Conferences: Then and Now by @JennG_

ThenNowChange—as Collinson Media’s Editor-in-Chief Christine Born blogged about recently—is inevitable. Social media, technology and smartphones have changed the way we communicate, live and work.

These technologies have created 24-hour work cycles and transformed what meetings look like. In the upcoming issue of Rejuvenate, Rich Peck wrote about the 12 United Methodist Church General Assemblies he has attended and covered as a journalist during the past 60 years (they occur every four years around the country).

To realize the way technology has affected this one meeting over the course of a half century is remarkable. From a delegate’s preparation to the amount of paper that once piled up on each attendee’s desk, there isn’t much technology hasn’t touched.

But among all of the technological changes Peck points out, some of the most notable things he remembers from conferences have nothing to do with technology. Instead, he mentions events in his personal life that kept him from serving his role at the conference, or the time a woman threatened to jump off a balcony to protest a decision the denomination was ruling on. His stories remind us that no matter how connected we make our conferences, we often can’t plan the most compelling moments.

Now, though, we can capture them. Technology means the woman standing on the balcony today, would not just be a part of Peck’s memory, but a permanent picture in the Facebook API. When an attendee unexpectedly misses a day of the conference, he now can stream it on his iPad from anywhere. It means the sound bite the speaker nails on stage forever streams on Twitter (well, maybe if Twitter expands its history).

Technology is not necessarily creating more compelling moments, but it is recording the ones that occur, often unplanned, for posterity.

What moments stand out when you look back on the history of your events?

Add A Comment