Webreakstuff blog

We need crafted conferences

I’m a fan of conferences. They provide the right amount of networking and learning to usually warrant the price of admission. Problem is when they don’t, and more and more frequently, we find conferences that do not – we need crafted conferences. Allow me to explain what I mean by “crafted conferences”:

By crafted conferences I mean conferences that exist to educate and facilitate networking. Conferences where there are no sponsored sessions, no product sales and no “featured interviews” (because those are usually sponsored sessions anyway). Conferences where the venue allows people to converse and discuss, because usually, 90% of the knowledge is in the audience and not the stage. Conferences where the curator (or program director) exists for the sole purpose of providing for the audience’s experience, and not (only) that of the speakers and organization.

We need conferences by people who deeply care about other people, and not necessarily about the monetary outcome of the event (although I certainly understand conference organizers need to at the least, cover expenses). Finally, we need crafted conferences to overtake the crappy ones we have now.

Web 2.0 in Berlin earlier this month was a good example of a conference that was subpar (and I say this despite having been a speaker, and being friends with people behind it). The venue was poor, people couldn’t network properly, and there was at least one very blatant product pitch in the main room. Great people behind it, yet a terrible experience. Why?

Got names of conferences where your experience was great? Do talk about them in the comments!

16 comments
  1. HugoNS says: November 28, 20079:13 am

    I never went, but I have excelent references of OFFF (www.offf.ws), that after the last edition in New York, next year it will take place in Lisbon, at Lx Factory, 8, 9, 10 May.
    Beside Offf, i think Reboot (http://www.reboot.dk/) and SHiFT (http://shift.pt)( I’m counting with a 2008 edition) are “crafted conferences”. I think that you already went to this 2 conferences, dont’t you agree, with me?

  2. Rui Lopes says: November 28, 20072:01 pm

    That’d be easy… ACM’s WWW (http://www2008.org for next year’s edition) is the best experience of a conference: equal parts of academia, industry, and standards (i.e, W3C stuff).

  3. Hugo Fernandes says: November 28, 20072:23 pm

    Are you talking about this?

  4. Dave says: November 28, 200711:48 pm

    Our http://www.mplanet2006.com was as about as different as it gets.

  5. chris olberding says: November 29, 20073:28 am

    hear hear. last conference i went to, every presentation was a thinly veiled attempt to promote something. thanks for the links to other conferences.

  6. sharnik says: November 29, 20076:34 pm

    I’d recommend RuPy –
    I may be biased (as I’m one of the organizers), but
    various people liked it. I can also mention that we had a great Geek Party last year, which success we plan to repeat ;)

    We’re collecting talk proposals right now, so it may be a good idea to send something and go as a speaker if you have something interesting to say.

  7. Francisco Costa says: November 29, 20079:09 pm

    Chaos Communication Congress but it´s to €far€ from Portugal!
    I’m glad they put those talks online!

  8. Benjamin Doherty says: December 1, 20072:14 pm

    I attended DrupalCon2007 in Barcelona and it was very much like what you’re describing. http://barcelona2007.drupalcon.org/

  9. raphael says: December 1, 20078:05 pm

    OFFF: always smart but very far from business
    LIFT: nice size, lot of smart persons to talk about. Speakers are variable.
    LEWEB3: good network but poor shared experience. Too much confidentiality.

  10. raphael says: December 1, 20078:07 pm

    and Web2 Berlin: My collegue was very disapointed by the variation of quality.

  11. Hugo Fernandes says: December 3, 200710:18 am

    raphael, that’s the point about OFFF. To run away from corporate business. The very cool thing about OFFF is that inspires you to make new things, to think about how can you be innovative in what you do. If you put that in your business depends on you.

  12. Cristiano Betta says: December 3, 20078:31 pm

    I was in Berlin that entire week and noticed that the conference (and the expo) sucked. But in short: don’t you mean to say you want a Barcamp? Or maybe a bit of an organized Barcamp with less sessions and more networking?

  13. Cristiano Betta says: December 3, 200711:46 pm

    Btw: FOWA 2007 here in London was brilliant this year. Excellent conference and excellent networking event.

  14. blake says: January 6, 20087:06 pm

    Heard of BarCamp? Almost every one I’ve ever been to fits this description…

  15. Fred Oliveira says: January 6, 20088:59 pm

    I have, blake ;-) I was at the first one and we organized a few on this side of the atlantic too. But I didn’t mean “unconferences” when I wrote this post.

  16. Webreakstuff » Next month, MIX08 in Vegas says: February 13, 20084:35 am

    [...] what an ace program this year), MIX in Vegas and SXSW in Austin and although I’ve been pretty unimpressed by conferences as of late (one of the exceptions being Reboot which I was lucky enough to be a speaker at) [...]

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