The source of this disillusionment is the lack of interest that people seem to take in the sessions and the keynote, especially when delegates are given access to free wireless connectivity. He says that peering over a few people's shoulders showed that they weren't doing things like note taking, live blogging or anything like that, but were in fact reading emails, IMing and just generally browsing. And this is during the keynote speaker!!He asks, why are these people here at the conference? The conclusion he comes to and the reason that he attends conferences is the obvious one of "Networking", so why not do away with the pretense of the sessions and just go for a speed dating format?
I dropped in a comment letting Alan know about the Speed Meetings that Dott, my employers, use at their Explorers Club meetings and how they are actually quite popular, if a little intimidating to start with.
Both Andy Allan and I feel the same way as Alan about conferences and that something has to change to make them more useful and more productive for the delegates.
I quite like the idea of doing at least one "Speed Meeting" at Scotch. I know there are always a few groups of people that end up the pub or having a bit to eat, but it would be nice to just sit down and chat directly with one person at a time for even just 5 minutes. As the manager of the group, it would help me to understand why people come to the conference (other than for beer ;) ), what they want to get out of the conference and subsequent UG meetings and the group in general. Hopefully I'll also meet people that can help me too.
The thing I'm struggling with is how can I expand this idea to the sessions, so that everyone learns something?
I'm kind of thinking along the lines of much more hands on sessions. Perhaps breaking delegates in a session into smaller groups with a "facilitator" rather than a "presenter", but again how do you do this without the sessions turning into training sessions?
Don't get me wrong I still want to see "Speakers", but I think something more interactive might be in order. I also wonder about perhaps to expanding the speed meeting idea to lunch breaks, but in small groups, so you go pick up your food from a buffet and go you pick a random table that seats say a maximum of 6 people....
I don't know... This is just me churning over thoughts, but I would be interested in anyone's thought, so please comment away...