Daily Outrage: Second Life “Community” Conference

I just spent a disappointing and frustrating weekend in Chicago for the third Second Life Community Conference.  I’ve been to a lot of conferences of all kinds, at various levels of formality and informality, run by all kinds of organization or by no organization at all.  I don’t think I’ve ever attended a conference where the substantive portion was as poorly organized an promoted as the SLCC2007.

First, no information was provided on the topics of the panels for the two-day conference.  Even in the final printed program, there were no descriptions of the panels–only a one-line topic.  It’s not because of lack of room in the printed program; it was filled with speaker biographies, but again, no indication which panel they were speaking on, or their topic.  Even simple, obvious organizational and information matters were neglected: there was no index of speakers in the program, but that would have been useless since there were no page numbers.

My second objection was that there was no attempt to facilitate meetings of interested individuals outside of the program. One heard, through blogs or occasional in-world (in Second Life) chat, of meetups going on, but the organizers could easily have used a wiki for the community to post suggestions or requests for gatherings, BOF (birds of a feather) sessions, and the like. I knew only one or two people among the 800 registrants ahead of time. I’m sure there were many many more I would have liked to meet, but there was no way of doing so other than sheer chance.

Third, and most glaring, was the complete lack of transparency. It was never clear who was organizing the program, selecting the panelists, and so forth. For something promoted as a “community” conference, that was a major problem for me.  Unless there are major changes in the way the conference is run next time, I won’t be going again.

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About James G. Milles

Professor of Law, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Posted on August 27, 2007, in Second Life. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Very interesting observations. I was thinking their massive disorganization was limited to their inworld efforts. I spent two days teleporting all around SL to find events or gatherings or even a way to listen to a stream. I found all the listening stations but they never were working when I was there.

    Finally found the Masquerade Ball through another SLer and it was very modestly attended. Everyone I know who would have loved to be there didn’t know about it unless I IM’d and TP’d them.

    Overall, for an SL-oriented conference, it did a poor job of publicizing anything, much less organizing anything inworld. BlogHer did a much better job – a fantastic one, in fact, with panels, booths and streaming events from the RL conference.

  2. …since there were no page numbers.

    Wow! You didn’t mention that when we chatted. That’s even worse than the “official” Second Life guidebook not having an index!

  3. I concur. I enjoyed most of the programs I attended, but it was on faith as far as what the program was about. And I have to wonder how many more people would attend if they had a better idea of what they were going to see. Each point you make is valid and not at all unreasonable.

  4. I’ve been on this problem for quite some time, i.e. the lack of transparency and democratic participation:

    http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2006/11/get_rid_of_thes.html

    These folks have got to go — and others more accountable and competent have to take their place, no question.

    Too much focus on frat-boy-style entertainment and not enough seriousness.

    That said, I don’t think a community conference bulletin should be indexed like a law-school book. That’s over the top. Better information, sure, but seriously, nobody is going to sit and index and fiddle with page numbers on a thing like this, that’s not normal.

    Furthermore, wikis are stupid, people don’t use them, they only serve the technical nerd. Birds of a Feather can find each other when there are *organized meals*. It’s terrible at a conference like this that only lunch was provided, and not coffee, donuts and organized dinners, even if at a variety of venues. That meant people just couldn’t sit down and talk normally.

  1. Pingback: SLCC: It has happened « Tao’s Thoughts on Second Life

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