Will social media burn conferences to the ground?

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Every conference these days has a hashtag and attendees are (unless explicitly prohibited) tweeting, live-blogging, streaming audio and video. If you wanted to, from your desk, you could attend nearly every conference in the world, and for free as opposed to paying 50-5000 to attend. In terms of content, you’d probably get anywhere from 80% – 99% of the content presented.

If you can attend 95% of the conference virtually and not pay, or attend 100% of the conference in person and pay, which will most people rationally choose? Which would you choose?

Right now, social media, for all its glamour and buzz, is still a relatively small space compared to the world of business as a whole. As it grows, how long will it be before conference organizers have to clamp down on usage to avoid completely devaluing their conferences?

Will social media, in other words, burn conferences to the ground? Yes – and it should.

My answer as co-founder of PodCamp and co-organizer of PodCamp Boston 4 is one we’ve been researching and looking at for years. Whether live or recorded, the talking head portion of the conference is something that is part of the old conference model.

While I love speaking publicly, I also recognize that it’s not terribly valuable in and of itself. I could convey the exact same information with a video camera and a YouTube account, and in fact I’ve done this to a degree. 60+ people saw my PAB 2009 presentation live. Over 300 have seen it virtually. Did the attendees of PAB 2009 get more out of the public speaking experience than the people at their desks? No, not really.

What we’ve been exploring with PodCamp year after year is how to take the other parts of conferences and amplify them, the parts you cannot get out of a talking head presentation. Side conversations in hallways. One to one interactions. Spontaneous group discussions. These are all things that you can’t bottle, and honestly, you can’t tweet, stream, or liveblog either. There’s simply no way for you, as a new media journalist, to be at 300 mini-sessions, or 3,000 micro-presentations, and if the conversations are valuable, you’ll be too busy participating to be archiving and broadcasting – and that’s as it should be.

What I think the conference model will evolve to, and where PodCamp is leading along with the other *Camp events, is the truly interactive community brainshare. Would I pay $500 to see Seth Godin speak? Sure. Would I pay more to sit down over beer with Seth and a few other folks at a roundtable and have him look at my marketing campaign, maybe sketch out some ideas on a napkin? Heck yeah. Multiply that times many tables over many hours and I’d walk away with a literal goldmine of useful information that’s tailored to me and my business. That’s what we want to bring more of to PodCamp – fewer talking heads and more sharing brainspaces.

When you walk away from a PodCamp, I don’t want you to say “that was a great conference!”. I want you to say, “I met and learned from some awesome people at PodCamp!” because in the end, your community is your strength. The conference is just a convenient place for the community to meet.

What do you think the future of conferences will be? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

213 responses to “Will social media burn conferences to the ground?”

  1. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  2. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  3. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  4. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  5. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  6. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  7. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  8. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  9. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  10. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  11. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  12. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  13. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  14. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  15. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  16. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  17. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  18. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  19. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  20. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  21. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  22. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  23. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  24. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  25. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  26. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  27. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  28. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  29. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  30. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  31. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  32. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  33. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  34. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  35. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  36. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  37. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  38. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  39. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  40. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  41. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  42. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  43. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  44. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  45. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  46. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  47. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  48. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  49. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  50. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  51. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  52. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  53. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  54. You are absolutely correct about bring the added value and a little “brainspace sharing” to conferences.

    But, I don't know about social media burning conferences to the ground. Humans tend to be social creatures. Yes, technology will change the structure of conferences over time. But, social media has helped make people more aware of the conferences, people and resources available in their industries.

    We may see the death of some old grey industry conferences, but new ones will be born out of need and people coming together with good ideas. ie Podcamp.

    People are so eager to meet and network that even people on Twitter get together on regular a bases for tweet-ups.

    I was just photographing a conference for accountants. The organization is implementing new ideas and even in the poor Detroit economy, it was a full house.

    My wife who has mom blog has networked with some local bloggers and they are creating a group (5-10 people) to meet in person for the first time next week. With all this technology you have to ask why?

    People don't have to meet, but there is a deep inner need and desire that technology can't always satisfy. The more information and video I see about interesting conferences the more I want go. With all the books, videos and podcasts I've purchased and downloaded I still want to chat in person with Seth Godin too.

    Rosh

  55. You are absolutely correct about bring the added value and a little “brainspace sharing” to conferences.

    But, I don't know about social media burning conferences to the ground. Humans tend to be social creatures. Yes, technology will change the structure of conferences over time. But, social media has helped make people more aware of the conferences, people and resources available in their industries.

    We may see the death of some old grey industry conferences, but new ones will be born out of need and people coming together with good ideas. ie Podcamp.

    People are so eager to meet and network that even people on Twitter get together on regular a bases for tweet-ups.

    I was just photographing a conference for accountants. The organization is implementing new ideas and even in the poor Detroit economy, it was a full house.

    My wife who has mom blog has networked with some local bloggers and they are creating a group (5-10 people) to meet in person for the first time next week. With all this technology you have to ask why?

    People don't have to meet, but there is a deep inner need and desire that technology can't always satisfy. The more information and video I see about interesting conferences the more I want go. With all the books, videos and podcasts I've purchased and downloaded I still want to chat in person with Seth Godin too.

    Rosh

  56. You are absolutely correct about bring the added value and a little “brainspace sharing” to conferences.

    But, I don't know about social media burning conferences to the ground. Humans tend to be social creatures. Yes, technology will change the structure of conferences over time. But, social media has helped make people more aware of the conferences, people and resources available in their industries.

    We may see the death of some old grey industry conferences, but new ones will be born out of need and people coming together with good ideas. ie Podcamp.

    People are so eager to meet and network that even people on Twitter get together on regular a bases for tweet-ups.

    I was just photographing a conference for accountants. The organization is implementing new ideas and even in the poor Detroit economy, it was a full house.

    My wife who has mom blog has networked with some local bloggers and they are creating a group (5-10 people) to meet in person for the first time next week. With all this technology you have to ask why?

    People don't have to meet, but there is a deep inner need and desire that technology can't always satisfy. The more information and video I see about interesting conferences the more I want go. With all the books, videos and podcasts I've purchased and downloaded I still want to chat in person with Seth Godin too.

    Rosh

  57. You are absolutely correct about bring the added value and a little “brainspace sharing” to conferences.

    But, I don't know about social media burning conferences to the ground. Humans tend to be social creatures. Yes, technology will change the structure of conferences over time. But, social media has helped make people more aware of the conferences, people and resources available in their industries.

    We may see the death of some old grey industry conferences, but new ones will be born out of need and people coming together with good ideas. ie Podcamp.

    People are so eager to meet and network that even people on Twitter get together on regular a bases for tweet-ups.

    I was just photographing a conference for accountants. The organization is implementing new ideas and even in the poor Detroit economy, it was a full house.

    My wife who has mom blog has networked with some local bloggers and they are creating a group (5-10 people) to meet in person for the first time next week. With all this technology you have to ask why?

    People don't have to meet, but there is a deep inner need and desire that technology can't always satisfy. The more information and video I see about interesting conferences the more I want go. With all the books, videos and podcasts I've purchased and downloaded I still want to chat in person with Seth Godin too.

    Rosh

  58. You are absolutely correct about bring the added value and a little “brainspace sharing” to conferences.

    But, I don't know about social media burning conferences to the ground. Humans tend to be social creatures. Yes, technology will change the structure of conferences over time. But, social media has helped make people more aware of the conferences, people and resources available in their industries.

    We may see the death of some old grey industry conferences, but new ones will be born out of need and people coming together with good ideas. ie Podcamp.

    People are so eager to meet and network that even people on Twitter get together on regular a bases for tweet-ups.

    I was just photographing a conference for accountants. The organization is implementing new ideas and even in the poor Detroit economy, it was a full house.

    My wife who has mom blog has networked with some local bloggers and they are creating a group (5-10 people) to meet in person for the first time next week. With all this technology you have to ask why?

    People don't have to meet, but there is a deep inner need and desire that technology can't always satisfy. The more information and video I see about interesting conferences the more I want go. With all the books, videos and podcasts I've purchased and downloaded I still want to chat in person with Seth Godin too.

    Rosh

  59. Chris,

    I would agree that social media is changing conferences but don't think they will die. The bar is set high now a days for speakers as they are expected to share their presentations online. The bar for conf organizers is high as they are expected to live stream everything. People tweet live so the feedback from the conf. is live out to the world before PR can write about it.

    But the real essence of a conference is the attendees and the energy they bring to the event. Many people call it networking and will come in person to connect with people. But quality attendees and creating engagement amongst them always made an event so successful and left the attendees they got their value for their money, which ensures they will come back again and hence the conference industry lives on.

