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DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: MORE OR NO MORE?

 

digital event - WMH Project

 

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: MORE OR NO MORE?

 

During the pandemic, the events sector saw the use of digital technology receive a major boost.

At the COVID storm subsides, we can now ask ourselves if we are witnessing a permanent switch to a completely digital world from which we will never return or if, on the contrary, digital technology showed its limits on this occasion.

 

Ready ...

 

In de eerste plaats moet worden opgemerkt dat vanaf het begin van de pandemie alle videoconferentie-instrumenten reeds bestonden (Webex en Skype waren bijvoorbeeld welbekend bij ouders die gescheiden waren van hun kinderen in het buitenland). Anderzijds was hun reactievermogen verbluffend (Zoom, Teams en in mindere mate Google hebben zeer snel eenvoudige, bijzonder efficiënte en betrouwbare hulpmiddelen op de markt gebracht. Of toch bijna).

 

The result: to reforge links, for interaction and for visual contact - which lockdown deprived us of - we all flocked to it. Next, solutions (and especially lots of ideas) very quickly appeared to help recreate the social aspect.

To “re” socialize, we held team-building sessions, we voted, chatted and answered surveys. We (re)discovered a solution making it possible to bring together from 2 to 100,000 people in a few clicks, all without a hitch.

It all became indispensable!

digital event WMH Project

Steady ...

 

The second thing, was that we very quickly witnessed the great professionalisation of digital events. The little tabletop Zoom sessions had their day!

We progressed to full scale TV shows, all very neat and hyper orchestrated, including the technology that goes with it, with nothing out of place or left to chance.

Choose!

 

This is my third point: we have (re)created a completely parallel world. A language, postures (we only see our heads) and codes of conduct which are immensely useful, but which are only a simulacrum: we’re play acting.  

For me, to some extent there’s the same difference between a digital event and a face-to-face event as between written, spoken, chatted or texted communication. In other words, although I make a point of trying to never make a spelling mistake, I write my text message, like everyone else, in abbreviated form.

C what I mean: I speak 2 written languages, because they are two worlds.

 

the informal formally...

My last point is the most important to me: in the digital arena, we have never managed to recreate the informal aspect.

The informal aspect is for example the break between two conferences, it’s the evening visit to the bar during a seminar, it’s my body language conveying information (and not just my eyes, and my masked mouth), it’s seeing the bosses letting their hair down... it’s a physical presence that’s lacking, due to the distance. So terribly lacking!

 

Technology can’t help it: it tries to adapt it but it can’t, and that’s probably good news.

 

Then, I read everywhere that the future is certainly hybrid.

But how can imagination and technology really make the experience both different and rewarding for everyone?

digital event WMH Project

First, let’s set the tone!

 

The web originally ushered in a world of freedom, where anything goes, and where you could try anything.

If I may be permitted this comparison with the IT industry, we have to tell ourselves that, in the same way that IBM - as closed a world as you’re ever likely to find - bought the largest open source firm, our highly regimented digital events must be able to coexist with events which are much more fun and “liberated”.

Always with perfect technology, but in a much less rigid spirit.

The digital event...

 

Secondly - and it’s a fervent defender of hybrid events telling you this - let’s recognize that in the digital sector, even if we have come up with and tested effective solutions, the connected spectator remains too excluded.

Yes, digital events create a huge physical gap… but trying to fill it may be unnecessary.

It will be necessary to accept that we need to make remote and face-to-face events coexist!

Let’s take advantage of the tremendous advances and the benefits of digital technology in remote events, but during other events, let’s share the simple joy of being together.

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DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: MORE OR NO MORE?