Pete Lambert - http://flickr.com/photos/peterjlambert/97671748/
It was the annual Open University internal conference this week, which had the title this year of 'Making Connections'. There were some good presentations, but one of the key issues that arose was not what the presenters were saying, but what the audience were doing. My colleague Doug Clow was live-blogging the sessions he was in (e.g. see his account of my Learning Design session). He was told by three different people in separate sessions to stop as his typing was offputting. Doug gives his account here, and Niall backs him up here.
The audience of this blog may find this surprising, since the idea of not live-blogging would seem odd, but it shows we take certain behaviours for granted in our ed tech world. I found it rather ironic though in a conference called Making Connections that Doug should get these comments. He was making connections with people who weren't at the conference (see the comments on his post), and additionally a few of us were twittering through the conference so we were making connections across the sessions (I set up a Crowdstatus page for those twittering). Making connections is about more than chatting over a glass of wine (although that's nice too).
I think some people feel it shows disrespect to the speaker that you aren't giving them your full attention. In fact, thinking through the act of people having laptops or other devices operating during a talk I give, I'm of the completely opposite view. If what I'm saying isn't interesting enough for you to want to liveblog, twitter, look up sources or take notes on it, then I'm doing something wrong. And, if by some freak chance what I'm saying isn't interesting, then I'd rather people were doing their email or reading blogs than sitting in my session feeling resentful because they are trapped. Hey, I've had people sleeping during a talk before - I'd rather they were tapping away on their keyboards.