It seems like a fantastic conference...but I'm not there, just following the blog trail and O'Reillynet's coverage coming out of it. Even without being there I really am enjoying seeing what is happening. I've always believed that the best way that online communication and connection works is if there has been a physical, real, human connection at some point.
The experience of meeting someone physically after communicating with them electronically can really solidify bonds. There also can be the dissonance of the person you constructed in your head vs. the person in the world. My pal Sheila was short and tiny and a bit shy to me electronically--in person she was over 6 feet tall and quite imposing.
Back to the ETech conference...the keynote by Steven Johnson would have been something to see...I've got to get his books... Rael excellently summarized "City of Blogs" and one thing that jumps out is that blogs aren't challenging the news media, they're challenging Google. A neat perspective shift for me.