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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The speaker's fear of the feedback

Last week I took part in an event called The Story at the Conway Hall. This was put together (or do we say "curated" these days?) by Matt Locke who works at Channel Four and was intended to reflect the apparently growing interest in narrative. There was a SRO audience of a few hundred who seemed to be drawn from that loose affiliation of web people, bloggers, consultants and crystal ball gazers who can take a Friday off without the economy grinding to a halt. I told the only story I've polished enough to tell in front of strangers and it seemed to go OK. I couldn't see anyone actually asleep. That's as good as a point away in my book.

What I hadn't banked on is when you get on your hind legs in front of this kind of crowd you are setting yourself up for feedback. This kind of crowd all blog or podcast or tweet. Like all bloggers or podcasters or tweeters - and I'm no different - they have an above average tendency to comment on anything they've seen, read or heard. And thanks to Twitter's hash tags, whereby you can track the debate on any subject as it fans out, plus the desperate neediness that drives people to volunteer to get on stage in front of people at an event like this in the first place, you can follow the subsequent Chinese Whispers as they echo and fade.

Somebody publishes a link to their blog where they've put their "take" on the event and you have to look to see if they've mentioned you and, if so, what they've said. Then somebody else announces that they've commented on the first post and you need to know if they've commented on you. And if they have you are then compelled to track back through their posts and see who they are and whether they matter. It's not worthy, of course, but that doesn't stop you. I imagine if you get a lot of this kind of thing a whole new form of madness lies that way.