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Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Care About Tech Conferences? 197

An anonymous user is "just starting a programming career," and has several questions for Slashdot's readers: What exactly is the role of tech conferences? I always assumed they were mostly for exhibitors to pitch me things, but then what's in it for me? Am I just going there to network, or am I learning new cutting-edge techniques and getting enlightened by awesome training sessions? Or is it just a fun way to get a free trip to Las Vegas?

And then what's in it for my employer, who's paying to send me there? If my boss has to approve the cost of attending a conference, what's going to make him say yes? I mean, do employers really get enough value from that extra conference-only information to justify sending off their employees for several days of non-productivity? (Don't they know all that networking could lead me to job offers from other companies?)

It's always been a little intimidating the way people talk about conferences, like everyone already knows all about them, and drop the conference's name into the conversations like you should already know what it is. I always assumed people just attended only conferences for their current programming language or platform -- but is there more to it than that? What exactly is the big deal?

I'm struggling to even find the right metaphor for this -- is it a live interactive infomercial or a grand gathering of geeky good will? So leave your best answers in the comments. Why do you care about tech conferences?
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Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Care About Tech Conferences?

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  • Time away from the desk? maybe a new city to check out?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think it's just an opportinity for the middle management to get drunk with their buddies. You can literally get all the product information, customer experience stories and analyses from the Internet. Hell, often even before the conferences. In my opinion there are very few cases where such trips are useful and justified anymore.

      Ignore all the conference bs and just be fucking awesome in your own area of expertise.

      • Conferences give you dedicated time to do all of that though. A lot of people have trouble getting that at work.
    • Re:obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @06:12AM (#53810729)

      In your office it is very easy to get stuck with your own way of doing things and your companies approved products. You could be suffering at your job and you don't know it. Going to these conferences even just visiting the sales booths you get to see what else is out there and how to approach a problem differently. Realizing you may need a new class of products to stay competitive. That is companies pay for people to go to these. Also it gives your company exposure too. Sometimes those vendors may not sell anything to you but can become a partner were you can both expand the customer base.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:13AM (#53810123)

    If it's on your employer's dime.

    For you: fun, broadening, exposure to more of what the industry segment is about, chance to make connections which could prove valuable to your career, opportunities to attend technical seminars or paper presentations which will clue you in to what academia or standards groups are up to.

    For your employer: a way of rewarding selected employees with a nice perk, boosting their morale, gflying the company flag to keep up name recognition with others in the industry, giving them a chance to get a clue about what academia or standards groups are up to.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And return to no work being done so now you are a week behind because you work for a bunch of inept fucktards who let tasks sit instead of doing any of them.

      • A really moronic assertion. One can work while travelling and address any hot items. The idea that they should not make the trip even if it's needed is inane

        I've attended conferences - CES, ESD and JEDEC. In the case of JEDEC, I had to go w/ my company's proposal and present it to the committee. The agreements are usually made in teleconferences in advance, so the conference is just a way of formally endorsing things that have already been voted on. This was in Toronto, so I did a bunch of

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:26AM (#53810155)

      chance to make connections which could prove valuable to your career,

      Absolutely this bit. Don't underestimate the networking opportunities at these kinds of events. If you go for no other reason than just networking then it's still invaluable.

      If you're not good at networking, then practice and learn before you go.

    • There may be a deeper value to a company on top of these: Networking. It is important for managers and sales people to have a good network, and looking to the world of science, it is perhaps even more important there; but scientists are less under the yoke of business demands, so can go to some serious nerd fests. The problem, I find, is that because engineering, and especially SW engineering, lies somewhere between business and science, the conferences that you will be allowed to take part in, will too oft

  • I don't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:13AM (#53810127)

    I'm old enough to remember a time where tech conferences were actually useful, when actual techies were present that actually knew about the tech.
    Of course, there were already salespeople there, as well. But both categories knew their stuff:

    One could actually learn something, get good information from insiders, pose and get immediate answers to relevant questions, access that was hard to get otherwise, in those days.

