Wish you were here?

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We’re in the middle of a pretty intense week, conference-wise. SQL Rally just wrapped up its inaugural event (which seems to have a great, positive buzz surrounding it), and TechEd North America 2011 is just about to kick off. These are both great events, and you’ll pay good money to get access to the information they make available, but just how valuable is physical attendance?

A few things came together this week that got me thinking about tele-presence, and how it applies to events. I’ll be first in line when it comes to defending the value of networking, and having the opportunity to ask questions, and I’m not suggesting that snippets of video (live or otherwise) and post-event blogging will ever be a sufficient substitute for attendance.

However…

I’ve recently encountered a number of events which have offered a discounted “Live Stream ticket”, and SQL PASS, by making all of the event sessions available on DVD for less than the price of a full ticket, are effectively doing the same thing. This is excellent, as it puts great information within financial reach of more people. But it also implies a financial value on physical presence. In the case of SQLPASS, they’ve estimated that just being present at the event is worth (assuming all 3 days and pre/post-con seminars and early-bird dates, but not counting travel and accommodation) at least $795.

I don’t yet know how much value I’d put on this, so I’d be really interested to hear whether you think virtual attendance gives you more bang for your buck, or if you think you’re missing out on something essential by not being there? And just how valuable is physical attendance to you?

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