Monday, June 13, 2005

24/7/365 Conferences? Are these people nuts?

I've addressed my opinion on the "Conference panels are dead" meme before.

And part of that opinion is: "The ennui [someone of this opinion] is suffering from is, perhaps, a luxury of the conference elite."

Now a new meme has arisen, more extreme than the last, to take its place: conferences that only last a few days in a specific location are so passé. Rather, some day in the glorious future, conferences will be, let me quote Marc Canter directly on this: "on-line, and 24/7/365. A brand. An IRC channel, a Wiki and a marketplace. It's a new paradigm of conferences."

Oh. My. Lord. Shoot me now.

I'm not sure I can even put into words exactly how unproductive I think this idea is for me as an occasional conference attendee. And how hard it is for me to imagine who could sustain being the one on the other side keeping such an constant presence going? Unless it really was someone's occupation.

It is surely one more step down our path of achieving pure A.D.D.-ness for even those not actually afflicted with the physical condition.

Conferences are actually useful because they're closed-end. A group of people come together for a day or two or three and let their brains storm. And then they all get to go back to their regular lives and maybe apply some of what they learned, or check into something they heard about and certainly start some new relationships with colleagues they met. But they get to continue getting on with their lives. And that's OK.

Conferences are a way that we working stiffs break out of of our routine and immerse ourselves in new thinking for a bit and then bring something back.

Most of us simply don't have the bandwidth, the freedom, the money, the calling, the desire to live a 24/7/365 in-conference life-style!

Or is it just me?

Although your article and Sean Carton's June 13th article are discussing two separate topics, I believe that your conclusions are simpatico. Wall of Sound is found on the Clickz experts website.
Thanks for the link. I think Sean's point that if you are immersed in something you lose your ability to "notice" it is salient.

I can only imagine that 24/7/365 online conferences would morph into the same off-topic gab-fests that every online community seems to...or into a series of pontificating soliloquies that people mostly ignored.
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