Digital Fertilizer Meetup & The NE Wisconsin Startup Community

July 11 Meetup — Digital Fertilizer Startup Community

digital fertilizer meetupA Digital Fertilizer (DF) mostly-monthly meetup for the NE Wisconsin tech startup community is happening tonight, July 11, 2016, from 6 to 8 PM, EST, at The Green Room Lounge in De Pere, Wisconsin, USA. Tonight’s meeting topic is:

DF Presents: Ben Johnson, The Designer of Tales, Wrestler of Whales — Through storytelling and visual experimentation, Ben Johnson and his team at Elegant Seagulls have helped companies like Forbes, ESPN, and Peak Designs connect, convert, and conquer. Ben will be talking about the Green Roomimportance of design storytelling, having empathy for your users, and not being afraid to go for it!

The DF meetup group was founded April 4, 2013 by Chris Schmitz and five other NE Wisconsin tech startup enthusiasts. currently indicates this group has 422 members.

The Organization — Digital Fertilizer

Digital Fertilizer’s mission is to strengthen the high-growth startup community of Northeast Wisconsin by connecting, educating, and empowering a network of entrepreneurs.

digital fertilizerDF was launched a couple years ago (2013?) and appears to have had three cofounders. In a DF launch post, Chris Schmitz said:

“…there seems to be a competitive relationship between many cities in NEW [northeast Wisconsin], but I believe we can only sustain a startup community if we turn that into a collaborative relationship. It’s great for each city to have events and resources for people and businesses only in their area, but they have to tie into something bigger. One of the goals of Digital Fertilizer is to provide an accelerator program for fledgling startups, but there’s no way we can do that sustainably without the infrastructure to support it, and that needs to built up by everyone interested in startups in NEW.

Another big challenge is going to be getting the local education system and startup communities brad feldgovernment agencies to help in cultivating entrepreneurship and providing people the skills necessary to build high-tech, high-growth businesses. Most of the business in the area is focused around manufacturing and lifestyle businesses…if we want to become a community that produces startups we need to devote resources to creating the necessary components to sustain them.

…The local government and investors are ready to supply resources to cultivate these types of businesses, but the movement must be entrepreneur led, and right now there is too large of a disconnect between the entrepreneurs and innovators to build anything substantial. Digital Fertilizer aims to change that…”

Chris was interviewed about Digital Fertilizer and the NE Wisconsin startup community xconomyby Xconomy in 2014. Below are some of his comments.

“…There’s definitely momentum, but it’s still relatively small…Events like Startup Weekend help a ton. So many connections are made over that weekend, and it pulls some people out of the woodwork. We’ve got a lot of students involved in the tech scene…we have to get young people excited about it; otherwise if they want to do anything with a startup, they’re going to go to Milwaukee or Madison.

Why is it important to form tech startups in this area?

I think it’s really the only way to battle the brain drain that goes on here. All the good developers I know, ask any of them why they stick around this area, it’s because they’ve got family here. They work remotely for a startup. In order to…improve the economy and get some startups to stay here, you need more resources. You need to give them a space…to connect with each other and with investors. That being said, it’s going to take a commitment from someone, probably a successful entrepreneur who is willing to put some money and time into the community…

…There’s not a lot of deal flow, not a lot of stuff going on up here. I do think there’s a lot more money up here. There probably could be a lot more angel investors up here, if they could be educated about early-stage investing.

I don’t see a lot of entrepreneurs coming out of any of the colleges around here. Also the curriculum that they teach for computer science degrees is dated. If they updated their curriculum to focus more on more up-to-date Web technology [like Ruby on Rails], I think that would help a lot…”

Insights About NE Wisconsin Startup Community

Chris had a number of insightful comments in the items above about the startup community in NE Wisconsin.

  • wisconsin red NE“…there seems to be a competitive relationship between many cities in NEW…we can only sustain a startup community if we turn that into a collaborative relationship…”
    • Chris was correct, and as of mid-2016 I’m not aware of any significant improvement in collaboration between cities to support and expand the region’s startup community.
  • “…big challenge is going to be getting the local education system and government agencies to help in cultivating entrepreneurship and providing people the skills necessary to build high-tech, high-growth businesses…”
    • I don’t know if Chris had specific programs or assistance in mind regarding education and government, but I don’t think there has been significant improvement on this topic since 2013. There are likely education or government activities happening to support the startup community that I don’t know about — but isn’t that sort of the point? People need to hear about these activities if they’re going to be effective. The only education / government startup community activity I can think of that sounded at least slightly successful is the entrepreneur program for UW Oshkosh students led by Colleen Merrill.
  • “…if we want to become a community that produces startups we need to devote resources to creating the necessary components to sustain them…”
    • It seems like the lack of effective, visible, and significant support for the region’s startup community is because NE Wisconsin communities, organizations, and influential individuals:
      • Don’t want to or aren’t able to work together to build and support a strong regional startup community.
      • Don’t want to or aren’t able to effectively publicize available activities supporting the startup community.
      • Don’t view the region’s startup community as a priority area for investing significant resources.
      • Haven’t been pitched comprehensive and compelling proposals for supporting the startup community.

As far as I know, the two main accomplishments of Digital Fertilizer from 2013 to 2016 are:

  • Regular meetings (most months)
  • Startup Weekend Green Bay (2014, 2015, 2016)

OpenCoffee weekly entrepreneur meetups were happening for a while in Green Bay and Appleton, but participation in those declined, and I think OpenCoffee is pretty much gone or in hibernation.

Future Possibilities — Digital Fertilizer & NE Wisconsin Startups

So the question at this point seems to be, “Is it possible for Digital Fertilizer to build a connected and supported startup community in NE Wisconsin?”

startup communitiesThe past three years says the region’s startup community isn’t at the tipping point. A lot of energy and time has been put into Digital Fertilizer and related startup community activities, but it doesn’t seemed to have reached critical mass. As of July 2016, I still don’t think NE Wisconsin has the reputation or the startup support resources needed to create a Schumpeterian swarm of hundreds of startups which would lead to disruptive innovation, a boost to the regional economy, and a highly-visible startup community.

Here are a few ideas related to DF that might be worth considering to help the NE Wisconsin startup community get to the next level.

  • Maximize member value (422 registered members)
    • Ping members annually
    • Find out what members would value from DF
    • Spinoff events for specific member niches
    • Member directory / gallery like Portland, ME
    • Viable implementation of OpenCoffee
  • Startup launch platform
    • Community entrepreneurial and tech organization partnerships and support
    • Pre-seed grants and investments
    • Facilitate monthly or quarterly startup launches
    • Up-to-date directory of NE Wisc startups
  • High level of visible college involvement (20+ colleges in region)
  • Archived videos of speakers / presentations, like TC New Tech
  • Revive Web920 (webdevs, designers, entrepreneurs)
  • Regular website content, news and posts (only 11 posts in 2 ½ years)
  • Startup community calendar
  • Regional presence outside Green Bay and De Pere
    • Appleton Makerspace (had two very successful DF meetups)
    • Oshkosh / UWO
    • Other cities in NE Wisc


Didn’t mean to do a long post. Covered a lot more than tonight’s DF meetup… The above suggestions are meant to spark discussion and increased activities that support the NE Wisconsin startup community. If you want to meet for coffee and conversation about anything above, let me know! 🙂

I’m working on developing an initiative to connect disruptive innovators throughout NE Wisconsin. If that venture launches and is successful, I’m sure we’ll be collaborating with and supporting DF as much as possible!

