If, as Bilton claims, this could be done just as efficiently through computer bytes, why would the much more expensive production of a physical conference be of any use? The answer is that despite all of our success at making physical proximity matter less, it still does. Google knows this; its offices are mostly unwalled, collaborative spaces. Apple executives still meet in conference rooms from time to time, not necessarily via iPad cams.

The same force drives the phenomenon of Tweet-ups: the need for technological connections to be supplemented by human contact. As wondrous new tech devices allow us journalists to do more on our own, we need to be more vigilant about getting together with other newspeople for a beer and a brainstorm. We’ll all return to our desks with more to offer.

Justin D. Martin is a journalism professor at Northwestern University in Qatar. Follow him on Twitter: @Justin_D_Martin