Van Dusseldorp's Future of events (4)

Doomscrolling the hours away, a meme-making social media performance.

Welcome to Issue 4 of Van Dusseldorp’s Future of events. If you were forwarded this by a friend, you can sign up here.

dear 503 lovely people!

That’s a big conference room full of you already! (If you live my life, that’s how you count people). If you know anyone else that should sign up, do tell them!

On with the news. To be honest, it’s hard to write a newsletter with all the spectacle on the world stage. Constantly checking Twitter and CNN does not help anyone, but we owe it to the world to witness it all don’t we?

Today’s edition reflects that. This is a newsletter about events. And the Capitol riots were a hell of an event. 

In issue one, I listed experience, expression, connection as essential reasons to go to an event. Well, bingo.

Symbol and sensation and spectacle and more. People dressed up for it. They took pictures. And live-streamed their moment in history. They felt seen. 'We love you. You're very special'

As we were all witnessing the horror, it struck me: this was a ‘’digital’’ event as much as it was a physical get-together. It started online, with online storytelling, community building, crowd coordination, all resulting in a piece of deadly performance art.

If You Were on Parler, You Saw the Mob Coming.

Kara Swisher interviewed the CEO of Parler, the right-wing social network that played a big role in getting this event set up. (Amazon, Google, and Apple are no longer servicing Parler now). In the interview, John Matze immediately linked Parler to the right to assemble. From If You Were on Parler, You Saw the Mob Coming

if people are just trying to assemble or they’re trying to put together an event — which is what a lot of people tried to do at this event today — there’s nothing particularly wrong about that.

Citizen investigator Melissa also provides insight into how the communications online took place, with little coordination from the top but a lot of smaller groups making plans. She calls it ‘‘stochastic terrorism in action’’.

The Pro-Trump Mob Was Doing It For The ’Gram

What about the actual experience of being right there? Buzzfeed described the riots as a meme-making social media performance. As reporter Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes, the pro-Trump mob was doing it for the ‘Gram:

They have been so influenced by experiencing the world on social media that when they go out into physical space they seemingly think foremost of this, a revolution as a branding exercise — the photos of the QAnon Shaman, the photos of the vaping rioter, the photos of the man with his feet on Pelosi’s desk, the ricochet in the far-right internet as proof of victory. 

They were making content as spoils to take back to the digital empires where they dwell, where that content is currency.

Real-life is full of facts, but online anything goes. QAnon claims that a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring. Or something.

Seth Abrahamson (Attorney, Professor, Journalist) who this week also did a scary line-by-line break down of Trump’s speech to his mob, wrote a really interesting analysis of the gamification of reality by the Qanon crowd. He describes the Trump era as the First Reality War.

And now?

You are here for thoughts of the future of events. And the future of events is connected to how we live online.

People find each other online first, the event follows, and the tools for organizing and distributing are in the hands of anybody. An event still needs a script or a call to action for the participants to understand the plan. It’s just that different actors may get involved at any time.

I have the feeling that his digital world we live in will more and more influence not only what kind of in-person events we want to organize or attend, but also how we experience them. We will experience them as part of the digital realm, we will experience them together with people not on the spot but still there.

Let’s revisit that notion in a future edition of this newsletter.

If you have ideas, suggestions, if you disagree, do let me know!


Do you organize an online/hybrid event that you are proud of? Invite me! I’d love to have a chat to find out what works and what does not!

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