David Warlick just wrote about the possibilities of a new style of high tech conferences where we could participate through networks. I already feel that conferences are reaching me in ways they could not before. I have listened to a number of keynote addresses via podcasts and webcasts. But this is unidirectional. I can't interact with the speakers or the other delegates. The advantage is I don't have to spend the money to get to the conference and I can listen independent of the time the actual session took place. But imagine what it will be like when people can participate more actively from a distance. We have the technology - let's put it to good use.
There are already a number of opportunities for networking. I have occasionally listened to EdTech Talk You can either listen to archived copies of shows or you can listen live. When listening live you can take part in a real time chat with other participants - build community. The show features interesting people in the field from around the world who connect via Skype. If there is room in the Skype conference and a member of the chatroom has been making some interesting contributions, they may be invited to join the Skype conference.
Another interesting model is Tapped In, where educators can connect for real time and participate in a realtime exchange with other teachers and to get information from a leader. Topics are focused and the calendar is available well ahead of time. Goal: join a session.
The possibilities for connection are growing. The world is growing smaller - or flatter!