have a richer record of a days proceedings and that blogs and wikis are a good way of producing that. What I agree we haven't done yet is get to the point where we're able to weave everything together to make it useful enough to participants that they want to do more than view the record.
But maybe that's not our responsibility...yet. I see a risk that we're pushing people too fast along a learning curve that we've taken a while to go along ourselves. I found last week that It is enough novelty for the average conference participant to deal with the fact that we've taken pictures, done some vox-pops with people and live blogged a keynote and they are up on the internet at the end of day 1! Maybe we should just let this aspect sink in for a little bit - if they want to interact as well, then that's fantastic and we should be ready for it when it happens, but in the meantime, perhaps we could be honing our reporting skills in this new environment.
This accords with the professional digital divide observations of Dave Pollard (maybe 2 percent are power users of collaboration tools), and those of my Portugal-based colleague Bev Trayner in Reality check - the new renaissance:
I have been taken aback with (fico suprendida com) how unfamiliar many people are with these new tools and technologies. Yet again I find myself living in two different mindsets.
On the one hand there is a world where online and offline connections blend, complement, compete and synergise. Time is not synchronous. Technologies are ubiquitous and "everyone uses RSS feeds". This world is not dominated by technologists, but by social entrepreneurs who see the potential of new technologies.
In another world intentions like "e-learning platform" or "knowledge portal" are heralded as badges of innovation and state-of-the-art accomplishments. In this world you still hear people insist that face-to-face is more complete than online, as if the two were in opposition. The frames of same-time same-place are unquestionable. People who know about technologies must be engineers, technologists or freaks.
It has been a salutory lesson. And it reminds me of an ongoing design question I have (and that was stimulated by Nancy): how do you stimulate people's imagination to try out technologies? And also - how come some people see it and others don't?
If the ethos of the social reporter is to promote collaboration by standing on the side of the user/reader/viewer and helping them to contribute, we have to take this very seriously. Evangelising - come on in, it's wonderful - doesn't work any better than warnings - you'll be left behind if you don't.
Part of the answer is being clear about the purpose ... what real benefit will tech-supported collaboration bring - and aware of the prevailing culture which may not be receptive. I think it is also about respecting people's preferences. That's partly about personality, and partly about offering a choice of audio, video, text and so on.
All that means that social reporting, to be successful, requires a pretty full set of skills and tools. As Lloyd says, instead of pushing too hard we could be honing our reporting skills in this new environment. If we can't get the gigs, maybe we need some simulated rehearsing ... a sort of emerging social reporting conference, where we all practise on some willing non-tech participants. Any sponsors up for that?