    But it has been decades since that state of things. I have stopped going to tech conferences when they started getting populated by junior sales folks and booth babes only. All you seem to get now is some bored young person handing you a flyer before losing eye contact and returning to whatever is more interesting on that smartphone screen. I'm making it a caricature, but that's what it feels like to someone like me..

    I can get that flyer as a PDF without leaving the office.. and a lot more information, online.. So why bother going to a conference?

    Anonymous Old Grumpy

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tell me more about these "booth babes", good sir.

    • Re:I don't (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @03:00AM (#53810373)

      One could actually learn something, get good information from insiders, pose and get immediate answers to relevant questions, access that was hard to get otherwise, in those days.

      Yes, that's the big difference. Going back maybe 15-20 years, if you wanted to learn a programming language, you bought a book or read the manual or help text that came with your compiler. We did have online programming communities to some extent, but they kept in touch through forums like bulletin boards or electronic mailing lists or Usenet groups. Discussions would take place over days or even weeks instead of the minutes or hours they often last nowadays. Those discussions were usually more civilised than a lot of online forums are today, but there were no YouTube videos of presentations by the key people who actually designed the languages and tools you were using, we had manually curated FAQs instead of the huge Q&A sites like Stack Overflow today, and so on.

      In that context, going to a conference meant an opportunity to meet the experts at the top of a given ecosystem, watch presentations on the next big things they were working on, and even pick up a copy of the new version of your favourite compiler to take back.

      Of course, today, we do have much better online channels. We can watch presentations on YouTube whenever we're ready. We can pose questions in forums and have a fair chance that more experienced programmers will answer them within minutes, and we can collaborate with other leaders in close to real time if we're in that expert position for some particular subject ourselves. We can share code snippets for peer review, download the latest tools, or upload our contributions to community projects. And we can do all of these things from the comfort of our own homes/offices, without worrying about where we're going to stay overnight, or who's going to look after the kids, or the frustration and abuse that is common with long distance travel in the 21st century.

      In short, most of the key advantages conferences used to have don't really matter any more, and business travel isn't what it used to be either. Some people argue that they're still worthwhile for "networking", whatever that means. I'm pretty sure I have far more opportunities to connect with other people who share my interests online today than any conference ever offered, though.

      • Re:I don't (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shanen ( 462549 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @03:40AM (#53810457) Homepage Journal

        I knew that reply was going to be here, but I feel like you mostly wasted your thoughtful reply on an invisible AC.

        I would say the same thing, but perhaps too briefly as "Improvements in network communications have largely addressed the communications problems that technical conferences used to help with." You didn't mention bandwidth, but I think conferences have also become relatively slow mechanisms when it comes to information exchange. The logistical problems are the same as they ever were and require the same amounts of preparation and lead times. Only the marketing has gotten slicker (but shallower).

        Going meta again, but I think the question would have been more useful with some background about trends in attendance. Maybe they're bigger and better than ever and it's just me who's gotten jaded?

      • Conventions provide surprises. Products you didn't know existed that can be used in your work. Hands-on exposure to competitor's products, so you can see what they've done wrong and improve on what they've done right. Get a feel for what other people think of your company's products. A creative boost. A vacation-like day that's still focused on technology.
    • >I'm old enough to remember a time where tech conferences were actually useful, when actual techies were present that actually knew about the tech.

      We still have them. You just have to be one of the techies. Once the marketdroids take over, it's expensive and dead. Tech conferences run by techies for techies are cheap and fantastically productive. Crypto conferences provide a pretty rich vein and in the US, the IEEE puts on a lots of events with particular focus. If you can get on the academic retreats an

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tech conferences are mainly a PR stunt that generates little to no business to a company. For the most part they are just (unsuccessful) advertisement which is the reason why they are losing popularity and most companies are only attending one a year (if any).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:23AM (#53810147)

    System level programmers (OS, codec, driver, browser, compiler, etc...) don't benefit much from conferences. But people closer to the IT level do. For example, I am a former system level developer and now am writing IT automation systems. Without conferences, I would lack access to resources of information from companies like Microsoft and Cisco regarding automation tools and APIs.

