Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time.
I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.
Dan Tapscot has a great post on his wikinomics blog about the new copyright legislation in Canada. His main complaint is that rather than come up with something sensible for the modern age, they have simply adopted the failed US model of suing fans. Please read the whole post, but here is a great quote from the blog:
“[The new legislation is] all locks and lawsuits,” says Safwan Javed, a member of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (www.musiccreators.ca) and drummer for Wide Mouth Mason. “Rather than building a made-in-Canada proposal to help musicians get paid, the government has chosen to import American-style legislation that says the solution to the music industry’s problems is suing our fans. Suing fans won’t make it 1992 again. It’s a new world for the music business and this is an old approach.”
I am in Berlin for the ESOMAR Congress, to give a presentation on Insight 2.0. This year I have attended about 12 conference and workshops, across three continents, to talk about how Web 2.0 is changing the world. But the conference circuit seems to be largely unaffected so far.
Will conference be replaced by online equivalents, or will they continue as we know them? I suspect that at least for the next few years they will continue as they are. My reasons:
Research is a very conservative industry, slow to adopt new ideas, so conferences would continue for a few years even if logic was against them.
The people who make the decisions are largely the people who attend, and the enjoy conferences, A 6 hour meeting in Barcelona followed by an evening on the Ramblas is so much better than several one hour webinars viewed from your office in Birmingham, Lyon, Chicago, Melbourne, or Dusseldorf (all of these cities are fine, but if they are your home town, a change is good).
One of the great things about conferences are the accidents, the paper you had not planned to see, the person you had not planned to speak to.
Normal work has a much smaller impact at a conference, compared with an event you take part in from your own office.
I think there will be a growth in cyber meetings, but I do not think they will be at the expense of face-to-face conferences. However, terrorism or a health scare such as SARS could change the picture.