Summary: What Is The Web?

30 07 2009

James CurrallIn his unconventional plenary, James Currall abandoned what he refers to as “lecture 1.0” (where the lecturer stands at the front and talks for 45 minutes, then answers questions for 5) in favour of a more interactive, discussion based session in which he took us through and encouraged debate around the topic “What is the Web?”  The audience could take part verbally or by tweeting using the #iwmwp4 tag, which allowed the relevant tweets to be projected up onto the wall via Twitterfall. 

James would check the tweets throughout his talk and respond to them – sometimes conversationally (“yes, Mike, I agree,” then move on) or sometimes by using the points raised to redirect his talk or provoke further debate.  He challenged us to consider what we think the web is and how we can strip down what we do to the simple level of providing content to different types of users when they want it, in the form they want it.

As the live blogger, I have to say I found this format challenging to report upon, as there was obviously no clearly structured argument to follow or series of problems and solutions to report.  I ended up effectively providing sound bites from the discussions, and a little bit of commentary about what was going on e.g. “remote user @RappinRach has asked “is it about portals then?” James wants to avoid using labels for things in this way”.

I will be very interested to hear some more detailed feedback from any remote participants in this event, as there were so many access points through which to follow.  The participants we were aware of were watching the live video streaming and interacting via the #iwmwp4 tag.  I was reporting as @iwmwlive using the established format of #iwmw2009 #p4, so that my echoing tweets did not appear on the Twitterfall and distract from the active conversation.  There presumably were people following my updates as with other sessions.  This provides us not only with different ways of experiencing the event live, but also with different types of records of it which can be searched and referenced in different ways.

I did very much enjoy this session, which Miles Banbery described as more a “walk around” the topic than a traditional plenary talk.  The format was good for stimulating debate and exchange of ideas, but more interesting than those ideas in themselves – for me at least – will be how we handle the records and the experience of the talk for the remote user separated through both time and space.




One response

30 07 2009
Dave Okkydo

This was one of the best sessions for us remote people … the bad thing was twitter lag … just too long between hitting Update and actual update … but it meant we could interact … which was more than could be said for most other sessions … someone should have been making sure that questions were taken from all sources (previously advertised as available for asking questions of course!) .. a chairtwitterer …

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