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Steve O'Keeffe


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Posted: 11/18/2009 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Tags: Web 2.0

 

Too Many Events, Too Little Time – Stop the Madness
 
As the founder of a series of organizations that put on conferences and events, let me just call it like it is – there are far too many events in Federal IT. Believe it or not, there are more than 500 Fed IT conferences, symposia, forums, colloquia, and plain old fashion boondoggles each year. It’s really no exaggeration to say that you could attend an event every day – and likely eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner free, if you can digest all the side-order sales pitches.
 
One might wonder, if government IT pros are really attending so many events, who’s actually running our nation’s technology infrastructure? Is this why the Chinese have been so effective at penetrating our cyber defenses?
 
So, why are there so many events, how do you work out which events to skip, and how can we cut the fat – figuratively and literally? In fairness, our community has radically changed its communications habits in the last two or three years. The influence of once all-powerful publications has declined – their challenges accelerated by consolidation, Web 2.0, and a little extra “puckish” push from the likes of Dorobek. Other traditional centers of gravity, such as FOSE and IPIC, are ready to heave their last – most of the major IT companies have abandoned these platforms. So, with the old ways of communication in retreat – and Web 2.0 still nascent – that leaves market research and events as the two primary public-private communication conduits. And, so the avalanche of events continues – and I regret that this trend is pointed in only one direction in the short term.
 
Facing this reality, what makes an event worthwhile? First, government IT pros are primarily interested in hearing from their peers. So, more gov speakers means more gov attendees. Point of increasing contention, more govies are asking if it’s right for organizations to charge them to attend events where they listen to other govies speak? Aren’t these organizations effectively making Uncle Sam pay twice? Free for government is the new model. Oh, and don’t discount govies interest in hearing from commercial IT pros that have already confronted parallel challenges/opportunities – read Fortune 500 cloud and cyber security case studies. Last, but not least, don’t forget that govies are people too – a little levity and entertainment goes a long way. Please hold the “more with less” language and photographs of the Capitol building, flag, and bald eagle – they are both dull and patronizing.
 
Okay, here’s the part where you get to stop the madness. Go to http://www.meritalk.com/calendar.php to view hundreds, and potentially thousands, of gov IT events. Point and click to find the events that really interest you – sort by date, segment of government, tech topic, geographic location, programs that offer government training credits, and physical vs. online. You can also buy your airline tickets and book your hotel. While your boss doesn’t need to know, you can even see which conferences have golf tournaments or wine tastings. And, most important, you can rate the events – one star to five stars – and submit your comments. So now you can really differentiate the good, the bad, and the ugly. Oh, and it’s all open to you, so you can submit your own events for free if you’re prepared to see how they measure up.
 
Take a stand against the Fed IT conference epidemic – vote with your cursor and stop the madness.