Lack of Control…Live!

Thanks to Sue Pelletier for pointing to the coverage of an audience "hijack" of an on-stage interview at the famous SXSW tech conference in Austin, Texas. The audience didn’t like the way the interview was going, and they started talking about it via Twitter, and eventually just started shouting their own questions onto the stage.

The "user" has been given a taste of power and control, and their collective patience with content that doesn’t work for them is dropping. I suppose there will be some discussions of how rude the audience was, or how impetuous the younger generation is, etc.

But I think our top-down model (that is part of so much we do today) is being challenged more quickly than we may be ready for.

As Sue said:

All I can say is: The buyers are no longer willing to put up with goods they deem unworthy of their time and attention when it comes to conferences, and they may not be shy about letting the speaker know it.

Anybody out there still think they are in control?


  1. 12.03.2008 at 3:53 am

    I heard about this disastrous interview, but that’s how it was evaluated and how I understood it: as a poor job that was, essentially, booed by the audience.
    But this is a new angle on interpreting it in the age of interactive devices and expectations. Viewed this way, the interviewer refused to acknowledge the evidence she was getting that circumstances and her previously privileged role in them had changed.
    This is an excellent way for everyone in the corporate or organizational structure to view it – thanks!

  2. 12.03.2008 at 10:54 am

    There are some interesting posts out there about audience involvement at SXSW–it looks like the Zuckerberg interview wasn’t the only place where the crowd really pushed back against the speakers. (Jeremiah Owyang and Wired both have interesting articles about it.)
    I think meeting planners are going to have to prepare for more audience involvement in the future. And I think we could benefit from looking for ways to prep speakers so that everyone walks out thinking that the back-and-forth between speakers and audience was enriching, rather than a revolt of some kind. The more defensive a speaker is, the more it will lean toward the latter, I think …