Why Panels Don’t Help InfoSec That Much

The other day, a brief Twitter rant, followed by a few blog replies led to “that would be a great panel”. I don’t disagree, it would be a fun panel if I was on it, or could participate from the crowd. I’ve been on my share of panels in the past, one about Anonymous, a few about vulnerabilities and related topics. At some point during the Twitter masturbation over the greatness of such a panel, I had an immediate thought that I am probably done with, or at least scaling back on panels.

The next day, I read an article in Time Magazine (Mar 18, 2013) by Joel Stein titled “No Comment”. Only briefly mentioned, but this quote from it sums up my primary problem with panels:

“That’s because most discussions are inane. Not a lot of students are asked to memorize history’s classic panel discussions.”

Some of them are streamed, some get fun quotes live-Tweeted, but none of them are transcribed. As such, the points you can make do not carry a solid reference, or it is buried in the middle of a dozen other points. In some cases, a few quotes are great, but in the full context of the panel it may not carry the same meaning.

What we’re left with is reasonably smart people, arguing with each other, debating away, and ultimately doing nothing to improve the sad state of the industry. We often joke that Twitter and conferences are an echo chamber. If so, panels are those really small acoustic rooms from which no sound escapes.

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