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  • YenTheFirst
    replied
    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]

    Leave a comment:


  • Dallas
    replied
    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!

    --per

    "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.
    per--

    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • LosT
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • astcell
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • LosT
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • converge
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • renderman
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    Originally posted by Pyr0 View Post
    Sponsorships ARE allowed and companies can create and/or support any Official Contests or Events. However, there are strict rules about what you can and can't do - see below
    Thanks Pyro. Now we know the rules contests and events are held to, I'm making a mental note while at con to document what I have some opposition to (if I see any at all) and I encourage others to do the same so we can add some emperical data to this debate.

    I've never been opposed to sponsorships (realivant ones), but there is a fine line between promotion and pimping (See my thread a while ago about proper shilling technique)

    Leave a comment:


  • Pyr0
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    Sponsorships ARE allowed and companies can create and/or support any Official Contests or Events. However, there are strict rules about what you can and can't do - see below

    NOT ALLOWED:
    displaying company swag, logos, banners, etc. DEF CON is not a corporate sales show - if you want to have a booth and push product, hold a recruiting event, etc. Buy a booth at Blackhat or sign up for a vendor table at DEF CON.

    ALLOWED:
    You can donate money to support the community, conference, or private events and parties.
    If the event or contest is not a formal DEF CON Contest or Event you may display company sponsors gear tastefully.
    (Example: Facebook sponsored Ninja Networks and in turn they had a small logo on the ninja badges)

    For the record - if you have been planning to push product / company at DEF CON I hope you have reached out the the Vendor Goons and paid your fees.

    If somebody tries to push product, marketing, or business related shit in the contest area they will be warn and asked to remove / take down whatever has been deemed inappropriate. If they want to bitch and whine, throw a fit, or refuse I WILL PULL THIER BADGE AND THEY WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE THE CONFERENCE

    If you have any questions about what is appropriate and what isn't - email me at Pyr0 (AT) Defcon (DOT) org

    Leave a comment:


  • QuinDevelin
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    As a complete cherry to DefCon and pretty much a noob to the entire Con scene, I may not have much of value to add. But, I have spent the last hour of my life reading what is quite obviously a topic many are very passionate about, so I deserve to spend another hour composing a reply I may not post :P

    I have managed to get corporate sponsorship to the DefCon event. If I can find a way of producing a receipt for the con itself, I'll have managed to attend my first DefCon completely free of charge. Along those same lines, I'm sure I could manage to expense the cost of a workshop if I could only produce a receipt for it as well. But, I will not (the latter anyway... the former would be pretty straightforward).

    I have read many arguments for and against the workshops. These arguments are as varied and intelligent as those that have presented them (kudos for the Devil's Advocate posts, they sounded painful but honest!).

    I wholeheartedly support DarkTangent's decision to include the workshops in this year's DefCon lineup. It was a risky proposition not knowing how the body politic would respond. It confirms what I have read elsewhere. DT is committed to the welfare of the hacker society.

    I have said that I will not attend. It is not because I don't see the value in the workshops (I would love to attend the social engineering workshop). It is not because I oppose paying $200 to attend a dedicated and focused learning experience (you cannot put a price on the value of learning). Rather, I refuse to support the emerging culture of entitlement.

    More and more I see a culture of entitlement encroaching upon our society. One of the reasons I want to attend DefCon is because the attendees are encouraged (and should be expected) to participate, to volunteer, to GET FRACKING INVOLVED!

    I don't want anyone to teach me. I want to learn from someone. I want to learn from everyone. I want someone to learn from me.

    Maybe this reply is completely off topic. Maybe the moderators will edit or delete the post as being idiotic and asinine. In the meantime, think about what message you want to present. Do you want to sit back and watch the learning happen or do you want to get up, get involved, and make a difference?

    -Q

    Leave a comment:


  • Club81
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    My only complaint (still) is that it's during CON. If they were on THUR, I'd be all for it. Want to got? Pay the meager fee. DEF CON workshops are 1/4 (my estimation) of other con trainings. And about 10% of BH trainings. Can't/Don't want to pay? No problem! Talks start on FRI. We (and I mean that as CON-wide) can still be a kick-ass community with trainings in place.

    Leave a comment:


  • renderman
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    Things change. I've been going since DC7 in 99' and I've seen the con change rather dramatically for the better and worse (IMHO)

    Money is always going to be an issue. I charge for giving talks on a different circut I'm on, and I need to make a living. I certainly get that. As several people noted, it's about the culture. I share my knowledge freely at Defcon because I'm getting value from others doing the same. I get back ten fold the knowledge I dispensed over the weekend of a con and that has been one of the best things about it.

