Read this post on Creating Passionate Users, then think about it. While Kathy Sierra is talking about why the teens today are so hooked on the social networking site MySpace, what are meetings if not social networking sites iin real time and real space? And if you want to meet the needs of your next generation of attendees (who, by the way, sound like they will insist on being participants, not attendees), think about what they like about MySpace. According to Kathy's daughter:
She said they respond to feedback, "As soon as you think of something, it's in there."
She said, "It's always evolving. It changes constantly. There's always something new."
I asked if these changes were disruptive or made it harder to use when nothing stays the same, and she gave me that teenage-attitude-eye-rolling-what-a-lame-question look.
Then she said the weirdest thing of all: "myspace is like a whole new plane of existence."
She wasn't kidding.
That's setting a pretty high bar for live meetings, if they can get all this in cyberspace. Can you imagine a convention where events can turn on a dime, based on constant monitoring of feedback and somehow psychically being able to intuit what they'll want next? If not, just wait a few years and you'll see it start to happen. Because if it doesn't, they most likely will give the whole meeting scene a pass, mentally if not physically.
Some truly fascinating reading along these lines is this talk given by Danah Boyd at the
O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference earlier this month, which Kathy points to. It's about digital communities, but I would suggest it's a must-read for any association exec who's interested in growing a particular association community, online or off.