The virtual event I attended was Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings which this year was held in Dallas, TX. Anyone could attend this virtual event, but you did need an ESPN.com account to post in the comments section (which I already happened to have), however you did not even need an account to submit questions to experts (probably because all these questions were screened). This event had a few aspects to it. It was mostly comprised of baseball reporters from ESPN reporting news from the meetings via twitter, and by submitting it to the website live and having all their news along with their answers to questions submitted by everyday people compiled into what was essentially a giant chat box. The other aspects were live videos of press conferences, and round table events that would take questions from real reporters and sometimes from people watching the events online. During these events reporters would also analyze and answer questions via the chat box. Finally there was a comments area where fans could post almost whatever they wanted and chat with each other.
I attended during a few different periods of time over the 4 day meetings. At times (especially when there were no streaming video events going on) it was pretty boring. It was basically like watching a news compiler fill up, so it was very easy to do other things online and still follow along. I tried to submit probably around 30 questions to the reporters covering in all sorts of different topics during these lulls in the action but I never got one answered which was a bit disappointing. The live video stuff was more interesting, I saw things like free agent signing announcements happen almost as soon as the news was known and got live reaction from both experts and the fans via the chat and the comment section, which was pretty cool. I even happened to be on right after the news broke that Albert Pujols was signing with the Angels and that was pretty crazy, the whole site was basically blowing up.
Overall, I would say this was an interesting experience, especially for a baseball fan like myself. I definitely would not recommend to anyone but the most die-hard baseball fans. While it was cool to see all the speculation and see rumors, and trades happen and fall through ultimately I think I would be almost just as satisfied reading about the news normally on ESPN.com. News travels so fast now, that just because I didn’t hear about it happening live does not mean I won’t hear about it moments later. The coolest part really was the ability to have access to these reporters and analysts who I normally would not be able to contact that easily, but since they didn’t answer any of my questions it was a bit of a let down. However, it was interesting to see their answers to some other questions that I know they would not have written about otherwise. Overall I’d give this event a 6/10. I might check it out again next year, but I definitely will not spend as much time there as I did this year.