Don’t blame PowerPoint

Jay Cross has written a post called PowerPoint is tyranny, about whether offsite conferences need to change. I’ve not seen Jay’s presentation, but I don’t think we can lay the blame at PowerPoint’s door.

Like everything else in this rapidly changing world, conference organisers need to demonstrate value. It will no longer be acceptable to roll out the same old faces, talking about the same old subjects and charging excessive prices for the privilege of attending.

For example, the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering will cost you $1369.00 for 2.5 days of sessions run by speakers that the eLearning Guild thinks you should see.

Compare that to DrupalCon, where I’ve paid $250.00 for 3.5 days of sessions run by awesome speakers that the attendees voted for.

The differences?

  • The latter is a gathering of open source (and open minded) people there to share their passion for the open source platform we all use. It’s not a commercial event, designed to turn a profit. (Make no mistake though, DrupalCon isn’t some kind of open source love-in. There are commercial sponsors, and there will be many commercial conversations and deals going on).
  • There is a fundamental attitude of sharing what you know, without any expectation of commercial benefit.
  • Many of the DrupalCon presentations talk about the future, whereas L&D conference agendas are filled with what’s been done. Have we not got the message yet that information has a ridiculously short shelf life?

Conferences will have to change if they want to survive, and I think we’ll all benefit as a result.

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