A conference is defined as a meeting for the interchange of views. Symposium is a conference where various speakers discuss a particular topic. Meeting is a coming together. At one time it was understood that conference, symposium, and meeting meant a physical presence at a particular date, place and time. Today, of course, there are ways too numerous to mention on how to meet without ever leaving ones home physically. Many avenues exist to collectively meet in the digital world. And, if you cannot meet digitally by coming together at a date and time then I can stream live to individuals who want to listen, watch. I used emphasis on the word live as an indicator that I am scratching my head on this term. Think about it for a few seconds. How can I be live all over the world whenever you get around to listening/watching my talk?
I am aware that not everyone can travel at the same time to physically be present at an event. Schedules in life, the cost of travel and admittance, are a few more reasons to prevent attendance. So, some who really want to attend will not be able to be there when the first speaker steps up to the podium. There, you say, is where virtual reality, live streaming, enters the picture. There, I say, is where a point is missed.
As convenient, as inclusive, as live steaming can be, it does not replace face-to-face reality. When traveling to give a presentation, I am not exactly thrilled to be on the road, or sleeping in a motel room, no matter how great. But, once I get there all the inconveniences are forgiven and forgotten. There is nothing like the experience of a crowd of gardeners in one room.
Rhetorical questions: Can you handshake a fellow gardener you have not seen in 5 years finding how pleasing it is to see that person once more? Can you be warmly pleased to have gardeners give you a hug and very large, warm, smile? You could ask me question while I am on live streaming and I could answer them. But, could you stop me at the refreshment table and ask your question with your hand on my arm? There is no replacement for standing inside the 3 foot circle with another gardener and trying to chat over the background noise of 175 other gardeners talking at the same time. Can you go out to dinner after the event with special gardening friends you do not get to see often?
Digital conferences are great tools to augment, but certainly not replace, the reality of physically being there.