    I noticed a change when Blackhat attendees started showing up because Defcon was something magical and they wanted to see it themselves. This led to alot of people who I term 'lookyloos' who came to see the hackers like we were some sort of Zoo exhibit, but at least those people were there because they wanted to be. Later when Blackhat was including Defcon registration it led to alot more people who wouldn't ordinarily have gone, to stick around for the weekend and 'take up space'

    I already feel there are two separate groups at con, but the hacker side could at least continue to do what we do.

    When you start charging for workshops, parties, contests (beyond cost recovery), you setup a system where the flow is one way. You attract more of the people who come, pay for the workshop, absorb some content, then leave without contributing back. Even a complete Defcon n00b that comes with an open mind contributes something. Sometimes by asking questions of those teaching in an open environment where others can learn from the answer. Other times the contribution is just in a positive message about hackers to the family back home.

    I've seen first timers learn a new skill on friday and be teaching others by sunday. I've seen friendships and collaborations that go off to do amazing things start here. Hell, a couple of marriages started here too.

    I guess my worry is that in the next few years I'm going to have to make a decision if it's worth the year long work to save up and plan everything for Defcon, just to end up being some circus sideshow for people with expense accounts who I cant learn anything from and all the cool content is locked behind paywalls, all the effort is for nothing. Overly dramatic, yeah, there's still friends there that make the trip worthwhile, but if they have to make similar choices and stop going, well, it all falls apart.

    I am willing to see how it goes this year with the workshops and give it a fair chance. I would like this thread to be moved to re-created in the post-defcon area of the forum so we can discuss our thoughts afterthe fact.

    Leave a comment:


  • kallahar
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    Excellent summary, glad you're thinking about the impacts this has on our culture.

    Maybe someday we'll see the security goons charging at the door to get in. Or maybe a "fastpass" - $200 extra lets you skip to the front of any line. It's a "value added" service!

    Leave a comment:


  • jjarmoc
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    I shared some of my thoughts in the discussion Deviant and others were having on twitter, but having come across this thread I thought I'd write in a bit more depth.

    While I understand and even share some of the concerns highlighted here, I'm truly undecided on how I feel, and probably won't know for sure until I see how this goes.

    I have a lot of respect for the people that have given of themselves freely over the years to benefit the greater good. I've directly benefited from the selflessness that leads people to contribute to the community in various ways and am forever indebted. I've also made a conscious effort (especially in the past few years) to give back in the ways I'm able; engaging in discourse by sharing my opinions (sometimes when not asked, heh), helping out in swag sales, co-presenting my first Defcon talk this year, and trying to share what I can while continuing to absorb that which others give. I'm a firm believer that Defcon, and the hacking/security communities at large, are things everyone can contribute to in some way, just as everyone can benefit. "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need" probably sums it up.

    Unfortunately, when money enters the equation things don't always work out so perfectly. There's bound to be those who can't afford the workshops and feel slighted. Others who have freely contributed might feel offended that there's now some degree of direct financial incentive/gain. But at the end of the day, I'm not sure this is a significant change. Parts of the conference experience have always been limited to various groups in various ways for various reasons. This time it's financial, and officially sanctioned, and there's bound to be a difference of opinions about that.

    Still, I think this largely fits into the open culture of Defcon. There's money involved, for sure, but I think the amounts are small enough that I don't think any of the workshop leaders / presenters / instructors / whatever are profit-motivated. On the consumer side, this is a way for those who see value to defray the costs involved. I kind of suspect that the lion's share of the revenues will end up in the Rio's bottom line at the end of the day and surely no one is getting rich on this. The numbers of people who are offering and will be able to take part in workshops are small enough that it doesn't seem likely to detract from the rest of the conference overall in a significant way.

    My real concern is how this will set precedent for the future. Will speakers, contest organizers, goons, and all those who contribute in other ways start to hold back since they aren't being compensated to whatever degree those involved in workshops are? Will folks be less involved in contests, villages, hallway/bar/whatever-con because they're busy with workshops? I don't think either of those will end up being answered in the affirmative, but the jury is still out.

    There's been dollar signs all over the community on all sides for years. Whitehat, Greyhat, Blackhat, or Purplehat; most of us support ourselves through our skill and in some indirect way, through what we get out of Defcon. Largely, Defcon has managed to stay true to it's roots and promote the open (relatively) free exchange of ideas, and I'm grateful for that. I don't see this as a significant break from that ideal at this point.

    Leave a comment:


  • BigC
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    I attended my first Defcon last year. I knew that I was going to be a noob but I had no idea how noob-ish I actually was until I attended some talks. I'm attending again this year. When I saw that there were going to be workshops at DC19, I thought that this might be my opportunity to graduate to, perhaps, ++noob.

    Why do I care? I teach Computer Security at a college to students who learn about how to write software. These are the graduates who need to know about security to make software more secure. When our grads go into the Real World, they often tell me that my courses gave them far better preparation than grads from other colleges and universities. But I know perfectly well that I know about 1% of what I really should know. And that's why I'm at Defcon and why I'm seriously considering taking a workshop.

    Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post

    Free market is awesome! Competition amongst different people for similar services can bring costs down. Monopolies are often bad for consumers. Don't attendees of Defcon win when they gain access to speakers providing workshop presentations/hands-on/intimate-one-on-one experience at much cheaper prices than elsewhere? This seems to make more expensive workshops more affordable to those that can't afford Blackhat.
    Exactly. I can't afford Blackhat. My employer would not pay for a conference at the cost of Blackhat (which is a separate issue). But the workshops' affordable cost (to me (perhaps to my employer, I don't know)) makes the Defcon workshops very appealing to me. And, in case you're wondering, $200 is a good price point for me. $300 would be significantly harder to justify and $350 would be too expensive.

    Maybe there is another win that is possible with paid workshops that is not being considered. Maybe there are businesses that have not considered Defcon a "real" security conference, for the sake of education, but instead view it as a frat party with excessive debauchery and hedonism. Maybe the introduction of fee-based workshops will lend some credibility to those bean-counting accountants, and cause managers and directors to reconsider Defcon as an expense that can be covered by an employer for employee education. If this happens, maybe we will get more security professional attending Defcon. This sounds like it has potential as a desired side-effect.
    My supervisor loves the idea of me attending Defcon. He's leaving at the end of August. Will my next supervisor be as excited about it or will he/she look at the skull-and-crossbones on the Defcon home page and say "are you kidding me?" The workshops would definitely help in being able to justfiy Defcon to someone who is more of an in-the-box thinker.


    Regarding some of the other issues, the timing might be a problem for me. I'd rather that the workshops were either before or after the main sessions, as I don't want to have to miss sessions that might be of use to me (even at my noob level). But this really should have been discussed many, many months ago, so that people could plan their trips around it. Last year, I booked my flight to arrive hours after Defcon 101 because I had no idea that Defcon 101 existed. This year, I'm arriving on Wednesday and leaving on Monday so that I won't miss anything. July is too late to be introducing this (but better July than not at all).

    Regarding compensation for the workshop presenters, I think that it's only reasonable, considering the effort that they would have to go through to put such a workshop together. I know Myrcurial based on his donating his time to do a guest lecture for one of my classes. If he's getting compensated for doing an 8 hour long workshop, great. And if that compensation comes from those who got benefit from it, even better.

    And regarding content, I'd like to see something even more elementary ... something for those who don't have the current hacking background, want it desperately, and don't have the time to get it normally. Don't you think that you'd get 20 to 50 people who would be interested in that level of workshop IF they knew about it ahead of time and could plan a Defcon trip to take that into account? I think so.


    Other people are welcome to participate in this thread too. I'd like to hear how new-comers feel about this, too. This thread is not just for people that have been to defcon at least XYZ years; you don't need experience to have an opinion, but if you are unable to support your opinion, you will have a difficult time.]
    I hope to not have a difficult time

    Leave a comment:


  • valanx
    replied
    Re: what are people's opinions?

    I'm not as salty as those who have weighed in on this before, but I've been around for a while and have given several impromptu talks, workshops, knowledge transfers, whatever you want to call that stuff. I come and do this because I can afford it, I love this stuff, and people have at least on occasion wanted to know something that I'm happy to share.

    I understand that the folks holding the workshops are going to want some sort of compensation, though I'm falling on the side with Renderman with how does that work for the other folks who have done free stuff forever? Well, I see some of it like any other community effort. Some people come and give 10000% because they love this and will continue to do so until the wheels fall off. Others have a family, have obligations, life or a reasonable simulation thereof outside of the conference and do what they can when they can because while they love this, the kids still need a parent and someone has to make the donuts.

    But as security becomes more accepted and has a budget in environments, we also have people who bring the corporate mindset and want to make a profit no matter what. Right now, I see more of those folks as consumers of these workshops rather than ones delivering the content.

    I know at least in passing a few of the people giving these workshops. They have given quite a bit of their knowledge out for free in the past and will likely continue to do so. Does it represent a shift in what Defcon was before? Maybe. But the exponential increase of people coming drives some of that as well. Every year, I see the same core of folks that I will likely show some research to, talk about new ideas, collaborate with, and have a thousand hallway-con events with. Maybe there was always a divide and I just was too new to notice. But I see an increasing number of attendees and the same number of people running things.

    So this kind of rambles, but the tl;dnr version is this: I'm not personally a big fan of all this new cost added stuff at defcon. Does it change what I do? Nope. Do I understand why someone might want to share something for money? Sure. It just doesn't line up with my view of things. Ultimately, the mob is going to decide if this idea works. But if you want to learn something about what I've got going on, I'll continue to share it because that is what folks did before me and kept me coming to Vegas in August in the first place.

    Leave a comment:

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