Expensive Open Source Conference


I had been making a case to attend OSCON2006 this year, the logic being that it's a better fit for what I'm doing now than WWDC is. OSCON is a gathering of open source projects and programmers/developers, with tracks on various cool open source technologies, methodologies, etc... WWDC is a corporate developers conference, aimed specificially at core Apple technologies (with some obvious trickle-over into open source as well).

The sub-thought was that I could save some coin in our budget by going to an open source conference, rather than a high-end corporate one.

Then, I checked out just how much O'Reilly charges for people to attend OSCON. Holy crap. For what you get (number of days, tutorials, etc...) WWDC turns out to be cheaper!

# of days 3 (+ 2 days of extra tutorials) 5
Workshops/tutorials

extra fee

$395 per tutorial, with discounts for multiples

free
# of sessions 210 (15-45 minutes each) 175+ (1 hour each)
Keynote Tim O'Reilly Steve Jobs
Location Portland San Francisco
Cost

$1,245US + Tutorials + Executive Briefing

(25% academic discount)

$1,595US

all events included

I know O'Reilly needs to pay their bills, but it just strikes me as odd that a conference aimed at the Open Source Community would cost so much. They could have followed the model of NorthernVoice et. al., by having partners contribute space/resources, and charge a nominal fee to make sure everyone can attend. Have the event hosted at a university campus, and I'm sure it would cost less to put on - and might offer facilities as good or better than a conference hotel.

There are certainly more expensive conferences (JavaOne2006 would have cost over 2 grand US for the full meal deal, and Microsoft's PDC is around 2 grand as well - TED is over $4KUS). I suppose that once you add on the cost of travel, accomadations, and any non-provided food, the conference really isn't that expensive in comparison, but something just seems wrong about charging over a grand (US) to listen to 45-minute sessions by open source luminaries.

I've been to a fair number of different conferences (but never to OSCON), and WWDC has always been consistently in a league all its own. Other conferences wish they could be run as smoothly, deliver the same tasteful showmanship, be planned as completely, and generate the excitement and buzz in the presenters and attendees. I'm not sure how much of that is a result of the bells and whistles they're able to throw in by charging $1,600 per head, and how much is a direct result of the energy in the community.

As it turns out, I don't think I'll be travelling this summer anyway (don't want to be away from home too much) so the point is basically moot for me, but I'd bet there are a lot of folks that would like to go to OSCON who simply can't afford the entrance fee.

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