Patrick (and all who replied), thank you for this thread.
First - this seems like a good place to mention there will be a free, virtual SIKM Symposium for this community in mid-October. Starting in 2009, this event was held locally in the US as the Midwest KM Symposium. It shifted online last May, and drew a much broader range of participants from all over the world.
Staying online for at least another year will allow more people to join again. It also makes the "Midwest" title a bit meaningless, so we'll retire that name and instead use it as an opportunity to bring SIKM members together and perhaps also bring others into the community. I'll share more details and a save the date in this forum shortly.
You talk about featured speakers vs. convenors and brokers. I love the idea of having more dialogue, and we hope to offer some different formats in the Symposium to encourage this.
You also raise a lot of good points about the advantages of being online vs. in person. I agree there's still something about being physically present together that's hard to replicate online, and I think a lot of it is about attention and distraction. Yes, it's easy to drift off in a dark-paneled ballroom with a flickering screen. On the other hand, in a virtual meeting it's even easier to reply to email in another window, or even leave the meeting entirely to avoid joining a breakout room. There's something about sleeping in a different city for two days that makes it easier to disconnect and re-focus. I suppose I hope those opportunities come back, but that in between, we can also make better use of low-cost, tech-enabled ways to come together.