I don't think there is typically tons of beans spilling about what is cutting edge... maybe problems that are already starting to be mass exploited and are already on the way out...and by helping solve the mass market problems advanced SEOs only increase the competitive bar for new potential competitors entering the marketplace.
I think the need for validity is a good reason for communication, but from what I have seen many of the people who hover around Matt at conferences are pulled in by a small crowd becoming a big crowd...people see others there and feel that they are missing out if they do not listen in. Surprisingly some of those people do not even notice when a Google founder walks by.
case and point:
At the Googleplex last year Matt was in a corner with waves of people surounding him. A few minutes later I saw Larry Page walk by and nobody even noticed him.
I think Matt is a funny guy and has an alternative perspective worth realizing and trying to understand...for all SEOs. One only needs to look at Google's recent reply to the DOJ
to see how important he is to Google. I think the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes in small groups where he is accessible is pretty damn cool. Because of the Matt gravity effect you can't do that too well at conferences, but can after hours.
I think you can also probably learn from Matt's nonverbal communications, but he is probably better than average at learning from others.
He and Danny Sullivan are surprisingly alike, in that in spite of having a rediculous amount of things on their plate they are both really accessible. I have a hard time keeping up with stuff and have like 0.00000001% of the responsibility they do...I don't know how the heck they do it all.