Hornik, Canter & the Momentary Merits of Conferences

David Hornik of August Capital has taken a shot at the titleholder, Marc Canter, of most active conference-goer on the planet — and conceded that the title is still Marc’s to keep. Hey, it was worth a shot, but Marc’s the champ for a reason.
More seriously, it is worth pointing out why I and so many others are attending more conferences these days. After all, conference attendance is a horrible waste of time, with much spurious information, too much wasted time in travel, and it is straight-up costly once you bundle in hotel, travel, car, and so on.
So why do it? Well, for a long spell I wasn’t, but I am now because we are at a kind of technology & market inflection point. There is an organic coalescence going on around some nascent platforms, technologies, ideas, and so on — broadly this could be called Web 2.0, but I’ll cede that label to O’Reilly — and attending these things is currently the best way to get an in-you-face idea of where the smart people are looking. It’s a kind of “follow the alpha geeks” strategy, to paraphrase a meme.
Of course, once it turns from this fumbling about into venture bakeoffs of early-stage Web 2.0 companies it will be sign that the cycle is peaking and over-funded. But for now it is useful to wet your finger and stick it out in the breeze at these things.

Related posts:

  1. Why are Technology Conferences So Bad?
  2. Time-to-Laptop (TTL) at Conferences
  3. The art of academic conferences
  4. WSJ, Beach Volleyball, and the Merits of “Most Popular” Articles
  5. On the Merits of Bad Ideas


  1. Bill Seitz says:

    But how much more breeze do you feel at a conference vs from just reading blogs, etc.?

  2. Paul K. says:

    Speaking for myself, it’s 80/20. I get 80% of the content from hallway conversations, and 20% from on-stage stuff.
    To your question … how effective are blogs at communicating the same thing? They’re better at the on-stage stuff than the hallway conversations, but they’re not bad at both. Nevertheless, it’s still more efficient for me to intermittently soak in stuff in meat-space.