1) Professional Futurists. These 40-60ish consultants were in abundance at the conference and most of the presentations were in-some-way a sales pitch for their omniscient services.
2) Up-and-comers. These 35-50ish independent or corporate-affiliated futurists were the audience of (1). They walked around with a dazed look most of the time and tried to absorb all of the inherited metis of the conference.
3) Older futurists. These folks regaled the audience with predictions of theirs that had proven true, and lots of anecdotes about how the futuring business has always been this-or-that. They had an abundance of context, most of which was (sadly) ignored or otherwise discounted by (1) and (2). I cannot fathom why younger generations actively choose to ignore the inherited lessons of those older than themselves, as if enacting a surreal magnified extrapolation of a cultural 'Don't touch that stove, it's hot!' admonition.
Two under-represented demographic categories were those under 25 years of age (the people who will actually be living in the future) as well as quantitative, analytical phenotypes. There were statisticians here, to be sure, but everyone seemed to run screaming from any semblance of quantitative analysis. The excuse for this is that the future is too complex of a place to actually quantify. I can somewhat understand this given the personal mind-maps I keep as a result of all my futurist reading, however the conference represents thousands of people with no 'outliers' who Quixotically-attempted to deconstruct the future into some particular schema.
Also, the method of the conference was very traditional. To quote McLuhan, since I am in Toronto,'Architecture is Politics' and 'The Medium is the Message'. Prelate to congregation in church seating. What was absent was any use of modern methods, presentation tools, milling spaces for serendipitous conversations, etc.
The merit of interpersonal relationships made at the conference was one of the primary things mentioned by each speaker, however this was not promoted at the conference except for the prescribed hours of cocktailing after each keynote (from 2130 to 2300 each evening after 0700 meetings each morning).
Internet access was non-existent, the tools were all 'distribute the gospel' hardcopy, and the audio archives of the conference are nearly $200 from an outside firm. They should talk to the O'Reilly folks about their ETech conference coordination.
I met this very-enlightened octogenarian when I was walking out of the hotel to hop a cab to YYZ, and he mentioned the exact same things about the conference.
He thought that the conference was out of touch with the realities 'on the ground', and needed to be updated. I think this proves that age does not mandate perspective, and makes me very optimistic of the boomers and boomer+ generations as they often have much more reasoned and rational insight than my 40-ish peers.
iCal now informs me that I must scurry off to my gate to head stateside. More later.