    That is why inspite of the perceived high cost conferences like Demo are successful and has repeat attendees. SWSX and most recently 140conf were successful just for that reason.

  60. Chris,

    I would agree that social media is changing conferences but don't think they will die. The bar is set high now a days for speakers as they are expected to share their presentations online. The bar for conf organizers is high as they are expected to live stream everything. People tweet live so the feedback from the conf. is live out to the world before PR can write about it.

    But the real essence of a conference is the attendees and the energy they bring to the event. Many people call it networking and will come in person to connect with people. But quality attendees and creating engagement amongst them always made an event so successful and left the attendees they got their value for their money, which ensures they will come back again and hence the conference industry lives on.

    That is why inspite of the perceived high cost conferences like Demo are successful and has repeat attendees. SWSX and most recently 140conf were successful just for that reason.

  61. Chris,

    I would agree that social media is changing conferences but don't think they will die. The bar is set high now a days for speakers as they are expected to share their presentations online. The bar for conf organizers is high as they are expected to live stream everything. People tweet live so the feedback from the conf. is live out to the world before PR can write about it.

    But the real essence of a conference is the attendees and the energy they bring to the event. Many people call it networking and will come in person to connect with people. But quality attendees and creating engagement amongst them always made an event so successful and left the attendees they got their value for their money, which ensures they will come back again and hence the conference industry lives on.

    That is why inspite of the perceived high cost conferences like Demo are successful and has repeat attendees. SWSX and most recently 140conf were successful just for that reason.

  62. Chris,

    I would agree that social media is changing conferences but don't think they will die. The bar is set high now a days for speakers as they are expected to share their presentations online. The bar for conf organizers is high as they are expected to live stream everything. People tweet live so the feedback from the conf. is live out to the world before PR can write about it.

    But the real essence of a conference is the attendees and the energy they bring to the event. Many people call it networking and will come in person to connect with people. But quality attendees and creating engagement amongst them always made an event so successful and left the attendees they got their value for their money, which ensures they will come back again and hence the conference industry lives on.

    That is why inspite of the perceived high cost conferences like Demo are successful and has repeat attendees. SWSX and most recently 140conf were successful just for that reason.

  63. Chris,

    I would agree that social media is changing conferences but don't think they will die. The bar is set high now a days for speakers as they are expected to share their presentations online. The bar for conf organizers is high as they are expected to live stream everything. People tweet live so the feedback from the conf. is live out to the world before PR can write about it.

    But the real essence of a conference is the attendees and the energy they bring to the event. Many people call it networking and will come in person to connect with people. But quality attendees and creating engagement amongst them always made an event so successful and left the attendees they got their value for their money, which ensures they will come back again and hence the conference industry lives on.

    That is why inspite of the perceived high cost conferences like Demo are successful and has repeat attendees. SWSX and most recently 140conf were successful just for that reason.

  64. Social media might well be a hindrance during a conference because they are so interested in reporting and yes getting their associated social props and not getting the most out of the presentation. We do need to focus on making sure social media is not a replacement, but a supplement.

    Lastly, I don't like it when people want to see a Twitter stream during a panel presentation. It think it is disrespectful. I'd rather have the room see the back channel during the Q&A segment, but perhaps this is a bit old school in my thinking, so I'm open to other ideas.

  65. Social media might well be a hindrance during a conference because they are so interested in reporting and yes getting their associated social props and not getting the most out of the presentation. We do need to focus on making sure social media is not a replacement, but a supplement.

    Lastly, I don't like it when people want to see a Twitter stream during a panel presentation. It think it is disrespectful. I'd rather have the room see the back channel during the Q&A segment, but perhaps this is a bit old school in my thinking, so I'm open to other ideas.

  66. Social media might well be a hindrance during a conference because they are so interested in reporting and yes getting their associated social props and not getting the most out of the presentation. We do need to focus on making sure social media is not a replacement, but a supplement.

    Lastly, I don't like it when people want to see a Twitter stream during a panel presentation. It think it is disrespectful. I'd rather have the room see the back channel during the Q&A segment, but perhaps this is a bit old school in my thinking, so I'm open to other ideas.

  67. Social media might well be a hindrance during a conference because they are so interested in reporting and yes getting their associated social props and not getting the most out of the presentation. We do need to focus on making sure social media is not a replacement, but a supplement.

    Lastly, I don't like it when people want to see a Twitter stream during a panel presentation. It think it is disrespectful. I'd rather have the room see the back channel during the Q&A segment, but perhaps this is a bit old school in my thinking, so I'm open to other ideas.

  68. Social media might well be a hindrance during a conference because they are so interested in reporting and yes getting their associated social props and not getting the most out of the presentation. We do need to focus on making sure social media is not a replacement, but a supplement.

    Lastly, I don't like it when people want to see a Twitter stream during a panel presentation. It think it is disrespectful. I'd rather have the room see the back channel during the Q&A segment, but perhaps this is a bit old school in my thinking, so I'm open to other ideas.

  69. Because of precisely this point, I often find myself attending conferences where I spend so much time interacting with other people, that I don't get the chance to see actual panels until I come home and get online to catch the video. I've actually found I tend to get more value out of a conference that way, than merely attending and shuttling from session to session.

  70. Because of precisely this point, I often find myself attending conferences where I spend so much time interacting with other people, that I don't get the chance to see actual panels until I come home and get online to catch the video. I've actually found I tend to get more value out of a conference that way, than merely attending and shuttling from session to session.

  71. Because of precisely this point, I often find myself attending conferences where I spend so much time interacting with other people, that I don't get the chance to see actual panels until I come home and get online to catch the video. I've actually found I tend to get more value out of a conference that way, than merely attending and shuttling from session to session.

  72. Because of precisely this point, I often find myself attending conferences where I spend so much time interacting with other people, that I don't get the chance to see actual panels until I come home and get online to catch the video. I've actually found I tend to get more value out of a conference that way, than merely attending and shuttling from session to session.

  73. Because of precisely this point, I often find myself attending conferences where I spend so much time interacting with other people, that I don't get the chance to see actual panels until I come home and get online to catch the video. I've actually found I tend to get more value out of a conference that way, than merely attending and shuttling from session to session.

  74. The solution is starting to come to the surface and that is corporate sponsorship/underwriting of conferences.

    Eliminating the cost to attendees solves the low attendance issue.

    as far as the stream of data coming out of them…this just needs to be embraced across the board.

  75. The solution is starting to come to the surface and that is corporate sponsorship/underwriting of conferences.

    Eliminating the cost to attendees solves the low attendance issue.

    as far as the stream of data coming out of them…this just needs to be embraced across the board.

  76. The solution is starting to come to the surface and that is corporate sponsorship/underwriting of conferences.

    Eliminating the cost to attendees solves the low attendance issue.

    as far as the stream of data coming out of them…this just needs to be embraced across the board.

  77. The solution is starting to come to the surface and that is corporate sponsorship/underwriting of conferences.

    Eliminating the cost to attendees solves the low attendance issue.

    as far as the stream of data coming out of them…this just needs to be embraced across the board.

  78. The solution is starting to come to the surface and that is corporate sponsorship/underwriting of conferences.

    Eliminating the cost to attendees solves the low attendance issue.

    as far as the stream of data coming out of them…this just needs to be embraced across the board.

  79. Agree 100 percent…very thoughtful post. Too many conference organizers feel pressure to pack the day (or days) with back to back sessions, break outs, etc. I learn and gain more at the dinners, cocktail hours, in the hallway, hell, even in the bathroom:) Nothing wrong with the structured sessions of course…would just like to see more time built for getting to know those there. That's the real power…bringing together a diverse group of people to share, agree, disagree, etc.

  80. Agree 100 percent…very thoughtful post. Too many conference organizers feel pressure to pack the day (or days) with back to back sessions, break outs, etc. I learn and gain more at the dinners, cocktail hours, in the hallway, hell, even in the bathroom:) Nothing wrong with the structured sessions of course…would just like to see more time built for getting to know those there. That's the real power…bringing together a diverse group of people to share, agree, disagree, etc.

  81. Agree 100 percent…very thoughtful post. Too many conference organizers feel pressure to pack the day (or days) with back to back sessions, break outs, etc. I learn and gain more at the dinners, cocktail hours, in the hallway, hell, even in the bathroom:) Nothing wrong with the structured sessions of course…would just like to see more time built for getting to know those there. That's the real power…bringing together a diverse group of people to share, agree, disagree, etc.

