Just a few days from now, EMC World will go into full swing in Las Vegas. Nearly 10,000 IT and business professionals will sequester themselves in the Mandalay Bay conference center for three-plus days of intense learning, sharing and brainstorming. (I'm not entirely sure about the 'sequester' part, but that's what we all tell our significant others, anyway...).
EMC World is devoted to the discussion of digital information-- how to manage it, store it, protect it, and wring every drop of value from it. So, given that I try and use this space to explore ways of determining and expressing the value of information to our economy and society, EMC World is a perfect event to give me a bit of pause: after all, how does one calculate the informational value of a conference dedicated to discussing ways to maximize....informational value...?
How does one set out to calculate the amount on information that will be shared? What's the digital equivalent of 24,000 person-days of intense discussion, dissertation and diagramming (yes, that's 24,000 days) packed into three-plus calendar days? How much will be learned? Discovered? Captured and brought back to the thousands of organizations that participate? A ton, that's for sure. Just looking at the time value of attendees and the physical costs associated with putting on such an event, including travel and such, it's easily a $50 million investment made by our industry on behalf of getting smarter at solving the challenges of information and information infrastructure.
A day at EMC World, or any similar conference, also teaches some important lessons about the nature of social media. After all, what medium is more social than a face-face, multi-day conference where attendees learn together, eat together, and socialize together for every waking minute? Could on-line social media replace that experience? I don't think so. And that's something worth remembering. The on-line social experience is no match for the physical one in many ways.
But here's where the physicality of EMC World falls short. After three days or so, all the attendees will make their way out of the Nevada desert and back to the 20+ nations from whence they came. And unfortunately, a large part of what happened in Vegas will stay in Vegas-- the party will end and much of what's discussed and learned will be left behind. That's all the output of those 550 breakout sessions, over 100 different demo's , thousands of 1-1 white board sessions and tens of thousands of casual conversations.
So we're using on-line social media to try and keep the party going-- with discussion forums and networking tools that hopefully can extend and amplify the energy that's created at "EMC World The Event", and turn it into "EMC World, The never-ending experience". Our goal is to explore the synergies between the physical and digital social fabric. We want to bring together the best of both and create a seamless experience across all our interaction points, to leverage every second of every minute that EMC, its partners and its customers invested in those few days in Las Vegas.
We'll keep you posted on how it goes. If you have any thoughts on how we should proceed, we'd love to hear them.