The insight-industrial complex

I don’t like tech conferences. I mean, of course I don’t, they’re not meant for people like me. I’m an introvert, so I find them exhausting, and am (presumably) less likely than an extrovert to meet interesting or contributory people. I read much faster than people talk, so they’re not a good way for me to learn things. But there’s more to my dislike than that.

I find that the actual goal of conferences often seems to be quite distinct from the notional goal. The notional goal is for people to come together to learn about the field in question: some detailed specifics, some new announcements, and an overall general view of the state of the art, all under one roof. Maybe, if all goes well, to even find people to collaborate with in the future.

To the extent that conferences do those things, they’re great. But at too many conferences, those intentions often seem to be incidental to the actual goal, which is to reify the importance and social status of the conference read more