  82. Agree 100 percent…very thoughtful post. Too many conference organizers feel pressure to pack the day (or days) with back to back sessions, break outs, etc. I learn and gain more at the dinners, cocktail hours, in the hallway, hell, even in the bathroom:) Nothing wrong with the structured sessions of course…would just like to see more time built for getting to know those there. That's the real power…bringing together a diverse group of people to share, agree, disagree, etc.

  83. Agree 100 percent…very thoughtful post. Too many conference organizers feel pressure to pack the day (or days) with back to back sessions, break outs, etc. I learn and gain more at the dinners, cocktail hours, in the hallway, hell, even in the bathroom:) Nothing wrong with the structured sessions of course…would just like to see more time built for getting to know those there. That's the real power…bringing together a diverse group of people to share, agree, disagree, etc.

  84. Will social media burn conferences to the ground? Um. No. In fact, if anything I'd say that the proliferation of connections will enhance and evolve these carbon-based-world gatherings. Now will conferences change dramatically? Yes. Will the cost structure for them change dramatically? Yes.

    But at day's end, the truth is that as much as we love to think our world of social media is the end all be all, the sheer volume of people who still aren't digitally saturated still trumps those of us who swim in the pool (whether in the shallow or deep end).

  85. Will social media burn conferences to the ground? Um. No. In fact, if anything I'd say that the proliferation of connections will enhance and evolve these carbon-based-world gatherings. Now will conferences change dramatically? Yes. Will the cost structure for them change dramatically? Yes.

    But at day's end, the truth is that as much as we love to think our world of social media is the end all be all, the sheer volume of people who still aren't digitally saturated still trumps those of us who swim in the pool (whether in the shallow or deep end).

  86. Will social media burn conferences to the ground? Um. No. In fact, if anything I'd say that the proliferation of connections will enhance and evolve these carbon-based-world gatherings. Now will conferences change dramatically? Yes. Will the cost structure for them change dramatically? Yes.

    But at day's end, the truth is that as much as we love to think our world of social media is the end all be all, the sheer volume of people who still aren't digitally saturated still trumps those of us who swim in the pool (whether in the shallow or deep end).

  87. Will social media burn conferences to the ground? Um. No. In fact, if anything I'd say that the proliferation of connections will enhance and evolve these carbon-based-world gatherings. Now will conferences change dramatically? Yes. Will the cost structure for them change dramatically? Yes.

    But at day's end, the truth is that as much as we love to think our world of social media is the end all be all, the sheer volume of people who still aren't digitally saturated still trumps those of us who swim in the pool (whether in the shallow or deep end).

  88. Will social media burn conferences to the ground? Um. No. In fact, if anything I'd say that the proliferation of connections will enhance and evolve these carbon-based-world gatherings. Now will conferences change dramatically? Yes. Will the cost structure for them change dramatically? Yes.

    But at day's end, the truth is that as much as we love to think our world of social media is the end all be all, the sheer volume of people who still aren't digitally saturated still trumps those of us who swim in the pool (whether in the shallow or deep end).

  89. It's all about the connections you make and the opportunities to interact one-on-one with people who are passionate about the same things. But there is some value in simply listening for those who cannot physically attend these things but who can share in hearing the enthusiasm of others…the content is not entirely irrelevant, but provides a vehicle for sharing the passion and energy that motivates people to take away ideas for action.

  90. It's all about the connections you make and the opportunities to interact one-on-one with people who are passionate about the same things. But there is some value in simply listening for those who cannot physically attend these things but who can share in hearing the enthusiasm of others…the content is not entirely irrelevant, but provides a vehicle for sharing the passion and energy that motivates people to take away ideas for action.

  91. It's all about the connections you make and the opportunities to interact one-on-one with people who are passionate about the same things. But there is some value in simply listening for those who cannot physically attend these things but who can share in hearing the enthusiasm of others…the content is not entirely irrelevant, but provides a vehicle for sharing the passion and energy that motivates people to take away ideas for action.

  92. It's all about the connections you make and the opportunities to interact one-on-one with people who are passionate about the same things. But there is some value in simply listening for those who cannot physically attend these things but who can share in hearing the enthusiasm of others…the content is not entirely irrelevant, but provides a vehicle for sharing the passion and energy that motivates people to take away ideas for action.

  93. It's all about the connections you make and the opportunities to interact one-on-one with people who are passionate about the same things. But there is some value in simply listening for those who cannot physically attend these things but who can share in hearing the enthusiasm of others…the content is not entirely irrelevant, but provides a vehicle for sharing the passion and energy that motivates people to take away ideas for action.

  94. You nailed it — conferences are about the people and the relationships attendees can build. I find that social media highly improves communication and bonding around topics. If a presenter blows, Twitter knows about it. If a presenter delivers good content, Twitter knows about it.

    As one who attended the Inbound Marketing Summit, led by Chris Brogan, I thought it was outrageous that CrossTech Media (operators of the event) blew a gasket because I was broadcasting it via Qik. It wasn't bandwidth (used 3G), it was simply because of they saw social media as a loss of revenue, not an asset.

    My advice to conference facilitators — put a live video feed up. It can be crappy, but put one up. Now, everyone is a broadcaster and they're going to do it without your blessing. Heck, monetizing that feed with sponsors and even live Web chats with sponsors can be lucrative and help the conference reach a larger audience.

    … And aren't we here to bring audiences together?

    Social media is a direct threat to crappy conferences. Have a good conference with topics and people they care about and they will attend regardless.

    ~Joe

  95. You nailed it — conferences are about the people and the relationships attendees can build. I find that social media highly improves communication and bonding around topics. If a presenter blows, Twitter knows about it. If a presenter delivers good content, Twitter knows about it.

    As one who attended the Inbound Marketing Summit, led by Chris Brogan, I thought it was outrageous that CrossTech Media (operators of the event) blew a gasket because I was broadcasting it via Qik. It wasn't bandwidth (used 3G), it was simply because of they saw social media as a loss of revenue, not an asset.

    My advice to conference facilitators — put a live video feed up. It can be crappy, but put one up. Now, everyone is a broadcaster and they're going to do it without your blessing. Heck, monetizing that feed with sponsors and even live Web chats with sponsors can be lucrative and help the conference reach a larger audience.

    … And aren't we here to bring audiences together?

    Social media is a direct threat to crappy conferences. Have a good conference with topics and people they care about and they will attend regardless.

    ~Joe

  96. You nailed it — conferences are about the people and the relationships attendees can build. I find that social media highly improves communication and bonding around topics. If a presenter blows, Twitter knows about it. If a presenter delivers good content, Twitter knows about it.

    As one who attended the Inbound Marketing Summit, led by Chris Brogan, I thought it was outrageous that CrossTech Media (operators of the event) blew a gasket because I was broadcasting it via Qik. It wasn't bandwidth (used 3G), it was simply because of they saw social media as a loss of revenue, not an asset.

    My advice to conference facilitators — put a live video feed up. It can be crappy, but put one up. Now, everyone is a broadcaster and they're going to do it without your blessing. Heck, monetizing that feed with sponsors and even live Web chats with sponsors can be lucrative and help the conference reach a larger audience.

    … And aren't we here to bring audiences together?

    Social media is a direct threat to crappy conferences. Have a good conference with topics and people they care about and they will attend regardless.

    ~Joe

  97. You nailed it — conferences are about the people and the relationships attendees can build. I find that social media highly improves communication and bonding around topics. If a presenter blows, Twitter knows about it. If a presenter delivers good content, Twitter knows about it.

    As one who attended the Inbound Marketing Summit, led by Chris Brogan, I thought it was outrageous that CrossTech Media (operators of the event) blew a gasket because I was broadcasting it via Qik. It wasn't bandwidth (used 3G), it was simply because of they saw social media as a loss of revenue, not an asset.

    My advice to conference facilitators — put a live video feed up. It can be crappy, but put one up. Now, everyone is a broadcaster and they're going to do it without your blessing. Heck, monetizing that feed with sponsors and even live Web chats with sponsors can be lucrative and help the conference reach a larger audience.

    … And aren't we here to bring audiences together?

    Social media is a direct threat to crappy conferences. Have a good conference with topics and people they care about and they will attend regardless.

    ~Joe

  98. You nailed it — conferences are about the people and the relationships attendees can build. I find that social media highly improves communication and bonding around topics. If a presenter blows, Twitter knows about it. If a presenter delivers good content, Twitter knows about it.

