Thursday, 17 June 2010

On the Penedesfera Days; 2010 and the Future

This year, the Penedesfera days (Jornades de la Penedesfera) were organized at the University Campus UPC here in Vilanova i la Geltrú. My Catalan is improving, but above all am I now actively working with Web 2.0 tools in my business, and, as a result, this was the edition, so far, which has brought me the most in terms of inspiration and new knowledge – and that close to home!

During the opening ceremony a lot of politicians were present, both among the speakers (eg. Ernest Benach, President of the Parliament of Catalonia, and Joan Ignasi Elena, mayor of Vilanova) and in the audience. Unfortunately, they all left immediately afterwards and therefore missed a panel discussion which would have been of great interest to them.

Gemma Urgell and Ricard Espelt presented a broad spectrum of 2.0 based citizen initiatives; Colabora Euskadi, IgualadaNeta, PimPamPum and Pares I Mares del CEIP Turó de Can Mates. My personal favourite was – a web site which thanks to Twitter and user activism can offer constantly up-dated traffic information on the commuter trains in the Barcelona area.

Trina Milan opened the Saturday program with a panel discussion on “Digital contents, technologic tools and education” – a celebration of the idea that the education material of the future must come in an open, criticisable format, and not as unchangeable printed text or locked databases.

Daniel Garcia Peris panel discussion on “2.0 Tourism” was the peak of the program, in my eyes. It contained lively debate both over the microphone and in the Twitter stream, since Ana Grande had the unpleasant task to defend why the Railway Museum of Vilanova only has an information web page (Web 1.0), and not any tools for two-way communication (Web 2.0). It also contained José Antonio Donaire's fantastic presentation of examples (among them Community of Sweden) of virtual spaces where tourists who will visit a place can communicate with those who are there right now and those who have been there before (pre-tourism, tourism and post-tourism, if I remember it correctly). And it had one participant, Francesc Balagué, - currently travelling around the world - joining the discussion over a Skype videoconference.

The last item before lunch was Irene Lapuente who with the program La Mandarina de Newton livened up the atmosphere with some physical experiments. I assume that the UPC management will not be too happy to see how she, among other things, tested their fire alarm system.

During Sergi Sabaté’s panel discussion on whether media listens to its audience, the Penedesfera received a bit of a surprise. Joan Carreras from argued that media does not need to respond on all comments and in fact managed to convince this interaction obsessed forum that he was right.

The part which Rafael Pardo had organized on web-based innovations from Catalunya, started at a time when at least I desperately needed one or two cups of coffee. What I do remember, however, is that Rafael himself talked about distance health care services and used Telemedicine Clinic as one of his examples. Javier Galán gave us a scary up-date on the current situation of cyber crime. José Antonio Galaso, finally, added a popular touch by talking about the high-tech analysis tools which Pep Guardiola has at his disposal to evaluate how the Barça players perform during a match.

The last item of the program was Innosfera, with Diego Fernàndez as a moderator and the title “Learning in a changing world”. Miquel Duran made an revealing lecture on how he perceives and handles the speed of change in his role as a researcher and university teacher. His message was then contrasted by Marc Pallarès who presented a student’s perspective on the same reality. Andrés Ortiz rounded off the event with a fascinating presentation of how you can visualize the interaction of social networks.

Since Innosfera had made a special edition for Penedesfera, I must express how sad I am that we were so few people in the audience when we reached this item. At the same I have to be realistic - since I personally knew almost nothing about Innosfera before this day, how could I expect people with less interest in the web 2.0 to show up?

However, I do see an issue here since the Penedesfera days 2010 overall saw a very low level of participation. With the media coverage we had had and with a centric location in a town of 65.000 inhabitants, I was totally amazed that we did not manage to catch more drop-in visitors, not even among the university students who live next door.

The Penedesfera Days are based on self-organization and that puts specialists with a focus on their favourite Web 2.0 aspect in the leading seat. The end result are theme days which fill a need for me but obviously not for many other people.

Having said that, the program did, in fact, include some discussions of a general interest and it is a pity that we did not manage to communicate that. For exemple: we live in a tourism area and before this year is over, many decision makers here will pay for presentations similar to the one which Donaire offered Penedesfera totally for free. I would say that all our panel discussions would have benefited from more selling titles.

Another idea could be to switch the focus slightly from 2.0 technology to Penedès as such. That would bring this event closer to the expectations presented in the opening speeches but also, more importantly, grant us a faithful and highly committed niche audience.

It has already been decided that the Penedesfera Days next year will be held in Anoia, most likely in Igualada. I would recommend the organizers to include the audience’s perspective from the beginning of their planning. Why not start by adding one part directly targeting those who are not yet initiated?

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萱祥 said...
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