    A great example would be Powershell DSC which is like Puppet, Chef or Ansible but likely to be supported for the next 20 years. Powershell DSC has tons of documentation, but there is no training or structured books on the topic which are relevant to current versions.

    I can spend 1000 hours figuring it out or I can go to Microsoft Build or Ignite and corner a developer from the team and get it spelled out to me in 10 minutes.

    While I'm at the show, I can learn that 125,000 lines of code and 6 months of work I have planned for the year which I'll have to support already exists but isn't obvious where it could be found.

    So, for $10,000 for plane tickets, hotel, food, show entrance, etc... I can probably save my company $100,000.

    Oh, and of course while I'm there, I can build my social network and find like minded individuals.

  • Knowledge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MasseKid ( 1294554 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:25AM (#53810151)
    It's all about knowledge. The technical talks are rarely, if ever worth attending. Let's face it, now one is going to give out trade secrets in those things. At best, they are a minor muse towards how you could do something. The real benefits in conferences is seeing things you didn't know existed. Do you need a 10+2 1/10G ethernet, mil-rugged, layer 3 switch in a forum factor the size off your fist? If you do, then hell knowing the right company is the difference between a project going bust and making it. Conferences are about sharing knowledge of the technology that exists that you don't know about, not about saving costs on commodity items. No one is going to go to a conference and say "zomg, I just saved my company 50% on the price of steel!".
    • Re:Knowledge (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aldousd666 ( 640240 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @02:18AM (#53810277) Journal
      True, but you're speaking only from a hardware perspective. I have been to 'good conferences' where they have talks that spark me to research new ideas that eventually lead to productive lines of inquiry (RailsConf or in a previous life, PDC) and ones that are just advertisements or feature "Touchy Feely" talks about programmer sentiment and egos (RubyConf, total Yuck.) The ones that make me think, or research, are worth it. Even some of the keynotes (RailsConf 2016, keynote by Paul Lamere, from Spotify, fired my imagination and prompted me to take 6 months of courses on Big Data and Machine learning, which will eventually pay my employer dividends and then some,) by big names in their fields are worth the entire costs. It just means you need to know where to go, and what to look for, and what to avoid. Talks about diversity for the sake of coloration, or whatever, are little more than rants about unfairness, which leads to nothing company 'costs' if you buy in to them. But ones about how they take advantage of technologies (like one I saw [by a woman, speaking of diversity, which didn't even mention the fact that she was a woman -- BECAUSE THAT ISN'T THE IMPORTANT PART] about how Github used the Scientist gem to migrate their entire security structure without any downtime...) they can lead to local 'breakthroughs.' My advice is to stay away from 'touchy feely' conferences about developers and how they 'feel' at work, and to go to those that focus on the actual state of technology and what's out there and how to use it for your own personal, professional, and business's growth. Being around people who care about the same things, especially when those things are putting numbers on the board, is a great thing. NOT ALL CONFERENCES ARE CREATED EQUAL. That's just how it is. Do your research up front.
    • Let's face it, now one is going to give out trade secrets in those things.

      Not trade secrets, but non-public information is possible. Apple's WWDC is famous for working like that. Most of the sessions are under NDA, and it's when they present all the new technologies that will be coming in future OS updates. If you want to find out about those technologies in advance, going to the conference is really useful.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Though I've only been to one. Basically the headliner(s) masturbate on stage while the audience crowds around and oohs and ahhs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      That sounds better than the conferences i've been to, what one was it? I must attend next time...

      • I've been to an industry conference which included Ron Jeremy shooting a porno at one of the after parties. It's called Internext (formerly IA2000). It's the online porn convention. The booth babes aren't random models hired for the show, they are the porn stars who actually work for (and occasionally own) the companies at the booths. Everybody who was anybody in porn was there. (This was several years ago, I don't know what attendance is like now.)

        One year, they had us split between two conference rooms a

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:39AM (#53810185)

    I think the days of going to tech conferences just to see vendors are long gone. Most I've been to have either a handful or no vendors.

    The reason I like going to tech conferences, is actually to take a step back from day to day work in the industry and think about larger trends. Where is your field going? What is the leading edge of things being done? Do you agree with the common assessment about ways to approach solving problems?

