A couple of comments here got me thinking about conferences that address our issues and thoughts.
Personally, I don't have a problem with a good mix of academic topics mixed in with "industry tested"
practices. The theoretical academic research is very important and needed to advance our field forward - for this reason we shouldn't look down on it and should support it equally. Any intelligent person out there can take academic concepts and try their own application of the principles at work. It may not be perfect but someone has to apply it to our commercial purposes.
What I would like to see more is the conferences taking a more user-centered approach, by giving out surveys about topics, asking for previous attendees feedback, (apply this to each phase of the conference for example: lectures, presentations, posters, workshops, tutorials, fees and even external factors like location of conference, issues etc. Why not apply our favorite user-centered methods to our own activities?
I attended the IA summit in '03 and was happy with the mixture of research and commercial topics covered but no one in the organization asked for any feedback. A quick survey would have done the trick. I think I've seen Lou Rosenfeld use an online survey before for one of his presentations, perhaps he could give us some pointers about conference / presentation "best practices" ?