I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about the keynote as a social experience.
Soon after the keynote began, @stomer commented:
conspiracy theory about the keynote: it's a test of the power of the back channel; social experiment. #heweb09And what a social experiment it was. We were there as an audience, to participate by listening attentively to the presenter. But since the presenter failed to engage us, we turned our attention to the backchannel and began to partcipate with each other. But what we were participating in was not what the speaker was intentionally sharing.
The strange thing about that keynote was that it was the high point of the conference for everyone who experienced the backchannel. Not only that, it was a shared experience that bonded us together. I think that we all felt closer to each other by sharing that experience, by sharing our reactions with each other during the keynote, and by being able to share our thoughts and feelings with each other afterward.
It set the tone for the party that happened that night, and I know that we had a higher energy and a closer bond than we would have without that keynote. We all talked about it over and over that night, and it became a shared inside joke that anyone in the conference could refer to and that everyone would immediately understand.
The bottom line was that this was an intense shared experience that brought all of the attendees closer together, not entirely different from the way that survivors of a shared tragedy are often bonded.
Regardless of how I may feel for David Galper, I think that for the conference and for the conference attendees, this was an almost universally positive experience. Where before that keynote we were 450 mostly strangers, after it we all had something we had in common that we could connect on. I met and spoke to more new people in the day after that keynote than I had in the two days prior to it.
In the end, no one will remember my talk on redesigns three years from now, but everyone will remember the "Great Keynote Revolt of 2009". And they will remember it in a very positive way... in the way of how 450 mostly strangers came together in the backchannel to learn that they held common views and feelings and were able to share them with each other. It joined us and humanized us to each other in a way little else could have. In the end, regardless of any of the other presentations, this will probably be remembered as the best HighEdWeb conference ever.
You may be horrified that we would take that away at the cost of that poor man's ego, but I doubt many people there feel that way. If he was ridiculed, it was because he was in no way prepared to present to this audience.
The big takeaway of all of this for me is this: to make an event like this a true success, you have to find a way to bond people together in the experience of that event - to make that event a milestone in their lives. David Galper did that better than anyone I have ever met. It's only unfortunate that he did it unintentionally.