Tomorrow’s post will likely be a short overview of tonight’s DF meetup.


Relationship-Building Events

Interactions ⇒ Relationships

relationshipRelationships are created when two people interact.

That relationship may be a temporary relationship that dies as soon as the initial interaction is finished. On the other hand, the initial interaction might be very enjoyable for both people, and the resultant relationship could be very deep and meaningful and last for a lifetime.

Most intentional relationships are somewhere in between those two extremes. By intentional, I mean that at least one of the two people initiated the interaction with a reason or purpose in mind. Just like there is a wide spectrum of relationships, there is an equally wide spectrum of reasons to initiate a relationship. Some reasons are really good, some are very bad, and most are in between.

And just like there are reasons to initiate relationships, there are reasons for writing today’s post about relationships. Here are the four main reasons for this post topic.

  1. relationship 5Events wranglers should always be thinking about relationships when they plan and run events. Ergo, it’s a fitting topic to write about on this blog.
  2. Relationships will be an essential part of a new venture for NE Wisconsin disruptive innovators.
  3. Relationships will be an essential part of the Baby Boomer Gold Rush I wrote about last week.
  4. I enjoy building relationships and expanding my networks.

Ingredients For Growing Relationships

relationship 2Here’s something to think about regarding relationship-building events. Just like growing vegetables in your summer garden, or perhaps growing flowers around your yard, certain ingredients are crucial to survival of both plants and relationships. Plants need good soil, moisture, nutrients, proper light, and appropriate temperatures to live and thrive. The following items help relationships start, grow and flourish. Keeping these in mind when organizing events will contribute to the start and growth of relationships for your event goers.

  • Opportunities and time to interact
  • Empathy
  • Complementary personalities
  • Shared interests
  • Shared experiences
  • Shared language and jargon
  • Shared passion
  • Shared goals
  • Shared futures

I’ll get into more detail regarding those essential ingredients for a relationship in a future post.

Types Of Relationship-Building Events

Two people can interact in many settings and situations. Some situations are more likely to create a lasting or beneficial relationship than others. Below are a few settings with high potential for starting a long term relationship or enriching an existing one.relationship 6

  1. Meet For Coffee (or Lunch, or Happy Hour)
  2. Group Meal
  3. Monthly meetup for like-minded people
  4. Workshop
  5. Tech Cafe Learning Session
  6. Team Working Session
  7. Unconference (like BarCamp or WordCamp)
  8. Conference, Seminar, and Trade Show

There are a zillion things to say about each of the above relationship-building events. relationship 4Thousands of books have been written about this topic, and many people earn all their income from building or strengthening relationships.

Each of the eight types of events listed above for building relationships will be covered separately in posts in the upcoming weeks. Writing these posts may prompt me to think of important types of interactions focused on building relationships that I forgot to mention. If it does, I’ll revise the above list and also discuss those additional types in posts.

Start A New Relationship!

Want to start a new relationship?

If one of the following statements applies to you, please contact me (Bob Waldron) at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com — you can initiate a new relationship, and we’ll see where it goes!coffee, let's meet

  1. You’re highly interested in disruptive innovation, especially in NE Wisconsin.
  2. You’re a Baby Boomer Creative who wants in on the Gold Rush mentioned in last week’s post.
  3. You’re an events wrangler who wants to discuss topics mentioned in this blog.
  4. You’re not an events wrangler, but want to discuss topics mentioned in this blog.
  5. You want to make interesting things happen, and you think I might be able to help you do that!

We can meet for conversation and coffee or other beverage at your convenience somewhere in NE Wisconsin.

If you’re not located in NE Wisconsin, we can talk via your preferred communication medium, such as email, text, IRC, Slack, voice call, video call, or ?? If you’re located in Arcata, California, USA, I’ll meet you at Don’s, Toni’s, Los Bagels, the Beachcomber, the Seascape, or other location of your choice! And if you’re in Québec, Canada, we’ll meet at Tim Hortons!! 🙂

I look forward to talking with you, finding out how I can help you, and discussing why and how we might consider working together Making Something People Want.


July 09, 2016: News & Views Roundup For Events Wranglers

Below is this week’s curated smattering of recent events wrangling news and views. My goal is to have this Saturday’s items inform you or inspire you. Maybe you’ll even do something a little different for your next event because of what you read here! For complete details on any of these goodies, click the headline link and read the juicy cyber-details at the source.

10 Types Of Attendees To Fear and Lovelove fear

Attendees are the heart of every event. Here are the 10 most common types of attendees we all know… and love.

Attendees are important. Our guests should be on our minds during the whole event planning process. Every decision we make should be well thought out in terms of our participants. We strive to delight and exceed expectations in every way possible and without attendees we would be out of a job! Often by the time the event day arrives, our attendees can feel like family. And like every family, they include a mix of different characters and behaviors. Here are some of the most common characters to be found at every event.

The Hyperactive One…The Casual One…The Wannabe…The Indifferent One…The Demanding One…The Friendly One…The Veteran…The Pressured One…The Curious One…The Famous One…”

I figured today’s News & Views should start out with something (mostly) light-hearted. Even if you just read the excerpt above and don’t go read the whole article, I’ll bet you smiled when you read the descriptions of the 10 types of attendees. Or rolled your eyes. And you may have even thought of a couple more typical attendee stereotypes you fear or love.

7 Live Streaming Mistakes to Avoid

livestreamingWhen it comes to live streaming conferences and events, it pays to think through potential tech problems and plan promotional activity well in advance. Sarah Platt, MD of Kinura has worked in the video streaming business since 2000, and has these 7 tips to offer as a starting point for your pre-event checklist….The good news is mistakes can be avoided with a bit of forward thinking. Hopefully the points below will be useful…

  1. Not checking connectivity is like not checking your water, oil and tyres before a long journey. If you haven’t got the basics, nothing else will function. When scoping venues ask what connection is available beyond delegate Wi-Fi.
    1. Can a line be dedicated to streaming? How fast is it? How reliable is it?
    2. Can we come and test it in advance of the webcast?…
  2. Rubbish audio will spoil even the highest quality video or webinar. Make sure your sound tech’s understand that the event is going out online and not just in the room.
    1. Soundcheck. Build this into your event plans, and soundcheck with stand-ins before guests arrive.
    2. Agree the method of communication between the video team and the sound tech so levels can be tweaked during the event if necessary…”

This article has seven tips. If all you took away from reading this was that you closely followed the author’s advice on Connectivity and Audio, then you benefited greatly from her writing the article. When the event starts, it’s too late to frantically try to correct problems related to video streaming capabilities of the venue or provider’s system. And missing or poor quality audio will ensure that most of the streaming audience will stop watching.

