Lest I offend anyone inadvertently or unnecessarily, allow me to share with you how I categorize conferences.
- Academic Conference: Summary presentations of detailed papers... frequently research based, infrequently directly applicable to industry. Papers are vetted in detail and peer reviewed (theoretically leading to high quality content, but that is a debatable matter of opinion)
- Peer Conference: A 20ish participant, invitation only, pay your own expenses and no one turns a profit, intense 2-3day, tightly themed, facilitated, deep exploration of participants 1st hand experiences related to the theme.
- Vendor Conference: I broadly think of this as any conference put on by a for-profit organization for the purpose of earning money, winning new clients, and/or keeping existing clients happy. I make no distinction between vendors of tools, services, training, or publications. This is what most people think of when they hear "conference"
- CONFERence: A hybrid of Peer and Vendor conferences, focused on content and community, organized by non-profit or volunteer groups with no established financial goal beyond "break-even" designed specifically to encourage attendees to CONFER (i.e. self-manage discussions and interactions related to, extending, and/or debating presented materials, as well as simply taking the opportunity to get to network and build relationships w/in their professional community.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.
Ladies & Gentlemen, this CONFERence ROCKED! I simply can't say enough good things about it from beginning to end, but let me try to give you a summary of what's got me amped & making the "bar-raising claim":