I was working on a conference agenda today and I started to wonder if there is still a place for such a get-together in this modern digital age. Traditionally conference are held about special areas of interest and involve a number of people presenting on the subject. It usually involves the inevitable PowerPoint slide shows.
The purpose of conferences is to share information and allow networking to take place. It is a very social event although it is very formal and organised. So is there anything that can claim to have taken its place?
I have experienced a few unconferences and although they may be seen to be a modern version of the conference I don’t think they have changed things. The unconference still involves lots of people getting together to discuss a subject area, and there are still forms of presentation or discussion. The only thing it loses is the formality of the conference.
There are now more webinars than ever before. These replicate the conference experience but for an hour rather than a day or two. Technology has allowed these webinars to take place, and you can learn and network from your office desk or sofa.
However, sharing information and networking is now done every second, minute and hour of the day through social networks. We can provide people with links to key information while we also expand our network of contacts. Twitter is really efficient at this.
I still believe that despite the technological developments the conference will remain. The challenge now is how we can bring it into the 21st century through maximising digital and online within the event.