After discussing all the new/newish ways to keep in touch last night over beers, I’m thinking the newer technologies (e-mail, file sharing, video chat, twitter, facebook) actually increase the benefit of meeting in person at least for academics.For non-academics technological connections may improve the face to face interactions, if I'm keeping up our relationship through one of the above technologies.
For an academic, if I go to a conference I can see new research and maybe find someone new to write a paper with. But I have to travel, which has both a monetary and opportunity cost. Unlike, say 10 or 15 years ago it’s a lot easier to work with someone in another part of the country or the world. Yet, even though academics could probably all put their presentations on Youtube for much lower costs than travel we still go to meetings indicating that meeting in person is still superior to the technological alternative.
Granted sometimes as I’m sure a co-author of mine will attest there are benefits to say a conference in Hawaii