The challenge of live conferences in the year 2011

resident evil degeneration imagesWhen we we have so many new ways to be remotely as well as physically connected, what is a good balance?

I had an introductory chat with the SLCC 2011 In-world Construction Manager, Xavier Sockington (SL). The chat highlighted, for me, a dilemma and a design challenge. Please, read on…


SLCC is a mixed-modality conference, organized for Second Life residents by Second Life residents. Second Life® is the world’s leading 3D Web virtual environment and virtual goods economy. SLCC 2011 will occur, simultaneously, in the physical real world of Oakland, in the Marriott City Center, and in the virtual world of Second Life, in the SLCC Sims.

Xavier agreed to provide virtual build images and builder quotes for me to include in a sneak-preview article featuring the SLCC venue in Second Life. These I plan to publish with parallel images and material from the SLCC venue in the real-world Marriott. The goals are to:

  • Acknowledge the conference virtual location, which is half-Boston and half-Oakland themed (reflecting the biannual alternate locations of SLCC);
  • Acknowledge the conference physical location, which is Oakland / San Francisco this year (but will be Boston again next year); and
  • Weave the material as part of a continuing series of persuasive articles to entice people to come to SLCC both live and remote.

The Dilemma

  • How do you make a case for Second Life Residents, who are leading advocates and practitioners of virtual human connections and commerce, to travel once a year to meet in person?
  • Why attend or present, live, at SLCC, when you could watch or present remotely?


For those who’ve not attended a live conference, incentives and dis-incentives include:

Positives: Sightseeing, New Contacts, Energy
Negatives: Expense, Travel, Stress

I’ve attended many conferences over the years: enough to make me want to swear off of them each time… and yet… I’m attending live, I’m presenting live, and, as one of the SLCC track leaders, I’m faced with the dilemma of recruiting others to do the same.

What’s a modern-age person, who’s also an Avatar, to do?

Seeking Wisdom – The Design Challenge

  • What would make the case for you to attend live to meet and hear others in person?
  • What would make the case for you to present live to a combined live and remote audience?
  • What hidden assumptions do we need to let go, to open this up?

The Bigger Picture

It’s not just SLCC, is it? It’s any kind of live conference, professional or community or other. We’re in the Information Age, the Technology Age, the Internet Age, the Creative Age (take your pick).

When we we have so many new ways to be remotely as well as physically connected, what is a good balance? How do you decide?

Resident Evil: Degeneration images courtesy


2 Responses to “The challenge of live conferences in the year 2011”

  1. Sheryl Rapp - The UP Experience Co-Founder Says:

    Hi James, hope all is well with you. I am a very one-sided person to comment on this post because I have only ever been to live conferences or video live streaming, I have never even been on Second Life to truly understand it… you need to show me around SL some day soon! I can only compare the advantages of a live conference. My comments are below, hope this helps.

    Live in-person conference advantages:

    – Opportunity to meet and ask questions to expert speakers live and in person – this is a wonderful interaction and at The UP Experience we make sure to schedule extra time and facilities for this

    – Opportunity for a company to show appreciation, offer thanks, and motivate members from their teams for success by attending a live day of education and entertainment

    – Designed and crafted for powerful personal networking by leveraging the law of like attraction

    – Being able to have lunch with a group of interesting people attending whom you do not know, in addition to possibly with a speaker, has many advantages

    – A live conference allows you to engage with others in a way that is memorable and impactful with other like-minded people

    – Transforms and expands thought, both professionally and personally and confirms thoughts by discussions immediately following

    – Enhances camaraderie and creates a catalyst for creative and innovative discussion

    – Live conferences offers the convenience of getting a stimulating group in one place for inspiration and networking opportunities

  2. Acuppa Tae Ta Says:

    The key factors determining live attendance at a conference are cost and time. After that, the following criteria might apply:

    1. am i delivering a paper/keynote etc?
    2. is it directly relevant to my research?
    3. are the papers peer reviewed?
    4. is there someone I really want/need to meet attending?
    5. will the proceedings be published?

    Effectively, these all summarise as “what’s in it for me?”

    Some of at the issues that might deter virtual attendance include:

    1. lack of clarity around how to attend (do i need to login, password etc?)
    2. how can I participate?
    3. difficulty in scheduling when you are just sitting at your desk.

    Some ideas that might improve virtual attendance:

    1. formalize it (registration, virtual conference pack etc)
    2. suggest virtual delegates put in for the time off work and attend virtually from home to avoid erratic attendance due to interruptions.
    3. have some virtual-only sessions.

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