Fascinating, Jazli. Thanks for writing it up.
I have "attended" two conferences over the last month that I would not have attended in person because some of the talks were interesting but many were not. But joining online is so easy, I could just cherry pick the talks I cared about and could bail partway if the talk was not what I expected.
I have the perception that I'm absorbing a higher velocity of good quality content now that I was by attending conferences. You lose all the wasted time traveling, booking hotels, finding food, shuffling from room to room...
But I have long felt that way about TED talks and sports events. Just let me watch a game on TV. I benefit from the announcers, instant replay, long zoom lenses, and some cutaways to backstories. And yet, many people feel there is no substitute for being there.
I agree, though, that meeting people at the conference can be really good.