In Version 2 of the Lotusphere 2008 Sessions DB (now available to replicate or download), I have added a new collaborative feature that allows attendees, or potential attendees, to ask questions before, during and after sessions. Rather than just having each speaker guess at what the audience is looking for, now the audience has a chance to participate. While this isn't likely to, or intended to, change the basic information being presented in a session, it does give a chance for attendees to voice their questions before hand, so that they don't have to wait until the end of a session to find out whether it will address their particular needs. It is also possible, as you can see from my session questions, for the speaker to ask questions of the attendees. (I used CoexEdit for this feature to make it easier for people to compose the questions on the web and still replicate down and see them in the sessions database locally.)
In a version coming out shortly, I will make this even more collaborative by allowing answers, which should also help after the session by giving the speaker more time to respond to individual questions than the very brief Q&A period now allotted.
Obviously, this is an experiment. If it works, maybe next year it can start earlier and be more robust. If it doesn't, so be it.
For speakers and bloggers
If you want to suggest that people pose questions for a specific session, there is an easy URL to direct the user to get to the session and see the existing questions (with the Ask a Question action at the top):
I think you really do need the trailing period, but the BP201 can be replaced by any session or BOF id. Both from the web and from the Notes database, there is a Questions/Ideas view which shows every session with its questions/ideas as responses. When answers (or follow up comments) are allowed, they will appear as response to responses.
For now, I am cleaning up any SPAM manually, but if it gets annoying, I may have to add logic. Any suggestions for how to improve this further are welcomed. For example, would speakers like to be automatically notified of questions? I don't know.
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