The Geek Chorus

The Geek Chorus

Wireless networking has become a sine qua non of a civilised environment for me. On Wednesday, I went to DEMOS to give a talk, and when I arrived was immediately offered access to their WiFi net, and was able to read my email and check references etc. before starting. But tech conferences are now going one stage further — and letting the audience use WiFi as a back-channel during presentations. There’s an interesting article in the NYT which describes an intriguing consequence of this. Quote:

“Some people who have experienced the phenomenon cite a speech given last year at a computer industry conference by Joe Nacchio, former chief executive of the telecommunications company Qwest. As he gave his presentation, two bloggers – Dan Gillmor, a columnist for The San Jose Mercury News, and Doc Searls, senior editor for The Linux Journal – were posting notes about him to their Weblogs, which were simultaneously being read by many people in the audience.

Both included a link forwarded by a reader in Florida to a stock filing report indicating that Mr. Nacchio had recently made millions of dollars from selling his company’s stock, although he complained in his speech about the tough economy. “No sympathy here,” Mr. Gillmor wrote.

“When Dan blogged that, the tenor of the room changed,” Mr. Doctorow said. Mr. Nacchio, he said, “stopped getting softball questions and he started getting hardball questions.”

You can see why some conference presenter are getting a bit jumpy about this.