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what are people's opinions?

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  • #31
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    Replying to last to point out the boat-missing that I see in this thread, all due respect to those throwing down.

    At a conference like Defcon with 8k+ attendees, it's almost impossible to squeeze into an hour-long presentation of content among the masses (aka hundreds); let alone have the opportunity to participate in a focused, guided learning experience among handfuls of others.

    Nothing is free. You are footing the cost of flight/hotel/timeoff/admission/etc for the opportunity to freely exchange info with others. The TBBQ isn't free, its glued together by donations and an organizer that puts down to make it happen. The Ninja Party isn't free, the ninjas have put down k-bucks year after year to make it happen, then sanely accepted some $$ from Facebook to throw the biggest baddest bash that Defcon has seen. Holy pogostick, they had an entire hotel with booze-icecream and arcade cabinets .. The Defcon admission doesn't begin to cover any of the cool clutch things we take for granted, I can only imagine it and the countless volunteers barely put a dent in the core event.

    Not everyone is a hacker. Actually, at this point I would consider a small fraction of the attendees to fit in that category. That doesn't mean it's game over, it means the game is different. That means the onus is on hackers to lead by example and spread the mindset to those that don't get it, or choose to hang elitist and wallow in the societal crumbs you've snatched. Circumventing the corporate aspect to training doesn't mean magicly free or funded by someone else, it means finding a way to make it happen without the profit drive by those that want to make it happen. I'd have more of an issue if the badge cost jumped to $200 just to fund the workshop for a limited few. Totally not the case here.

    The offering seems much more like an opportunity for the attendee than the conference/presenter. This is an opportunity to reg into a smaller workshop at a _magnitude_ less cost than trying to do the same at other venues like Blackhat, SANS, etc. Is it for me? Notsomuch. Is it a bad idea? Hardly.
    if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.


    • #32
      Re: what are people's opinions?

      I agree with Converge- not everyone is a hacker.

      So then the question becomes if this is a conference for hackers by hackers, why would we change anything for non-hackers? Just saying.


      • #33
        Re: what are people's opinions?

        Originally posted by LosT View Post
        I agree with Converge- not everyone is a hacker.

        So then the question becomes if this is a conference for hackers by hackers, why would we change anything for non-hackers? Just saying.
        I'd like to see more contests or events that involve computers, social engineering, or direct hacking. In ten years no one should say they miss the old events, we should all be amazed at how advanced and intense it all becomes.


        • #34
          Re: what are people's opinions?

          LOL dang astcell, I'm doing my best ;) You already miss Mystery Challenge huh?

          Originally posted by astcell View Post
          I'd like to see more contests or events that involve computers, social engineering, or direct hacking. In ten years no one should say they miss the old events, we should all be amazed at how advanced and intense it all becomes.


          • #35
            Re: what are people's opinions?

            2 Cents since I have been off the net for awhile. Having volunteered at similar events and paid my own way, I appreciate the relatively low cost of the workshops. Spending a day $ 200 for embedded electronics and/or Wireless hacking is well worth the price. To spend it with only 10-20 people - even better - more time to learn.

            Volunteering on the Speaker-OPS Goons, means I get to see a lot of presentations, but honestly, don't have time to absorb it all - I usually order the disks. I also 'lose' money each year volunteering (like most) for the entire trip (even with badge and hotel).

            For the first time in many years, I actually have a day I would prefer to not volunteer - I would prefer to go to a workshop and relax without fighting the crowds, and learn something. (Not sure how this will go over with the defcon boss's - but it is what it is. I like to volunteer and help worthy organizations, Defcon is great in concept and execution. BurningMan, MakerFair similar organizations which have had to change as their size gets larger (and charge more or for side projects).

            There is no way to effectively provide workshops in a LARGE setting for people who need to remember to bring soldering irons, electronics, wireless cards, powerpacks, ext cords, ect. To get them standard parts there and make it easier requires a small fee, to teach requires "some" compensation, to keep classes small requires "some" exclusion. Personally, I think the best thing to do is keep the workshops as they are but record the whole thing and make it available to the public. (Quality - well documented recording). This allows those who don't have time for the workshop to watch when they have time and those who prefer to take a day to enjoy it.). Moving to Thur while is a good idea, as long as it doesn't effect the Shoot, TBBQ, and EFF - priorities :)

            And - to a point - Deviant, you know when you get to many people going on the free stuff the learning process degrades. Ive seen you teaching with lots of people huddled around you, some will get it -most will only get a small portion of it. Why not offer an enhanced version that allowed for more time at a cost. However, I also see the point that if we get to the point of excluding people via costs, status and/or circles of friends - we are losing something..perhaps the next generation. Im for making things free as possible, but somewhere - somehow - a mans gotta eat. Wether that man is you, the guy hosting the conference, the guy who owns the property or the guy getting people there - its a world of men who need to eat. It always annoys me how people at Burningman still want more for free after paying $ 250 for a weeks worth of fun - -.

