Public Conference, Private Content?

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Rustic Railroad Tracks BlogPic from WinePress of Words.

Many public and a few private organizations would do well to be transparent in their business dealings. Whether it’s sharing public data, exposing the steps used in building lasting relationships, or simply allowing their source code (or company secret sauce) to be tinkered with and improved, transparency can do wonders.

But Adrian Segar of Conferences That Work thinks that this may not be a good thing. Our oversharing, always on, and broadcast everything approach using digital tools has certainly increased exposure for conference presenters, but has it decreased value?

A recent edAccess conference seems to think that DECREASING information shared with the masses is a better tactic than the opposite. With numerous privacy concerns — students they serve and their co-workers, faculty, and assorted staff — it’s a wonder that more conferences haven’t gone this route.

While we’re not condemning social media and sharing/collaborative cultures, there are plenty of topics that just aren’t suited for a wide audience, as no amount of digital security will ease the worries of presenters that show up to discuss sensitive topics.

Best to not record at all, right? What better security could there be if there’s no one live tweeting, live streaming, or furiously taking notes to share with the world?

But for conference organizers, this greatly diminishes the resale value of content produced at these kind of events. No longer can they make any of their money back selling recorded conference sessions, which could lead to higher attendee prices and increased sponsorship needs.

From an attendee’s perspective, this approach seems perfectly in line with the goals of academic-oriented conferences, but without enough assets to sponsor or advertise with, potential sponsors may shy away from the higher prices.

If you’re an attendee, would this matter to you? Would you pay more knowing the experience you’d get would be unavailable anywhere else at any time?

Is exclusivity back in vogue for pragmatic reasons?