Similarity. At the back of the conference are some round tables at which people are sitting, laptops sprawling. They're doing what the rest of us are doing: listening but also IM'ing, checking email from time to time, looking up links. Somehow it reminds me being at a drive-in: there's a movie playing at the front, but attending to it is a social event…. [Joho the Blog]
I'm usually one of these people, in the back either with a video camera(it's faster than notes) or my computer, but i'm usually alone or with one or two other people. I think this is because most academic conferences have different expectations than the current set of software conferences that are occuring.