Co-creation and Collaboration: Tricks and Tools for Event Planners

Are you an expert in what your attendees want in terms of content? How do you know what you have programmed is going to be a hit with them? These are crucial questions when creating your event concept and the content programme for an event. You need to get to a point where the content and programme are what attendees want, not what you think is best for them….

The collaborative approach to co-creation results in unique perspectives on your event. It is made up of the opinions of the stakeholders that you would like to involve in co-creating an event. Six Steps To Co-Creation:

Initiate…Inspire Participation…Idea Collection…Crowd Sourced Idea Assessment…Select The Best Ideas…Create The Content…”

collaborative development of eventsAs I mentioned recently in the post “The Meaning Of Life Comes From How We Interact With Each Other,” I believe that collaborative development of events has tremendous potential. As various forms of electronic communication and collaboration improve, people interested in events will be able to work together to create events which are enjoyable and generate lasting value. It’s early days for this type of event planning, but when you have the chance, work to include collaborative development in your event.

12 ways technology is going to transform B2B events

telepresenceSpeaking at the ILEA Accelerate 2016 Conference on Friday (13 May), Brian Ludwig, senior VP at Cvent, shared 12 ways the company predicts technology will change the face of B2B events. “People are impatient, particularly when it comes to consuming technology,” explained Brian Ludwig, senior vice president, Cvent. “There is a lot of cool tech in events already, but the pace of new innovations is really exciting.”

Smart airports…Driverless cars…Geo-fencing…Event registration…Notifications…Navigation assistance…Augmented reality…Wireless charging…Remote presence…Content & Engagement…User-generated videos…On-demand keynote speeches…”

The three types of eventech in this article I find most intriguing or potentially useful are:

  • Notifications — Anything that makes it easier to connect with people and build or strengthen relationships at the event seems like a winner to me!
  • Augmented reality — I’m a fan of augmented reality. Early uses of it will be interesting and clunky, but five years from now, AR may be an amazing component of most large events.
  • Remote presence — Like the AR, early experiments with remote presence are awkward and full of shortcomings. But I’m convinced the potential value of telepresence is so enormous that technologists, investors and entrepreneurs will keep fiddling with it until everyone uses it and takes it for granted. Like Google Maps and Wikipedia.

Splendid “Spreads Softness” With New Campaign

spread softness puppies

Softness Personified

Upscale fashion brand Splendid…launched a campaign in New York City to raise awareness of its soft t-shirts and other apparel while spreading a little kindness, too. Called Spread Softness, the effort seeks to create an emotional connection with consumers via guerrilla marketing tactics that encourage people to be kind to one another. The campaign will run through the end of the year and includes in-store events and social media amplification on its website, Instagram and YouTube.

“So many people say things like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is the first shirt I wore on my honeymoon,’ and talk about things they were doing in our clothes. I just kept thinking, this is more than just clothing, it’s about these emotions, these moments and these memories they are creating in them…”

This last item is only tangentially related to events wrangling. The reason I included it in today’s News & Views is because it puts a spotlight on the role of emotions in today’s events and in the branding of events. Regardless of what type of event you’re putting on, think about what emotions the attendees will be experiencing, and how you can influence the event experience so their emotions will be good ones. Smiles, good memories, new relationships, feeling confident about doing their jobs better than they could before your event. These are all good results!


Developing Event Participant Plan

Proper Planning and Preparation…

[There are many versions of the 6 or 7 Ps, but the US Marine Corps and British Army start their versions as shown above. That’s good enough for me!]7 Ps

Because I’m an engineer and because I want to get the most out of every event (whether I’m the events wrangler or a participant), I always develop an event participant plan.

This plan is especially important for event goers, but it’s also something events wranglers should think about. Walking a mile in the participant’s shoes enables the wrangler to provide helpful pre-event information and prep activities for the participants, helps structure the event and the venue so it will be participant-friendly, and assists in avoiding gotchas and other preventable annoyances.

keep calm and hack everythingI’m going to an infosec, cybersecurity, or just plain “security” meetup next week. The meeting is the 902_sec meeting organized on It’s on July 13, 2016, at The Bar Holmgren Way, 2001 Holmgren Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The listed start time is 5:30 PM, but the meetup organizer said people will continue to arrive after 5:30 because of their work or home schedules. So it’s fine if you show up whenever you’re able to get there.

Here’s the (quite long) event participation plan for 920_sec. This one is tailored to meetups, but the same general format can be applied to conferences, unconferences, and other types of events. In a future post, I’ll present and discuss a checklist intended to better cover the needs of a conference or unconference.

Event Participant Plan (Meetups)

  1. smartphone checklistCreate a relevant profile, or update profile if you already have one.
  2. Invite others to the event. Let people know you’re going to it.
  3. Find out beforehand who is going, try to learn a little about them, including checking out photos of them.
  4. Make a list of any registered people you particularly want to connect with at the event.
  5. Have a goal of learning something new at the meeting; come up with a written objective if you have enough information about the meeting topic or purpose.
  6. Write down a couple questions for the speaker or topic leader. Also think of a couple questions related to the meeting topic to ask that other participants might answer.
    1. While preparing for meeting, also look forward to the ad hoc, “don’t know what will happen,” aspect of the event. Unexpected can be good. Serendipitous can be fantastic!
  7. Before the day of the event, review why you’re attending. Fix it firmly in your mind that you’re going to enjoy the meetup, and that you’ll be someone awesome to meet. (Make sure you actually figure out specific reasons you’ll be awesome to meet…)cybersecurity new north map
  8. Turn your smartphone off before leaving for the meetup, and don’t check it during the event. (Unless you’re on call or there’s some high-priority reason you need to be reachable.)
  9. Get to the venue early. Use that time to get to know others who came early, or ask the meetup organizer if they’d like you to greet people as they arrive.
  10. Focus on others at the meetup. Ask questions, listen more than you talk.
  11. Get the names of everyone at meetup, and contact info if possible.
  12. Find out specific goals of the meetup organizer if it’s the inaugural meeting.
  13. Take pictures and video; ask organizer afterwards if they want copies.
  14. Ask main organizer if they’ll do an Events Wrangling blog interview.
  15. Thank organizers for arranging the event.
  16. Contribute to post-meetup comments, documentation, and publicity.
  17. Follow up after the event by sending people promised links or other agreed-to items, by scheduling or requesting a post-event meetups, and by letting them know you enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Assuming you did.
  18. Contact the meetup organizer and offer to help in any way possible for the next meetup.

wisconsin and UP with starI’ve already done some of the stuff shown above. If possible, I’ll do every items on the list.

