[LifeHack] Backchannel tools modifying conferences activity

The topic of "backchannel" is more and more tackled these days. I appreciate this because since it is impossible to go to all the conference that could interest me, I still could access to some valuable information. Apart from IRC chat channel and AIM/MSN/ICQ/Yahoochat, backchannel tools more and more used in conference: a wiki, a webfolder full of transcripts, a weblog, an audio/video feed. Of course WiFi is one of the obvious reason that enabled backchannel. I am wondering about how conferences will be transformed by these new tool. It is clearly a way to have a feedback loop for speakers (even real-time panelists). But, apart from that, I am convinced that backchannel could modifiy the way conferences are organized. Maybe it could be helpful to put forward specific questions or request from the audience, or as a way to involved more the audience. I don't know, this is an intersting topic.

Liz, in many to many, proposes a three-modes backchannels typology:

- good content + great speaker(s) = near silence in the backchannel, as people focus their attention entirely on the stage - good content - great speaker(s) = lively relevant chatter in the backchannel, with questions, annotations, challenges, and links - poor content = lively (and often snarky) backchannel that drifts entirely away from the topic. - The fourth mode comes into play when someone (typically Joi Ito) projects the conference IRC channel on the screen during a presentation. This creates a significant shift in the environment.