I return from my vacation and blogging hiatus only to find half the blogging world talking about the so-called R-word. Seriously, what is that all about? Is this like Harry Potter, where people refuse to say You-Know-Who's real name?
Anyway, that's not what I'm really here to write today. I came across the R-word on Rohit Bhargava's fascinating post on 6 reasons virtual events are on the rise. It seems that the growing advantages are now meeting recent financial pressures and providing a boom to this concept.
I accept all of Rohit's reasons, and yet it seems to me that virtual events still apply only to certain types of events. I have nothing against virtual events - heck, I even host one on a weekly basis. Virtual events are great for one-to-many interactions. They actually win versus physical events for all the reasons Rohit mentions (high level speakers, multi-tasking, etc.).
However, here is the question: do we really attend physical events just for the panel, for the information? No, we attend them for the networking, and that's where virtual events are at a disadvantage. It's just not the same without the hors d'oeuvres (or the alcohol), the funny name tags and counting how many business cards you've collected.
So are physical events on the way out? I don't think so, but it's likely that those events that can be virtualized - will be.