What drove me there was the same inner need that got me to the OpenTech conference last weekend, despite the fact it meant a trip to London on a Saturday.
Two weeks ago it took me to York for Shift Happens, an event for those working in the arts to explore new technology, and before that it had dragged me to 2gether08, the strangely-named but fabulously productive convention that arch-networker Steve Moore created by inviting a lot of interesting people to come up with some cool things to talk about.

I am sure that it will take me around the country and indeed the world in years to come, because there is something special about being in the same space as someone else.

However good the video link, however clear the audio, and however anatomically accurate the avatar, sharing the same space and breathing the same air makes a difference to the quality of interaction, especially when you're trying to do something creative rather than being a passive member of an audience.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to improve the various online alternatives to being there, just that we should not expect them to be an adequate substitute in all circumstances.

Online may not be the same as being there, but it does of course have its own special advantages.
Online I can participate in distributed events, meet with people who could never all be present in the same space at the same time, and use the tools to mix synchronous and asynchronous communications to allow a distributed form of participation.

I can even be in two places at the same time. A video feed of every session at 2gether08 was streamed live on the internet, so I managed to sit in a room paying a bit of attention to the discussion about freeing up public data with a headphone in one ear so that I could keep up with the discussion happening downstairs.

And I get to keep a record of my participation. The chat I had with Clay after his talk has vanished, but every word I said to the team from China dialogue in our Skype chat last week is carefully preserved, including the moment when the clock chimed and I thought it was interference on the line.


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Let's Get 7 in IELTS

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