    Basically, to think and inspire new ideas...

    Also of course there are the people. You can't really know until you get to any given conference what the people that attend are like, but to to as many people as you can. The parties (if they are parties) are nice, but more spectacle and harder to talk to people at - find people between sessions and talk to them, just say hi and ask them what they are working on and why they are there.

    When I say talk to as many as you can, listen to Clint Eastwoon and "know your limitations". For a lot of us social interaction is draining so if you've maxed yours out, don't feel bad not chatting for a while. Do what you can.

    These days more and more content is online or streamed so there may not be as much reason to go. But it's still good to just have that break from work and routine, otherwise the videos may be there but you will not watch them or really pay attention they way you do if you are there.

    • I agree with this. I have been inspired by speakers at conferences. I have even learned a few things. And all of them were technology related. You just have to do your research up-front and know if you're in for a techie conference, or one that's only ostensibly techie, and is instead about tech culture. The cultural ones are nearly complete garbage, while the tech ones can be entirely inspiring.
      • A few things about culture can be OK, hard to have a modern conference without them - but you want a conference that at the core has some technically impressive material. You can usually tell either from the schedule for the conference, or the schedule from past conferences f there's not one up yet.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:42AM (#53810193)
    It was a reward for getting stuff done.

    In the 80's I wanted to go to a Usenix conference in Mission Valley. Boss said "why would I send you there". Me: "because for the past 3 years you've sent me to a week long conference in Vegas that I didn't want to go to and couldn't contribute". Boss: "But your good at what you do (telemetry), and I thought you liked those trips. Me: I don't gamble, I don't deal with customers well, I hate crowds. Boss: No.

    Ended up paying the entrance fee myself and taking vacation days.

    Did I mention Mission Valley was 10 miles from my condo? No airfare, no hotel, no food chits? Something like $60 and a couple days off, and I learned more at that damned USENIX than I did in 8 years of that stupid show in Vegas.

    Best show? Got an all expense paid show to New Orleans, before Katrina. What sucked? Took the wife. I'd do the show, get to the hotel, and say "Ya know, I'd like to see foo" . Her response? "I saw foo yesterday, what else do you wanna see?".

    Of course, back then companies would reserve 3-5 airplane seats 6 months in advance, then a couple days before the show decide who got to go. That all ended well before 9/11 when airlines decided they could charge fees for changes.
    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Here if I choose to go to a conference paid with my own pocket, it is considered training nonetheless, and I do not use vacation days.
  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @01:55AM (#53810223)

    I've gone to quite a few different events (both as an attendee and as a speaker), including free events, pricey events, events where I went for my own reasons, events where I went for an employer or a client, etc.

    Here are the criteria I have found that help me judge whether I should really care about the specific conference:

    • Cost: cheaper is better, because if the event costs $$$ to attend you know you are getting the business-only crowd where most of them have expense accounts, or plenty of manager-types, or any of a number of other elements that make the conference decidedly less "tech" (sweet spot is $0-$100)
    • Size: too small and you might not get much out of it, too big and you definitely won't get much out of it (sweet spot: 100-1000 attendees, though the number of sessions, tracks, etc., plays an important role as well)
    • Schedule: if it is on a weekend, you know it is all about people who love/enjoy the topic so much that they give up their own free time to hang out with a bunch of other people who are similarly inclined; if it is during the week it is an expensable business boondoggle, though there are some exceptions that I can think of, like DebConf (sweet spot: weekend events)
    • Bonus: If John "Maddog" will be there, you probably want to go, and if he will be speaking (as he often does) you would be a fool to miss it

    For me, this mostly means that I end up attending events that resemble meetups, Linuxfest-type, coding workshops, hackathons, etc. While some of them do have vendors, the type of events which I favor make it pretty easy to stick to the "interesting" parts and avoid the vendors altogether.

    Of course, if you want to just go and socialize, just about any event will end up with groups of people that skip all the sessions and do nothing but talk.

