Regarding starting a conference: assuming that you're talking about an actual conference (even a very small one) rather than, say, a group of people meeting in a room, one of the problems you're going to hit is that most general conferences are in theory "underwritten" by some organisation, typically an academic society, in the sense of saying to anyone who wants paying for services/resources "the bill will be paid, even if revenue from attendees is too small". (Of course the underwriter both appoints people it believes will organise stuff well and tracks their performance, so the risk of the underwriting guarantee being called upon are minuscule, but it's there). So if you're thinking about a conference it'd probably be good to try and get at least the first one attached to some larger body.

But there's also the possibility of trying to Azimuth-ify the conference idea itself. I know John has thoughts about virtual and/or telepresence gatherings. I think this is a very good idea, _but_ there's a lot of subtle interaction stuff that goes on at meetings (eg, I can "queue" to someone and my physical presence means I'll probably be accepted into a group conversation, whereas in a virtual world I how do I even visualise what conversations are going on). It's absolutely both worth doing and should be done, but I suspect there's a lot of trial an error. (I've recently ended up in a daily teleconference and still can't "internalise" that when someone on the other end is looking "at" me it means he's looking at a screen where a tiny eye movement means he's looking at the window for one of the other participants.)