Business Management

Rant: Five reasons why I'm a technology conference no-show

There are several reasons I don’t go to the big technology conferences any longer. Here are some of them.

  1. They are mostly a waste of my precious time. The real content can easily be kept to about an hour on the outside and the rest is just filler. That ratio isn’t a good justification for spending time away.
  2. The places they are held aren’t that appealing. In Europe they tend to boil down to London and Barcelona, both very fine cities but I have visited them too many times to feel even a smidgeon of a thrill upon arrival. In the US, the choice seems to have narrowed down to San Francisco and Las Vegas. The former is pleasant enough but is over-familiar. Vegas is a superannuated Blackpool in the desert with a magnetic attraction for idiots.
  3. Lanyards. They make me feel like an item being processed in a supermarket. I resent the intrusion on my privacy that this ever-present snooping entails.
  4. Conferences have become too big. The whole setup is cynical: conference sponsors demand your attention at every corner, the programmes, the food, the entertainment… all of these are catered for the masses. Nothing is tailored to the needs of the specific individual.
  5. The sell-sell-sell attitude and cheerleading-cum-brainwashing.

What would make me (and many others, I assume) change my mind?

  1. Shorter, punchier events that take a day.
  2. Customisable schedules so I can see the people I need to see.
  3. Differentiation in terms of the venue, programme and tone.
  4. Some notice taken of what I might want rather than the ‘take what you are given’ attitude that remains prevalent.

Once upon a time, these conferences were useful and even fun but they have become fat and cynical. If technology vendors want our time, they need to give a little bit more.


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Torquemada, not his real name, has been casting a jaundiced eye on the technology world since the Sinclair C5 was causing as much excitement as the driverless car today, a 64K RAM pack could turbocharge performance, and Alan Sugar was the equivalent of Elon Musk.

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