That's what Scott Oser is asking on the Acronym blog, and it's an interesting question. I have sort of a love/hate thing going with social media: I love the connections and the things I learn and the insights I get into people I don't know all that well but would like to, but I hate how big a time-suck it can be. I've been jamming getting Association Meetings through its production cycle lately, and have been feeling this strange hole where my nightly twittering/facebooking/etc./etc. used to be. Yet it's strangely freeing, too, to just let that whole world pass me by for a while.
Anyway, social media and meetings...I don't see any conflict there. Scott talks about how the sessions aren't as educational for him as they used to be, but I think that has more to do with the number of conferences he's gone to than the social networking thing. I felt the same way about shows I'd been to repeatedly back in the days when the Internet was just a gleam in Al Gore's eye (sorry, that was lame). I think it just adds another layer, another form of networking, around the live event. Jeffrey Caufaude in a comment does add a good cautionary note that we not get so caught up in the coolness of all this backchannel stuff that those outside that particular digital loop end up missing out on something, but generally I don't see social media as competing with live events at all.
I'll be talking with someone who knows a lot more about all this than I do--Web master C. David Gammel, tomorrow. If you have any burning questions, let me know so I can ask him.
And stay tuned for the podcast, which hopefully I'll post by tomorrow afternoon. This should be a hot one!
Update: It's up. Here's the podcast post.