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what are people's opinions?

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  • shrdlu
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    This is going to be brief (maybe; I'm not usually the soul of brevity), but I'd like to point out that, without exception, I find it disheartening that people who might want to attend these sessions (and I'm absolutely NOT one of them) will have to miss a full day of the actual conference. Now, I realize that many people already do that, because they're doing a contest, or partying all night and then sleeping all day, or any number of other reasons, but really, the person in these workshops may be having to choose between that workshop, or a specific presentation they'd like to see.

    In addition, I don't really see most of the workshops being presented by people where I can EASILY see credentials. Yeah, yeah, I saw web sites and links and such, but those all mean *I* have to go searching for credentials. Not going to happen, but then, I'm not going to take any of those workshops, either.

    I've been to a couple of work shops at a couple of conferences similar in nature to this. I'd rather spend that money on shoes, or more computers, or decent wine, or any number of things I can think of on the spur of the moment. I could buy a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain for that kind of money (and have, just in case you think I'm blowing smoke).

    I'm wondering how much complaining we'll see here on the forums, and in the halls of the Rio, once people have taken some of these classes.

    Sorry, Cot, just being devil's advocate to your devil's advocate (and confessing right up front that I didn't really read through it).

    I lied about this being brief. Lucky for you all I have 40 pounds of Chelan and Rainier cherries that need to go into jars, today.

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  • renderman
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    I was weighing this in my mind all day. Glad I'm not the only one this seems to rub the wrong way.

    First I'd like to ask DT, or any of the other

    Charity fundraisers, I have no issue with (EFF, HFC, etc).

    Events where there is a charge for materials cost or a kit but the knowledge is free (HHV, some contests) makes sense.

    Offsite or non-official events where there is a charge towards costs are logical as well and frankly a different thign entirely since they are non-official.

    For as long as I can remember, with the exception of the vendor area, everything has been free to attend or a cost recovery basis. This new catagory is "for-profit" for an officially sponsored event which is bugging me alot.

    It was never implicite that the badge fee got you 'everything', but the whole things was about sharing knowledge and community. Having seen this con grow and mature every year since DC7 and participated in a huge number of events and even run a few, this is the first time I think we may jump the shark

    I just want to point out that I have nothing against the instructors or thier classes. It's the idea as a whole that bugs me

    First issue: Several of the classes appear to be the same as Blackhat offerings. Am I not alone in thinking that offering the same training at 1/5th the price reason for Blackhat attendees to be pissed? Also, how many of those people are going to cancel thier seat at Blackhat and come to DC to save money? In essence, Blackhat's value has been cheapened.

    Second issue: Several of these classes either provide no materials, or any other excuse for a cost recovery claim. One can claim that the knowledge is the material provided, I'm of the camp that if I'm being charged, I want a damn book widget, or something to show for it.

    Third issue: This spits in the face of those of us who have put on training classes at the various villages (LPV, HHV, Wireless Village), taught in a corner to small groups (who has'nt done this?), run a contest with our own money and time (L0stboy especially). The inclusion of paid, for profit training flys right in the face of all these people who share thier knowledge freely.

    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.

    Fourth issue: While I can appreciate charging for 'exclusive' access to an instructor in a limited class setting, charging for this priviledge creates a split of haves and have-nots.

    I dont have the cash nor the time to blow a whole saturday on a class I may want to take. If I want to save my saturday to attend talks, etc, I am left with the option of going to Blackhat and paying for the class there on a dedicated day (except this year where they are running training concurrently. What's up with that?). I cant afford the prices at Blackhat, so I'm screwed. Those with the means to pay, that's always what Blackhat was for. Defcon was about the free exchange of knowledge and thats why things have always been free.

    We are risking the inclusive environment of people doing it because they love it and turning it into an exclusive environment of those who can pay to take a class and not contribute back to the community afterwards. Is'nt the restriction of information what we are supposed to be against?

    Fifth issue: This is in response to TheCotMan's comment about "Defcon is what you make of it" and the orginizers trying to make something for the corporate types. Is'nt that redundant, is'nt that what Blackhat was supposed to be from the beginning?

    I may be rusty on my history and details, but did'nt Jeff start Blackhat in reponse to the complaints that they wanted Defcon's content without the Defcon stank on thier clean suits? (ok, it was that corporations have an easier time accepting the value of and paying for a $1500 conference rather than a $150 one that has the same content)

    In a nutshell, this has me worried. I'm not afraid of change, but I think there will be some unintended consiquences and culture shift as a result. For better or worse, we shall see where this goes.