If you’re in the Green Bay area or the Appleton / Fox Cities region and are interested in security, consider coming to the 920_sec event on July 13. If you’re in the Fox Cities and want to ride up to Green Bay together, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, and we can figure out if schedules allow us to roadtrip together.

I’ll let you know how the event goes.


Additional online resources to help prepare for and get the most value from events:

Meetup Participation

5 Steps to Get the Most Out of
Getting the Most Out of the Technology Meetup Community
How To Get the Most from Attending a Meetup
The Brutally Honest Tale of My First Web Design Meetup

Conference Participation

How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
10 Insider Tips for Attending Tech Conferences
27 Things To Do Before a Conference
10 Things to Prepare Before Attending a Conference 
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Preparing for Conferences
Before You Fly Off to That Conference Have You Thought of Everything? 
10 Things to Do Before Attending a Conference
14 Helpful Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Conference

Meetup Plan From Host’s Perspective

Guide to a Successful Meetup Group & Meetup Events 
25 Best Practices for Meetup Organizers
8 Secrets to Hosting a Successful Tech Meetup
HOW TO: Organize A Successful Meetup


Personal Digital Home Background Research

D-Web Movement: Widespread, But Below Tipping Point

So I was going to write a post today about the WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH). To help me write the post, I first did a little reading about the Decentralized Web (D-Web) movement for which Brewster Kahle and Tim Berners-Lee are two of the leading proponents.

SisyphusArgh… I ended up spending a couple hours reading about projects related to the D-Web and thinking about how they relate to the PDH. And that couple hours of reading is just barely scratching the surface. It feels like I’m just beginning to get a picture of how many technologies and people are involved in the D-Web effort. Sort of makes the PDH project feel overwhelming, or Sisyphean…

But I’m still going ahead with the PDH project!

It’s something I want and need. And if PDH is designed and built well, it will be something other people want and use daily.

But the rest of today’s post will just be a reading list for people new to the D-Web movement and the projects and technologies involved with it. If this topic seems important to you, take the time to go to the source items and read them in their entirety.

Locking The Web Open

The first item to read is “Locking the Web Open: A Call for a Distributed Web” — a clarion call from Brewster Kahle in August 2015, urging people to come together to build a clarion callDistributed Web (that name changed over the next few months to the Decentralized Web).

Over the last 25 years, millions of people have poured creativity and knowledge into the World Wide Web…

It turns out that the World Wide Web is quite fragile…We now know that Web pages only last about 100 days on average before they change or disappear. They blink on and off in their servers…And the Web is massively accessible– unless you live in China…And other countries block their citizens’ access as well every once in a while. So the Web is not reliably accessible.

And the Web isn’t private. People, corporations, countries can spy on what you are reading. And they do…So we need a Web that is better than it is now in order to protect reader privacy.

But the Web is fun. The Web is so easy to use and inviting that millions of people are putting interesting things online; in many ways pouring a digital representation of their lives into the Web…

We got one of the three things right. But we need a Web that is reliable, a Web that is private, while keeping the Web fun. I believe it is time to take that next step: I believe we can now build a Web reliable, private and fun all at the same time…

What we need to do now is bring together technologists, visionaries, and philanthropists to build such a system that has no central points of control. Building this as a truly open project could in itself be done in a distributed way, allowing many people and many projects to participate toward a shared goal of a Distributed Web….”

Decentralized Web Summit

decentralized webJoin us for the first Decentralized Web Summit — June 8-9, in SF” by Brewster Kahle in May 2016.

The first Decentralized Web Summit is a call for dreamers and builders who believe we can lock the Web open for good. This goal of the Summit (June 8) and Meetup featuring lightning talks and workshops (June 9) is to spark collaboration and take concrete steps to create a better Web.

Together we can build a more reliable, more dynamic, and more private Web on top of the existing web infrastructure…”

Break Open The Web

How To Break Open The Web” by Dan Gillmor and Kevin Marks in June 2016.

break open the web

Break open the web…

One of us is writing this piece from an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean. The other is working from his home in California. Not long ago this would have sounded like science fiction. Today it’s becoming routine in a world where we do more and more with amazing digital tools on far-flung networks.

But there’s a catch. We’re doing this on an Internet that is breaking its original promise.

…this government-created, radically decentralized network of networks, which has spawned so much innovation at the edges, is rapidly being re-centralized. Control is being captured by governments and corporations and taken away from—or being ceded by—the rest of us.

…What’s at stake here? In a word, permission. People should not need permission to speak, to assemble, to innovate, to be private, and more. But when governments and corporations control choke points, they also control whether average people can participate fully in society, politics, commerce, and more.

That’s why we spent three days earlier this month in San Francisco with technologists and activists who are determined to re-decentralize or redistribute the web (and by extension, the broader Internet), by returning control and permission to the edges…the Decentralized Web Summit brought together some of the graybeards who invented it all with millennials who see beyond the boundaries of Facebook. (You can watch the talks and discussions on the Internet Archive’s video player.)…”

Bringing Back The Blog

Bringing Back The Blog” by Tantek Çelik in August 2010 (early days of IndieWeb).bringing back the blog

8 years ago this month I started blogging my thoughts on That lasted just 6 years; there was no seventh year of blogging.

I continued publicly posting to Twitter, Pownce (moment of silence), Flickr (currently 7 months behind), my PBWiki, and comments on others’ blogs. But it wasn’t the same. I had gone from owning (most of) my content, to digital sharecropping…

Last year I told myself this year would be different. Among personal struggles perhaps I’ll recount someday, I thought about how should personal publishing work? How did I want it to work?…

Encouraged by the energy, enthusiasm, and optimism of the implementers at the Federated Social Web Summit (presentation) a month ago, I decided little text notes were not enough, it was time to rebuild my blog…”

IndieWeb Movement Importance

Why the Indie Web movement is so important” by Dan Gillmor in April 2014.IndieWebCamp

Suppose you could write in your personal blog and have a summary of your post show up on popular social-media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook – and then have responses on those sites show up as comments in your blog? You can, and if some talented programmers have their way you’ll soon be able to do so easily…

Why would you or I want to do this? Simple: We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate.

…when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work, material that exists on their sites only as long as they allow…”

It looks like I’ll be doing a bunch more reading, absorbing, and figuring out how the myriad of D-Web efforts relate to PDH and might influence v.0.1 of the product. I’ll get back to you with more on PDH in a week or two…


Baby Boomer Creatives: America’s Next Gold Rush

Klondike ==> 49ers ==> Senior Creatives

gold rushAmerica has another Gold Rush just waiting to happen!

It’s a gold rush that will be uncovering, connecting and investing the untapped time, talent, energy, and resources of older American creatives who want to be a vital part of an economic and innovation resurgence in the USA.

