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Rev Dan Catt: Conference Eaters
"The ushers usher us out of that hallowed place into the blinking bright sunlight the godly ones having already flown, blazing trails of CO2 in their wake.

And that's how conferences work.

Maybe I should back up a little and explain.

**The tech conference should not exist.**

Or at least not in its current form. This is what I used to believe until I finally understood the truth which I've written above. It's the only way I can make sense of it.

We are post future, we don't have flying cars but we do have the network slowly bringing us everything else. Hmmm, let me put it a different way, if you have a tech conference called "The state of the network" in 2014/15/16 in which speakers and audience travel from different parts of the country/world to talk/hear about how the network is making things better, then we've all clearly failed.

This is how technology and conferences are failing you.

People fly from one country to another, to sit in a room together and watch Edward Snowdon talk from yet another country up on a big screen. Don't even get me started on overflow rooms with screens for keynote speakers.

A conference cannot be about the dissemination of information because we have YouTube. Why reach an audience of 200 when you can reach the wired world? Tech conferences where a person stands at the front and preaches visions as a way to spread knowledge is so laughably outdated it's unreal. Vimeo, Twitch, YouTube, Podcasts, blogs, tweets are all faster and scale more than meatspace.

Maybe it's about the transference of money from supporters to speakers (and organisers). Perhaps those speakers wouldn't share their knowledge for free on the intertubes, maybe they've spent years working something important out and deserve to be remunerated for by a select few followers. Ah, Information as limited resources to give it value in a digital era, and of course not forgetting that speakers often don't get paid anyway.

Again technology is failing us if we can't work out a way to pay people for information in the age of the internet. However you're right, it's just like music. Bands have to accept that their music spreads for free (or even encourage it) as record labels cling to the last century, and make the money instead from gigs, a paying audience who want the live experience.

Which brings me to the final reason given for conferences. "That was inspiring" is the comment I often hear when asking someone how a conference went... "I'm not quite sure what they said is applicable to what I'm doing, but it was inspiring". Paying to be inspired, yeah ok, I get it. This goes smoothly into "it was a chance to get together with friends I don't normally get to see, and work paid for it".

If going to a conference is the only way to get time free from work to see your friends and peers then once again we have been tricked out of the technological future we were promised. The one where we weren't all so busy making computers do work for us that we had some leisure time beyond grabbing a coffee at lunch with the next start-up over.

The speakers are just a backdrop for the meetings in the corridors and bars. The solution to that is an Event not a Conference. Stop going to conferences, stop making conferences, stop flying people halfway around the world, putting them up in hotels and making them talk to 400 people in a room. Go to an event and talk with all 400 people in a room instead.

However...

**The tech conference should exist.**

That is what I believed for a long time. I stopped going to conferences, well the conferences itself, I've still gone to the location of a conference to meet my friends and hang out in the bar afterwards. Paid for the transport and hotel myself, and then caught up with the conference videos afterwards if available. Then worked out how to support the speakers by buying whatever it is they're selling, if anything.

No, this is what I realised.

A conference is a way to force a smart person hurtling forwards to stop and collect their thoughts by making them a speaker, otherwise they'd be too busy to record their own video or write a blog post.

Every conference speaker I've know has come out of a conference understanding themselves and what they are thinking about better then before they went in. Its been the same when I've spoken at conferences (which I've stopped doing now) the weeks beforehand gathering up all the threads of an idea or two, weaving it all together for a single point in time.

These brilliant minds, which often run along and beyond the bleeding edge need to be made to focus to raise them to the next level so we can all benefit.

We supplicate ourselves before our idols, allowing them to consume our energy and brain to evolve themselves further. And that is what conferences are for, because otherwise what use are they that we shouldn't have already solved with technology."
revdancatt  conferences  climatechange  2014  speakers  information  technology  canon  internet  money  waste 
october 2014 by robertogreco
apophenia: I want my cyborg life
"I have become a "bad student." I can no longer wander an art museum without asking a bazillion questions that the docent doesn't know or won't answer or desperately wanting access to information that goes beyond what's on the brochure...I can't pay attention in a lecture without looking up relevant content. &, in my world, every meeting & talk is enhanced through a backchannel of communication. This isn't simply a generational issue. In some ways, it's a matter of approach...Am I learning what the speaker wants me to learn? Perhaps not. But I am learning & thinking & engaging. I'm 31 years old. I've been online since I was a teen. I've grown up with this medium & I embrace each new device that brings me closer to being a cyborg. I want information at my fingertips now & always...What will it take for us to see technology as a tool for information enhancement? At the very least, how can we embrace those who learn best when they have an outlet for their questions & thoughts?"
danahboyd  attention  backchannel  speakers  socialmedia  learning  distraction  teaching  twitter  wikipedia  conferences  technology  culture  society  information  add  lectures  tcsnmy 
july 2009 by robertogreco
yorozu audio sound revolution kit
"using the yorozu audio sound revolution kit you can create instant speakers from paper, boxes, posters, cartons..basically any flat surface. users simply have to place the vibrating extension of the kit onto a flat surface with the included adhesive sheets, plug in the audio source and let the music begin."
electronics  diy  music  audio  speakers  gadgets 
january 2009 by robertogreco

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