On 7/28/06, [email protected] [email protected] wrote:
addressed. They can’t be addressed by one conference.
It is an interesting argument, that the Ruby community has grown, from
tiny to quite large (at least if you count the size of the hype),
therefore Ruby is now too big for a single one track conference,
therefore Ruby is too big for one unifying conference that brings
all the leading developers together, therefore we should instead
focus on lots of regional mini-conferences. I don’t think I buy it.
Isn’t the whole point of a conference to hear from and meet the
leading practitioners from around the world in that field, be exposed
to their ideas and learn about the cutting edge of the field? Isn’t
the whole idea to get as many of these people together as possible in
the one place? How does lots of regional mini-conferences and a
de-emphasised main conference achieve this?
If by regional we mean a European Ruby conference, a Japanese
conference, a US conference, then I can see the point, international
travel can be expensive. If however, we mean a Portland/Seattle
conference, a Silicon Valley conference, an East Coast conference, a
Canadian conference, and if people go to these mini conferences but
don’t drive a few hours to go to the main (US) Ruby conference, then I
think this would have the consequence of fragmenting the community and
diluting the benefits of going to the main Ruby conference. I agree
with Tim B.'s point that regional conferences can be great and don’t
have to detract from one main conference that serves as the focal
point for the community (eg JavaOne), I just worry about the Ruby
community not having that focal point, or having multiple focal points
and losing cohesion (RubyGems is something that springs to mind as
something that may have only been possible due to the cohesive nature
of the Ruby community, and due to getting most of the interested
parties together at the one conference).
Also, I can’t help but feel that by restricting the number of tracks,
presentations, and attendees (if it is true that this is what is
happending), there might be a hint of elitism creeping in, that the
Ruby community might be losing some of the egalitarianism that
characterised it in the past. I would imagine the effect of such a
policy would be to make the conference more of an “in-crowd” event
rather than a melting-pot of different ideas and approaches, whether
that is the intention or not.
These three points are just my skeptical thoughts when I read about
this year’s Ruby conference, and the trend toward regional
mini-conferences. I don’t necessarily agree with all the points I’ve
made, I’m probably just being the devil’s advocate (I’m definitely a
strong believer in the benefits of local meetups, for instance, so I’m
not sure why I feel that conferences should be centralised). Please
feel free to point out the many ways that my skepticism is unfounded.