Is there a perfect kind of conference?

I have to say that I am really looking forward to the Blogs and Social Media Forum that I am chairing in May.

When the idea was first suggested to me I was really unsure about saying yes. I have become very wary of being taken advantage of by commercial conference organisers over the years and was doubly wary of being associated with yet another money spinning, band waggon joining, pointless exercise.

However an hour long phone call with Lorna, the conference organiser, left me feeling that they really had listened to the punters and potential contributors when we said that we wanted more time to network and less time being talked at. I also believe that they have got together a pretty interesting bunch of people - and I for one am really looking forward to meeting JP Rangaswami whose blog is becoming a must read for me these days.

I was also very aware of the unconferencing meme going around at the moment but to be honest I am getting pretty tired of a small group of people who have attended mind-bloggling numbers of conferences, along with pretty much the same group of geeks, over the past four years in the US getting bored with themselves and declaring conferences dead. I know from experience that there are still a lot of people for whom "real" conferences continue to have value - especially for people who are new to a subject and not one of the chosen few.

And anyway - people like Chris Corrigan, Jon Husband and Johnnie Moore have been applying open space principles to group working for years very effectively. Getting a bunch of people to self-organise round things they feel passionate about wasn't invented by Dave Winer.