    As one who attended the Inbound Marketing Summit, led by Chris Brogan, I thought it was outrageous that CrossTech Media (operators of the event) blew a gasket because I was broadcasting it via Qik. It wasn't bandwidth (used 3G), it was simply because of they saw social media as a loss of revenue, not an asset.

    My advice to conference facilitators — put a live video feed up. It can be crappy, but put one up. Now, everyone is a broadcaster and they're going to do it without your blessing. Heck, monetizing that feed with sponsors and even live Web chats with sponsors can be lucrative and help the conference reach a larger audience.

    … And aren't we here to bring audiences together?

    Social media is a direct threat to crappy conferences. Have a good conference with topics and people they care about and they will attend regardless.

    ~Joe

  99. Valid points Chris.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see how social media will make the conference experience more diverse as people from outside the venue add their points of view via social networks in new and exciting ways. I also think that for conference organizers this is a great way to leverage inbound marketing and convert social media followers into conference attendees, because as you note, there will always be immense value in the wide variety of person to person interactions that don't happen online.

  100. Valid points Chris.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see how social media will make the conference experience more diverse as people from outside the venue add their points of view via social networks in new and exciting ways. I also think that for conference organizers this is a great way to leverage inbound marketing and convert social media followers into conference attendees, because as you note, there will always be immense value in the wide variety of person to person interactions that don't happen online.

  101. Valid points Chris.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see how social media will make the conference experience more diverse as people from outside the venue add their points of view via social networks in new and exciting ways. I also think that for conference organizers this is a great way to leverage inbound marketing and convert social media followers into conference attendees, because as you note, there will always be immense value in the wide variety of person to person interactions that don't happen online.

  102. Valid points Chris.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see how social media will make the conference experience more diverse as people from outside the venue add their points of view via social networks in new and exciting ways. I also think that for conference organizers this is a great way to leverage inbound marketing and convert social media followers into conference attendees, because as you note, there will always be immense value in the wide variety of person to person interactions that don't happen online.

  103. Valid points Chris.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see how social media will make the conference experience more diverse as people from outside the venue add their points of view via social networks in new and exciting ways. I also think that for conference organizers this is a great way to leverage inbound marketing and convert social media followers into conference attendees, because as you note, there will always be immense value in the wide variety of person to person interactions that don't happen online.

  104. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  105. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  106. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  107. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  108. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  109. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  110. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  111. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  112. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  113. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  114. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  115. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  116. Nice article and I think you've got a lot of it right. I've attended PodCamp Boston and liked the feel of the attendees and the sessions. They seemed much less forced/formal than many of the higher-priced conferences I've been in. I think the organizers feel that for that kind of money they need to bring in big names…but big names and large numbers of attendees make for watered down content.

    And it's not the content that's the valuable part…I can read books by some of these speakers on my own time. It's the networking and connections made that are much more valuable…or sessions where you are truly able to share real life stories with each other.

    I think any conference that really gets the networking/connection/small session with real mindshare correct will be a large success. I think large ones with rock stars and national speakers may be doomed in the long run.

  117. Nice article and I think you've got a lot of it right. I've attended PodCamp Boston and liked the feel of the attendees and the sessions. They seemed much less forced/formal than many of the higher-priced conferences I've been in. I think the organizers feel that for that kind of money they need to bring in big names…but big names and large numbers of attendees make for watered down content.

    And it's not the content that's the valuable part…I can read books by some of these speakers on my own time. It's the networking and connections made that are much more valuable…or sessions where you are truly able to share real life stories with each other.

    I think any conference that really gets the networking/connection/small session with real mindshare correct will be a large success. I think large ones with rock stars and national speakers may be doomed in the long run.

  118. Nice article and I think you've got a lot of it right. I've attended PodCamp Boston and liked the feel of the attendees and the sessions. They seemed much less forced/formal than many of the higher-priced conferences I've been in. I think the organizers feel that for that kind of money they need to bring in big names…but big names and large numbers of attendees make for watered down content.

    And it's not the content that's the valuable part…I can read books by some of these speakers on my own time. It's the networking and connections made that are much more valuable…or sessions where you are truly able to share real life stories with each other.

    I think any conference that really gets the networking/connection/small session with real mindshare correct will be a large success. I think large ones with rock stars and national speakers may be doomed in the long run.

  119. Nice article and I think you've got a lot of it right. I've attended PodCamp Boston and liked the feel of the attendees and the sessions. They seemed much less forced/formal than many of the higher-priced conferences I've been in. I think the organizers feel that for that kind of money they need to bring in big names…but big names and large numbers of attendees make for watered down content.

    And it's not the content that's the valuable part…I can read books by some of these speakers on my own time. It's the networking and connections made that are much more valuable…or sessions where you are truly able to share real life stories with each other.

    I think any conference that really gets the networking/connection/small session with real mindshare correct will be a large success. I think large ones with rock stars and national speakers may be doomed in the long run.

  120. Nice article and I think you've got a lot of it right. I've attended PodCamp Boston and liked the feel of the attendees and the sessions. They seemed much less forced/formal than many of the higher-priced conferences I've been in. I think the organizers feel that for that kind of money they need to bring in big names…but big names and large numbers of attendees make for watered down content.

    And it's not the content that's the valuable part…I can read books by some of these speakers on my own time. It's the networking and connections made that are much more valuable…or sessions where you are truly able to share real life stories with each other.

    I think any conference that really gets the networking/connection/small session with real mindshare correct will be a large success. I think large ones with rock stars and national speakers may be doomed in the long run.

  121. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  122. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  123. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  124. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  125. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  126. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  127. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  128. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  129. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  130. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  131. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  132. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  133. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  134. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  135. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  136. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  137. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  138. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  139. madbaker Avatar
    madbaker

    I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  140. madbaker Avatar
    madbaker

    I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  141. madbaker Avatar
    madbaker

    I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  142. madbaker Avatar
    madbaker

    I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  143. madbaker Avatar
    madbaker

    I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  144. madbaker Avatar
    madbaker

    I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  145. Great post Christopher!

    My thought is that this revolution is about meaning and impact; not content distribution control and “intellectual (IP) entitlement” and their lagging businessmodels.

    Attempting to lock down content or limit it's distributiuon is inconsistent with the oxygen that's driving the movement into social media, and it's hyperbolic adoption rates, i.e., that it's both open, and live.

    If the incremental benefit of on site participation is 5% vs. a 95% proxy experience via twitter, uStream or slidehare; and the virtual attendance is a multiple of in the 'in store experience' why attempt to limit it's traction in the market place of ideas.

    Let go; open up and trust that as you build content relevance the world will beat a pathway to your door.

    This will be an interesting phenomenon to watch; many vendors will perish if their knee jerk reaction is to circle the wagons as opposed to focusing on 'serving the customer' whether in the flesh or virtual space.

    Thanks for the post!

  146. Great post Christopher!

    My thought is that this revolution is about meaning and impact; not content distribution control and “intellectual (IP) entitlement” and their lagging businessmodels.

    Attempting to lock down content or limit it's distributiuon is inconsistent with the oxygen that's driving the movement into social media, and it's hyperbolic adoption rates, i.e., that it's both open, and live.

    If the incremental benefit of on site participation is 5% vs. a 95% proxy experience via twitter, uStream or slidehare; and the virtual attendance is a multiple of in the 'in store experience' why attempt to limit it's traction in the market place of ideas.

    Let go; open up and trust that as you build content relevance the world will beat a pathway to your door.

    This will be an interesting phenomenon to watch; many vendors will perish if their knee jerk reaction is to circle the wagons as opposed to focusing on 'serving the customer' whether in the flesh or virtual space.

    Thanks for the post!

  147. Agreed that attention span is an issue. Ran into that recently when I blazed through 20 social media tools in 20 seconds each.

  148. Agreed that attention span is an issue. Ran into that recently when I blazed through 20 social media tools in 20 seconds each.

  149. Ah, but Steve, you're one of the rare speakers who understands the power of the audience and making them part of the event instead of passive receptors.

  150. Ah, but Steve, you're one of the rare speakers who understands the power of the audience and making them part of the event instead of passive receptors.

  151. And that's another major point. If you went to X conference and paid $Y, did you earn that back from conference helpfulness, either in deals/networking or usable info?

  152. And that's another major point. If you went to X conference and paid $Y, did you earn that back from conference helpfulness, either in deals/networking or usable info?

  153. Wesley, I would have to say that networking at conferences is perhaps being slightly overtaken by constant realtime connections on social media networks, but yes that is a very valid point πŸ™‚

  154. I'd say 9 times out of 10…No.

    And that sucks. I love the community aspects of conferences and greatly enjoy going to them. However, I can't justify cost on something that in terms of actual scheduled programmed content within the conference I will learn very little from.

