If you look at a conference brochure, the value of the events seem to be obvious. There are the sessions, where you will learn "technology X", and go home able to solve problems "A, B, and C."
Not to discount those, but there are other reasons to attend conferences that are a little more hidden.
Here are a few:
* Taking some time to not worry about work, but instead be reflective
* Meeting people who come from a different organization; talking to them in the hallway
* Recognizing that year, every other organization is screwed up, but we are all screwed up in different ways
* Learning how other people have responded to that screwed-up-ness, and getting more than a little bit of consolation in our imperfections
You can get a lot of value out of twitter, forums, and email. You can go to user's groups; there's facebook, linkedin, and the Crews Section
of the STP Community. But there's something about conferences ...
But there is at least one major objection to conferences, a single common theme that causes problems:
We Ain't Got No Money
Believe it or not, yes, I have heard that one before. With conference fee plus travel, a four-day conference could easily run $2,500, plus time off work.
There are a couple of ways around this issue. You could try to speak at a conference; then you only have to pay for airfare, food, and hotel. For a three-and-a-half conference, you are looking at $700-$1,000, plus a week off work.
For awhile I thought regional conferences
might help this, and I still believe in the regional conference concept. After all, if the event is local, there is no travel or hotel costs. These typically run $200-$400 per day and typically only take a day or two. The problem is, they don't exist in every area and they tend to be very demanding to organize. If your "Heavy Lifting" conference organizer goes away, the conference tends to go away as well.
Two region conferences that seem to have reached self-maintaining size are the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference
and the Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference
Still, unless you live in Portland or Grand Rapids, Michigan, that doesn't help a whole lot. GLSEC has just changed to a Saturday model, so you won't even miss work ... just your family.
I guess life is all about tradeoffs.
Speaking of which, the folks at STP go their heads together and decided to put forth an innovative new idea -- a conference at your desk.
Yes, last week Software Test Professionals announced their first Performance Testing Summit
No travel required.
With three hours of content per day for three days, July 26-28, you don't even have to miss much work -- it's just the equivalent of three long lunches.
And at just $245, the price is right; your company would pay more for plane tickets alone
to anything else. (What, you say that price is still too high for you? Register by July 12th for just $195. Happy now?)
More than that, the conference sessions will be recorded, so you can play them back, again and again. In addition to the conference sessions, the event will include virtual coffee breaks and hallway sessions.
For those who are thinking about the conference, don't worry, there is no overlap in material. This summit is aimed specifically at how performance testers can talk to the business, not about general performance testing. Based on the abstracts I've seen, I would expect you'd get the most out of attending both.
And for the record, no, I don't think physical space conferences are going away anytime soon. As I expressed above, they are incredibly valuable, and my personal first choice. This kind of summit event is designed to deal with a different concern about time and money, and help people in a difficult situation.
That said, It's 2011; I do believe it's time we tried different models for learning. This performance summit is one of them. I'd like to applaud the folks at STP for trying something different
, and suppor them if I can.
If you want to complain about it, knock it, and express all your concerns about it, well, that's your right. We're all grown-ups here, and most of us are testers to boot -- critical discourse is a big part of who we are.
Still, if you want to take that position, I'd hope you'd provide your own better ideas.
Let's have a mass of new approaches, new ideas, of GLSECs
and Black-Box Testing Classes
, and yes, this performance summit
Let's take the dialogue up a notch and collaborate despite our challenged position.
Let's change the world.
Who's with me?
Disclaimer: I am not involved in organizing this event at all. I am not speaking at this event at all. I get no kickback, reimbursement, bonus, or anything else for promoting this event. I was not required to promote this event as part of writing for STP on this blog. I just believe in trying things, in initiative, and innovation, and I'd like to see this event succeed, and to see more of them.