I hosted a panel today at a major new media conference. Roughly speaking, it was a panel about “Visions for the future”.

I managed to get some very high level people as panelists, from such places as ILM, Google and Valve Software. During the lunch meeting before the panel, there was some great energy flowing, with rousing arguments for every side of the issue.

But then when it came to the panel itself, those same people were quite subdued. No fiery answers, no bold conjectures, just a sort of pleasant chitchat.

And I realized that I was probably dealing with people who would rather not go on record in public with their real thoughts, because it might cause some problem for their company down the line.

So there’s the irony: audiences are drawn to a panel partly because of the big names of the companies its panelists work for, yet that very state of employment may stop those panelists from truly speaking their minds.

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