I’m at NotACon in Cleveland, OH. I am, at present, tremendously underwhelmed. The trivia contest last night was little more than a “do you remember when so-and-so said such-and-such”, and as such was completely inaccessible to anyone who wasn’t already familiar with the bulk of regular attendees. The keynote speech was a rambling, emotional speech from Froggy which was well-intentioned but again largely inaccessible to newcomers.
I watched Eric Meyer's presentation this morning about how to humanely manage a high-volume mailing list with thousands of subscribers (drawn from his experience managing the css-discuss list). Eric was a fine presenter, and he shared a lot of useful guidance. It was a real shame that there were only 12 people in the audience.
Today’s afternoon sessions look promising: gimp v. Photoshop, digital photography, and Drew Curtis from Fark. I’m not holding my breath to be wowed by any of these, though.
This entire conference has a much different vibe than OhioLinux. OhioLinux was an incredibly focused event, with strongly focused presentations. It helped that OhioLinux was local to me, so I recognized a lot of faces. It also helped that I was able to hang out with Chris and DrBacchus, which made the event immeasurably more entertaining.
OhioLinux seemed much more geared toward providing something useful to newcomers. NotACon seems much more geared toward providing something fun for the conference planners and their friends.
Update: The digital photography session, titled “Intermediate Digital Photogtaphy: Tips and Tricks” should really have been titled “How to do some stuff in Adobe Photoshop”. I was highly disappointed. Drew Curtis of Fark.com led a very ineresting discussion – easily the most interesting and enjoyable of the day. Steph The Geek gave a presentation ostensibly about building communities online, but was little more than her talking about herself.
Admittedly, some (many?) of the presenters here are doing so for the first time; so I can accept that they’re not going to give the most polished presentations. I’ve only presented to one large audience, and I know how intimidating it can be. I’m not finding fault with the presentations themselves, so much as how the presentations were described in the schedule.
Ultimately, I suppose it’s not fair of me to compare NotACon with the two other conventions I’ve attended (OhioLinux and the O’Reilly Open Source Conference 2002). Both of those had spectacularly more attendees, as well as a level of … professionalism? That’s not quite the right word, but it’s close. When the presenter for the Photoshop nee digital photography session said “I encourage you to buy or get Photoshop”, I rather stopped paying attention to much of what he said. I could be charitable and assume that he meant something like “receive as a gift”, but I’m fairly confident that that wasn’t the intended meaning.
I’m not entirely regretful that I came; but I know that I’m not terribly interested in coming back next year. I’m looking all the more forward to the next OhioLinux.