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Call for papers now open: scam or substance?

As expected this week, as soon as we had shrugged off our new years hangovers, the 2008 software development conference season publicity programme kicked into gear. Whether you are thinking of heading to Boston, Moscone, Vegas or Orlando – no doubt you’ll be getting your “call for papers” e-mails pretty soon.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

As expected this week, as soon as we had shrugged off our new years hangovers, the 2008 software development conference season publicity programme kicked into gear. Whether you are thinking of heading to Boston, Moscone, Vegas or Orlando – no doubt you’ll be getting your “call for papers” e-mails pretty soon.

After a good number of years touring and reporting on these symposia I am beginning to question the validity of some of the presentations. Most shrewd attendees expect to be fed a corporate smorgasbord at the keynote/plenary sessions and Microsoft’s PDC opener from Mr G is compelling stuff whether you like his company or not.

But, after the unquestionably valuable hands-on lab workshops and demonstrations, when it comes to the break out technical and business sessions I have noticed an encroaching number of so-called “consultants” who present and “share” their technical expertise in front of an audience that may have had no more than a couple of paragraphs briefing on the session’s content before they decided to attend. All too often, these are not direct employees of the main vendor, but presenters lured by the prospect of a chance to showboat their latest “innovations” while they network in the main hall areas and feverishly shell out business cards.

Red Hat’s position within the Linux and Open Source community almost certainly elevates the company above my previous cynical comment, but the company’s Boston Summit in June has already announced that call for papers closes on Feb 8. Will all the presenters be there from a philanthropic point of technological evangelism? Or will one or two be lured by the promise that, “Each presenter will receive a complimentary conference pass good for all sessions, keynotes, events and conference-sponsored meals.”

Sceptical? Moi?

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