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May 18, 2007

Symposium - on virtual venue layout

Andrew Middleton has a series of posts on his blog which provide a good overview of the symposium, particularly in terms of the day's content (thanks!).  (These posts weren't tagged with 'efsym2007', which is why we didn't spot them immediately.)  Overall, I agree with many of the points he raises.

In his own summary of the day he says:

On entering the conference room (lines of chairs facing a stage) we were flanked by several shiny huge plasma screens displaying the virtual congregation of attendees on Eduserv Island - also sitting facing a stage in SL. My heart sank. To see that here - how disappointing. Stale practice compounding stale practice. Sorry.

Well, firstly, there is no need for the 'sorry'.  I would argue that 'stale practice' is perhaps a bit too strong?  But I (we) certainly take the general point.

So what should we have done?  We were somewhat constrained in what we could do with the physical space - but obviously the virtual space was ours to do with what we liked.  And, yes, in designing the Virtual Congress Centre I was possibly too conservative.

Superficially we could have made the virtual event look very different from the RL event.  We could have not had a building as such for example (as per the Cybrary City and NMC venues).  We could have not put out any chairs?

My suspicion is that this wouldn't have made much practical difference?  Delegates would still have congregated around the stage in much the same formation as they did anyway - there was, of course, no requirement to sit on the chairs anyway - though interestingly, they did need to be within ear-shot (ear-shot for exchanging SL chat messages I mean!) for the local discussions to work.  We specifically laid out the chairs to try and ensure that everyone in the room would be able to converse with everyone else.

My suspicion is that at the Cybrary City venue, where people are more able to sit or stand where they like, people are often out of ear-shot of each other, and therefore miss parts of the conversation.

Perhaps we should have arranged the chairs in a circle with the screens in the centre?

Or perhaps Andrew has something more drastic in mind?  If so, I'd love to hear it.  We think we got some stuff right on the day and we got some stuff stuff wrong and, as I've said before, I'm quite happy to focus on what we could have done better! :-)


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PS. W.r.t. the 'grey suit' comment at the end of Andrew's summary... my suit was brown! :-)

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