    • I like this list a lot, I disagree with one point though: I don't find he weekend thing matters at all, plenty of devoted people will also go during the week as well. They may be taking vacation to do so which is even more impressive than taking a weekend... I think all of my favorite conferences have been mostly during the week.

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Thanks about reminding me about DebConf...Pity I missed last year, this year location is not that appealing.
  • by Natales ( 182136 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @02:01AM (#53810229)
    If you go to a conference that is part of an active community, the biggest benefit IMHO is the human networking. Get to mingle with people who share your interests, values and ideas, and learn from others, teach what you know, and just get to have interesting discussions that can influence the direction of the project.

    In my 29 years in the industry, I've attended many, many conferences. They all have their peak years and peak value, until they don't. Some communities just grow too large and become too broad. Networld+InterOp was one of my favorites to attend back in the 90s, but they grew too much and became too dominated by vendors. Sadly, the same has been going on with the OpenStack community in recent years, with the additional annoyance of petty fights about direction.

    The folks at the Cloud Foundry Foundation [cloudfoundry.org] keep their conferences deliberately small and targeted to the core audience, which makes them much more enjoyable, although it becomes harder to get talks accepted.

    And let's face it, some conferences (particularly vendor conferences) are not very valuable, but they throw great parties, with lots of swag, free booze and just plain fun with single-serving friends. Those also have their niche, and there is nothing wrong with that either.

    Just be clear what do you (or your employer) want to get out of the conference and go from there.
  • by Rophuine ( 946411 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @02:08AM (#53810247) Homepage

    > Am I just going there to network, or am I learning new cutting-edge techniques and getting enlightened by awesome training sessions? Or is it just a fun way to get a free trip to Las Vegas?

    Yes. You're going there to network - not just with companies who might hire you away, but with potential future colleagues you might help to recruit. You're going to talk to other attendees about what they're doing, compare notes on what works and what doesn't, and meet subject-matter experts who you can tweet if you get stuck. You're going to get invited to the local tech community Slack, where you can do all of the above (and more) even after the conference is over.

    You might well be enlightened by the sessions - you'll probably run into at least a few things you didn't know about before. You're unlikely to learn all the details, but you'll at least find out that the thing exists, and probably enough information to decide whether it's worth investigating further at work (or away from work). Speaking of away from work, it's likely to pique your interest about things which aren't relevant at work (yet), possibly enough that you'll investigate them on your own time.

    The free trip to Vegas (/ wherever) shouldn't be ignored. Having a good time, and associating that good time with work having paid for it, shouldn't be under-valued - it's likely to be reflected in your productivity and loyalty.

    Many of these things are great for your employer as well as for you. What manager doesn't want a team filled with well-connected, loyal, enthusiastic developers who are interested in the latest developments in tech and may well do some learning on their own time as well?

  • For me, I've been able to have booths to demo software systems that my team and I work on. Having them at shows is similar to running focus group tests. We let people try out the software with limited or no instruction whatsoever to observe how each person uniquely uses the software, we see what is confusing for users, and what we can do to improve their overall experience. For us, it is all about user experience when it comes to shows, it is an invaluable resource to see people interacting naturally, inste

  • For some reason, I simply don't make the time to really dive into certain subjects. With a conference, I often come to the US and leave the family in Europe. So there's nothing else that draws away the focus. Lots of times with iOS conferences, you can book a day with an intensive workshop before the talks start, and that's really nice as well.

  • I'm a 40-year industry 'veteran' and have been to a great many conferences. In the main, my employers paid for (usually) expensive tickets.

    However, I often find nowadays that the informal ones, self-organised unconferences, open-source meetups are a great deal better. We talk about things that concern and are useful to us as equals rather than being sold products and being lectured to by 'thought leaders', 'evangelists' and 'horizon scanners' (whatever they are, I'm joking, before anyone tells me). Immed
  • Most are shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There is a HUGE industry for putting on conferences. I work for a guy who does this as an additional job 3 months out of the year and pulls in $100k for about 50 hours of work organizing it.

