I love technology. Well in truth I love technology I can understand and use…which is quite a significant caveat. It decreases the range of technology I am exposed to or at least the range to which I am exposed.
Every so often I come across something new or different – normally something I had never even conceived of or heard of…let alone thought I needed or would be impressed by. And when this happens I become an immediate super-advocate – an excited, enthusiastic and promoting advocate. It’s quiet sad really.
Noise reducing headphones – wow. Kitchen espresso coffee machines with capsules – unbelievable. Electric toothbrushes – brilliant. And on it goes.
Last week I was on the US East Coast attending a biotechnology regional conference. This was the third such conference arranged by the Region in question and the third time I have attended. It’s a heady mix of science and networking, business and opportunity. And this year novel technology.
We were encouraged to download and use a Conference Meeting App on our smart phones. I did. And I was excited and enthusiastic. It really helped me join in and enjoy the meeting. Who knew I could be so impressed by an Application….
There were seven hundred plus attendees ranging from PhD students through to Cabinet level politicians. Everyone was listed on the App. Everyone was contactable via the App. The majority used the App (which showed how many users were registered).
And there was an activity feed – a place where attendees could post comments, observations, questions or even photos. And so I did. All of the above (apart from photos that is).
I really enjoy these sorts of events anyway. I find them engaging and thought provoking. An opportunity to think about different things and to think about things differently.
Inevitably I find myself with lots of questions and observations. I use whatever chance I can get to ask questions in the Forum – I am naturally inquisitive and standing up, introducing myself, and asking a question can be a good way of participating fully in a meeting. It also sets up follow on discussion in breaks and over lunch. People agree or disagree with my question, point of view or proposal. There is not often right or wrong – there are just opinions, experiences and ideas. The value is in the discussion.
The App then allowed me to post all my questions and suggestions rather than simply relying on getting some of the precious air time at the end of any one of the presentations or discussions.
And all sorts of people responded on the App. Some I was able to meet in person but many I didn’t. It was a virtual discussion at a real meeting. Strange but true. Unusual but excellent. Impersonal but informative. I really enjoyed myself. I learned so much and hopefully contributed something here or there.
I know I am working when I am at these meetings. I know I am representing my company at these meetings. But I also know I am a participant at the meeting. A member of the meeting community. I feel motivated – responsible even – to be active and to participate…to be present and to contribute.
We all always have multiple things going on. At work, at home, personal, organisational. It is too easy to be distracted and distant. Distracted and distant never helps anyone – least of all us, our teams, or our partners. Present and engaged. Is always the answer – the only option.
And it’s more enjoyable. More fun. Technology helps. But science and research are social activities. It is engaging to help…
…it helps to engage