Derbycon 2014 thoughts

Selil, and I were talking about education before his panel talk. The thing that stuck me was his analogy of how education works. High school is about making people consumers. The Bachelor degree is about making sure people have knowledge and skill to make things. The grad schools after that are about focusing and specializing. Masters degrees are more skilled and focused than the Bachelor. The Doctorate degree is the pinnacle of focus. Thinking over some of the conversations I had at Derbycon, that makes a great analogy for our industry too.

Here is how I saw the the pyramid structure above fit to our industry’s conferences.

The Attendee badge holders really are the equivalent of the high school graduate. Some of them are just getting in to the industry, while others are just the consumers of  what we have to say.

The Bachelor grads are mostly the vendors. They have things they make to be consumed in mass. This isn’t a bad thing. And some of them are groups, made up of people of different levels.

The Master and Doctorate students and grads would be the speakers. The specialized knowledge and content that the consumers are there to learn. Some of us are better than others, but we’re all the ones digging deep and submitting the talks. Yeah sometimes people at this level are at the con and not speaking for various reasons.

While I love Derbycon, and the people I meet, I think I’d like to see less of the consumers. I’m not saying become elitist and not invite them, I’m saying I want to see those of that have specialized in things enough to give talks to encourage others to get up and talk too. I know you can’t have a con with 2000 speakers, but I think we need to get people out of the consumer side and in to the skill and knowledge side.

2 thoughts on “Derbycon 2014 thoughts

  1. AvatarDerbyCon Attendee

    I don’t agree with you. I’m a 3x DerbyCon speaker and a regular presence in the vendor area there as well. A conference is many things. It’s an opportunity for friends to see each other. It’s a chance for folks who like puzzles to work together and solve them in the CTFs. It’s a chance for small business owners, like me, to shake hands with existing customers and answer questions for prospective ones. It’s also an opportunity for folks like you to share your accumulated knowledge with the community. Likewise, it’s an opportunity for those interested in your topic to hear you out. These things are a healthy way to view a conference.

    What is it not? A conference is not a temple where attendees come to worship speakers. I don’t put anyone on a pedestal because they wear a speaker badge. Whether or not to speak is a choice. There are other ways to contribute to an industry other than speak at conferences. I wouldn’t use number of appearances on irongeek’s [excellent] YouTube channel as a sole metric for someone’s value in our industry.

    Do I appreciate the effort you put in to prepare and present a talk? YES! Do I think speakers should look down on others who attend the conference because they choose not to? No. Not at this conference anyways. Let DerbyCon be what it is, a bunch of friends hanging out. Everything else is just a sideshow.

    1. chrisjchrisj Post author

      I see your point. I think the main point I was trying to make was missed.

      I’ve been to 3 of the 4 Derbycons, and I’ve spoke at 2 of them. At each of them, there seemed to me to be the 4 level system. At the base are the consumer level attendees. I am the first to say I’m a nobody in this industry. Even people who are my friends, don’t recognize me, because I can’t make many cons. I’m don’t want people to worship me, and like you did, I try to call other speakers out when they do.

      The point was, I’d like to see the base level consumer model be uplifted. Yes there are other ways to be more involved in the industry besides just talking at Cons. There will always be new people there unsure of what to do or not understand why their company sent them there. The main thing I don’t want to see is people wandering from talk to talk missing the chance to make new friends. I don’t want to see them camped out in one track all day. I want to see them out networking, talking, and impressing each other, not just consuming the experience and not getting the most they could out of it.


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