    The vast majority of conferences are built on this:

    1. someone wants to make bank by charging companies 300-1000$ per visit (which is chump change), so they put out a call for "experts";
    2. "experts" send in proposals (often paying 3000-7000$ for prime speaking slots), but the funny part is, you don't HAVE to be expert. Th

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      I attended a few security conferences in the past where some of the talks were on this line...others talks not so much. With a good agenda, a good tech can discern which ones are basically fluff/bullshit.
      For instance, they would not caught me dead in websummit, even less by the kind of money they are asking
      There are also other conferences where definitively it is not like that.
    • I don't know which conferences have speakers pay - that seems crazy. I've spoken at a number of conferences and never paid - I always at least got lodging, sometimes airfare, sometimes some small payment in addition.

  • Some conferences are great for sharing ideas, meeting people in the field and learning some really awesome stuff. Most of these make recordings of the talks available but being there and being able to chat to a speaker over breakfast or a talking with someone over a beer who is tackling the same problems you are can be invaluable. You learn about new techniques, new approaches, the latest trick from field Y which may be applicable to your field X and just have a really good time.

    Some conferences are shit

  • Depends on the conference, but at many sessions will be given by people who are prominent in whatever community the conference is about. Depending on the speaker, you can ask questions during or after the session. But what's really important to understand is that most conferences make a big thing about speakers being accessible to attendees. So if you are attending a conference where there is a speaker who is really knowledgeable about something you want to ask questions about, ping them on some form of soc
  • I don't.
  • Conferences are basically just a day off. No employer sets any expectations from conference attendance (except maybe to ensure that you bring back the conference material - to prove you actually went) and they seem to be used as treats for the non-essential staff that an employer can afford to be without for a few days.
    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      If you only send non-essential staff, alas, if you have non-essential staff that cannot be 3 days off, or cannot have holidays you are doing something wrong...
      Plus nowadays there is something called "the Internet"...in the last vmworld, at the lunch interval I connected myself to the office, and did a 1h emergency intervention.
      I know, it boggles the mind...
      P.S. Would not cross your mind, the "essential" personnel is the one that deserves it, and needs to upgrade their knowledge to keep on top of things?
  • Seriously, the tides have shifted.

    A conference is mostly a place for marketing folks to get an idea of what people are peddling. It's a bazaar.

    this can be valuable to you and your employer in 2 obvious ways.
    1) you will come across products that you would otherwise not search for.
    2) your employer will learn about how your product(s) suit the current market.

    If neither of these things are something you or your employer care about, then they are useless.

    When I send people I ask for 2 things:
    1) find one gem of t

  • I used to like to attend conferences because they were user focused. Meaning the end-users would deliver the majority of the presentations on what they did with X and lessons learned, pitfalls avoided etc etc...

    Now most of the sessions are a vendor pitching some product and feature set.

    I've seen way better content with local Meetups than the larger conferences.

  • I went to ISSCC once. The 20 minute talks only cover a very tiny portion of the whole design, and details are usually missing. However, they can put you on track on what are the usual approach for a given problem, if not showing you something different. The forums - series of longer informative tasks - were far way more interesting. Networking is something that people do in these conferences, too. Including people in your own large company.
  • If its something like CES then its one giant infomercial, if its something like DefCon or CCC then its well worth it.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @04:56AM (#53810577)

    Easy credits to keep my certifications.

    You see, to retain security certifications, you either have to show some training, or some publication, or you have to go to security conferences.

    Take a wild guess what's the easy way out.

  • Networking.
  • by Artem Tashkinov ( 764309 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @07:44AM (#53810875) Homepage

    What exactly is the role of tech conferences?

    To establish new business connections. To discover new trends/solutions/ideas which you might have missed due to being busy. To talk to your purveyors and discuss the things in person which are difficult to discuss over the phone/e-mail.

    And then what's in it for my employer, who's paying to send me there?


  • Stuff I've gotten from conferences I've attended over the last few years (in no particular order) - Learned stuff from good quality presenters - Learned how to do good presentation using PowerPoint, instead of usual Death By PPT (the speakers/experts at the conferences I've gone to have been very good both technically and as presenters) - Picked up a few shiny things from trade stands alongside the main conference - Free beer and food at post conference networking sessions - Chance to travel to new places,
  • In any technical field, conferences are the "Training" component for the more experienced, just as classes/CBT are for the less experienced. "When you stop learning, you start dying".

