A real benefit of 802.11 connectivity at conferences.

There was a lot of talk a while back, spawned by a report from Esther Dyson about PC Forum 2002, about the effects of wireless connections at conferences with attendees blogging and reporting on the conference in real time. I got a glimpse of this, in fact, while reporting in real-time via PC Forum 2000 with my Palm VII and Wireless Blogger. And it was cool. So yeah, that's interesting, but something else has got my attention today. And I'm probably the last one for this to occur to because, embarrassingly enough, though I've been to conferences with wireless access, today is the first time I've ever gotten my fairly new 802.11 card to connect outside my home. (Wow, it is neat! Duh!) But the exciting thing about it is not reporting in real-time (I'll leave that to Doc and others), it's this: I can work here!

I don't go to many conferences largely because I can't afford the time away from work. Yesterday, for instance, I didn't come down from the city because I had a bunch of work to do. But I could have done a lot of it here. On the one hand, yes, it could be seen as obnoxious to go to a conference and never leave the office. Yes, it'd be way better to disengage and connect with people and ideas and let your mind wander and have quality "soak time." On the other hand, if the option is staying home to stay connected and productive, versus going to the conference and being (let's admit) less productive but still connected—and the work* you have to do at the time (not like I'm doing programming on my tiny notebook here) lends itself to it—the net benefit can be tremendously more valuable than staying away from the conference altogether.

And it'll probably be good for the conference business, as well, because, as I decided, as long as they have wireless access, I'm going to go to more conferences—and I bet other people will eventually, too (even if you don't do work, it's easier to justify going, to yourself or your boss, if you can claim you'll still be able to).

And, by the way, I'm still getting a ton out of the conference. Brain is spinning with urgent, obvious, duh-why-haven't-we-done-this-already epiphanies, and re-connections are being made to with smart, important-to-me people.

* And by "work," of course, I mean posting to my blog.