Over the past 7 years I’ve probably been to almost every major web industry conference at least once. I can’t remember the last time I saw a good honest disagreeable debate on stage. There’s too much “yeah, totally” and “I definitely agree” and “Absolutely” going around.
Panels of friends
Part of why this happens is that the web design industry as a whole is pretty chummy when it gets together. That’s not a bad thing, but it amplifies the echo chamber.
Another reason why this happens is that when people put panels together they usually put their friends on them. Friends can disagree, but it doesn’t happen in public very often.
Finally, most of the panels I’ve seen aren’t assembled to present three different points of view — they are assembled to present the same point of view in three different ways.
Conferences are meek, Blogs are strong
There’s plenty of debates going on over the web. Take the recent Calcanis vs. Hansson round. And then the recent Norman vs. 37signals exchange. And then there are the savvy provocateurs such as Michael Arrington that suggested 37signals drove a company to the deadpool because we encourage people charge for their products. We didn’t respond on the web, but it would be fun in person.
These back and forths are wonderful. They are passionate, interesting, and heated. People are forced to sharpen their position and everyone learns a thing or two. They expose important discussions and spawn new ones. They also generate a lot of traffic for those involved.
So why does the web have all the good debates? Where are the web conferences pitting two opposing viewpoints on stage? Hearing two passionate points is a great way to reevaluate what you believe. Where’s the web conference called Web Fight Night? I see a big market opportunity.
If anyone wants to set up a conference or special event let us know. We’ll take the side of the “self-funded small business that encourages people to stay away from the VCs, says you don’t need to live in San Francisco to be successful, suggests that charging for your products is a good thing, espouses the advantages of small teams, applauds shorter work weeks with more reasonable hours, rejects the notion of traditional ‘seriousness business stuff,’ and believes keeping it simple is the way to success.”