There will come a day when panels go the way of the typewriter. The time has come for them to evolve or disappear. Having run in these circles for the entire decade, here are some observations:
1. Panels promote simplistic soundbites ("we need to mobilize communities to solve problems"), which can be frustrating when you actually have a decent understanding of the topic.
2. In their short allotted time, panelists lean on anecdotes that may or may not be representative ("anarchist evangelicals"?).
3. Like meals at Chinese restaurants, panels throw a ton of information at you, leaving you satiated at first, but hungry two or three hours later.
Panels need to be small- three people max, plus a moderator who lacks self-indulgence.
Panels in the 21st century have to be multi-media presentations.
Panelists should know their audiences.
I will soon cross-post on itsgettinghotinhere.org about my favorite presentation, a mostly solo-act by environmental activist Van Jones.
Oh, and the free beer starts in an hour, which should help.