Should Blogging ban Conferences?

Nielsen banned blogging at a recent conference leading Steve Rubel to ask “Should Conferences Ban Blogging?” I think a much better question is this:

Should Blogging ban Conferences?

Over the last 18 months or so I’ve made a point of attending several internet-related conferences. Some were informative, some fun but one of the most important things I took away was how much more I could have learned by simply spending an equal amount of time in careful online study of new developments.

This was even true at the best conference format from the superb UNconferences held by Dave Berlind and Doug Gold in Mountain View. So, why am I heading down to their latest effort, Startup Camp, next Wednesday and Thursday? … Well, it’s because conferences are a very enjoyable way to meet people and learn a few new tricks and “get out” from the somewhat nonsocial work environments in which many online professionals dwell much of the time, especially independents like me.

But blogging those conferences is really enjoyable, creates highly relevant new content for the web, and most importantly spreads the word to people who can’t attend due to expense or distance or whatever.

The idea of conferences banning blogging is very shortsighted from the conference’s financial success perspective since blogging is free publicity for next year and will encourage the growing legions of citizen journalists to attend.

FAR more importantly, Banning blogging is also turning the internet efficiency on it’s head and suggesting that the goal of conferences is the greedy monetization of the conference itself, rather than the appropriate monetization of the education and social experience.

Hey conferences – if you have something worth saying, it’s worth your attendees blogging about it.

UPDATE:  Max has a thoughtful reply, though I don’t agree:

Max this is a thoughtful argument and correctly separates this case from normal conference blogging as I failed to do in my critical post.
However I remain skeptical of any anti-blogging policy since it defies a new open standard that suggests blogging keeps the online world humming along nicely.  This appears to be too close to asserting that it’s OK to profit from online communities and activities with no obligation to share insights with that same community.

4 thoughts on “Should Blogging ban Conferences?

  1. I think more confereces should ban wifi. It’s annoying as hell to have half the “audience” not even paying attention to what’s going on. Why are they even in the room when they’re not *really” in the room?

  2. Dude! … They are multi-tasking and blogging the presentations!? …

    Jeremy banning WIFI? I’m assuming you are joking here?

    This gets to the heart of the problem with conferences – they are an inefficient, ancient style of communication based on tribal sensibilities (shaman, under pretense of wisdom, speaks to crowd and enlightens them).

    Sure that happens some % of the time but a superior form is a loud and interactive conversation with lots of participation. I think Blogs are the early rumblings of a sweeping and positive change in how we all talk to each other, though they are still based too much on one way “one to many” forms of communication rather than interactivity on many levels where the conversation is non-linear, less time sensitive, highly cross referenced with data and people, and extremely broad and inclusive. I’m hoping to experiment with Second life presentations soon as they seem to have some elements of what I see as a better model for conferencing and communication.

  3. I’m not joking at all. Look at it this way: if the conferences are surviving merely because you can get wifi while ignoring 70% of the speakers, banning wifi will accelerate the death of those conferences.

    Wifi is like welfare at this point. It’s really *not* helping anyone. It’s prolonging a sad situation.

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