    Hate to say it…but it's probably a good idea to show up to the after-party and skip the conference in a lot of cases. The reason this sucks? Conferences cease to exist if enough people pull this.

  155. I'd say 9 times out of 10…No.

    And that sucks. I love the community aspects of conferences and greatly enjoy going to them. However, I can't justify cost on something that in terms of actual scheduled programmed content within the conference I will learn very little from.

    Hate to say it…but it's probably a good idea to show up to the after-party and skip the conference in a lot of cases. The reason this sucks? Conferences cease to exist if enough people pull this.

  156. That goes to a bigger picture perspective, then. Conferences need to step up what they can offer, on the understanding that there's so much more competition for mindshare, or be more transparent about what's happening. PodCamp Boston 4 is 50 because the venue costs13,000 and change. You're paying for the ability to have the event at all, not profitability.

    Speakers also need to do the same. If a conference pays you, the audience had better damn well walk away with some value. Feeling good about yourself as a social media cutting edge thought leader isn't enough.

  157. That goes to a bigger picture perspective, then. Conferences need to step up what they can offer, on the understanding that there's so much more competition for mindshare, or be more transparent about what's happening. PodCamp Boston 4 is 50 because the venue costs13,000 and change. You're paying for the ability to have the event at all, not profitability.

    Speakers also need to do the same. If a conference pays you, the audience had better damn well walk away with some value. Feeling good about yourself as a social media cutting edge thought leader isn't enough.

  158. Speakers also need to do the same. If a conference pays you, the audience had better damn well walk away with some value. Feeling good about yourself as a social media cutting edge thought leader isn't enough. AMEN.

    The transparency issue with conferences is also huge. Most trade shows don't have any kind of metrics or guaranteed roi built in. A Podcamp Pass pays for the venue…and I love you guys for it.

  159. Speakers also need to do the same. If a conference pays you, the audience had better damn well walk away with some value. Feeling good about yourself as a social media cutting edge thought leader isn't enough. AMEN.

    The transparency issue with conferences is also huge. Most trade shows don't have any kind of metrics or guaranteed roi built in. A Podcamp Pass pays for the venue…and I love you guys for it.

  160. When it comes to the presentations, sure. Between twitter, blogs, slideshare and a slew of other ways of accessing content, you're right: Conferences are going to have to innovate a little bit (hopefully without trying to clamp an imaginary lid on themselves).

    But when it comes to actually meeting people, having discussions in the aisles, over coffee or lunch or drinks, you just can't beat them. Look at what happened at #e2conf last week: You and I may have never connected had we not both been there in person, right? The two dozen people I actually got to shake hands with have all influenced me in some way. Those interactions are priceless and we aren't to a point yet, even with skype and Twitter, where we can replace good old face-to-face convos. Know what I mean?

    So maybe that aspect of conferences (attendees, collateral sessions, discussion spaces) may have to become more of an area of focus than the speakers themselves.

    Great post, as always.

  161. When it comes to the presentations, sure. Between twitter, blogs, slideshare and a slew of other ways of accessing content, you're right: Conferences are going to have to innovate a little bit (hopefully without trying to clamp an imaginary lid on themselves).

    But when it comes to actually meeting people, having discussions in the aisles, over coffee or lunch or drinks, you just can't beat them. Look at what happened at #e2conf last week: You and I may have never connected had we not both been there in person, right? The two dozen people I actually got to shake hands with have all influenced me in some way. Those interactions are priceless and we aren't to a point yet, even with skype and Twitter, where we can replace good old face-to-face convos. Know what I mean?

    So maybe that aspect of conferences (attendees, collateral sessions, discussion spaces) may have to become more of an area of focus than the speakers themselves.

    Great post, as always.

  162. I hope you can make it back to Boston for PodCamp Boston.

    As someone still involved with the PodCamp movement and with Boston especially, it's really important for us to keep trying new things. I think the other thing that a lot of folks are being too polite about is that a lot of conferences really suck. They're just not fun, informative, or engaging, and that's why the backchannel lights up as much as it does sometimes.

    One of my favorite sessions which I first saw at a MarketingProfs event was just pure live critique. An attendee brought up their web site on the big big screen and everyone started discussing how to make it better. Mass collaboration gave not only that one attendee some actionable items, but everyone in the room got something out of the shared wisdom. I'd love to see this trend continue.

  163. I hope you can make it back to Boston for PodCamp Boston.

    As someone still involved with the PodCamp movement and with Boston especially, it's really important for us to keep trying new things. I think the other thing that a lot of folks are being too polite about is that a lot of conferences really suck. They're just not fun, informative, or engaging, and that's why the backchannel lights up as much as it does sometimes.

    One of my favorite sessions which I first saw at a MarketingProfs event was just pure live critique. An attendee brought up their web site on the big big screen and everyone started discussing how to make it better. Mass collaboration gave not only that one attendee some actionable items, but everyone in the room got something out of the shared wisdom. I'd love to see this trend continue.

  164. You are absolutely correct about bring the added value and a little “brainspace sharing” to conferences.

    But, I don’t know about social media burning conferences to the ground. Humans tend to be social creatures. Yes, technology will change the structure of conferences over time. But, social media has helped make people more aware of the conferences, people and resources available in their industries.

    We may see the death of some old grey industry conferences, but new ones will be born out of need and people coming together with good ideas. ie Podcamp.

    People are so eager to meet and network that even people on Twitter get together on regular a bases for tweet-ups.

    I was just photographing a conference for accountants. The organization is implementing new ideas and even in the poor Detroit economy, it was a full house.

    My wife who has mom blog has networked with some local bloggers and they are creating a group (5-10 people) to meet in person for the first time next week. With all this technology you have to ask why?

    People don’t have to meet, but there is a deep inner need and desire that technology can’t always satisfy. The more information and video I see about interesting conferences the more I want go. With all the books, videos and podcasts I’ve purchased and downloaded I still want to chat in person with Seth Godin too.

    Rosh

  165. You nailed it — conferences are about the people and the relationships attendees can build. I find that social media highly improves communication and bonding around topics. If a presenter blows, Twitter knows about it. If a presenter delivers good content, Twitter knows about it.

    As one who attended the Inbound Marketing Summit, led by Chris Brogan, I thought it was outrageous that CrossTech Media (operators of the event) blew a gasket because I was broadcasting it via Qik. It wasn’t bandwidth (used 3G), it was simply because of they saw social media as a loss of revenue, not an asset.

    My advice to conference facilitators — put a live video feed up. It can be crappy, but put one up. Now, everyone is a broadcaster and they’re going to do it without your blessing. Heck, monetizing that feed with sponsors and even live Web chats with sponsors can be lucrative and help the conference reach a larger audience.

    … And aren’t we here to bring audiences together?

    Social media is a direct threat to crappy conferences. Have a good conference with topics and people they care about and they will attend regardless.

    ~Joe

  166. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    If conferences were solely about hearing someone speak, I might agree with you. Much of the value of conferences is the people you meet and the interactions you have in the physical world.

  167. Agreed. That was the whole point of the article, especially the latter half.

  168. Chris,

    I would agree that social media is changing conferences but don't think they will die. The bar is set high now a days for speakers as they are expected to share their presentations online. The bar for conf organizers is high as they are expected to live stream everything. People tweet live so the feedback from the conf. is live out to the world before PR can write about it.

    But the real essence of a conference is the attendees and the energy they bring to the event. Many people call it networking and will come in person to connect with people. But quality attendees and creating engagement amongst them always made an event so successful and left the attendees they got their value for their money, which ensures they will come back again and hence the conference industry lives on.

    That is why inspite of the perceived high cost conferences like Demo are successful and has repeat attendees. SWSX and most recently 140conf were successful just for that reason.

  169. Social media might well be a hindrance during a conference because they are so interested in reporting and yes getting their associated social props and not getting the most out of the presentation. We do need to focus on making sure social media is not a replacement, but a supplement.

    Lastly, I don't like it when people want to see a Twitter stream during a panel presentation. It think it is disrespectful. I'd rather have the room see the back channel during the Q&A segment, but perhaps this is a bit old school in my thinking, so I'm open to other ideas.

  170. Because of precisely this point, I often find myself attending conferences where I spend so much time interacting with other people, that I don't get the chance to see actual panels until I come home and get online to catch the video. I've actually found I tend to get more value out of a conference that way, than merely attending and shuttling from session to session.

