I’ve been here at ETech since suppertime Monday, and I thought I’d just let my report grow as I went along, which is dumb, because it flies in the face of the medium, and the piece grew tumerously to a really unreasonable size. So I’ll break it up into a bunch of focused fragments. This one is on the conference itself, and whether you’d want to come to it.
I’m not sure. There are people out there saying conferences are over, it’s about camps and unconferences, and I have to say, some of that resonates with me. The parade of people across the stage, some speaking well, some badly, some pitching products, most badly, well it gets kinda old. On the other hand, there’s quite a bit to be said for spending part of an hour listening to someone who’s really got a message to deliver and puts some practice and passion into the delivery. Rhetoric had its traditional place among the Arts and Sciences—and not as the least of them—for a reason. And there’s also something to be said for sitting in a session, your attention wandering, maybe just gazing blankly at your feedreader but maybe with your thinking punctuated by the venue and crowd and the mental background painted by whoever’s talking.
So, I dunno. It costs a lot—really a lot—and I don’t know how to go about putting a value on it. I deeply enjoy the time hanging in the hallways and talking to interesting people, and if you’ve got messages to deliver—I have a bunch, with Sun and Atom and WS-reality and Dynamic Languages and so on—it’s a good way to deliver them. Now, I already have a good way to tell the world things I care about; that would be this blog that you’re currently reading. How many more people do I engage when I get into the conference hotel with them? Like I said, I just don’t know. But I like being there.
Some of the keynoters were excellent. Some otherwise, occasionally the first rows became hazardous due to high wind velocities produced by onstage hand-waving. Almost all of the product presentations were lame; but at fifteen minutes, they were at least short. The track sessions that I went to were mostly pretty good.
I think the world needs things like ETech. I think O’Reilly does a good job of putting it on—the organization and logistics (except for the network, which kept running out of juice) were impeccable. But I wish we could keep the good bits, discard the rest, and make this conference a little more Un.