EuroOSCON - Not on my Budget!

OSCON in the US is one of the premier OpenSource events. While I’ve never actually been to one, it seems to attract a lot of top notch speakers and, judging from the blog posts written in the aftermath, an interesting and diverse audience of smart people. I was seriously considering going to the US version this year (the dollar vs sterling exchange rate is very favourable at the moment and I’ve never been to the US) but I decided to hold out for the European OSCON instead. I think that was a mistake.

First up lets look at the most important factor, the cost. The hotel is 190 euros a night. I can deal with that; just sleep in a hostel like we did at the first FOSDEM ;) Hell one of the big Linux Conferences rented a hall people could put sleeping bags in to keep it cheap. Next up is the conference itself; 1120.00 euros for the convention sessions and two tutorials. Now I’ve got two issues here and I’ll approach them separately .

First up is the cost of attending a conference most of the European OpenSource people don’t know that much about. Will it be good? Probably. Are you willing to bet over 2000 euros on it? Will it be 2000 euros good? I understand and appreciate that hosting an event is a lot of work and costs a fair bit (I only organised two GLLUGs of about 60 people each and I needed a break afterwards!) but I’m a believer in building things up, by making the (monetary) barrier to entry so high a lot of the more interesting people won’t be able to afford it. LinuxTag is a good example of a huge conference that manages to keep things cheap. It’s also one of the few European conferences that’s as big as OSCON in the US.

Secondly what’s the hook that makes me want to pay out that much money? Now I can understand that as an OpenSource person that doesn’t work for a big company I’m not the ideal target market, I guess they want more business backed people as attendees rather than grassroots, but there should still be a draw. They have a number of good speakers. A lot of whom I’ve seen at other, more grass root events. As I’ve not been to an OSCON in the US I might be missing something but from the conversations I’ve had with people from different Linux, BSD and Perl user groups both on and off-list they’re missing it as well. And that’s not a good sign.

Each year I normally attend the UKUUG Summer Linux conference, the UKUUG Winter Conference, FOSDEM, a couple of one day shows like Linux World, the London Perl Workshop and OpenTech, and I try to get to YAPC::Europe. The scary thing is all those together cost less than EuroOSCON would (I admit a number of those are in London but the events cost about 250 a time including accommodation; the UKUUG are excellent at this. Even including more travel costs it’s still pretty reasonable. As for the first ever EuroOSCON it looks like I’ll have to read the posts that come out from the audience and hope it gets cheaper.