  171. The solution is starting to come to the surface and that is corporate sponsorship/underwriting of conferences.

    Eliminating the cost to attendees solves the low attendance issue.

    as far as the stream of data coming out of them…this just needs to be embraced across the board.

  172. Agree 100 percent…very thoughtful post. Too many conference organizers feel pressure to pack the day (or days) with back to back sessions, break outs, etc. I learn and gain more at the dinners, cocktail hours, in the hallway, hell, even in the bathroom:) Nothing wrong with the structured sessions of course…would just like to see more time built for getting to know those there. That's the real power…bringing together a diverse group of people to share, agree, disagree, etc.

  173. Will social media burn conferences to the ground? Um. No. In fact, if anything I'd say that the proliferation of connections will enhance and evolve these carbon-based-world gatherings. Now will conferences change dramatically? Yes. Will the cost structure for them change dramatically? Yes.

    But at day's end, the truth is that as much as we love to think our world of social media is the end all be all, the sheer volume of people who still aren't digitally saturated still trumps those of us who swim in the pool (whether in the shallow or deep end).

  174. It's all about the connections you make and the opportunities to interact one-on-one with people who are passionate about the same things. But there is some value in simply listening for those who cannot physically attend these things but who can share in hearing the enthusiasm of others…the content is not entirely irrelevant, but provides a vehicle for sharing the passion and energy that motivates people to take away ideas for action.

  175. Valid points Chris.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see how social media will make the conference experience more diverse as people from outside the venue add their points of view via social networks in new and exciting ways. I also think that for conference organizers this is a great way to leverage inbound marketing and convert social media followers into conference attendees, because as you note, there will always be immense value in the wide variety of person to person interactions that don't happen online.

  176. Hi Chris,
    I like this post. I just went to two conferences recently, the 140 Characters Conference and the Personal Democracy Forum.

    BEING THERE
    Being in the room with some of these amazing speakers was thrilling. You could feel the electricity. Wyclef Jean and Ann Curry at the 140 Confernce were amazing. The video is not going to capture the experience of being in the same room. Same thing happend at the Personal Democracy Forum.

    At both of these confereces, the best part of the conference was not in the hallways, it was in the sessions.

    For me, a lot of the content was new, and in areas of interest that aren't my main focus. So hearing from experts, giving prepared speeches, worked for me, and worked well.

    The networking at these conferences did happen, but for me it was mostly after the sessions.

    INTERACTIVE BRAINSHARE
    I like the idea of working with attendees of a session to do things. At the 140 Conference, my panel on video twitter was all Q and A. I liked that.

    When I do presentations on web video, I like to involve the participants.

    I like to open up my seesions with questions to see where the interest is.

    I look forward to Podcamp 4 and being able to have a session on web video and see where it takes us.

    –Steve

  177. Nice article and I think you've got a lot of it right. I've attended PodCamp Boston and liked the feel of the attendees and the sessions. They seemed much less forced/formal than many of the higher-priced conferences I've been in. I think the organizers feel that for that kind of money they need to bring in big names…but big names and large numbers of attendees make for watered down content.

    And it's not the content that's the valuable part…I can read books by some of these speakers on my own time. It's the networking and connections made that are much more valuable…or sessions where you are truly able to share real life stories with each other.

    I think any conference that really gets the networking/connection/small session with real mindshare correct will be a large success. I think large ones with rock stars and national speakers may be doomed in the long run.

  178. Yes. I think that eventually conferences will be supplanted by online media. The conference is already essentially dead for the Jr Worker (try asking your boss to justify spending 5k out of pocket to let you go network…) Especially if they continue to broadcast their sessions for free online.

  179. Chris –

    Good article – I think it typifies what many of us consider when deciding whether to go or not go to a conference.

    For me the networking and making connections is much more important than hearing a national speaker try to speak to the masses. That content can be too watered down and I am not a big celebrity follower type – they're just people…and I know plenty of smart people personally! The content that really works are small sessions that are truly interactive.

    Any conference who can put together quality networking and really interactive conferences where you can learn through “real life” examples will get my money…I may go to others, but only for some of the off-site networking portions and exhibit hall access.

    I attended PodCamp Boston in 2008 and I think you got a lot of things right…concerned about how it keeps going without attendee contributions, though.

  180. Agreed that attention span is an issue. Ran into that recently when I blazed through 20 social media tools in 20 seconds each.

  181. I think this must vary considerably by industry. I work to promote veterinary conferences and smaller meetings – we don't republish or rebroadcast any of our material for free, and neither do our competitors.

    According to our most recent research, attendees still choose to attend based on session descriptions, even though we try to leverage the more interactive aspects of our events.

  182. Ah, but Steve, you’re one of the rare speakers who understands the power of the audience and making them part of the event instead of passive receptors.

  183. I'm with you, Chris. Conferences are becoming where the community meets. I attended the eComm conference in San Francisco earlier this year after following it online in 2008. It was time to actually meet the people I'd been watching / reading.

    The best conference organizers in the future will be the ones who are hosting and guiding the conversation that is going on in the audience, rather than just queuing up speakers.

  184. And that’s another major point. If you went to X conference and paid $Y, did you earn that back from conference helpfulness, either in deals/networking or usable info?

  185. Wesley, I would have to say that networking at conferences is perhaps being slightly overtaken by constant realtime connections on social media networks, but yes that is a very valid point πŸ™‚

  186. I’d say 9 times out of 10…No.

    And that sucks. I love the community aspects of conferences and greatly enjoy going to them. However, I can’t justify cost on something that in terms of actual scheduled programmed content within the conference I will learn very little from.

    Hate to say it…but it’s probably a good idea to show up to the after-party and skip the conference in a lot of cases. The reason this sucks? Conferences cease to exist if enough people pull this.

  187. Great post Christopher!

    My thought is that this revolution is about meaning and impact; not content distribution control and “intellectual (IP) entitlement” and their lagging businessmodels.

    Attempting to lock down content or limit it's distributiuon is inconsistent with the oxygen that's driving the movement into social media, and it's hyperbolic adoption rates, i.e., that it's both open, and live.

    If the incremental benefit of on site participation is 5% vs. a 95% proxy experience via twitter, uStream or slidehare; and the virtual attendance is a multiple of in the 'in store experience' why attempt to limit it's traction in the market place of ideas.

    Let go; open up and trust that as you build content relevance the world will beat a pathway to your door.

    This will be an interesting phenomenon to watch; many vendors will perish if their knee jerk reaction is to circle the wagons as opposed to focusing on 'serving the customer' whether in the flesh or virtual space.

    Thanks for the post!

  188. That goes to a bigger picture perspective, then. Conferences need to step up what they can offer, on the understanding that there’s so much more competition for mindshare, or be more transparent about what’s happening. PodCamp Boston 4 is 50 because the venue costs13,000 and change. You’re paying for the ability to have the event at all, not profitability.

    Speakers also need to do the same. If a conference pays you, the audience had better damn well walk away with some value. Feeling good about yourself as a social media cutting edge thought leader isn’t enough.

  189. Speakers also need to do the same. If a conference pays you, the audience had better damn well walk away with some value. Feeling good about yourself as a social media cutting edge thought leader isn’t enough. AMEN.

    The transparency issue with conferences is also huge. Most trade shows don’t have any kind of metrics or guaranteed roi built in. A Podcamp Pass pays for the venue…and I love you guys for it.

  190. When it comes to the presentations, sure. Between twitter, blogs, slideshare and a slew of other ways of accessing content, you’re right: Conferences are going to have to innovate a little bit (hopefully without trying to clamp an imaginary lid on themselves).

    But when it comes to actually meeting people, having discussions in the aisles, over coffee or lunch or drinks, you just can’t beat them. Look at what happened at #e2conf last week: You and I may have never connected had we not both been there in person, right? The two dozen people I actually got to shake hands with have all influenced me in some way. Those interactions are priceless and we aren’t to a point yet, even with skype and Twitter, where we can replace good old face-to-face convos. Know what I mean?

    So maybe that aspect of conferences (attendees, collateral sessions, discussion spaces) may have to become more of an area of focus than the speakers themselves.

    Great post, as always.

  191. I hope you can make it back to Boston for PodCamp Boston.

    As someone still involved with the PodCamp movement and with Boston especially, it’s really important for us to keep trying new things. I think the other thing that a lot of folks are being too polite about is that a lot of conferences really suck. They’re just not fun, informative, or engaging, and that’s why the backchannel lights up as much as it does sometimes.

    One of my favorite sessions which I first saw at a MarketingProfs event was just pure live critique. An attendee brought up their web site on the big big screen and everyone started discussing how to make it better. Mass collaboration gave not only that one attendee some actionable items, but everyone in the room got something out of the shared wisdom. I’d love to see this trend continue.