            At Makerfair we still have to charge $ 1 for a soldering board to teach people how to solder, with 3000 people coming in for a 30 minute class we still lose money, but people walk away learning how to do something they may never have done - there is a balance.

            I think competition is a good thing - if you can pull it off with the rooms a busting, and don't mind - go for it!


            "On the flip side, how are some of the trainers going to react to people learning thier topics from others for free? Would Vivek Ramachandran appreciate if I taught a competing wireless class for free in the wireless village? I was already considering this. There may not be any official thing against competing classes in the villages, but someone will make an issue out of it and now we have drama that cheapens us all."

            Deviant - this was the first thing that came to mind when I was reading the first post ;) And you are not a Jackass.

            Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
            btw, i really do invite people to call total B.S. on me for posting this comment while at the same time running the DEFCON Shoot event which is also charging an admission fee for the first time. one can make the case that $20 is not the same as $200... but still, i realize i'm in a precarious position to be speaking in the way that i am.

            i welcome all discussion in this thread, both about the pros and cons of the Workshops as well as whether or not i am a jackass.

            Nuff said - Im for the workshops, think they should be moved, and think costs should be enough to cover space, teacher and supplies for the students. I also like the idea of a teen workshop with more people, less time, less cost (if possible) to get a good intro.
            +++ Dallas +++


            • #36
              Re: what are people's opinions?

              my 1/50th of a dollar:

              I don't intend to visit any workshops. It's not what I want to do with my time or money over the DEFCON weekend, and it's not the reason I visit DEFCON.

              Whether I'm opposed to them is another matter.

              To start, many have a unique answer to 'what is DEFCON about?'. To me, it's not just about the exchange of info, the socializing, the people, or the parties, it's about the pulse and culture of the hacker world. It's about what crazy, insane things are actually possible with technology and knowledge.

              I come to hear Joe Grand talk about taking apart Parking Meters, to hear Ne0nRa1n show off her home-built EEG (!!!), or to see someone I don't even know in the HHV demo a speaker built out of HDD heads, just because he could.

              In the past, I've participated in the badge hacking contest and the Mystery Challenge, winning neither. As well-designed a piece of hardware as the badge was, and as awesome a puzzle as the Challenge was, in both cases, the real joy there came from the new people I met, and the experience of doing the thing together.


              that spiel out of the way, what does it mean? [it means rant part II]

              To me, I want to work towards, and encourage others to work towards, a DEFCON that continues those sorts of experiences, both for myself and others.

              To me, 'free market economics' or 'expensible legitimacy' isn't the correct angle to approach the problem from. There are countless ways to make money in the world, and only slightly less countless ways to get legitimate, expensible, security training. The real question is, what should DEFCON, specifically, be, and what should the staff & volunteers work towards, support, and encourage?


              The problem with paid workshops isn't the separation between have and have-nots, it's not even the introduction of extra costs into one's DEFCON expenses. The problem is with workshops at all. In a workshop, even a free one, there's an imbalance between instructor and student. They're not equals, and they're not socializing. The instructor is (effectively, one would hope) imparting their knowledge to the student.

              I have 361 days a year to seek out and take high-quality training in any interest area - coding, security, hardware, etc. At DEFCON, I don't want a pro to teach me. If anything, I'd rather sit down with someone I've just met, who knows even less about packet sniffing than I do (quite a task), and experience the challenge of the 'capture the packet' contest. Even if there are no prizes at the end.


              Will not having workshops decrease the pool of potential attendees? Yes. But there are numerous other opportunities for these people to be trained. I'm not opposed to DEFCON growing, I just want to foster an environment where the new attendees have an opportunity for the same sort of experiences I've had in the past.

              [now, oh powers of the internet and forums, decide my penance for this excessively long post]
              It's not stupid, it's advanced.