    A bigger problem is "bean-counteritis", an endemic loss of vision and courage in management position-holders. Entrepreneurialism and indeed all capitalism is based on taking selected risks. If you only bet on documented sure things, poor returns are guaranteed.

  • Conferences like GDC can teach you a lot about various aspects of your trade you didn't even know mattered. Other conferences are researchers telling what they're doing. Other conferences are for companies to sell you on their latest tech and dev tools. While benefits such as networking and taking time off work are true to all of them, each of these types are different in other value they provide and highly depends on what you do in your work and what you're interested in.

  • by DougDot ( 966387 ) <dougr@parrot-farm.net> on Monday February 06, 2017 @11:34AM (#53811891) Homepage

    Booth Babes.

  • The number one thing I always get from conferences (programming) is I learn about everything I've been doing wrong for the past year, and how I should be doing them in the future.

    When you work primarily as an individual, it's easy to lose track of the modern way of doing things. Conferences really help redirect you to doing things the right way.

  • If you want a bonus of $1'000 from your employer, and your employer pays you $1'000, the first thing that happens is your employer then gets to pay another ~25% of employer taxes on salaries. The second thing that happens is you get to pay another ~40% of income tax.

    So, that $1'000 costs your employer $1'250, and you only get to keep $600.

    On the other hand, if you employer spends that $1'000 to send you to vegas, your employer gets to write it all off as an expense, so it's tax free to him. You don't pay

    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      Either use a comma (U.S.) or full stop (Europe) to separate the hundreds place in numbers, not an apostrophe. I have never seen anyone do this before.

      • You have seen this before. If you speak (and read) english. My numerals were not numbers, they were spoken words. In the english language, an apostrophe stands for unspoken words.

        One million, three-hundred thousand, fifteen dollars, is written as $1'300'015 because the first apostrophe stands for the word "million" and the second stands for the word "thousand".

        To be clear, the apostrophe can stand for individual letters (e.g. the "o" that is not in "don't") or even for multiple words, (e.g. "n the" remov

      • Me neither, Nor can I find anyone else using it or anything that defines it, despite working with international companies for decades.

  • The same reason as any other conference. Company paid booze, drink, and hoes.
  • From my perspective, many conferences pander to two things:
    • * Getting Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours for those with tech certifications
    • * Giving an opportunity to use company money to party while justifying it as "educational"

    Sure, there are nebulous opportunities for "networking" and some real learning that goes on, but the prime motivator for many is those two items. The rest of it is just the official stuff you have to do in order to get those items.

  • Every tech conference I've gone to has been worthless. I'm not one of these extroverted assholes that talks to strangers and enjoys "networking." I want to go for the talks, but rarely have these talks ever been at or beyond my level, meaning they are boring and redundant for me. I don't claim to be a tech genius or anything, but I find the talks are typically aimed at an extremely novice level.

    Honestly, I feel like the whole thing is a racket, designed to get a free trip out of employers, from the prese

  • I recently attended a Cisco conference and it was helpful. In my case, it was only 20 minutes away from my office, so it didn't cost anything to go. 90% of it was just like people on Slashdot complain about with these conferences ... a lot of bored-looking people manning booths where they just hand you a business card and some pamphlet for hardware you don't need a "contact person" to shop for. (EG. Plantronics was there. Wireless telephone headsets and bluetooth headsets are pretty much commodities these

  • You get out of town, you get to expense a bunch of meals, you get to hump women from other companies which is way less problematic than humping people at your own workplace, you can get really drunk and not have to face anyone you know who saw it...really the benefits are tremendous.

  • I goto meetups. They are cheaper, takes less of my time and in my area. There it is easy to both find people who are interested in your area (since meetups can be quite focused) and find people who are hiring. You are also more likely to get an interview from a meetup (IMO) because most of the time only people ACTUALLY interested in that field (and not just a paycheck) go to meetups.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.