Conferences can be fun, they can be interesting, they can be great for seeing and meeting people, but for me, the presentation part of a conference is often underwhelming. People don't show up. I get scheduled at a weird time. Or something goes wrong during the prez. At CCCC.2009, about 15 people attended our panel. In the three days since, three times that many viewers have viewed my presentation online.
A year-or-so-ago I presented at SLSA, and the conference organizers were cool enough to archive presentations after the conference. I like that. A conference, that way, isn't just an event that ends, but a collection of ideas that live on via web publication.
UPDATE: A detailed blog post by Elizabeth Losh covering the session.