Why most conferences suck
Thursday, November 8, 2007 by Dave Winer.
I had lunch yesterday with Steve Gillmor. It had been too long. We talked about many things, including the fact that neither of us were going to many conferences this year. I think I've only been to three so far, maybe four. I've had the opportunity to go to dozens. But they're all the same, you spend the first half-day saying hello, then have a couple of good conversations, then you run out of things to do.
This morning after a bit of processing, it struck me -- don't know why I didn't see this before, but the problem with most conferences is that except for the people putting it on, we don't have enough to do.
So once the first hellos are over we settle in with our laptops and do what we do when we have nothing to do at home or the office -- we browse around the web, answer emails and IMs, and otherwise look for something interesting or new.
Therefore the challenge, if you want to have a truly useful conference that everyone gets something out of, structure it so that everyone has something to do at all times. Hopefully things that involve other people or the venue, if not, what's the point of going somewhere to do this stuff?
PS: Paolo describes an alternative to conferences.