    I go to Defcon for the people. I want to be around people who do what they do because they love it. Adding for-profit content sets a dangerous precident of bringing in people who do it for profit. That, I think, will alienate alot of people and hasten Defcon's demise from what it once was.

    Now, I'm not all rapture about this, I'm not yelling that the sky is falling, but after this year, I would highly recommend Jeff and the other orginizers poll the membership here about this and apply it going forward. I'm all for trying new things, but be aware that this may not be the best direction.

    Wow, I get long winded late at night.

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  • Club81
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    I think they should be on Thursday. You can pay extra to go to them, but not miss out on anything in the normal program.

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  • TheCotMan
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    ... i have always loved the fact that DEFCON had been a "pay at the door then the world is your oyster" type of event. there weren't (to my knowledge) any other costs for any of the contests, mini-events, parties, etc etc etc.
    Please permit me to play Devil's Advocate (supporter of something I do not necessarily believe in, for the sake of exposing thoughts and ideas that may not have been considered.)


    This has been the trend, lately. Contests with people running it pass on their costs to the people participating in them. [forum=551]Events that require a donation for Entry[/forum] have been going on for years. [forum=583]Some events provide a service per-person at the cost of a donation[/forum], and [forum=427]another[/forum], and [forum=525]another[/forum] and plenty more if you look back. You have mentioned, you have switched to asking people for money for lanes for the first time this year, so you can cover costs in bringing more equipment to the site, and better equip your RSO. (I saw you mentioned this in a post below, before I posted this.) There has been a trend of people wanting to use the forums to sell their latest things which may or may not be strongly related to Defcon. (This is NOT a dig into the thread started by eris calling for donations of blood for barkode. I am talking about purely commercial & "not-for-profit" not charities and their donations.)

    There was even a contest with a poll, where the person running it asked about an entry fee to play. (Kudos for being direct and actually ASKING players what they thought before doing it. :-)

    (Apologies to the people that run the events and contests that I have provided links to visit, from my content above. My intent is to illustrate a history that goes back several years, and I am not implying your requests for cash were bad or good, only that they happened.)

    With this as a history, and a thought that "Defcon is what you make of it," and applying that line of thinking to not just attendees, but organizers, can Defcon be what corporate-types want it to be by offering cost-based services, for profit, or if non-profit break-even or donation? What if a company brought full-sized construction equipment to the Parking lot for people to pay to operate heavy machinery?

    Wouldn't it also be up to the attendee to choose if they want to pay more for something else, or not, and then let the free market eliminate those things that are not profitable by those trying to make money? (I am trying to avoid politics, and hope that mentioning economics does not lead to any kind of political rants.)

    Looking over these workshops, it seems most are *all-day-events* on Saturdays, meaning attendees would have to skip out on all competing contests, events, and other speaker tracks taking place at the same time.

    Next, the argument could then be made, "Does letting these workshops happen harm your Defcon fun, in any way?" In some ways, it may improve your Defcon fun, by removing even more people from the hallways, speaking tracks, and contest areas.

    I'll try to keep up this role as "Devil's Advocate" in this discussion as long as I can tolerate it, if anyone wants to argue, and nobody else is willing to take this side.

    Now for what I actually feel:

    I do miss certain aspects of, "the good old days," where there was a great deal of giving by members of the community for contests, events, and pranks. (I'm not talking about charity events getting donations, as I am comfortable with that.) People gave a great deal of their life, time, money, and resources to put things together. Consider all of the hard-working goons that *still* donate their lives before Defcon getting ready, at Defcon working with little sleep, and then after defcon cleaning up, packing up, and sorting through the mess that follows. Consider Lost[boy] and his Lost @ Con Mystery Contests, and how much time, effort and money he put into building the puzzles that everyone used, and sometimes destroyed in playing his game, and offering to the community. People doing what they do because they love something, and sacrificing as they do for the passion they have for a thing is a great thing to see, but ultimately, it is unsustainable when the LARGER percent of new people attending see no reason to give or get involved as others before them have given, and contributed.

    A belief that the cost of admission includes fees that pays for these services and food attendees get from providers/volunteers/donations, continues to persist even though it is not true. Another example? I wonder how many people attend the ToxicBBQ, and bring absolutely nothing with them as contribution in food or supplies, for themselves, or ever to include sharing it with others, and the few (beyond the organizers) that bring things? Do they only bring it for themselves, and sometimes just a few close friends the rode to Defcon with, or to share with people they don't even know? Compare your last Toxic BBQ with the first, or even second, or third, then play them back, in order and look at how things have changed as attendees to it change.