  192. Chris, great insightful post and timely given the Anderson inspired FREE debate. As others have commented the interpersonal magic that happens in between sessions and over lunch is usually more important than the official content. BUT, conference organizers need to do more to facilitate that, and skill development.

    I'm organizing a healthcare marketing conference and one of the most popular things we're doing is having 1:1 Facetime sessions, where attendees can sit privately and get mini-tutorials on how to use Twitter, SecondLife, SEO, etc.

    Additionally, structured table group exercises will ensure that even shy people will walk away with a few new friends.

    Great post,

    Kevin

  193. Chris, great insightful post and timely given the Anderson inspired FREE debate. As others have commented the interpersonal magic that happens in between sessions and over lunch is usually more important than the official content. BUT, conference organizers need to do more to facilitate that, and skill development.

    I'm organizing a healthcare marketing conference and one of the most popular things we're doing is having 1:1 Facetime sessions, where attendees can sit privately and get mini-tutorials on how to use Twitter, SecondLife, SEO, etc.

    Additionally, structured table group exercises will ensure that even shy people will walk away with a few new friends.

    Great post,

    Kevin

  194. Chris, great insightful post and timely given the Anderson inspired FREE debate. As others have commented the interpersonal magic that happens in between sessions and over lunch is usually more important than the official content. BUT, conference organizers need to do more to facilitate that, and skill development.

    I’m organizing a healthcare marketing conference and one of the most popular things we’re doing is having 1:1 Facetime sessions, where attendees can sit privately and get mini-tutorials on how to use Twitter, SecondLife, SEO, etc.

    Additionally, structured table group exercises will ensure that even shy people will walk away with a few new friends.

    Great post,

    Kevin

  195. Podcamp started as a series of conversations, in many ways, over time, we've sometimes drifted more towards the presenter/audience model than necessary.

    I find that I may learn a thing or two in sessions, but that by far, it's the opportunity to see friends and meet new people, to talk about stuff I care about with others who can add perspective and challenge my assumptions- that's where the value is extracted. I often think I just have to find a way to get my friends together without the “excuse” of a conference.

    But I think there's an evolution here. Conferences may work best if we look at them as concentrated college coursework- you can go to class or skip class, but in the end, it's who you met there and what you do with the knowledge you gained that's important.

    Podcamp Boston One was like freshman year- I learned a lot about honing my craft and I didn't know enough at that point to really ask or formulate the best questions. I formed great friendships with those I met there, and they are part of my daily life now, regardless of location. Now, the conference sessions I get the most out of are the more nuanced discussions, and sitting down with a few of my friends and comparing notes provides the greatest education.

    Personally, I see Podcamp as my laboratory for trying new ideas. Speaking at them has not only gotten me paid speaking gigs, but it's where I got a ton of experience speaking before an audience of peers and learned what worked and what didn't. (That's also the reason I love adding things like “Battledecks” and Ignite/Pecha Kucha like sessions- it's like presentation boot camp.)

    But that's me.

  196. Podcamp started as a series of conversations, in many ways, over time, we’ve sometimes drifted more towards the presenter/audience model than necessary.

    I find that I may learn a thing or two in sessions, but that by far, it’s the opportunity to see friends and meet new people, to talk about stuff I care about with others who can add perspective and challenge my assumptions- that’s where the value is extracted. I often think I just have to find a way to get my friends together without the “excuse” of a conference.

    But I think there’s an evolution here. Conferences may work best if we look at them as concentrated college coursework- you can go to class or skip class, but in the end, it’s who you met there and what you do with the knowledge you gained that’s important.

    Podcamp Boston One was like freshman year- I learned a lot about honing my craft and I didn’t know enough at that point to really ask or formulate the best questions. I formed great friendships with those I met there, and they are part of my daily life now, regardless of location. Now, the conference sessions I get the most out of are the more nuanced discussions, and sitting down with a few of my friends and comparing notes provides the greatest education.

    Personally, I see Podcamp as my laboratory for trying new ideas. Speaking at them has not only gotten me paid speaking gigs, but it’s where I got a ton of experience speaking before an audience of peers and learned what worked and what didn’t. (That’s also the reason I love adding things like “Battledecks” and Ignite/Pecha Kucha like sessions- it’s like presentation boot camp.)

    But that’s me.

  197. Look at the Personal Democracy Forum. From what I understand, it had record attendance this year even with all the tweeting and live blogging. Instead of complaining about it, conference organizers should learn how to capitalize on it. I have a pretty small education budget for the non-profit I work for, so flying to New York and attending PDF was a bit out of the question this year, but I would have been willing to pay for some high-quality streams of the keynotes and the breakout sessions.

    I know many people who went to NetSquared this year and felt that the content wasn't worth all that much, but the networking was invaluable.

  198. Look at the Personal Democracy Forum. From what I understand, it had record attendance this year even with all the tweeting and live blogging. Instead of complaining about it, conference organizers should learn how to capitalize on it. I have a pretty small education budget for the non-profit I work for, so flying to New York and attending PDF was a bit out of the question this year, but I would have been willing to pay for some high-quality streams of the keynotes and the breakout sessions.

    I know many people who went to NetSquared this year and felt that the content wasn't worth all that much, but the networking was invaluable.

  199. I hadn't seen your post and did one of my own on the very same topic this week. Guess I'm not alone in my observation!

    Are Conferences Really Necessary? http://www.hrbythenumbers.com

  200. gerardmclean Avatar
    gerardmclean

    Social Media will burn TECH Conferences that have nothing to offer to the ground, but for the most part, Social Media is creating value for human touch. http://gerardmclean.com/social-media-is-buildin

  201. Gee, only 18 mentions of PodCamp (ah 19 now)? You do realise there is a conference world WAY outside PodCamp-type events(20 mentions- that's better), social media, or information technology crowd which is where the discussion seems to be stuck. And stuck solid because I don't see many people moving the discussion beyond the world of social media.
    For instance in the Biotech conference world there is also a growing debate about twittering or blogging from the event. It is a much more sophisticated concern about release of preliminary data and about intellectual property. That doesn't make them old school or talking heads. It means they have a legitimate concern that actually moves beyond the hype.
    As for some conference that “really suck” you are of course quite right. Always has been and always will be. But then reading 6 different tweets simply stating the same thing, seeing 3 tiny urls pointing to the same site and getting insightful back channel comments like 'good point' or 'this guy is awesome, is something that well, sucks.
    A good speaker can hold the crowd's attention and if conference organisers invite speakers that have a 140 character attention span and speaking style that feels 20 tools in 20 seconds is a good thing, then well, that sucks too.

    I have live twittered a Nobel Laureate lecture and Podcamp-like events (you're doing really well now at 21 mentions) and I'm following a Darwin conference in the U.K. online right now. The tools have a place and a darn good one.

    But you need to wake up to the world around you because it is simply not the one you tend to hang in.

    Mike

  202. Gee, only 18 mentions of PodCamp (ah 19 now)? You do realise there is a conference world WAY outside PodCamp-type events(20 mentions- that’s better), social media, or information technology crowd which is where the discussion seems to be stuck. And stuck solid because I don’t see many people moving the discussion beyond the world of social media.
    For instance in the Biotech conference world there is also a growing debate about twittering or blogging from the event. It is a much more sophisticated concern about release of preliminary data and about intellectual property. That doesn’t make them old school or talking heads. It means they have a legitimate concern that actually moves beyond the hype.
    As for some conference that “really suck” you are of course quite right. Always has been and always will be. But then reading 6 different tweets simply stating the same thing, seeing 3 tiny urls pointing to the same site and getting insightful back channel comments like ‘good point’ or ‘this guy is awesome, is something that well, sucks.
    A good speaker can hold the crowd’s attention and if conference organisers invite speakers that have a 140 character attention span and speaking style that feels 20 tools in 20 seconds is a good thing, then well, that sucks too.

    I have live twittered a Nobel Laureate lecture and Podcamp-like events (you’re doing really well now at 21 mentions) and I’m following a Darwin conference in the U.K. online right now. The tools have a place and a darn good one.

    But you need to wake up to the world around you because it is simply not the one you tend to hang in.

    Mike

  203. I hadn't seen your post and did one of my own on the very same topic this week. Guess I'm not alone in my observation!

