11 comments on “On What Went Wrong at the End- More Reflections from ECTC11

  1. Brandt,

    Very interesting insights. Not sure I agree with limiting the pods to a max of 4, but I understand where you are coming from on that point.

    On the bright side, no one died and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. That makes it a success!


  2. “Despite meticulous instructions, and without throwing anyone under the bus, it seemed like every time we went to a Skype machine, at least one of the three (or four) would have their audio turned up” Without throwing anyone under the bus? You just threw EVERY pod under the bus with that statement. The very idea of using group calling was a huge mistake. And THAT was never tested. The Pods were called individually for testing. Are you suggesting that each pod was to sit in a room and listen to feedback for 5? 10? 15? minutes before switching back to the main audio. We tried that in Philly…..and it was painful. Thanks for the hard work, but the finger pointing is against the theme of the event.

    • Hi Jeff,
      I’m not sure what you’d like me to say here. You’re clearly pissed about the experience, and my guess is that it has a lot more to do with the whole two days than the last 15 minutes. I’ve been asked to detail what went wrong, and I’m attempting to do so, and yes with as little fingerpointing as possible. I made a very long list of what went wrong, ONE of which was pods not following details to the letter. Would you rather I name names? OK, so it wasn’t the Philly pod. Now it’s one or more of the other 6. I’m not sure what’s gained by that knowledge. Should I just ignore that part of the “what went wrong?” Because it happened and it’s true. This is the first I’ve heard of any feedback issues, so if that was a problem I’d love to hear more details about it and get to the bottom of it.

      • Brandt, I am not pissed at the whole two days. I am not pissed at all. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. And, as a production professional, I can relate. You seemed understaffed and against some serious challenges. But I think that above all else, the plan was a bit doomed to failure. The pod experience is great, but the communication comes through in drips. And you flow in between states of connected, confused, and lost. My point is…. that if you try to take yourself out of the main session and imagine yourself in a pod, huddled around a webcam, with feedback blaring. Now imagine (days later) reading a blog, putting the blame on your fellow pod-sters (regardless of location). No hard feelings. It is an experiment and I share the spirit of experimentation.

  3. Brandt, first let me say thank you for giving me a second chance on my previous (not posted) response…it did not communicate well what I was trying to say. I will try again now.

    From my perspective as a Pod leader there was nothing comedic about the way the day ended. I can see how someone from the outside watching it would find it quite humorous, however as a Pod leader it was just a bitter and disappointing end to two days of zero engagement with the overall event. I invested a lot of time and energy and even a bit of money putting the pod together. In the end I was embarrassed. I told everyone how engaging the experience would be and what it turned out to be was 10 people watching TV together. Kudos to us for creating our own fun…we had a blast just hanging out and getting to know one another.

    I take sponsorship and my sponsors very seriously at my events. It breaks my heart to see so many people and organizations who donated time, products, services and money get the bad rap for what went wrong. To see technical disasters as the fault of the sponsors when what clearly went wrong was a lack of proper planning. Should we blame Skype because there was no testing being done ahead of time to see if it would actually work the way they wanted to use it? We showed up at the venue and set up all our equipment (donated by Dyventive) and spent about 30 seconds testing a one to one Skype call. Yet this is not how they planned on using Skype. Why did we not test a group call? That is like testing to see if you phone makes a call by turning it on but not actually placing a call.

    It was clear early on in the first day that things were not going well and the schedule was falling apart. It was also very clear the first groups to be ditched were the pods. First it was, “there’s no time to Skype you in, we’re behind schedule”. Then it appeared they could not get things working properly or perhaps it was the delay or maybe just more scheduling issues but we were tossed aside again in the afternoon. We were promised much more engagement the second day. Again, this did not happen. I finally found out we would be skyped in at 2ish ET. Well, you can see what happened there on the “comedic” video.

    Perhaps the lesson to learn here is, if you want to plan an event, any event but especially one for event planners, you should hire an event planner and then listen to their expertise and heed their advice. Most of the issues were simply due to very poor planning. Hell, we were told the event would end at 5:00 EDT. Imagine our complete surprise when the event ended two hours early with no explanation to us.

    But I think a huge debt of gratitude belongs to those sponsors who tried their best to work within a screwed up system and showed their support of the industry and a willingness to perhaps look not so good for the sake of innovation.

    • You’re very welcome and if there’s anything else you want to share on the tech side (or otherwise for that matter) on the experience of the pods and how planners and tech folks can make it better, let me know and we can chat some more! Full disclosure- I held Traci’s original post that she mentioned in moderation and talked to her over the phone to clarify a few things. We could have gone round and round in the comments section, but sometimes it’s a hell of a lot easier to just pick up the phone. Thanks again Traci, and I really do value your input, probably more than you know.

  4. Brandt,

    I have to say, THANK YOU for sharing all of this extremely valuable information that you learned from Event Camp Twin Cities. Posts like this are pure GOLD for those of us who want to learn what to do and what not to do when venturing into new technological territory at events.

    Thank you for your service in the trenches and for being so generous with the knowledge that you have gained. It’s truly people like you who will help to take our industry to it’s next evolutionary level.

  5. Pingback: Personal Lessons Learned from Event Camp Twin Cities (#ECTC11) | The Virtual Buzz

  6. Pingback: Event Camp Twin Cities 2011 – Recap & Replay | Event Camp Twin Cities

  7. Quick comment- I think our Pods largest frustration was the lack of planning and communication. This technology is not hard and it is not innovative. But it can be fun and interactive and I was so disappointed for my sponsors and others in the pods. As Tracie said it did cost money and we were never brought in until the last segment of the last day. Pretty inexcusable if you ask me. We were not really pods but viewing parties. My feeling is you really need a foundation before you can experiment. Then it is okay to fail. Next year we should have this all ironed out. We had a great call with all the pods and Sam and Lindsay this week. I got to bitch with the other pods and Sam listened. We all felt better after.

    In the past EventCamps I have organized the production-(NYC/Chicago) I made sure we had one person in charge running the live production and one running the online production. For example year in Chicago I did the pre-production and hired Mari Kimora who handling the onsite show flow and Mike McCurry followed the online feed. Then this could be fed to Glenn Thayer for the live stream and who ever was doing introductions. Seemed we didn’t have a unified communication between the confusing game, the streams but we did have Emilie Barta who kept promising to try and get info back to us. She just didn’t have it.



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