An interview-style keynote at the SXSW (South by Southwest) tech conference featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with Business Week journalist Sarah Lacy got rather out of hand this week. Why? For several interesting reasons. First and foremost, the content was poorly prepared – neither the guest nor the interviewer had a clear sense of what the keynote would discuss and actually ran out of stuff to talk about. Also, according to some who were there, Lacy, having written a book about this guy, seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about herself and her personal experiences with the one she calls “Zuck.”
But what’s really interesting is what happened when the crowd sensed that they weren’t going to get what they came for. They took over. Fueled by Twitter, the mobile phone networked community of people constantly twittering (text messaging meets a chat room) about what they’re doing at any given time, the crowd started to build up a hearty amount of disdain over the content on stage. Soon all of Twitter was dominated with conversations about this train wreck of an interview. Then, the worst of social media took over – the crowd simply started shouting out questions and took over the interview. It finally devolved into an unconference. Twitter and unconferences – two very south-by-southwest regional phenomena.
What made a crowd of people suddenly feel they had the right to hijack the conference? Perhaps it was mob mentality. Perhaps it was social media and user-generated content spilling over into the real time real world. Perhaps the same internal controls that prevent most people from acting out violent video games don’t apply to being rude and disruptive at a conference?
And perhaps this one of many disruptive events to come that will remind us that, increasingly, the audience wants to be part of the conversation and if don’t give them a voice they may raise their own.
Tags: Special Event Coverage