Using Pictochat as a Backchannel in conference

Yesterday at the student presentation (Interactive Media Program at the Annenberg), there was a guy who briefly talked about the use of Nintendo DS' pictochat as a backchannel device during conferences. I found it pretty neat. Quoting his friend who gives the account:

The third best thing about the show was apparently the amount of Pictochat action going on in all the major keynotes. Of course, this anonymous metachat style leads to merciless barbs, such as when Valve's Gabe Newell accidentally started talking about 'beef' (as opposed to 'brief') in his Choice Awards intro spot, to a chorus of Pictochatted 'LOL' comments. Next time, GDC, let's see the Pictochatrooms projected on the screen behind the speakers - OMG?

More about what they do at the Zemeckis Media LAb in terms of backchannel in this paper: Justin A. Hall, Scott S. Fisher (2006) Experiments in Backchannel: Collaborative Presentations Using Social Software, Google Jockeys, and Immersive Environments. CHI 2006 workshop about Information Visualization and Interaction Techniques for Collaboration across Multiple Displays.

A pictochat picture taken from the Wikipedia:

Why do I blog this? I find backchannel interesting, especially when using simple and ubiquitous devices such as the Nintendo DS with its simple pictochat interface. It's a very efficient way to create and ad-hoc discussion. With this sort of things (as well as the Opera web browser), the DS is starting to be more and more relevant as a platform to do more things than video-games.