What if you threw a conference and everybody came, but no one paid attention? A New York Times event for Web developers drew a crowd who sat and Twittered instead of listening to the speaker.

Portfolio.com's Jeff Bercovici reports on the event:

I just came from The New York Times building, where I took in part of Times Open, "a day-long event for developers interested in working with NYTimes.com as a news and information platform." Apparently there are a lot of those people. I had to sit on the floor because every seat was taken by a 30-ish guy in jeans with a Mac laptop. Most of them seemed to be Twittering the conference as they went, and following each other's Twitter feeds. Surreal moment: At one point, the guy sitting closest to me was reading a blog post containing a photo of the guy sitting immediately behind him.

The speaker was Tim O'Reilly, a book publisher and conference organizer best known for popularizing the term "Web 2.0." We wonder: Did O'Reilly anticipate that the two-way, interactive websites he advocated would one day obviate the need for actual human interaction?

(Photo by William Couch)