Who’s the weakest link at this conference?

It costs a lot of money to get to a conference with travel, staff absent, entry costs and so forth – and if you’re heading there for educational technology – especially in Sydney you’d better pack your own 3G connection.

“Wifi is ubiquitous” they say – except in your room, where they will slug you up to $20 a day for some faint signal. On the conference floor, the wifi dies within minutes, as people lean over to peer into their own private metaverse while the first Power Point of the day grinds itself into your retina.

Today’s EdTech conference goer is truly a global delegate. If each person is connected to just a few hundred cyber-fellows, its increasingly valid to share links, views, resources in our vast and wide land. I won’t mention names, but it’s pretty clear that the ‘big’ venues in Sydney (who charge astronomical fees) simply cannot cope with today’s natural born cyborgs – and not getting the message – or don’t care.

Conference wifi is a given – and yet seems to be run off a $50 Belkin in the managers office most of the time. People wander the halls like digital-zombies asking ‘have you got signal?’ … reducing their computational power to zero. It’s hard to claim Sydney is a international destination for conferences, when I’m yet to visit a venue in 2010 that hasn’t curled up and died before your first coffee.

The weakest link at conferences in Sydney is wifi. Commercial venues are simply hopeless. Don’t bother lugging anything without 3G past your front door. Most presenters and workshoppers I know have given up delivering anything web-based – and don’t even get me started on audio visual quality.

Ironically, people ‘think’ Second Life is a poor cousin for conferences – but if you actually want to ‘learn’, then put aside that $1000 entry fee. Buy a new laptop for your staff instead and wait for Best Practices Virtual Worlds – you won’t be disappointed, and will get to stay at home and stay connected all day for free on your new spuffy laptop – with your friends from around the world. Go on, try it … but then what will all those pro-conference goers do if we’re not sitting in rows watching them excuse their presentation croaking and wifi dumping out.