Coniecto is blogging the European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM) and mentioned an experiment of the conference organizers in her Day 1 review.
Daniele Chauvel and Gilles Proriol from Cognito presented a visual map of topics included in the papers and diverse corelations. It could have been very interesting, but as long as keywords were arbitrarily picked up by every author, I don't think it was relevant enough.
This could grow into a tool to be used by conference organizers- to be provided on the conference CD. Having the ability to search for other people interested in the same topics would be of great help in locating them on time. In a 200 people conference like this one, it is difficult to manage to meet every person you would like to meet. This time, the organizers succeeded to match papers in sections excellently- but even so, you're always interested by other topics too, and some choices are very difficult to make.
Not only on the conference CD, but also in the pre-conference materials to extend the ability for people to get a feel for what the conference is about. Particularly for conferences like MeshForum (www.meshforum.org), in which I am involved, where the whole point is to bring together people from disparate-but-thematically-related disciplines. What a great way to demonstrate how someone from airline route planning is related to social networks and to biological networks.
Note: We all know that blogging is really the "next best thing to being there" for those conference you can't attend around the planet.