Vast numbers of older Americans are creatives, also called doers. They’re people who want to learn, make things, build stuff, or start businesses. They don’t want to spend their days just playing golf or sitting at home watching TV. These individuals are bundles of restless energy who have an itch they can’t scratch — they want to be more productive but don’t where to rush 2

Maybe they’re not given the opportunity to be creative at work, or they don’t feel they’re working on stuff that matters. If retired, they may feel like there’s a lot more they want to do with their life. They might be an entrepreneurial person who grew up in a time when most people planned to work in one profession or job for all their life, so they didn’t even consider creating a new company. Or maybe they are someone who enjoys new technologies, like 3D printing, robotics, virtual reality, or microelectronics, and they’d like to be involved with that technology in a startup venture or innovation project.

These gray-hair creatives fit into one of three categories.

  1. Baby Boomers who have retired.
  2. Baby Boomers who have not yet retired.
  3. Older members of the post-Boomer generation who have retired or are thinking about it.

Retiring Retirement

The recent article “Retiring Retirement” talks about the growing ranks of healthy people who’ve passed the 65 year mark without even noticing it. Many in this group are still going strong and look forward to ten or twenty more productive years.healthy seniors

“…The percentage of citizens age 65 and older is expanding…from less than 10 percent in 1950 in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan to a respective 20, 30, and 40 percent by 2050…“We’re going to see something we’ve never seen before—people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who want to continue working and remain connected.”…Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, and every day, more and more of them are just as fit as me. Society may still view able, competent, sound-of-mind seniors as happy curiosities. But the fact is we are quickly becoming a sizeable demographic…“Today’s seniors are healthier, better educated, and more productive than ever,” Johnson says. “The challenge we face is finding ways to harness their talents…”

From my point of view, the challenge is not so much “finding ways to harness their talent” as it is CONNECTING.

  • Connecting with the sound-of-mind senior creatives.
  • Connecting senior creatives with each other and with younger people.
  • Connecting senior creatives with projects, ventures and adventures.

Senior Creatives & NE Wisconsin Disruptive Innovatorsdisruptive innovator

In yesterday’s post on this blog I talked about the initiative I’m launching to connect disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin. Closely related to that initiative is the issue described in today’s post — connecting sound-of-mind senior creatives.

A few of the senior creatives are disruptive innovators who want to be on the bleeding edge, love to work with emerging technologies, and shoot for 10X world-changers rather than 10% incremental improvements. But the majority of senior creatives are more interested in working on useful creative projects, products or ventures which are less risky and less likely to fail.

disruptive innovator 2Both personalities are needed; neither one is better, and neither is good or bad. Success comes about when the risk-takers and the risk-averse work in the same direction, sometimes together and sometimes separately.

We’re focusing primarily on NE Wisconsin for the project to connect disruptive innovators. I’m sure the network we build will include disruptives from outside this region, but most of the effort will be local.

However, it feels like there are nationwide possibilities for an initiative to catalyze this new American gold rush. Before deciding how to approach this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’m going to talk with smart people and bounce a few ideas around. Then we’ll develop a laser-focus plan for connecting senior creatives in the upcoming 21st century gold rush.

If interested, join me for exciting times ahead!

[As always, if you want to discuss topics covered in this post, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.]


For those Baby Boomer Creatives who aren’t sure if now is the right time to get involved in fun, interesting, exciting, or innovative ventures and projects, listen to “Wasted On The Way” by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did
And there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way


The Meaning Of Life Comes From How We Interact With Each Other

Connecting And Interacting With Each Other

A post I read today quoted Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and one of the PayPal Mafia, as saying:Reid Hoffman

What is a meaningful life, and what kinds of social systems enable it?

Broadly, the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other. The internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher, so what did that mean? What kinds of information would people want to publish about themselves? Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics. But that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…

The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

When he said “how we interact with each other” and “the internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher,” Reid was talking about internet-enabled social connections, but his comments are highly relevant to organized events and to a couple other topics I’ve discussed on this blog.

From my point of view, interacting with each other is a tremendously important facet of events. Events wranglers should facilitate participant interactions and optimize the value of those interactions.decentralized web

With regards to publishing, WordPress, the Decentralized Web, IndieWeb and the Personal Digital Home (PDH) are all about democratizing publishing and giving people control of their online presence and content.

Reid’s words and ideas got me thinking about three different areas related to interactions, events, and internet publishing.

  1. Collaborative development of events.
  2. Democratizing publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH.
  3. Connecting a community of disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin.

In today’s post, I’ll just mention a couple points about each of the above three items. They’ll be addressed in more detail in the future as I have the opportunity, especially if I connect with others who are interested in those topics.

Collaborative Development Of Events

What I’m thinking about with this first item is taking participant-driven events (like unconferences) to the next level. There’s no need to organize large events that almost no one wants to participate in. And there’s no good reason not to have an event which many people are interested in and would go to. Taking the quote above from Reid, you can combine a couple of his ideas in a way that points to internet-enabled collaborative development of events.

“…publishers…often built communities of interest around specific topics…The web was a place where…people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

collaborative development of eventsSo a web service could be created for automated and collaborative development of events — let’s call it Anyone who wants to go to an event centered around a topic they’re passionate about could go to and find out what events are coming up. If they’re interested in electric aircraft and want to participate in an electric aircraft one-day event in the Midwest USA within the next eight months, they can see if something like that is scheduled.

If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they can be an event founder by filling out a form listing the details of the type of event they’d love to be part of. Or they can find an event that’s close to what they’re looking for, and they can propose changes or maybe indicate alternate event design factors that would make the event one they would participate in. They could select drop-down criteria to say that they would go if the event was a one-day electric aircraft event that has a registration fee of <$50 and is being held in the next eight months within 800 miles of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, rather than being a two-day event with a $495 registration fee being held in California ten months from now.

[Speaking of electric aircraft, here’s an article about a new electric aircraft motor — “…One of the main implications of this work…is that hybrid-electric aircraft possessing 4 or more seats will now be a possibility within the near future…Siemens and Airbus will reportedly be using the motor for the development of regional aircraft…”]

electric aircraft

People who wanted to go to an event can promote the one they suggested or one that’s close to what they want. Algorithms, bots, or some level of artificial intelligence could be built in to suggest changes that would be acceptable to a minimum number of participants. Conversations and communities could be built around upcoming events. There is much more that would go into the design of, but the idea is that people will be able to co-create the types of events they truly want and will benefit from. No need to have events that people don’t really care about.

Here are some of the issues and criteria needed for collaborative development of events.

  • Overall theme.
  • Three to five sub-themes.
  • Length, date, time, location.
  • Min and max participants.
  • Total event cost per participant.
  • Partners and sponsors.
  • 1/9/90 rule.

