PyCon debrief #1: On commercialisation
Bruce Eckel started a thread on how PyCon has been commercialized. I basically agree with what he said, but not with all of the comments. For example, Ben Finney said:
Attention of attendees is *not* a commodity to be traded.
Well, why not? That, after all, is what all kinds of advertising, including sponsorship of conferences, are about. OK, fine, when Google sponsors conferences it’s probably because they need the technology, not because they want people to know the exist. 🙂 But that’s just Google. Even Microsoft sponsored PyCon not because they need Python, but because they want the hostile open source environment to become less hostile. (I’m not sure it worked, though).
I do think it’s a great idea to let the sponsors have five minutes of advertising time to tell people who they are. Howvere, this should not be called a “lightning talk” or a “diamond keynote”. OK, I realized from the name that a diamon keynote was something a diamond sponsor got, it wasn’t hard to figure out, but call it a diamond sponsored talk, and call the five minute “lightning talks” a “Sponsor presentation”, so it’s clear that this is what they are. I walked out on Saturdays lightning talks because they were so damn boring. Turns our the technical ones came later, after the sponsor talks.
I think the “trade show” room was a good idea, I’m not sure if this is new for this year or not, but I liked it.
In short I think the commercialization of PyCon is great, because more sponsors mean cheaper and better conferences. But don’t mask the advertising space, don’t try to pretend that advertising is content. Doing that was really stupid (sorry guys, but it really was), but luckily, I think the organizers learned their lesson.