Social software applied: Pathable

I experienced an innovation doubleheader last week. First, the inaugural Bizjam event in Seattle, where several hundred independents got together to learn and network, jam and mingle. First conference I’d ever seen aimed at this crowd and it went really well – Kudos to Dan, Lara and all the biznik folks.

But one particular bit of cleverness was their hiring of WaggleLabs to create custom conference badges using their Pathable system.

Now mind you, I hate conference badges. They make me feel like a 12 year old in a self-help group, and they’re often so big, ugly and annoying to wear that I often hide them in my pocket – Really, I can introduce myself and meet people without them. But this was new, fun, easy and it worked. Here’s the rundown:

  1. Fill out a short form. Could do this online before or at the event. Took about 3 minutes.
  2. Pick up the badge. This took another minute or so.
  3. Talk to people about their badges. Each badge lists tags, and two groupings: people you have high affinity (Most similar), and low affinity with (Most opposite), based on your answers.

The effect was obvious: it gave everyone something easy to talk about, even if just to compare colors, or to ask people if they knew any of the people on your list.

They had a projector up in one hall listing all of the groupings the colors represented, and I had several conversations with people about that alone.

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