Last weekend I attended the 7th European
Shareware Software Conference. The 2007 edition was held in Cologne, Germany, where it all started in 2001. The last conference I attended was the ESWC 2005 two years ago. It was good to be back and meet my old friends and acquaintances in the industry.
Attendance was at a record high with 207 registrations. At the end of the conference, less than a dozen badges were left unclaimed. The conference sessions were very informative, with scantly any self-promotion and only a little bit of warmed-over content from previous years.
During one session on the role of the Internet, somebody in the audience raised the question on why we were all there in that room, vs. doing the conference over the Internet. If your goal is to learn more about a particular topic, online resources are certainly more effective than traveling to a conference. Particularly for topics that don’t involve anything tangible in the first place. But for me, and for many other old hats that I’ve spoken with, the main benefit of the conference is not the knowledge that is shared during the conference itself, but the socializing with other shareware industry players. Being in a room together is the whole point. It reminds you you’re not the only one trying to make a living as a shareware author or micro-ISV or whatever you like to call your occupation. It’s the best cure for burn-out, even if you sleep through the sessions on personal productivity. And if you’re just starting out or even just planning to, hearing people’s success stories may be just what you need to push through with your ideas.
Disadvantage of attending conferences is that it makes you an ideal guinea pig for geeks who’ve just thrown some cash at a brand new DSLR camera. Evidence in my ESWC 07 photo gallery. If you recognize anybody whose name isn’t mentioned, please click on the thumbnail to see the larger photo, and leave a comment below the photo. I always remember people’s faces, but never people’s names.