2008-09-12 10:20 in /tech/conferences/oscon
It’s now official that OSCON is leaving Portland and moving to San Jose next year. There’s a lot of unhappiness around here about it and a definite feeling that the stated reason (rising travel costs) isn’t the whole story.
Personally, I don’t think it’s clear that making the conference local for more people is a good thing. I’ve noted two years running that I felt like it was a very different experience to be living in Portland and attending the conference — you’re much less immersed in the conference. Increasing the number of people who are there for the sessions but don’t stick around for the evening social activities won’t necessarily improve the conference.
ZDNet thinks “Portland just doesn’t have the facilities to house a fast-growing conference covering a global audience”, but I’d like to hear more justification for that claim. OSCON doesn’t come close to filling the whole Oregon Convention Center.
Personally, this feels like the usual Silicon Valley bubble mentality, combined with a touch of corporate greed. I also have a fear, possibly unjustified, that this may also trigger a slip backwards on the “women in tech” front. My impression is that Portland has one of the best environments for trying to increase the participation of women in technology and open source, and I also have the impression that the Valley has one of the worst.
I’m trying really hard to look at this beyond the personal impact on me (because it certainly did just get less likely that I’ll be able to attend next year), and I’m hearing a lot of the same unhappiness from people outside Portland as well. I guess what I’d like is a bit more openness from O’Reilly about this. Because, really, openness is what OSCON is all about, right?