I love Kathy Sierra's Blog - she tells it like it is.
"SXSW Interactive had more attendees than ever before. A lot more. But here's the confusing part: the people attending are the same people who create and evangelize the tools that make attending totally unnecessary. I started my keynote by asking if anyone was live-blogging. Hands shot up across the room. Someone yelled "Twitter!" The whole thing was recorded on video and audio. So... if nobody needed to be there, why were they?
She goes on to say:
"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.
All we (and the scientists researching this) know is that there is something we still haven't managed to replicate in a meaningful way, even with the highest-resolution video conferencing tools. One theory is that it has something to do with smell. Whatever it is, it exerts a powerful pull on our legacy brain... a brain that still has no idea we aren't living in caves where human contact and social face-to-face interaction are key to our survival."
The most underrated benefit of the face-to-face effect of conferences is INSPIRATION.
I couldn't agree more. In the last year I have reinvented myself from TV News Presenter to a geek girl who helps people to communicate with impact. I used to be in the privileged position to talk face to face with anyone who was making or commenting on the news of the day. Few inspired me. In the last year since leaving TV News- I have met fantastic people with a "can do" attitude and a desire to change the world. I've interviewed rock stars in my years as a reporter but the chance to see some of the "blog stars" face to face - well somehow I think they get the idea of giving. My mentor Mike Pegg suggested that in starting my own business the overriding objective should be to "help" people achieve success. And I believe that is what the best blogs do.
Would I go to a conference to see these blog stars? You bet.