Why Conferences Should Be Free

Earlier this week, Lori and I were talking about the crazy $500-$1,000+ ticket prices for industry conferences. Considering the you’d have to block the time off your calendar, close up the shop, and book travel, the additional admission cost seems like a good way to artificially prevent people from showing up.

At every professional-related meeting or conference I’ve attended, the best parts were between the formal, scheduled sessions. The hallway conversations, the happy hours, the lunches. The one-on-one with other attendees. Even at the local MIMA Salons, there’s a part of me that curses when the formal session begins.

With the MNteractive Information Architect Coffees and the PodcastMN Meetups, we pick a place, a time, and whoever makes it, makes it. Usually, it’s 80% the same core people and 20% new voices. Then again, there’s usually wireless – so if no one shows up – you can still get some work done.

All this is leading up to an emphatic ‘Damn Straight’ in response to Dave Winer’s Like a BloggerCon post – on the inherent costs of participation:

“Even so, there is a price of admission. To get to the BBQ, or the Homebrew Club, BMUG or BloggerCon, you had to have a ride. To get on the web you have to have a computer and a net connection.”

The best part of Winer’s post is (emphasis mine):

“My experience with these shows is that if you trust the universe, it will take good care of you.”

Elsewhere: 17 April 2007
“How much do conferences cost?” – Eric Rice