It’s been an interesting three days this week, with the first ever IFC Online eConference taking place – bringing together an estimated 500+ attendees from 42 countries world-wide, through an entirely online conference.
Unlike traditional ‘real world’ conferences, it’s tricky to be sure just how many people are ‘attending’ an online conference. The IFC Online organisers at The Resource Alliance tell me that 387 ‘sites’ signed-up for the event, but the number of individuals at each ‘site’ who watch the sessions can vary massively – from one individual to, in this case, a group of more than 70 people who gathered together in Jerusalem to attend. So, I’m not sure exactly how many people attended the two sessions I presented, but I did spot around 160 ‘sites’ logged-on in places ranging from the US and Latin America, right across Europe, to Singapore, Korea, and Australia – which made for a good crowd.
If you’ve never attended a big web-based conference like this, and it was my first time – both as an attendee and a speaker, then the screengrab above will give you a bit of a feel for how it works. Presenters speak over VoIP and use Powerpoint presentations just as if they were in a convention centre with people infront of them, and throughout the session people can ask questions and make comments by typing into the Chat/Q&A box. Must admit, when I kicked-off my session it felt a bit odd sitting all alone talking to my Mac – but once the questions started coming-in onscreen the whole thing came to life and it was great fun.
Some really interesting speakers too, including Scott Goodstein, External Online Director for Obama for America, and Premal Shah, President of Kiva. And what was particularly handy is that all sessions are recorded, so attendees can catch-up on any they missed or re-watch any session they found especially useful. (Except for Scott Goodstein’s session, apparently – which is a pain, as I missed that one myself).
So, all-in all, a very interesting and, by the looks of it, successful event – and a great extension to the Resource Alliance’s annual ‘real world’ International Fundraising Congress held each October in Holland.
One other thing that struck me was just how much more Twitter activity was going-on amongst the attendees at this event than at the main IFC just last October – when there were a lone two folks Tweeting for all they were worth. This time, there was a pretty constant stream of Twitter commentary coming through under #ifconline – and even a degree of consternation when Twitter went down for maintenance right in the middle of a session yesterday evening (London time).