Affordable Technology Conferences

Via Jared Fretwell:

I think I have an idea for one of your upcoming YouTube videos. As a young technology enthusiast, I started to think of more interactive ways to get involved with the world of technology. After watching some of your Gnomedex conference videos, I started to do more research on similar conferences to yours. One of the other leading conferences I came across was the Web 2.0 Summit. However, once I saw the price tag for attending one of these events, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to attend any of these conferences off my wages working at Best Buy. So with that said, why do these conferences cost so much money to attend? I understand that the planners of the conference buy all kinds of goodies for the guests, but is that the main reason? I’m guess the rest goes to paying the guest speakers? How can a 19 year old like myself get around to attending one of these beneficial/expensive events? Are there more cost thoughtful ones I can look into? Till then, I’ll just stick to watching the recordings of all the keynotes on YouTube!

You know, having been a part of the conference production process, I can tell you that it’s extremely time consuming. What you experience at a typical event happens due to months of coordination and planning by several individuals and teams.

It costs money because… well, THINGS cost money.

You have to decide (for yourself) if the value that an event provides you is above and beyond what it would cost you to attend. However, simply “watching videos online” doesn’t do an event justice – you’re getting 10% of what a conference provides.

“Expensive” is relative.

Conferences are valuable not because of the content on stage, but the connections made with the crowd. You might argue that the same “feel” can be seen in a comment thread or two, but… well, a YouTube comment thread is about as valuable as a festering bowl of dog snot.

Free events are great, too – but with no cost filtering in place, you’ll often be rubbing shoulders with bozos instead of bingos; a few dollars often separate wheat from the chaff. “Free admission” is often shrugged off as something lacking value.

My suggestion for anybody serious about making a business in the world of technology is to get the f*** out of their house. You have to meet people in real life, you have to be seen on the scene. You also don’t want to be known as the person who only sees value in free (or comped) events – what would that say about you and your business practices?