Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Choices for 2014 - Deutsche Welle or Techcrunch?

Budgets are tight. Where to find meaningful conversations in 2014? What's this in the inbox. An invitation to attend the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn next year.

Reminds me of a blogpost I wrote back in May to explain why I decided not to attend this year.

Are forums still working? 

So what's the problem?

The format is EXACTLY the same every year - think of a general theme, word them as challenges, send out invitations, give a few sponsors (including relevant politicians) a platform, fill the conference centre in the former parliament building in Bonn, have a party on the boat to Linz am Rhein. Repeat until someone complains or the money runs out.

Sadly, if I look at next years program, I'm not optimistic that the message from the audience is getting through to the organisers. I don't need to go to Bonn for more information. Yet that's exactly what is on offer in the plenary sessions. Lectures - totally one way. I call them bungee speakers - "Hello, here is my keynote, we'll take a few questions, have to dash, enjoy your conference". There's no sustainable conversation, so there's really no point. People promise to follow-up. And rarely do.

ahh! panel sessions
The Bonn conference centre is great for plenaries. It's less than great for intimate group discussions. Rooms are dark, overcrowded and the format is the inevitable panel discussions. There are presentations again. May be a bit of debate. Seldom any concrete action points and lessons to take away. And then it's time for coffee. I used to tape the sessions incase. Then I realised I was wasting my time.

Re;publika. Europe's largest social media conversation?

The danger is that others are beating the broadcasters at their own game of building conversations. In Berlin, at Techcrunch Disrupt, I saw a conference, a debate, a marketplace, and many new ideas to inspire. It was all about hands on participation. Total involvement. Same at Re: publika in May.

Berlin is interaction with the exponential future. Bonn is clearly wallowing in the past. What a missed opportunity. Wonder if they will consider changing it?

So if budgets are tight, I know where I recommend people to spend their time. Agree?

Techcrunch Europe
p.s. Just saw some events that DW organised in Niger to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Hausa service to West Africa. These were discussion driven, audience inclusive and had clear focus. Why can't they do the same in Bonn?

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