I received a notification from a large professional association that one of its annual live conference events has been cancelled due to budget constraints. The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) is cancelling their annual “Expanded Forecast to Industry” originally scheduled for August 14-15, 2013. The conference involves participation from the U.S. Department of Defense. AFCEA cited in its cancellation notice “evolving budget directives” and “current fiscal constraints” on the part of the U.S. government in withdrawing the DoD’s participation, and therefore causing AFCEA to cancel the event altogether.
But I wonder if an online variant would’ve been something the DoD would support, as an alternative? I’ve attended other similar events and always found it ironic that the lectures, technical sessions, tutorials, and vendor exhibit booths would often involve some mention or case study of online collaboration, online delivery of training, seminars, and other information, but then close with a huge announcement about where the next year’s event would take place, so everyone be sure to book your flight and hotel reservation now! Don’t be left out!
No doubt there’s room for in-person, face-to-face meeting, networking, and instructor-led training sessions in which your fellow students are physically sitting next to you. There’s a great deal of bonding and information sharing that occurs in the hallways, between events, over meals, or most particularly, after hours at evening gatherings. It’s fun and informative and a lot of business is conducted in such forums.
But if your goal is information dissemination, do you need all of that? Of course not.
I believe we’ll see a lot more such events cancelled due to budget constraints, and as they’re canceled, the opportunity for online learning and online data sharing grows.