If they come to listen, why do they talk?

Today I attended the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, where a bunch of tech people gathered to hear other people talk about technology. By the time I arrived, the main meeting hall was full so I found my way to an overflow room that had plenty of empty seats.

There was a large video screen up front and the sound was good. I was thinking how nice it was in comparison to the crowded main hall. And then a couple of guys near me started comparing schedules out loud.

They weren’t very loud, but their conversation was constant and distracting. They clearly had no interest in the speaker, and they gave no signs of stopping. I eventually moved to a different seat.

At a later session I experienced the same problem with a different set of people. It isn’t the first time I have made this observation. There are certain people who have no interest in a speaker yet they choose to stay and talk. I wish, if they insist on staying, that they would choose to stay silent.

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