    Are Conferences Really Necessary? http://www.hrbythenumbers.com

  204. gerardmclean Avatar
    gerardmclean

    Social Media will burn TECH Conferences that have nothing to offer to the ground, but for the most part, Social Media is creating value for human touch. http://gerardmclean.com/social-media-is-buildin

  205. As I sit here working on the conference schedule for Blog World & New Media Expo, I have a number of questions with the content of the sessions. Would this be a good session live over Ustream, will it play well with others across multiple channels. If I could hand everyone in the audience a flip camera and have them record it and talk about it later I would. We truly want to have people buzzing about their experience. It brings others that would not otherwise participate. I love the idea of hand held Nokia's and laptop live streams and all the rest. The more the better in my opinion. I know this is a big concern with others, but i think we embrace the use of any new media tool. I have seen the power when it works and we need that as much as the attendees themselves.

  206. Chris-

    great post. As a guy who's A) been in the conference industry for 10yrs and B) runs Defrag (http://www.defragcon.com) and Glue (http://www.gluecon.com), I'd say that social media MUST be embraced by conference organizers. When “the internet” hit, conference organizers tried to shut that down as well – and, of course, failed miserably.

    Conference organizers should NEVER prevent any attendee from blogging, tweeting, broadcasting (via video, audio, whatever) the event.

    The bottom line is that events must prove their worth based on the community that gathers around them, the “brainshare”/interactive spaces they provide, and the value that all parties (attendees, speakers, sponsors) get from them. Social media is yet another way to add value.

    Doing so is what allowed Defrag to have attendees say things like

    β€œThere are two big things that make a conference a winner: (1) the quality of people, and (2) the energy they bring. Defrag hits it out of the park on both. Will definitely be back!”

    β€œI've lost count of how many people I met at Defrag have helped make Mailana a reality!”

    β€œI made amazing relationships at defrag and ignited existing ones. I'm indebted to you for that.”

    http://defragcon.com/2009/DEFRAG09-Why.htm

    again – great stuff….maybe we'll see you at Defrag πŸ˜‰
    ejn

    http://www.defragcon.com

  207. You have to distinguish between good events and bad events, good speakers and bad speakers Chris. Is there an audience that believes they can save money, time and travel hassle by not attending an event and participating online instead?

    Definitely. However it is a very small group compared to the whole. One of the number one blog posts, and Tweets we see every year during BlogWorld is “I wish I was there”.

    As others have said people are social and we want to get together face to face. I know you addressed this by suggesting more networking and social structure and less formal presentations are the future of events. I couldn't disagree more.

    Good events have a mix of social / networking opportunities, formal presentations and other elements like a trade show floor, or speed dating type sessions, etc. It all comes down to quality. If an event offers great speakers, those speakers spark many of the conversations in the hallways, at the lunch table and online.

    Others have mentioned the dynamic of face to face events and that cannot be ignored. It just feels different when you are talking to or even just listening to a speaker face to face than it does online. Every other person in the room adds to that energy. This is why the goal of online dating is to meet a real person in real life.

    This is not going to go away anytime soon and I hope ever. Because when it does we will have lost an important part of our humanity.

    Rick Calvert
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo

  208. As I sit here working on the conference schedule for Blog World & New Media Expo, I have a number of questions with the content of the sessions. Would this be a good session live over Ustream, will it play well with others across multiple channels. If I could hand everyone in the audience a flip camera and have them record it and talk about it later I would. We truly want to have people buzzing about their experience. It brings others that would not otherwise participate. I love the idea of hand held Nokia's and laptop live streams and all the rest. The more the better in my opinion. I know this is a big concern with others, but i think we embrace the use of any new media tool. I have seen the power when it works and we need that as much as the attendees themselves.

  209. As I sit here working on the conference schedule for Blog World & New Media Expo, I have a number of questions with the content of the sessions. Would this be a good session live over Ustream, will it play well with others across multiple channels. If I could hand everyone in the audience a flip camera and have them record it and talk about it later I would. We truly want to have people buzzing about their experience. It brings others that would not otherwise participate. I love the idea of hand held Nokia's and laptop live streams and all the rest. The more the better in my opinion. I know this is a big concern with others, but i think we embrace the use of any new media tool. I have seen the power when it works and we need that as much as the attendees themselves.

  210. Chris-

    great post. As a guy who's A) been in the conference industry for 10yrs and B) runs Defrag (http://www.defragcon.com) and Glue (http://www.gluecon.com), I'd say that social media MUST be embraced by conference organizers. When “the internet” hit, conference organizers tried to shut that down as well – and, of course, failed miserably.

    Conference organizers should NEVER prevent any attendee from blogging, tweeting, broadcasting (via video, audio, whatever) the event.

    The bottom line is that events must prove their worth based on the community that gathers around them, the “brainshare”/interactive spaces they provide, and the value that all parties (attendees, speakers, sponsors) get from them. Social media is yet another way to add value.

    Doing so is what allowed Defrag to have attendees say things like

    β€œThere are two big things that make a conference a winner: (1) the quality of people, and (2) the energy they bring. Defrag hits it out of the park on both. Will definitely be back!”

    β€œI've lost count of how many people I met at Defrag have helped make Mailana a reality!”

    β€œI made amazing relationships at defrag and ignited existing ones. I'm indebted to you for that.”

    http://defragcon.com/2009/DEFRAG09-Why.htm

    again – great stuff….maybe we'll see you at Defrag πŸ˜‰
    ejn

    http://www.defragcon.com

  211. Chris-

    great post. As a guy who's A) been in the conference industry for 10yrs and B) runs Defrag (http://www.defragcon.com) and Glue (http://www.gluecon.com), I'd say that social media MUST be embraced by conference organizers. When “the internet” hit, conference organizers tried to shut that down as well – and, of course, failed miserably.

    Conference organizers should NEVER prevent any attendee from blogging, tweeting, broadcasting (via video, audio, whatever) the event.

    The bottom line is that events must prove their worth based on the community that gathers around them, the “brainshare”/interactive spaces they provide, and the value that all parties (attendees, speakers, sponsors) get from them. Social media is yet another way to add value.

    Doing so is what allowed Defrag to have attendees say things like

    β€œThere are two big things that make a conference a winner: (1) the quality of people, and (2) the energy they bring. Defrag hits it out of the park on both. Will definitely be back!”

    β€œI've lost count of how many people I met at Defrag have helped make Mailana a reality!”

    β€œI made amazing relationships at defrag and ignited existing ones. I'm indebted to you for that.”

    http://defragcon.com/2009/DEFRAG09-Why.htm

    again – great stuff….maybe we'll see you at Defrag πŸ˜‰
    ejn

    http://www.defragcon.com

  212. You have to distinguish between good events and bad events, good speakers and bad speakers Chris. Is there an audience that believes they can save money, time and travel hassle by not attending an event and participating online instead?

    Definitely. However it is a very small group compared to the whole. One of the number one blog posts, and Tweets we see every year during BlogWorld is “I wish I was there”.

    As others have said people are social and we want to get together face to face. I know you addressed this by suggesting more networking and social structure and less formal presentations are the future of events. I couldn't disagree more.

    Good events have a mix of social / networking opportunities, formal presentations and other elements like a trade show floor, or speed dating type sessions, etc. It all comes down to quality. If an event offers great speakers, those speakers spark many of the conversations in the hallways, at the lunch table and online.

    Others have mentioned the dynamic of face to face events and that cannot be ignored. It just feels different when you are talking to or even just listening to a speaker face to face than it does online. Every other person in the room adds to that energy. This is why the goal of online dating is to meet a real person in real life.

    This is not going to go away anytime soon and I hope ever. Because when it does we will have lost an important part of our humanity.

    Rick Calvert
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo

  213. You have to distinguish between good events and bad events, good speakers and bad speakers Chris. Is there an audience that believes they can save money, time and travel hassle by not attending an event and participating online instead?

    Definitely. However it is a very small group compared to the whole. One of the number one blog posts, and Tweets we see every year during BlogWorld is “I wish I was there”.

    As others have said people are social and we want to get together face to face. I know you addressed this by suggesting more networking and social structure and less formal presentations are the future of events. I couldn't disagree more.

    Good events have a mix of social / networking opportunities, formal presentations and other elements like a trade show floor, or speed dating type sessions, etc. It all comes down to quality. If an event offers great speakers, those speakers spark many of the conversations in the hallways, at the lunch table and online.

    Others have mentioned the dynamic of face to face events and that cannot be ignored. It just feels different when you are talking to or even just listening to a speaker face to face than it does online. Every other person in the room adds to that energy. This is why the goal of online dating is to meet a real person in real life.

    This is not going to go away anytime soon and I hope ever. Because when it does we will have lost an important part of our humanity.

    Rick Calvert
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo

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