How current are conferences?
June 15, 2009 ·
As I've been working on my Living in the Cloud talk for CFUnited (since I didn't have to complete it for Scotch on the Rocks), it occurred to me that this is a topic covering stuff I worked on in the middle of 2008 (Broadchoice Workspace, built for Amazon EC2 and S3) and the end of 2008 (migrating Broadchoice Workshop to Amazon EC2). Conferences usually want topics submitted a long way in advance of the conference, even tho' drafts and the final version of the talk can be delivered just before the conference. CFUnited 2009's deadline for topic submissions was December 1st, 2008, eight months ahead of the conference. MAX 2009 opened its call for speakers on March 3rd 2009 and closed it in late April, six months ahead of the conference. Conferences set deadlines far in advance so that they can offer a good roster of speakers and talks because that's what attracts attendees. I've been on the advisory for a number of conferences and getting a schedule out early is key in the battle to boost registration. Our industry moves very fast. Something that's hot in the Fall may not be on anyone's radar today. Something that's hot today may be old, old news by the Fall. Conference committees have to guess what will be attractive, many months in advance - which is extremely hard! And yet, one of the biggest complaints we hear about conferences is when they have the same topics every year - which is a natural consequence of trying to fill the schedule so early: how many brand new topics can you think of off the top of your head? How do you feel about conference schedules? Do you feel they manage to stay ahead of the curve? Do you think there's too much "safe" content? Do you have suggestions for how conference committees can balance the need to publish a schedule so folks will buy tickets against the desire to feature bleeding edge topics? Do you think I'm too concerned about this - and that maybe there's no real issue here?