Dennis Howlett writes a great post on Microsoft's MIX09 and his experience of the live online event.
I spotted Dennis and James Governor discussing their feedback on Twitter at the time (see below for a few soundbites) and Dennis obviously felt moved to blog about his thoughts. Interesting because both Dennis and James are tech industry analysts, as such they would usually get a pretty privileged experience and a ringside seat at most conferences they attend. So the fact they speak positively about an online experience shows how quickly virtual events are evolving.
This is something I've banged on about before discussing the various virtual events we deliver for Microsoft, the latest being the OCS 2007 launch. Dennis and James hit the nail on the head by highlighting the value of mixing different media and channels, including effectively open channels, such as Twitter, to provide a richer online experience. Organizations need to be brave and confident about their content and presentation quality, but when done well it hugely enhances the online experience. All power to Microsoft for doing this in an open forum.
As Dennis points out, integrating Twitter is technically simple enough, its just another RSS feed with a #tag search but adding it delivers a much more rounded experience, making the information exchange richer and more rewarding for the viewer. We've also built one-to-many moderation tools, so that live Q&A from large groups, which requires some management to retain a coherent discussion, can be moderated and qualified questions queued and pushed to speakers dynamically.
One point I tend to labour when explaining these opportunities is that, adding an online dimension usually strengthens the case for holding the physical event. In one example we were able to multiply the number of delegates in the physical event by a factor of times twenty, and far more over the shelf life of the recorded event. That's a powerful argument for extracting greater value from investments in holding conferences.
Update: Looks like Dennis wasn't a completely satisfied customer...