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The efficiency of paper

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This picture shows the program of half a day of Gartner ITxpo Orlando 2013. This is a great conference where more than 10,000 people attend to talk about IT trends.

One of those trends is the Digitalization of life – everything becomes digital. But – to the point of this blog entry – does that always mean an improvement?

I have been attending conferences for more than 10 years. Typically there are more sessions than one can possibly attend, so it is an important aspect to find the sessions which are relevant. In the old days, you’d have thick, printed “conference catalog”, showing all sessions, all sponsors and the like. You’d receive the catalog at least 6 weeks prior to the conference and could use it to plan your sessions.

Enter the digital age: the printed catalog is gone. Instead you have a conference web site (“session scheduler”) and -if you are lucky- some printed material once you are arrive – as shown above.

Call me old-fashioned, but I take a printed schedule as above over a web site or app any time (!). Why: (1) for me it is about 5x faster to look at *every* session title to judge whether I find it interesting than in a website. Side note: not all web sites are created equal – some are slow and tedious, making them a pain to use. Than they are 10…20x slower. (2) I can mark in different colors, cross reference with lines, … It is a much richer medium to present complex information.

So HP, RSA, Gartner and others: if you are reading this, PLEASE bring back the conference printed schedule. It cannot be more than US$ 10 to produce – and people are paying $3000 – $5000 for the conference…

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