Home' micenet eMag : micenet AUSTRALIA June July 2014 Contents W
hen I was a junior AV technician in the era when
George Clooney had a mullet, most conferences
would open with an inspirational video, recorded on
some kind of magnetic tape, and it would always be about The
Incredible Pace of Change.
Sometimes it would be called The Challenge of Change or
whatever, but these videos always showed the same timeline of
mankind’s technology achievements throughout the ages. Slow
change for a few thousand years, wheel, printing press, toasted
sandwich maker, then just in the last decade OMG INSANE
LEVELS OF CHANGE!
The clear message being: get with this new technology or
you’ll be unemployable to a Rolf Harris level. And this was before
What The Futurists Say
Now the talk of techno-change is relentless, with an app to replace
every job. Marauding gangs of hipster futurists scare the daylights
out of your delegates with revelations of goggles that can read
people’s minds and how you can 3D-print yourself a new face.
Technological change is generally awesome. I’m writing this
column on a plane, having just finished editing a complex video
that’ll be published from the airport lounge wireless. A year ago
it would have been a studio job. Technical tip: throw your current
laptop away immediately and get one with a solid state drive, it’s
breathtakingly fast and doesn’t barbecue delicate body parts
when it’s running on your lap.
The trap, though, is assuming that higher tech is always
better. Sometimes you have to step back and ask: is this
actually progress, or just tech for the sake of it?
What Damo Says
I’ve just been in Hobart with our speaker prep room maestro,
Damo. He can wrangle several hundred speakers in a single
conference, and they all love him, despite the fact that he looks
like a UFC cage-fighter, which he is also training to be. I asked
him about using .ftp uploads to make it easier for presenters, so
all those presenters can load up their PowerPoint weeks before
the conference. That seems like organisation at its finest.
Damo has tried it, and says a big No to uploads. It’s not that
he doesn’t love high tech things. But he has a very clear
understanding of how people actually behave in the real world.
He points out that speakers always change their presentations
on the plane on the way to the conference, so their uploaded
show gets deleted anyway. But that’s not the main reason he
wants speakers to bring a USB stick. It’s because he insists on
talking to them.
One In Ten Of You Have Gremlins
He found that if someone uploaded a show in advance, they felt
that their work was done. So they felt they just needed to turn up
five minutes before they walked on stage and all would be well: a
potent recipe for disaster. Presenters didn’t know that they hadn’t
included the fonts or video clips, or one of many other gremlins.
Coming to meet Damo takes a bit of extra time, but it means
he can step through the whole show with you and check that
everything’s OK. At least one in 10 needs his gremlin-snuffing
skills. And Damo can talk you through the whole being-on-stage
process. You’re more comfortable, so you present more
confidently, which means a better conference overall.
There’s a general perception that new is always better, ‘...with
just a click of a mouse!’ and so forth. But for meetings, an
industry built on personal contact, sometimes the digital option
creates a detachment that lessens the quality of the experience.
Why Creepy iPad Restaurants Died
Did you ever go to one of those restaurants that had an iPad on
each table and your order got sent to the kitchen via wireless?
Those restaurants are dead now, with good reason. Making
customers bend their normal behaviour to suit your internal
systems is a dangerous path in a field where customers want
human contact. You see this with sales people who do their
entire pitch via email with no actual conversation, then complain
someone else undercut them. What do you expect when you’ve
made yourself a product vending machine, where the
anonymous buyer just clicks until the price hits rock bottom?
Pretty much all the great successes in the tech sector
weren’t built on pure technological superiority. Facebook, Twitter,
and Stop Tony Meow, the current browser plug-in that replaces
any picture of Tony Abbott with a random kitten – their success
was built on new understandings of how people actually relate
to each other via technology. Lose sight of the personal touch at
your own risk. m
Ian Whitworth leads a double life as a co-founder of audio-visual group
Scene Change, and principal of creative marketing consultancy, A Lizard
Drinking. He can be contacted on email - firstname.lastname@example.org
High tech is great, but don’t let it over-rule
human needs, writes Ian Whitworth.
Back to the future
BY IAN WHITWORTH
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