Democratizing Publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH

IndieWebCampThe second item, democratizing publishing, is a topic being approached from many angles and worked on by many people. WordPress has had a mission of democratizing publishing for over ten years. IndieWeb was launched in 2010, Brewster Kahle organized the Decentralized Web Summit in 2016 (although people have been working on aspects of the D-Web for years), and I launched the PDH in June 2016. Each of these approaches to democratizing publishing, and many more that aren’t listed, feel that, at a time when internet companies are doing their best to isolate you in their silo, these words of Reid’s ring a bit hollow:

“…The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

If you feel the web has become too centralized, that there are too many silos or walled gardens, or that you don’t really have control over the content you put on the web, consider getting involved in one of the initiatives or projects related to the Decentralized Web.

Connecting A Community Of Disruptive Innovators In NE Wisconsin

The third item, connecting a region’s disruptive innovators, is of very high interest to me. Reid’s comments speak directly to this issue.

“…the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other…Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics…that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…millions and millions of people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

Here are a couple points about NE Wisconsin to consider:wisconsin red NE

  • Conservative Midwest culture.
  • Major business sectors include agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and finance.
  • Relatively small technology sector, with the focus on IT — not CS, emerging technologies, or disruptive innovation.
  • No major research university.
  • Long cold winters; major geographical attraction is Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • 1.2 million residents.

I’m convinced that a small but significant number of those 1.2 million residents are disruptive innovators who would be highly interested in “opportunities to connect with” other disruptive innovators “in ways that could truly enhance their lives.” The number of disruptive innovators is probably between 5 and 500. Maybe there are as many as a couple thousand. Can you imagine what would happen in NE Wisconsin if 500 disruptive innovators were connected and interacting on a regular basis with even just a few like-minded people!

Our challenge is to use the internet to “reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other.” Once we’ve done that and built a community of disruptive innovators, the next step will be to facilitate events and other interactions to connect them with each other in ways that will truly enhance their lives.

It just so happens that I discussed this very topic with a disrupter last Saturday at Starbucks on Northland Avenue in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. We’re working on Next Steps…

If you’re interested in discussing disruptive and destructive innovation in NE Wisconsin, or if you want to help make that kind of thing happen in our region, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.


4th of July & Events Wranglers

For USA citizens, the 4th of July is a widely celebrated holiday, commemorating ratification of the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. For today’s post, it seemed appropriate to take a look at the intersection of July Fourth and events wrangling.

4th of julyWhile very few Americans will be thinking about events wrangling today, it’s worthwhile to take a brief look at five possible patriotic scenarios that could be on events wranglers’ minds on the 4th.

  1. Relax, enjoy, and celebrate.
  2. Events wrangling for celebration with family or friends.
  3. Events wrangling for a local civic or organizational celebration.
  4. Events wrangling for a major regional or national celebration.
  5. Future Fourth ideas.

Relax, Enjoy, Celebrate

american flagOn July 4, 2016, most events wranglers in the good old US of A are likely just enjoying a low-key celebration with family or friends. Making memories. Recalling past Fourths. Looking forward to the fireworks. Wearing, eating, drinking, or just looking at red, white and blue things. Maybe you’re at a BBQ or participating in a potluck.

However…because your job is not a 9-to-5 M-F occupation, I know a few of you are on your smartphones, texting, emailing, and doing other electronic activities related to a future or past event. Getting information, responding to requests for help, promoting your events on social media, and working on a myriad of other job-related issues (for which you are, naturally, not really getting paid…). STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! Turn it off. Unplug. Live in the moment.

That’s all that really needs to be said about the relax-enjoy-celebrate scenario. Experience today as a restful and re-creational holiday! 🙂

Wrangling Celebration With Family Or Friends

Others of you may be at a gathering of extended family or a large group of friends in events wrangler mode because you volunteered or were recruited to lend your particular skills to the informal celebration.

hydra multi head monsterA small percentage of you are regretting getting involved in today’s festivities because the usual stressful aspects of your day-job are rearing their ugly heads… Unrealistic expectations for a limited budget, last minute changes, uncontrollable factors like weather, bugs, personal issues, emotional conflicts, etc.

But most of you wrangling your low-key event with people you like or love are probably enjoying the day just as much as if you weren’t at least partly responsible for how the day turns out. Your July 4th celebration is such a breeze compared to most events that it makes you start remembering all the reasons you love being an events wrangler!

Wrangling Local Civic Or Organizational Celebration

Being a chief wrangler or handling high-visibility aspects of a local civic or organizational July 4th event can be a big boost for your reputation or your local business. If it’s the first time you’ve done something like this, good luck! Spend the rest of the day working hard to ensure your event goes as well as possible. (You can sleep in and recuperate tomorrow. Maybe…)

Waldron 25th and 50th July 4th

Waldron 4th of July Gold/Silver Wedding Anniversary

As I’ve stressed in some of my other Events Wrangling posts, remember to have part of your focus on storytelling and video. Capture as many of the day’s memories as possible in words, in audio and video, in photographs, and on social media. Today’s moments only happen once a year — and some of them may be once in a lifetime. Like the huge family gathering many years ago on the 4th of July when my Mom and Dad celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on the same day as my Dad’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!

Wrangling Major Regional Or National Celebration

uncle sam hat tipColor me red, white and blue-impressed if you’re events wrangling on a major regional or national July Fourth celebration. I tip my Uncle Sam hat to you! You’ll be making the day special for hundreds or thousands of people!

If it’s your first major Fourth, I hope you have several people assigned to documenting the day. Because it will probably all be a blur to you. You’ll be hurrying to and fro, making sure This is taken care of, checking on whether That is all set to start on time, wondering What will go wrong next… It will be important for you to have those pictures, videos, and news accounts of the event so you can see, through others’ eyes, what happened. And tomorrow morning you should make a list of what you remember as the highlights of your day. A year or two from now, you’ll have a blast looking back at what your vision of today was versus what was seen, experienced and captured by others!

Future Fourth Ideas

If you’re not doing much of anything special today and feeling restless or professionally unfulfilled because of that, here are a couple of ideas to consider for next year’s July 4th holiday.

