Todd posted about a cyber salon he attended in Phoenix last month (my home town!), and how he appreciated the chance to share ideas with other teaching professionals. He questioned whether it should be considered professional development, since no one was getting paid to be there.
I work for an English language training company in Shanghai, China. Every Friday the content editors (or curriculum developers, if you will) meet for an informal talk on something related to language learning. There is a different presenter each week, and they can choose whatever topic they want. The talks are not mandatory, but they have become quite popular.
One of the appeals of the talks is being able to break away from the week's routine for an hour to talk about subjects we're passionate about, regardless of whether they're related to our current projects. And I do see passion in the participants. We want to be there discussing language acquisition, and often stay over to delve even further into a topic. Isn't that what it's all about?
I'd say that, if you're passionate about what you do, then even the fun stuff - especially the fun stuff - can be called professional development.
Matt Damon supports teachers
And again behind the scenes
The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. -Steve Jobs