You Are What You Do Live

“Virtual Meetings Will Erase Face to Face” – Businessweek, January 2009

Interesting – I wonder what it predicted about their own longevity…

But that is not the subject – live interaction is, and to that end I would like to share a recent experience.

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Democratic primary debate in New York’s Brooklyn Navy Yard, staged and “broadcast” by CNN…Thank you, Bill H!!!

Some 800 people attended and represented, in my opinion, the true diverse nature of New York with celebrities; politicians; academics; business people; students; union members; activists and everyday caring people mixed together in a space once used to build Navy battleships…and mixed is the operative word as there was no grouped seating by your candidate of choice.

Hillary and Bernie put on quite the show, and while I will leave the outcome and politics of it all to others, I will take the liberty of commenting on the event itself as a whole and my experience.

Clearly I could have watched it as a live broadcast, as 5.6 million people did around the world, or through a live stream, as 1.3 million did. We are all used to this form of participation and as I have written before great direction, multiple cameras, perfect lighting, the right participants, well-thought-out staging, etc., etc., make or break the event as “video content” (I almost gag writing that – such Digibabble).

Or I could have followed it on Twitter or other platforms and pieced together a picture of the whole by viewing the snapshots – which no doubt would then be touted by the Digibabblists as proof of the demise of “traditional” broadcast.

And I could have waited and seen it after the fact on any number of channels and platforms and formed my opinion and conclusions as appropriate.

Or I could be there…as I was, soaking in the atmosphere, meeting interesting people, taking pictures and videos, listening, posting, occasionally cheering, discussing key moments with my friend sitting next to me and others during the breaks, and in general, imprinting it all on my psyche for a lifetime of anecdotes and learning.

Knee-jerk alert – I am not suggesting that social media isn’t important or that “video content” isn’t powerful, or that what some might call traditional or old-fashioned broadcast is better than all – AU CONTRAIRE!!

My point is the exponentially powerful beauty of it all – the live event that catalyzes and gives energy; the live video distribution/feed that creates its own dynamism; the social posts that at their best extend and deepen the event (also obfuscate, but for another time); and of course the longer tail of shared clips and comments that keep it alive through the news media and plain old human interaction as long as there is interest.

Bottom line, it’s Digital Exponential – digital hasn’t replaced – but it has made it better – given it more legs – made it even more exciting – extended our ability to share – but make no mistake, live events are here to stay and that is true across all audiences and across all age groups.

Marino Fresch, Head of Marketing, UK & Ireland, at Eventbrite, recently said,

The innovation and entrepreneurship we’re seeing in the events industry is incredible, and I believe the pace is only going to increase in 2016…The diversity of people becoming event entrepreneurs is really exciting, for example we’re seeing chefs running their own pop up restaurants and supper clubs; craft enthusiasts running weekend workshops; and many business leaders launching their own conferences or training sessions.

And, as I wrote, even Millennials are major players if…

According to a recent Forbes article, “Millennials Will Spend Trillions On Live Events – As Long As They Get a Discount.”

And possibly the biggest road sign to where it’s all going is Facebook, as reported by TechCrunch:

500 million users are on Events, up from 450 million in July, and they created 123 million events in 2015.

All of the excitement and opportunity around pure digital entrepreneurship can be found today around live event entrepreneurship and I recommend that you check out some of the examples that follow:

A recent H&M runway show – two days after the event “huge lines mobbed stores around the world…and the collection sold out in hours.”

Coachella set the world record for highest-grossing festival.

“Live Nation Revenue Up on Increased Concert Attendance

Bottom line?

The Democratic debate I attended was a microcosm of our world – not an anomaly and not an old-fashioned traditional occurrence that is to be snubbed or ignored. On the contrary – it is to be learned from as are all the debates and interactions in politics, not to mention fashion shows; sports events; food extravaganzas and on and on…

There are those who worry that we will lose that intangible, undefinable, impossible-to-bottle spark that makes us all human:

I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots Albert Einstein

Frankly I don’t.

Human serendipity will never be replaced.

Not Google or Amazon or Alibaba will ever get me to buy that pink tie I don’t want or the blue pants with the embroidered whales.

The sheer joy of being with people at a big event sharing – really sharing – the experience in time and place will never be replaced by goggles and headphones.

But I will buy better thanks to technology and I will have cool and amazing experiences in virtual places and I will share more of my own experience in the moment pulling in ever more people to enjoy and experience.

But Einstein, never fear – I will not buy those whale pants!!!

What do you think?

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