What will fill this:
Since we’re never going back to the pre-Covid world anytime soon, will we still have large conferences, or even small ones? Why have conventions in attractive places, meant as much for socializing as exchanging? Why deliberately bring people together to learn and bond, to show off their public faces, to see who fate might introduce them to? With splashes of alcohol, rich food and entertainment.
Well, actually, those reasons seem pretty persuasive.
Gatherings need to be special, even an extraordinary experience, and they have to be something that can only be experienced through being there, together with others. That means they must appeal to all five senses: deliberate listening, constant conversation, light gluttony and human contact. A time for show and tell and feel.
Zoom or Skype don’t do all that, because it’s not what they’re for. Electronic communication since the telegraph has been about more efficient ways to share information, and now there are skilled generations who don’t need to be physically together just to exchange data or ideas, no matter how complex. The tools are getting really good. But they don’t substitute for light romance.
A conference to be special – to justify the expense and risk – also needs a ‘name.’ Someone on the billing. Whether for a concert or event, the personality needs to pull in the otherwise risk-adverse with enough celebrity status, polished presentation and performance, and something worth saying, in a setting that can’t be replicated on a screen. Otherwise, it’s just a Zoom.
Thoughts from Jude Crasta in conversation.