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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Friday December 08 2006

What, for instance, was this conference for?

One obvious answer is: to enable me to address a defenceless audience, and for it to be recorded, so that now the entire world can listen.

Which doesn’t really answer the question, because if the whole world can now listen, that includes all the people who actually showed up.  If they can hear it all anyway, at a time and place of their own choosing, why did they need to be there?

Take me again.  I had a belly ache on the Saturday night just after the damned dinner, and got hardly any sleep.  (And yes I now have a doctor’s appointment on Dec 20th, thanks for asking.) Not good, because my speech was on the Sunday.  I did drag myself in around mid-morning, but just missed the one session I had actually been looking forward to hearing, the one about radical Islam.  Claire Fox is always worth hearing, and Perry de Havilland was also speaking and I especially wanted to hear what he had to say.  But, I got there just as the session was ending.

However, I can now listen to that also, whenever I like.

Clearly the main thing that conferences are still for is for is to enable those who attend them to meet one another.  Conferences are to enable me to meet Leon Louw and fix to do a recorded conversation with him, which the world can then listen to, even though at the original event the world, apart from Leon Louw and me, was conspicuous by its total absence.

So that’s what conferences are for.  But the next question is: what should they consist of?  Just speeches that you can hear later, or even probably read beforehand?  Conversations between exciting people?  Recently Adriana the Media Influencer has been telling me of her exploits, participating in and organising corporate conferences.  Her attitude is: don’t just have people orating, have an actual conversation.  But might that not become similarly obsolete, what with those also become ubiquitously accessigble, as Skype merges with podcasting, as it is already doing.  (My next technical hurdle when doing my mp3s will be to do one over the telephone instead of face to face.  Starting with Antoine.)

Jackie D has thoughts about how the LA might do conferences in the future, with a wiki, and . . . things.  Although, for some reason her contribution to the last conferences doesn’t seem to be available as a sound file.

The technical hurdle of podcasting via Skype is practically non-existent. You make the call, you press the record button on the right bit of software, and away you go.

The idea of conversation becoming obsolete is pretty funny. I mean, yeah, how dumb of us to all still be finding things to talk about, with all sorts of people (familiar to us and new). I’m not sure I connect the dot from accessibility to obsolescence. Help.

Posted by Jackie Danicki on 08 December 2006

Jackie

What I meant was what do you have as the official conference performances?  Of course conversation will never die, which means that people will always find excuses to get together.  But, will they continue to do this at big slap-up “conferences”?

Because, what do you have as the “program”?  That’s the sense in which conversations, just like speeches, may soon get to be seen as very old fashioned, is my point.  Both can now be had virtually.

I know I’m the last one re-inventing the wheel here, but I’ll plough on.  Surely the economics of big conferences as such, no matter how organised, may start not adding up.  Meetings will maybe become smaller, more conversational and interactive for all present, more frequent, and more publicised and virtualised and internetted for anyone who wants to listen in or join in.  And the line will blur between physically meeting and just hooking up.

But conversation as such will never die.  I agree completely about that.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 08 December 2006

Brian, Jackie may know this better than I do but I think a sound file of her talk to the LA conference may not be accessible because of the problems we experienced with the crap PA system at the National Liberal Club. I love the old building but it might be nice to use a different venue maybe, with a bit more up-to-date facilities in the future. One for Sean and Tim to think about.

Posted by Tom on 09 December 2006

Well, I thought this (click my url) lecture in Second Life was pretty convenient. I just had to set up a profile/avatar, log on and find my way into the lecture hall. The latter was not without complications, but it sure beats packing, getting on an airplane and all of that. The only downside is that I don’t see a virtual dinner with conference delegates in Second Life holding quite the same appeal as the real thing. It would of course protect against such complications as people getting uncomfortably drunk, they would just crash in front of their own computers, but still, I can’t see how a virtual dinner in a virtual world would have much ambience - and after all, the after-conference dinners were always my favourite part of the show

Posted by Kristine on 10 December 2006
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