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Friday, March 16, 2007

Get Together at Conferences - F2F Still Matters

Just yesterday, I posted about Conference Preparation and I'm preparing for a couple of conferences so I definitely looked back at: Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee. One of the questions I often ask attendees - especially as we are discussing virtual classroom tools and virtual environments (e.g., Second Life) - is:
Why did we come to this conference? Couldn't we all do this from home?
Well today, Kathy Sierra, posts: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video... and she provides this picture: It shows that while we slowly approach real-time, realistic virtual conversations, it still isn't quite the same thing as being there.

As an aside, I personally question that view. In the long run - 25 years - we will all be walking around with devices that attempt to make in-person as good as doing it via online. Online you will have an incredibly realistic experience (think how good virtual actors are these days - add 3D - presence based audio - first person shooters). And because you are online, you will have access to all sorts of information about the people, what their interests are - it will be easily captured. The challenge will be getting people used to this - hence the 25 years.

But for now, Kathy expresses something quite true:
The point is, face-to-face still matters. And in fact all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y'all are building, we now have more far-flung friends--including people we've never met f2f--than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.


In Las Vegas (at ASTD TechKnowledge), I met up with bloggers who I really only knew online. In Boston, I'm going to do it again. I'm finding that conferences are a great way to get together with folks I already know but don't have as deep a personal relationship.

Kathy then tells us:
The most underrated benefit of the face-to-face effect of conferences is INSPIRATION.


There certainly is something powerful about getting together at conferences. You do get inspired. And, I think that people often walk away inspired from my presentations with the intent to go off and make something happen, try something out.

Kathy suggests that we should really be working to:
Get people together in the real world.


Point taken ... and I really do want to meet up with readers of my blog, with folks who are passionate about the use of technology for learning and performance. Unfortunately, it's difficult to know who is going to Boston (eLearningGuild) or Atlanta (ASTD). If you are, please drop me a note.

4 comments:

Ray Sims said...

Hi Tony,

Alas, no budget for me to attend eLearningGuild; however, I live in the Boston area and I'd love to do a meet-up with you and any other learning bloggers.

Ray

Harold Jarche said...

Not going, and will miss out on the beer & conversation :-(

I agree that online in some aspects is better than f2f. When I was giving a f2f presentation, I actually missed some of the aspects of online, such as linking to websites, sending a file or bringing in someone else on Skype.

Yes, conferences for me are beginning to mean connecting with my online friends.

Tony Karrer said...

Harold - we'll miss you.

Ray - we'll definitely still meet up. I'm really enjoying your blog.

Gabe Anderson said...

I'll be at ELG in Boston, Tony, though probably just for a day or two (I'm on a rapid elearning panel with Paul Clothier on 4/11). I'll email you. It would be great to meet you in person.