Conference pondering

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It’s time to think about which conferences to attend, if any. TechEd? Mix? SXSW? BIL? PDC and I’m missing a half-dozen others I’d really like to attend.

I’m going to have to start thinking a bit creatively here, however. These conferences are too expensive for my wallet this go round.

Mix is $1295. TechEd is a whopping $1,995. SXSW isn’t too bad under $1000 depending on what you’re interested in. But it doesn’t take much but to realize that this all ads up.

Top of my list is Mix and PDC, though I’ll probably forgo Mix. Why? Even though I’ve been doing Silverlight development and I’m a great proponent of the approach and Mix is the conference to attend in this regard–the reality is I’m an outsider. Check out http://www.TabletPCPost.com/search and you’ll see what I mean. This isn’t what Mix is about. So whereas I’d benefit from a couple sessions, I can’t justify the expense. Maybe sitting in the hallways is once again where I belong.

In terms of SXSW, this probably would be a better bet–especially in terms of meeting new people. How can it be that I’m a fish out of water for Mix, but not SXSW? Well, sometimes this fish wants to swim upstream and if I’m going to push myself, I’d rather go big. Again, though, maybe I belong in the hallway rather than as an attendee. (All this makes me wonder also if Mix really shouldn’t be at SXSW???)

TechEd also has me thinking. Here’s the thing. In the past I spent most of my time at TechEd talking with Microsoft employees about various topics I was keenly interested in or stuck on. Further, I spent quite a bit of time hanging around the Tablet/UMPC area in the Microsoft booth. (No idea if there will be something similar this year.) Truth is I rarely went to any of the sessions. So $2000 sounds like too much. Unfortunately the way TechEd is set up, there really aren’t any hallways to hang around in, so that’s probably a no go. And further, are there going to be sessions or people discussing topics I’m really interested in? It looks unlikely. So should I scratch TechEd off my list? I’m leaning that way.

PDC is another matter. If I had to pick one conference to attend, this would probably be it. The issue though is that I’m sure I’m going to be missing out on a lot of great new stuff if I wait till PDC (October 2008) and that’s what has me concerned. On the Microsoft tech side of things, Microsoft has locked down so much info and hopes of being more Apple like that I’m reluctant to plop down several thousand dollars to take the risk that they might actually show something worthwhile. And did I point out how expensive all this Microsoft stuff is getting? If someone has Apple envy, they should be checking out Macworld and how much it costs.

So this brings me to BIL. Now here’s something I can afford 🙂 and it’s sure to attract some interesting people. Hmmm. Maybe someone will UStream it?