  • photo walkPhoto Walk. — Organize a photo walk for a group of family members, friends, or photographers. Take pictures of people enjoying the Fourth, capture unique decorations or unusual red, white and blue items. Create an online album. Build a pop-up July 4th website. Flood an Instagram account with scenes you see as you walk around. You can make it low key, you can have an informal competition, you can design a structured challenge, or you can create the inaugural instance of a long running tradition. Here are a few tips for your photo walk, and you can find many more resources online to help with your event.
  • Local Multi-site Celebration. — To raise the bar for your event, find out what other July 4th activities are planned in your area. Those could be family festivities, neighborhood happenings, civic celebrations, and whatever other types of July 4th fun you can discover. Contact the organizers of those events and see if a few of them want to coordinate events. I don’t have anything specific in mind here. Just an opportunity to try something new. Something enabled by the internet. An experimental event that might be really cool or an experience you don’t want to repeat. For both this local multi-site celebration and for the next item, a multi-city celebration, I’m thinking one aspect of it would be dreaming up ways to do hybrid events.
  • National Multi-city Celebration. — This is essentially the same concept as the previous multi-site local celebration except that it’s more ambitious, with greater possibility and increased risk. Not to mention a bigger budget. Figure out a good reason for July 4th celebrations in different cities to work together on their holiday activities. An easy starting point would be for two sister cities to do a joint civic celebration. Another straightforward multi-city idea is for an organization with operations in several cities to coordinate organizational Fourth festivities. One example of that would be for the Knight Foundation to have some type of July 4th collaborative journalism event in the 26 communities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. Since they do lots of grants, possibly they could do one for a collaborative Fourth. Maybe Google or another tech / internet company could do a patriotic online extravaganza that connects their various offices or communities around the country.
  • red white blue food4th of July Patriotic Creativity Challenge. — This one’s my favorite Future Fourth idea, I think. Create a new tradition, or at least organize something that could become a tradition. Dream up a creativity challenge for a July 4th gathering, sort of like a chili cook-off or a hackathon competition. Identify categories for the challenge, including food, drinks, decorations, entertainment/games, photos, essays, short stories, artwork, etc. You could do the informal Friends & Family route, or you could go all professional and over-the-top and get sponsors, cash prizes, and media coverage. I’m not aware of anything like this, so either past similar events have been low key and not highlighted by mainstream media, or I just don’t remember hearing about them. If you figure out a unique twist or hook, you could develop this into something you’ll want to do more than once…

Ooops…I just realized I overlooked the opportunity to talk about or include pictures of Wrangler red, white, and blue jeans, RWB Jeep Wranglers, and 4th of July rodeo wranglers. Next year’s post, maybe.

Well, that’s more than enough rambling about today. Enjoy the rest of your day and have a fun Fourth! 🙂

flag and fireworks


Hybrid Event Participation: In-Person And Online

Attendee Of The Future or Hybrid Events?

Today’s post was supposed to be about “The Attendee of the Future,” an insightful events wrangling post I read yesterday.

That post starts out with a timely question that is worth thoughtful consideration.

“The needs of your event attendees have changed. Are you keeping up with their demands?”welcome to the future

I suspect many events wranglers struggle with meeting the widely varying needs and demands of today’s attendees. In a world of partial continuous attention, blurred lines between work and personal time, and an increasingly connected society with smartphones and tablets, it’s almost impossible to know what the needs of the attendees are and even more difficult to keep up with their (apparent) demands.

So I was going to highlight a few particularly poignant points in that blog post. But then I got thinking about the excerpt below from the post:

hybrid events“…Consider meeting different learning styles of your digitally enabled participants. This may include…an active hybrid event, with facilitators who encourage conversation within your live audience, answer questions and invite comments from your your virtual audience, plus a moderator who facilitates discussion in a virtual chat room and where these two hosts can work to bring the viewpoints of both audiences together…”

Hybrid Events

[Wikipedia defines a hybrid event as onethat combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.”]

hybrid events 2

Hybrid events are a topic that hits four hot buttons for me.

  • Events wrangling.
  • Community building.
  • Relationship building.
  • Emerging technologies.

After I read the “hybrid events” post linked in the excerpt above and started thinking about all the opportunities and challenges that hybrid events offer, I decided today’s post on Events Wrangling just had to be about hybrid events.

My goals for today’s post are:

  1. Highlight the concept of hybrid events, encouraging you to make your events hybrid ones when possible.
  2. Discuss six issues related to hybrid events.
  3. Invite anyone highly interested in discussing hybrid events to contact me.

Goal 1: Highlight Hybrid Events

I’ve been working to incorporate virtual, or remote, participation in my events for over ten years. In the early days it was IRC (internet relay chat) or other chat tools. At our weekly tech meetups, we would also regularly test new video and audio tools as they were released. When tech enthusiasts in our region couldn’t attend the weekly meeting in-person due to weather or personal obligations, we’d experiment with different ways to make remote participants a valuable part of the meetup.

If you don’t already make your events hybrid in some way, consider deciding right now to figure out at least one way to make your next event a hybrid one. If you already have ways for remote participants to benefit from and contribute to your events, look for how you can take those hybrid components to the next level. Come up with a way to make the hybrid benefits of your event a competitive differentiator. Remote participants can’t experience everything that in-person participants can, but there may be hundreds or thousands of people who want to be involved with your event because of the value you provide to remote participants.

Goal 2: Discuss Six Issues For Hybrid Events

Issue 1, Building A Community — In “10 Things I Would Change About The Event Industry,” Kevin Jackson says:

“…I think we create experiences…the difference between an event and an experience for me is an event is a one-off moment in time and an experience is a whole campaign that really builds a community of interest around the subject or topic we’re promoting…

‘People’ don’t love events. They don’t sit at home and think ‘gosh I really want to go to an event tonight’ like you would the movie theatre or restaurant. People want to go and attend the event for the content…And we have to get more serious around developing great stories and great content that brings people into our events…

We have to try and encourage a community to [grow] up around our events. building communityBecause that’s really what we’re doing, growing communities of interest…”

Although not every event has enough value, scope, or impact to support an ongoing community, some of them do. When there is sufficient reason for an event, or series of events, to support or coalesce a community, there’s no need to limit that community to people who are able to physically be at the event. Your community can be much larger if it’s open and welcoming to remote participants. Facilitating the hybrid component may also result in new community members who couldn’t participate in person because of schedule conflicts, cost, mobility issues, or other reasons. Some of your remote participants may turn out to be key members of the community that gets built around a series of events.

storytellerIssue 2, Storytelling and Video — I’m convinced we don’t put enough emphasis on storytelling and video for events. These two event components can be impact multipliers which lead to higher visibility for events, more post-event collaborations and interactions, and more participants for future events. Storytelling and audio/video components of hybrid events will be critical items to make the event worthwhile and engaging for remote participants. So deciding to deliver a high quality hybrid event means focusing on storytelling and providing good video capture and (eventually) editing. Taking storytelling and video to the next level will provide amazing benefits to both remote and in-person participants.

The next two issues are discussed by Communiqué Conferencing in “What is a Hybrid Event?

Issue 3, Content and Format — Concise, compelling and engaging material that tells a relevant story via remote technology is crucial for keeping the interest of virtual event goers. Shorter sessions are generally necessary because the virtual participant isn’t a captive audience and because it’s harder for them to feel like an active participant in the event. Here’s how Communiqué addresses that:

“…Not all the content presented at a live event is suitable for remote audience. Meeting professionals with experience creating hybrid events say that they are adapting the content of their face-to-face events to the needs of the remote audience by, for example, offering shorter sessions. Hybrid event organizers often seek to reduce production costs by live-streaming only the most popular sessions. Others seek to limit what is offered to a remote audience as a way of encouraging more people to attend the face-to-face event. Anecdotal data from survey responses and e-learning experts suggest that broadcast sessions shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes…”

Issue 4, Speakers or Session Leaders — It’s challenging to have every session leader or speaker be a charismatic and polished presenter for an in-person audience. Bringing in the online audience just makes it that much harder for a speaker to do everything right. As Communiqué says in their blog post:

“…It’s even more important to train speakers for hybrid events than for face-to-face because the attention span of remote attendees is shorter, speakers must be more engaging. They must acknowledge remote attendees and look at the camera. The loss of physical connection requires speakers to develop new skills to engage. The camera is your friend. So, you’ve got to attend to that camera, and remember there are people with interest in your event on the other side of it…”

Issue 5, Facilitating Post-Event Interaction — In my mind, part of the job of an events wrangler is to facilitate post-event interaction. I feel that the biggest benefits of events are connecting like-minded and complementary-minded people, building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. The value of an event can be multiplied many times over if those relationships continue to grow and lead to collaboration on work or personal projects and ventures.

