Weblog:   Orlowski Slams O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference
Subject:   O'Reilly Conference Exclusion
Date:   2003-04-23 15:16:01
From:   anonymous2
I have felt excluded from O'Reilly Conferences for two years now, and all I'd like to do is attend! To attend just the conference sessions for three days, even at the "Early Bird" price is $995.00. This is far beyond my means.

There is a 50% discount for full-time academic instructors, but I have two part-time community college jobs, and so last year I was told that I would not qualify for the discount. The California Community College system is so screwed up, this is not changing anytime soon. It's built on adjuncts and there are no full-time positions available.

I also asked last year if at the very least the general public could attend the keynote address, because I desperately wanted to attend that. I was also told that was not a possibility.

For those who have attended these conference sessions, have there ever been any empty chairs? If so, couldn't I be given an opportunity to learn too? Why place it out of the reach of so many people? I can understand if space is at a premium, but why not get a bigger meeting venue (which might allow you to increase attendees and hence decrease the per-person cost), or let registered attendees enter the halls first and then only if space permits allow us shmucks who can't afford it to sit in the back?

Nothing like this has been offered. Instead it's been clear to me for a while that O'Reilly conferences are intended to be exclusionary. That's too bad, because I think I'd not only learn a lot, but that I'd have a lot to offer the other attendees. With the current setup, neither of us will ever know.


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  • O'Reilly Conference Exclusion
    2003-05-04 09:26:55  anonymous2 [View]

    It's certainly true that the $1000 cost for the conference stops people coming - but then for those of us who don't live in California there's also the flights and hotels and stuff like that. I think we have to face the fact though that most people who go to these things are paid for by their work, and that it costs a fair amount to run a conference. I'm not saying it couldn't be done more cheaply, and that there's no way to cut costs, but these things are always a balance between giving people the conference they deserve and being able to make sure that the people who care most and are most clued up can afford to go. I had such a good time this year that I will do whatever I can to find the money for next... Tom Coates...
  • Parent post has a really good point!
    2003-04-23 22:19:39  anonymous2 [View]

    I would just like to let my voice be heard as saying: I agree with this post 100%. These conferences do tend to exclude based on commerce & locale way more than they do based on politics. The problem is when commerce quickly and easily translates to politics.
    • Parent post has a really good point! Maybe
      2003-04-24 00:25:56  sarsat [View]

      So what are the options? You cut down on price and O'Reillys have to cut down on content. If the content is poor will you still want to go even though its 100 bucks cheaper? O'Reillys isn't a charity. It supplies a service that people want, at a price enough people can afford, so that O'Reillys make enough profit to make them want to put on the next.
      If you are college students and there are enough of you at your college interested, why not invite the keynotes to come to your college? Most, I think would be flattered.(BTW, I don't work for O'Reillys, just being realistic)
      • Scholarships?
        2003-04-24 08:44:08  Medievalist [View]

        I'm a student, and very appreciative of the student discount.

        I also understand the need for O'Reilly to make a profit, or, since I suspect that conferences don't really generate direct profit (trust me, I know how much conferences cost), not lose too much money so we can keep relying on O'Reilly's books, site, and conferences for good information.

        What about offering a limited number of scholarships to people who qualify in terms of being a student, IT worker, or instructor ? The scholarships would admit the awardee to the entire conference, but not cover anything else.

        Apple's World Wide Develper Conference has has a scholarship program for students enrolled in the Apple developer student program for some years. The fee for student memberships to the developer program is much reduced, and student members can apply for a WWDC a scholarship to WWDC by responding to some well chosen questions and providing proof of full time student status.

        I've gone twice to WWDC on a student scholarship, and it was not only well worth my time, it benefitted my colleagues and, I think, Apple.

        O'Reilly could offer scholarships to part time instructors, or staff, which would make it easier for them to attend and would in effect make them ambassadors about the value of the conference, perhaps making it more likely that their instutions would sponsor them in the future. It would also be another way for O'Reilly to give back to the community, something O'Reilly is known for.

        I am teaching now, and thus couldn't go to the Emerging Tech conference, I'm already planning on how I might be able to make it to the O'Reilly Mac OS X conference. I'm grateful for the student discount O'Reilly often offers, but I'd be even happier to have a scholarship. I'd even blog the conference <g>.

        • Scholarships?
          2003-04-24 08:50:08  sarsat [View]

          What a nice idea, and how about sponsored places from some of the supporting companys, ActiveState and Apple spring to mind. Great PR for them and like you say, good for the community. I like that

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