I recently attended ECKM 2010 in Portugal and one of the participants, Kalle Tomingas, an amateur photographer, captured the social side of the conference so well in his photographs.
In an email, later, to Daniela Castrataro I commented:
"Yes I loved Portugal and Kalle's photos really captured the conference. I do like the ECKM conferences as they are so social. I think every conference should have a professional photographer to capture the spirit of the event - and its not that its an expensive thing to do :-)"
To which she replied:
"I think you're right about the photographer but I think that when we start adding the word "professional" to things, we somehow limit them. Talking about a photographer at a conference, he would certainly capture beautiful images and colours, actions, important moments, but the real essence will probably be missed out. If Kalle was called to take pictures at ECKM as The Professional Photographer, he would have seriously focussed on his job and probably missed the interaction and the 'social' of those days, and with that the true spirit of the event.
It's exactly the same difference that we have between conferences and your Knowledge Cafes. Conferences put pressure on people to do their job in a serious, formal and "professional" way. This will never change. I'm not saying that nothing good comes out of conferences, but it's a very slow process and often an empty exercise, which keep the brains stuck on the same ideas and beliefs for too much time. In just one hour of knowledge cafe you can get as much content, interactivity, flexibility, new ideas, opinions..., as you will get in 10 year of ECKM (maybe)!"
Daniela is of course right. I never do like that word "professional" and I am not too sure why I used it. I have written about my dislike for it in the past.
Some how "being professional" seems unnatural and is the antithesis of "being human".