Why do they still exist?

The other day I received a call from someone looking to put on a Cloud Computing conference in New Zealand. Now it’s important, for context’s sake, to know that I’ve run around 10 CloudCamps in New Zealand, all around the country. I’ve blogged on New Zealand specific cloud issues, have written articles and been quoted in numerous magazines here talking about the cloud. I’m not being arrogant here – Cloud is a tiny industry in New Zealand so the pond I swim around in is very small – it’s easy to be a big fish.

Anyway – this organizer wants to put on a Cloud Computing event and called me up to ask me to identify trends in Cloud Computing in New Zealand. His primary ideas where;

  • That mobility is a big cloud computing trend (?)
  • That maybe IT might change because of the cloud

Other than that he was keen to have me brief him on the state of Cloud Computing in this country and suggest the topics for his agenda. Apart form anything else the level of knowledge this organizer displayed about Cloud generally, and Cloud in New Zealand in particular, is incredible. Give someone an hour reading blogs and they’d tell you far more than that.

Bear in mind that the event he is organizing will likely cost well in excess of $1000 per attendee. Contrast that with CloudCamp which attracts people who are actually doing work in the Cloud and which costs attendees… nothing… to attend. I’ve had some amazing conversations at CloudCamps – and to a great extent it is the democratic, open and attendee-driven unconference format that makes it so.

So in this day and and age, why do traditional, stuffy, big ticket conferences work? Because traditional business people feel comfortable in a forum where no one will expect them to talk (let alone think), where they know for sure the coffee is bad and where the event will occur in a drab hotel they can feel comfortable in.

All I an say is… sheesh.

So, circular discussion, traditional conferences exist because there is a demand from risk averse attendees for something slow, uninspiring, but known. I just wonder how long that status quo can actually last for. You know, that Emperor sure looks like he’s wearing no clothes….

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.


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