    I did not see paid workshops coming, but in retrospect, looking back at how things have been changing, and continue to change, they were inevitable. When the volunteers, and givers are burned-out, and taken for granted, they will be replaced or they won't. If they are replaced, will the replacements also be volunteers? (More on this later)

    Ages ago, probably late 1990s, there was an Interview by some online news group with DT, and they asked him, "how long do you see yourself coming back to run Defcon?" and back then, he replied with something like, "as long as people want to keep coming back to volunteer to help me run it." (Not exact quotes... this is from memory, and almost 15 years.) Things can change over time. What happens when some of the volunteers stop giving so much? Some will pass on, some will have new priorities, such as a family, or kids, and want what best for them. Some may seek out things like KidCon to try to share a love they once enjoyed with their kids. Some may choose to stop, slow down, and take in the fun, instead of working all the time. Some may find new interests, or become absorbed into their professional life. The question is not the loss of volunteers, as that will happen no matter how Defcon changes, or doesn't, but the question of who will replace them? (More on this later)

    I worry that new attendee's perception will continue to believe their one fee for a badge pays for everything they do and see at con and this could lead to a lack of recognition for those that pay for the parties, ToxicBBQ, and contests and events, and this in turn lead to burn-out among those that sacrifice and donate, and then when they stop giving. Without other volunteers to step-up, will commercialization and non-profit, or even for-profit be the new replacements?

    If that happens, will people accept it, so long as the events or contests keep happening, even if they have to pay?

    (It is now later.)
    When volunteers stop, who will replace them? If more people volunteer, then we have the possibility to continue with a community-supported system, but will there be enough volunteers? What if there are not enough, or no more volunteers willing AND able to step up and get the job done? Then what they offered will stop, or be done by someone that is NOT a volunteer. (Without change, if you model this system, can you see where this is heading?)

    I have many concerns about the impact of changes made by many people, and how these changes will result in Defcon taking a new direction, and that direction being something that some people don't like. The cost of nearly *any* change is the introduction of a break between those that WANT the new change, and those that do NOT.

    Change can polarize people into 2 groups for each decision to change, and fracture an existing base, but without change: stagnation, shrinkage and death with a whimper. Is this really a false choice? I really hope it is. If it is, what is the alternative?

    Wow. You actually read all that? Good for you! How much time did you just waste? ;-)
    Last edited by TheCotMan; July 1, 2011, 02:03.

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  • Deviant Ollam
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    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.

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  • Deviant Ollam
    started a topic what are people's opinions?

    what are people's opinions?

    tonight on Twitter there was a pretty decent discussion between myself, thePrez, Legion from 303, Jeff Jarmoc, and others regarding the DEFCON Workshops.

    a great deal of differing opinion is out there, and i'd love to see how people here on the forums, the core DEFCON community, feels about these sessions.

    i, personally, have come down on one side of the fence but i'm going to do my best to keep an open mind about the matter until we actually complete DC19 and the feedback can be heard from all sides. overall, however, i have always loved the fact that DEFCON had been a "pay at the door then the world is your oyster" type of event. there weren't (to my knowledge) any other costs for any of the contests, mini-events, parties, etc etc etc.

    i don't especially like seeing a change in this paradigm. this is because something very meaningful went hand-in-hand with the "one badge gets you everything" policy. it meant that every new and fun thing to come along simply had to be free-of-charge. when i brought the TOOOL Lockpick Village here, we decided right then that all of the content (the hardware, the supplies, the lessons, the availability of staff for Q&A) would be freely available to all. (yes, we sell lockpick kits and such, but all of the same items are also scattered around the Village for people to use. sales are just in case people want a pristine, nice version to take home themselves.)

    under the newly-emerging paradigm, it's almost as if something like the Lockpick Village would be handled by us dumping a bunch of hardware on tables for people to "play with" and then saying "so, if you want lessons on how this stuff works, the big names on the TOOOL staff will be in this separate room, elsewhere, where you can come to learn all day long (missing out on much of DEFCON in the process) and be sure to bring your wallet because there are additional costs.

    i realize i'm over-simplifying... but there is a change in the air, and it's not one that i'm 100% comfortable with. i do hope that people get to enjoy a lot of new material, of course, and i hope that the workshops go well (many of the listed trainers are friends of mine and i wish them well... those who attend will surely be learning from some of the best. it's a pity that it means more costs and cutting a whole big chunk of your DEFCON time)