New way to Q&A

Published January 21, 2015

ISLAMABAD: One of the more brilliant ideas at the Ideas Conclave was the audience engagement mechanism on display. Using the social media platform Twitter, the organisers tracked their hashtag #IdeasConclave2015 and displayed all tweets using the hashtag on two large projector screens, that were visible to both panelists and the audience.

Although it was imagined as a perfectly commonplace installation that would help keep the audience informed of what people were saying online about the event, the Twitter display screen turned into a veritable bulletin board and allowed those in the audience who came armed with their laptops and smartphones to join the conversation without interrupting any of the speakers.

Everyone from journalists to students began posting questions, opinions and observations on the #IdeasConclave2015 hashtag, and soon enough, the speakers began taking note of the comments that were coming up on the large screens. The comments ranged from the humourous to the incisive, but there were also the odd irrelevant tweets, made by people who weren’t at the event itself.

Although live-tweeting is an integral part of most seminars and conferences held nowadays, the live Twitter feed at the Ideas Conclave actually helped move the conversation along. Panelists would often notice something that had been tweeted and would address those issues without missing a beat.

This was especially true of the last session on new media, where tech-savvy panelists got into the act themselves and began tweeting interjections while sitting on stage. At one point during the discussion, columnist Marvi Sirmed tweeted that she disagreed with something that activist Jibran Nasir had said. Before the session was over, Mr Nasir responded to Ms Sirmed’s assertion, all without the hassle of one person having to raise their hand and ask a question which may or may not have been directly addressed otherwise.

The live feed also allowed other people who weren’t at the venue to become part of the conversation. Lahore-based lawyer and activist Rafay Alam tweeted on Tuesday, “Folks tweeting about #IdeasConclave2015 @JinnahInstitute are doing a great job. Feel as if I’m there! (sic)”

“Usually, at events like these where policy matters are being discussed, you don’t get people tweeting a lot. We didn’t expect that people in the audience would start having a normal Twitter conversation, which is what eventually started happening,” Jinnah Institute’s Ahmer Naqvi told Dawn.

Published in Dawn January 21st , 2015

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