If gathering the elites are exclusive
There’s a place for events being exclusive and invite-only. There’s a place to celebrate excellence. Yet when done in the public eye like a conference that’s priced beyond the pay grade of normal people, what kind of an impact does that have, especially for the next generation? This Business Week article describes an aspect of a possible dynamic between generations:
TED was born in 1984 as an underground dinner party for information designer Richard Saul Wurman and friends from the worlds of technology, entertainment, and design. This year, 1,500 people paid $6,000 each to attend the modern version of TED, held in the Long Beach (Calif.) Performing Arts Center from Feb. 9-13. Five hundred more paid $3,750 to watch a simulcast… Twenty-six years in, TED is showing signs of age. One of the most conspicuous is the makeup of attendees, diverse only in that TED appears to attract a white man from every street in Silicon Valley. … conferences… have struggled with similar issues, like: how to get more inclusive without sacrificing intimacy. How to keep loyalists happy while attracting a younger crowd closer to the headwaters of innovation. And how to get that younger crowd to pay six grand.
For a conference junkie like me, I do wonder out loud… (just a tad ironic that I’m returning from a conference, and #sxsw, the conference of conferences is happening right now in Austin) how can people get access? Are these events a good use of money? Words like “stewardship” are seeping into our venacular. Will people travel to gather for a different kind of event when there isn’t that formulaic production of keynotes and workshops?  cf. a set of Purpose-Driven regional events for small group leaders that describes itself as “a radical new approach to conferences”; a whole book about this concept= Conferences and Conventions: A Global Industry (Events Management), by Tony Rogers, has a chapter titled “The economics of conferences and conventions”