Posted by: conferencebay | June 5, 2008

More Than a Lark

If you are headed for LeWeb Conference 08 organized by known blogger Loic Le Meur , this magical location in Paris should be well worth your top conference dollar. LeWeb is one of the most high profile technology conference in Europe which gathered 1800 participants in 2007, from 40 countries. As it happens again in December this year, LeWeb promises to go steps beyond by striving to be as Le Meur said “more than just another tech conference.” Learning from last year’s launch, they mean to touch on a deeper array of topics by gathering some amazing personalities around startups, brands, bloggers, media, investors entrepreneurs and other key people shaping the web industry. The keynote speaker? You would think, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates but it is Paul Coelho, a world renown novelist.

How cool is that, and what an interesting, if unorthodox, mix.

LeWeb will be on December 9-10,2008 at 5 rue CurialParis, Île-de-France 75019

For those who like beautiful countryside, authentic, unhurried villages, and great food off the beaten path, when attending a conference in Europe, Auvergne in the center of France is a side destination to consider.

Indeed, the social facets of attending a conference has increasingly taken over the value of the education content. Why is that? It used to be that the relevance of conferences were beyond question. Then something happened. Over the last few years, much has been rendered obsolete by a robust new global media in this knowledge-based information era. Think video killed the radio star, with twice over intensity and you get a good picture. Or online media buried mainstream media. Or podcaster- thought leader killed the conference speaker? Now that’s not funny, but has been happening.

Some years ago, the questions during conference breakout sessions would be, “who has email?”… Now it is, “who among you got blogs or websites?” Historically, we attend conferences to hear the experts speak on relevant topics. Now, conferences are not the sole places to listen to expert views. On the contrary, there have been many frustrations over rehashed keynotes and dragging, nearly useless panel discussions. Many feel these activities, once the touchstones of conference going, have been losing to the vibrance, immediacy and speed of web logs, online summaries, podcast and open source notes.

No doubt that the real value and more exciting part of conferences rarely happen on the conference floor but on the all-important lunches, and talks over coffee, or meetings with vendors and networking with like-minded others. But hey, we must also worry about conference content and how they can be designed in refreshing ways worth one’s precious time and money. At the end of the day, the company sending delegates would want the annual activity to translate from more than a lark into solid business results.

The time is ripe for conference organizers to rethink certain aspects or designs of conferences. There are many platforms coming out and many exciting ways of learning from conferences that are competing for delegates’ attention for every industry niche. It used to be that you go to conferences to learn “the next big thing”. Now people go out there to interact and share and make the most of the opportunity to leverage their business or career. And any one of them could be bringing the next big thing.

Whether you are a conference organizer, speaker or attendee, to keep pace is to remain relevant and competitive. We are not saying conferences are no longer relevant. We are saying that the reasons for going to one has changed drastically. Conferences must begin to feel like “something you love to do” rather than something “that is done to you”.

Those who need to keep up, must shape up or risk being dislodged from the scene. It is well to heed F. Scott’s Fittzgerald’s warning of old:: “No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas surely have died there.”

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