Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Social Networking

I attended my first Israeli conference today.  Mofet sponsored a Social Networking conference.  After fighting Tel Aviv traffic (the morning commute on a bus is no easier than by car, there are no HOV lanes,)  I was handed a bag (plastic, naturally) containing all the conference materials, met Jay and was issued my official conference badge (see photo).  As the first speaker was welcoming us, Jay asked me if I understood her.  Yep, I replied, she just welcomed us to the conference.  We both laughed.  Of course I hadn't REALLY understood her, but I've attended enough conferences to know the first person ALWAYS welcomes the attendees.  We listened to six presentations.  They ranged from bizarre (Jay said it was time to go, so we walked out), to humorous (who knew Israelis followed American football so closely!?).  What I found interesting was that at least 80% of the attendees already knew each other and conducted an incredible amount of business in the short time they had to actually talk to one another.  Most of them knew the speakers and most of the speakers had presented to this group before.  Since none of the speakers actually suggested either why or how Israeli schools should use social networking tools, I wondered why these folks needed the speakers at all!  Participants could have accomplished much more if they had been able to meet in something akin to affinity groups (like-minded folk) and bounced ideas around.  The participants really wanted to be social with each other.  They all had ideas and suggestions to contribute.  Now, that would have been a social networking conference!

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