Building hybrid components into your event can facilitate post-event interaction in many ways. People participating remotely can connect with in-person participants, whereas those connections would previously only been possible between in-person participants. In-person participants who get excited about a session topic at the event can later review videos of the session and be motivated to reconnect with others who were likewise passionate about that topic.

VRIssue 6, Overhyped-But-It’s-Coming VR — I’m not going to discuss specific details of how VR / AR / MR and the tangentially-related holographic technologies will impact hybrid events. If you’re a fan of VR, you can easily imagine ten or fifteen cool or interesting ways you’d want to remotely participate in hybrid events. Ten or twenty years from now, VR is likely to play a huge role in most events, both real-time and post-event. For events held this year and next, think about connecting with VR tech partners. Research companies developing VR software and hardware, as well as a variety of marketing, video, storytelling, and promotional companies, may be willing to collaborate with you. Your events may be a perfect opportunity for them to experiment with new technology, to develop their VR skills and services, or to create marketing materials in a real-world situation.

Goal 3: Invite Discussion

From my perspective, almost all events five years from now will have a significant hybrid aspect. If you want to keep up, you’ll need to stay informed on developments in this area. If you want to keep ahead, or at least be one of the people riding the wave of emerging technologies and societal trends, you should be experimenting now with ways to make your events hybrid ones.

If you want to discuss hybrid events, ask questions, or share your ideas and experiences, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’d love to collaborate with fellow events wranglers to make events more valuable and engaging for both remote and in-person participants.


July 02, 2016: News & Views Roundup For Events Wranglers

Fresh from the cyber-press — it’s your July 2nd brief look at recent news and views in the events wrangling world. This Saturday’s news includes a variety of topics that may shock, disgust or bore you, but they might also inspire you to do something a little different for your next event. For complete details on any of these items, click the headline link and read the article in its entirety.

Lessons for #eventprofs from an improv and mindfulness workshop — Part 1

“…“there” was a wonderful five-day improv and mindfulness workshop Mindful Play, Playful Mind…at Mere Point on the beautiful Maine coast. In this two-part article I’ll share a little of my experience and takeaways, followed by their relevance to event design…The content and process of Mindful Play, improv and mindfulnessPlayful Mind was so rich that I’ll cover only a fraction of what one might learn from participating…”

I don’t know much about the relationship between improv and events (or improv and anything), but I am a firm believer in the value of mindfulness. So I was happy to find this post by Adrian Segar, because I’m interested in learning more about connecting improv and events, and because I wanted to hear his take on mindfulness. This post is worth your time to read it, and I’m looking forward to Part 2.

7 of Today’s Hottest Meeting AV and Production Trends

I participated in my first Blab—kind of like a Periscope-type video chat for groups—and got a heaping pile of great thoughts about AV and production issues…Projection mapping/video walls…Drones, but not for aerial photography…Virtual reality…Augmented reality…3-D Holographic speakers…LED wall projection…Audience participation tools…”

Strategies and considerations for low-cost live streaming

live streaming videoIt seems hard to believe that just a few short years ago the idea of having a remote, online audience for a meeting or event was bleeding-edge technology. I remember all too vividly the trials and errors of combining services such as Skype and the just released Google Hangouts, with what was, at the time, state-of-the-art live-streaming technology…These days, however, there are so many live-streaming options for your event that it’s hard to swing a microphone and not hit the latest video streaming service that’s popped up…Periscope, Blab, Hangouts Live, YouTube Live, Facebook Live…What’s been fascinating…has been…the proliferation of these free and low-cost streaming services, bringing the ability to make any meeting or event instantly accessible to attendees all over the world. While they’re not replacements for high-quality streaming services, they can be powerful tools in the event planner’s toolbox. Here are just a few uses to get your mind going…”

If you haven’t already incorporated live streaming and some of the other audio-visual tools mentioned in the two items above into your events, consider doing a trial of one or several of these at your next event. Get some experience with these tools before promoting or featuring them in your marketing, but don’t put off learning about this eventech until attendees or sponsors are asking why you don’t do live streaming, VR, projection walls or other experiential audio-visuals.

Extending the life of your conference …

defib paddlesThey take months, or even years of planning…Annual conferences are costly and hard work to plan, but the benefits of bringing together hundreds or thousands of people for two or three days is clearly worth the effort. But how do you get the most out of this yearly event so that the conference message is extended beyond the allotted two or three days?…The easiest and best way to extend the life of a conference is…recording it…make the content available online…providing on-demand content afterwards…This means that your audience is bigger and your conference reach increased…Get social and use platforms to spread the word, and encourage your attendees to fully engage with the event before it happens, during the conference and afterwards…Utilising social media will also extend the life of your conference for weeks afterwards if your attendees are fully engaged…Another way to extend the life of the event…is some well thought out giveaways for attendees…live streaming…has been proven to be very beneficial for events in many ways. Not only does it increase your conference life supportaudience…but it also extends the life of the physical event and encourages more people to attend next time…”

This item gave a few tips on ways to extend the impact of your event past the agenda’s official ending time and date. Consider how your events might leverage the four tools mentioned. But also take to heart the overall theme — that you and others put a lot of time, effort and money into an event that only lasted one day, or maybe several days. Figure out at least a couple ways to let your event live on and bring benefits to participants long after they say aloha to the venue.

The Unique, Interactive Ways Food and Tech Came Together at This Expo

food loves techAdvanced farming demos, 3-D food printing displays, “alt-protein” tasting stations, and food-focused virtual reality were just some of the interactive exhibits guests got to experience at the Food Loves Tech expo…presented by food magazine Edible Manhattan…as an outlet for food-tech companies to highlight the intersection of food and technology through a variety of large-scale exhibits, immersive installations, leadership panels, and multi-sensory dining experiences. “There’s an incredible rush of experimentation and investment in technology entering our food chain,” said Edible editor in chief Brian Halweil…a 22,000 square-foot tunnel space…was separated into four zones…that highlighted the intersection of food and technology…”

I really like the concept of highlighting the intersection of food and technology. As a standalone event, the Food Loves Tech expo sounds really cool, but I’d also like to explore ways that at least a few “Food & Tech” stations could be incorporated in other events to create a fun and unique experience for attendees.