I am going to be blunt, so far the recession has not affected me. On the contrary I could not be busier, and things are actually moving along quite nicely. Well, that was until yesterday. Yesterday I learned that the conference SD West, and SD Best Practices are no more. They have been cancelled because the last attendance (a week ago) was quite bad. And because the owners of the conference decided to cut costs this conference did not fit into their overall strategy.
Well that is just sad. Let me back track a bit here. About 3 years ago I sensed a change in the software industry, it was very subtle, but it was there. The change was that tech for the sake of tech would not be a seller. I have been speaking since 1995, and I sensed a shift in the winds.
In fact I recently had a discussion with Richard Campbell of .NET Rocks on this exact topic. He and I were of the conclusion that the software industry has matured, stabilized and as such is not that interested in new technology for the sake of technology. As my wife said (she is manager), we install .NET 3.5, and our .NET 2.0 apps completely break down, WTF?
You see speakers in the tech industry have morphed from when I started speaking to now. I don’t mean to pick on conferences, but here are three conferences (1, 2, 3). Take a good look at the speakers, these are intelligent people, but a majority are there to sell you their products (eg consulting, training, etc). You have to wonder are they not asking you to pay for an infomercial? Yes I am being very blunt, but folks this is reality. If the conference were called an infomercial people would ask, “ok so why am I paying for this?”
Ok so what happened with me? Well I got into the speaking gig because I have always like tech and have always used tech to solve problems. But then in 2000 I drifted into the same direction moving away from writing software. I wrote books, I wrote whitepapers, and I went into teaching on how to write software. But along the way in early 2004 I realized I could not write software. This was not funny because I was writing my own trading system and I completely forgot how to write big pieces of source code. I was devastated because I was always proud at being able to write larger applications with ease. It was at that time a good friend of mine said, “Christian you lost what made you special.” And it was at that time I had to find a new market. Before 2000 I worked in the financial industry (mortgages) thus I decided to work in the investment banking field.
But back to the end of an era topic. I dropped most conferences since, well I had real work to get done. I kept speaking at SD because I liked the people. I liked the organizers, I like the speakers, I like the entire atmosphere. I liked being able to butt heads with people in the industry face to face. But now no more. And it is sad, and it hurts because I just lost my best friend. I can’t actually think about what directions SD should be taking. I don’t need to plan my flights, and I don’t need to worry about my jet lag… When I woke up this morning I realized that SD is no more and it is an empty feeling. I even said to my wife today, “Imagine if I had stuck to writing books, training, and conferences, imagine the problems I would be facing.” She replied, “yeah, but you are not, though you are right it is sad.”
Though what seems to me more ominous, is that if a conference like SD fails, what does that say of the industry? Is this a dinosaur that should have been put out of its misery? Maybe, but here is the thing, if SD is a dinosaur, then well there are other dinosaurs and one has to question if we are truly at the end of an era?
Was SD doing the wrong thing? No because just at this past conference we were planning a “revolution” on how to change the face of content in conferences. You see a little pack of speakers and track chairs said, “we have to change…” I suppose too bad so sad too late and the blow back of the started in 2007 recession just hit me…
It was nice knowing thee SD… RIP 2009…
NOTE: How does this relate to technology and investing? Simple I think we are at end of an era where computers are growth areas. How many more twitters do we need?