Last week was a great week for catching up with a few people. Wednesday I caught up with Euan Semple, until then I had resisted Twitter but sadly I have been drawn into this backchannel web craze. Thursday was Media Tech 2006. Congratulations to Richard Youngman from Library House for his hard work in getting the event together.
One of the highlights for me was the VC panel session with Jonathon Wolf (Director of Corporate Development) Yahoo!, Ben Holmes from Index Ventures, Anil Hansjee, (the new European Head of Corporate Development) Google, all discussing the current investment market trends with mobile taking front and centre of the conversation, especially after Jonathon’s recent acquisition of Swedish mobile company Kenet Works for EUR 16.6 million or $21.28 million.
The other highlight was the presentation from Ian Valentine (ex-Technical Alliances Director, SKY) who presented his new company idea for a TV Microbrowser which uses Sky Interactive’s new WTVML (WebTV Markup Language). Although Ian was instrumental in getting this new webTV standard adopted, it seems he may not be the first to market with the technology.
The lowlight of the event was the over use of the SMS backchannel. It meant people could not ask questions directly, instead we could only text in our questions to the panel moderator(s)? The questions were not even put up on a screen for everyone to see. By not taking questions directly, it killed the debate and audience interactivity. In fact it felt almost surreal to sit there listening to the questions being posed to the panel by the moderator and then hearing the answers, a bit like watching TV. I am a big fan of the backchannel when used properly in combination with a live QnA.
Twelve months ago I was not so sure because at Les Blogs the backchannel was publicly displayed behind the speakers and some of the comments from the audience were a little bit edgey and rude; anyone remember Ben Metcalfe and Mena Trott’s fall out over comments made on the backchannel. At the time I was totally opposed to the backchannel but looking back Ben you were right! I might not have said it in the same way as you did but the sentiment was right.
Boring speakers spouting sales & marketing crap should know what the audience think; a bit like a dragons den for speakers. i.e if you want my time and attention (and in some cases money) then make it interesting or get off. I don’t want death by Powerpoint, I want your original thoughts, opinions and then a debate that moves the topic forward or don’t volunteer to speak if you have nothing original to say. Events should be more like live blogging with the speaker giving their opinion and the counter comments coming in think and fast.
I wonder how many speakers at LeWeb3 this year will be original, please Loic put up the backchannel again so we can praise the good ones and comment on the other speakers!? I guess if Loic doesn’t do it then we can all use Twitter anyway, either way the audience will have its say.
Friday was time spent with Robert Scoble and Hugh McLeod. Darren Streight publishes his awesome Flickr photoset of last Friday’s London “Pissed As Newts” pub crawl and the Firefox party that followed afterwards. I got lucky and stayed out of the pictures! Whilst on the tour it was amazing to see how Hugh McLeod’s Stormhoek promotion had gone mass market with coverage on BBC Five Segment,, BBC Online news article and Times Online.
Hugh also told me about his video interview with Microsoft UK’s Steve Clayton (the new Scoble?).
I also meet up with Tristan Nitot, the CEO of Mozilla Europe (my ex-Netscape colleague) at the party. If you think about it, Firefox has become the WebOS, I can now use it on the Windows, Mac and Linux OS’ and the experience and plugins work the same. Netscape had this idea 10 years ago but Microsoft killed that but I don’t think Microsoft can kill Mozilla.
This week is hopefully quieter and therefore I have more time to review the companies currently sat in my inbox but the end of the week sees the BBC Backstage Party and LeWeb 3.