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5 Questions with Event Industry Crowdsourcer Mike McCurry

Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to get to know Mike McCurry through Social Media. I read his blog – McCurry’s Corner (you should too) and we both are part of the self organized Twitter group – #eventprofs.

We have never met face to face. I expect that will change one day.

One thing that I can tell you about Mike – he is a crowdsourcer. Mike uses his social network to collaborate on projects. Capturing an insight here, collecting a photo there, Mike leverages the talents of his friends to breathe life into his ideas.

These projects have included articles on MPI’s WEC Opening Session in Salt Lake City and the ASAE Conference in Toronto (Day 1 & Day 2).

Most recently, Mike used Google Wave to interview several industry professionals to get their persepective on 2010. What was supposed to be 1 blog post – snowballed into an avalanche of insights – and became 5 blog posts. Feel free to read them below:

  1. What were the successes of 2009 in the Meetings and Events Business?
  2. What’s the priority business issue to focus on in 2010?
  3. What is the Next Hot Social Media Tool?
  4. What is the role of social media in events?
  5. What is the Future of Printed Media?

Mike McCurry - Author of McCurry's Corner

Time to Turn the Tables

Now, I am turning the tables on Mike. I am using Google Wave to ask him some questions about this impressive crowdsourcing project:

1. Mike – where did you get the idea to use Google Wave and crowdsource these blog posts?

Mike>> Sam, I had been toying with the idea, for some time, to do an “interview style” blog posting but due to other job responsibilities kept putting it off because there was no easy way to accomplish that. Then in November I discovered Google Wave, started experimenting with the application and the light bulb came on. I realized this would be a perfect platform for this type of collaborative work. There you have it.. the rest is history!

2. What was going through your mind when everyone started answering the questions? Did you expect this type of reaction?

Mike>> Well, because Google Wave is so new, and so different from pretty much any other web 2.0 application, I expected it might take a while to get the people I wanted to interview on-board. One of the biggest frustrations was of course that Google is letting people in only on an invitation basis. Since very few of the people I wanted to include in my interview were on Google Wave yet, my solution was to leverage Twitter to monitor available invitations. I did this by creating a search column in Tweetdeck with the keywords “google wave.”

Since Google Wave has been a trending topic on Twitter for some time I knew there would be a large volume of tweets, which there were. As I discovered tweets from ppl offering invitations I responded to them one-by-one and then collected the invitations in a “pool.” My next step was to invite my Social Media friends to join Google wave one by one.

After joining Google Wave my colleagues began responding to the questions. I soon realized, by the strong response, Google Wave was a natural fit for this type of project. The results were, as you know, terrific. I really did not expect things would come together as quickly as they did!

3.  As a participant in this process, I had a lot of fun thinking through the questions and reading everyone’s responses. What kind of feedback did you get from other participants?

Mike>> The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from colleagues that participated in the collaboration. They all unanimously believe it was an interesting and productive experience.

One constructive comment, made by Jeff Hurt, which I agree with, is some blog readers may have been disappointed they were not given the opportunity to participate in the wave as well. I have not received any feedback to that effect, but it might be an issue. I do know I received very few “comments” posted on the blog, thus far, from readers. That has me confused, as I expected there would be a lot of conversation. Maybe it is something I am doing wrong on the marketing side… not sure.

I would be open to any suggestions from other interested users regarding this subject.

4. Do you have any advice for event organizers, speakers or subject matter experts that are interested in using Google Wave to tap into the ideas of their audience?

Mike>> Yes I do. I do not believe Google Wave is stable enough yet for use in events to any large degree. One of its major shortcomings is it’s “lagginess.” That is a problem that must be resolved before this application can be used effectively for any large collaboration project. There are some real challenges with some of the functionality, such as, for example, no undo button. This application is in “preview release” right now so it would be expected there would be bugs in it. These will be resolved I am sure, before the Wave is released to the public.

Also, since it is not open to the public yet… there is a very limited audience that can actually use it. This is obviously a problem in the context of events.

5. Based on this experience where and how do you see Google Wave being incorporated into events?

Mike>> I personally believe there is great potential for this application to be incorporated into events. For Starters It could be an alternative to Twitter as a conversation tool to enhance meetings. Blips in Google Wave are very similar to Tweets, except they can be modified, and collaborated with. That is exciting.

Brainstorming sessions, Think Tanks, Q&A, Roundtable discussions are all meeting formats where a Google Wave would be an enhancer. For an “un-conference” where you design “crowdsoureced” content on-the-fly this application would be a perfect fit. With the ability to embed video, graphics, photos and audio components it could also serve as presentation software.

The possibilities are endless…

Bottom Line

Mike has demonstrated that using Social Media and Social Networks you can tap into the insights of the audience. Also, he has demonstrated that you can do it anytime or anyplace – before, during or after your event.

Attendees have never been smarter or more connected than they are today.  What are you doing to tap into their ideas and insights?

Note: Photo is Courtesy of Mike McCurry.

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is the Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC. He wakes up every morning to save the world from stuffing attendees in chairs for hours on end at events. Oh, and he has small children who usually want some breakfast.