Are Developer Conferences Worth The Money?
I had the following conversation with a fellow west-country C# developer this evening:
@edcourtenay I've always wondered, as a speaker do you get free admission? I'd love to go to SA but don't know how people afford it!— Joe (@joe_mighty) July 16, 2014
@joe_mighty Yes, I get in as a speaker, but I've been going for years to conferences as an attendee. Expensive, but worth it— Ed Courtenay (@edcourtenay) July 16, 2014
@edcourtenay Are they? I've never been to one but would love to. I guess I've always been scared to shell out so much.— Joe (@joe_mighty) July 16, 2014
That's a very reasonable question, after all these conferences can hardly be called cheap. DevWeek earlier this year cost up to £1,495 + VAT for the three day main conference unless you got an early bird discount. The Software Architect conference in October will currently cost you £795 + VAT for the two days of the main conference. These are hardly trivial sums of money.
So, are they worth it?
The answer isn't clear cut, and I suspect depends a lot on the individual attendee, but in my case they've been invaluable. After two or three days of sessions my head will generally be full of information on new and upcoming technologies; I'll have information on tools and techniques I've not seen before; subjects that I previously thought I knew inside out will have new perspectives. I could go on.
However, my favourite thing about conferences are the little knowledge bombs that detonate weeks (or even years) afterward. I've lost count of the number of times that little nuggets of information that I got the gist of but didn't fully grok at the time suddenly exploded when working of problems later on. Those moments are worth the price of admission alone.
If course I would say all that wouldn't I, given that I had my debut as a conference speaker earlier this year and it's now in my interest to paint conferences as worthwhile activites...