I just got back from the 2007 Information Security Summit in Independence, Ohio. This is the second time I have attended. I was extremely pleased with last year's Summit. It was a tough act to follow.
This year, the whole thing pretty much fell flat on its face.
Evidently they pulled in a homeless guy off the streets to video the activities. Every presentation was plagued with technical difficulties or delayed because the Video Guy just couldn't keep his eye on the clock. Microphone problems were rampant. Video Guy couldn't seem to keep them working, and he needed them for the all-important audio aspect of his video record of the event.
Which he sold for twenty bucks a pop, or a hundred for the whole show.
No thanks. I'll wait for them to show up on YouTube.
I believe - but can't prove - that the video requirement presented some copyright issues that generally lowered the quality of the presenters. Last year it seemed every presenter had a book they were hawking and I recall at least one presenter stating his PowerPoint presentation was a copyrighted work and would not be "available for download" after the conference. They tried hard to distribute the 2006 presentations over the hotel's network, but 300 geeks with laptops took the network down for the duration of the event.
The keynote speeches (there were four total, three on the first day and one on the second) were for the most part disappointing. Except for the "Hackernomics" presentation by "Dr." Herbert Thompson, it seemed each presenter had a hidden political agenda. Doc Thompson was very entertaining. They really should have started the show with him because at least he left the participants smiling. You need to wake the crowd up on the first day, but the initial keynote ("Geeks and Guns") was delivered by National City Security Wonk Gareth Webley. It was a real yawner.
At least Doc Thompson was entertaining. His message was stale ("hackers aren't script kiddies anymore"... yea, we know that), but he acted like a complete idiot on the stage and the crowd loved it.
Although I admit I didn't see enough of the entire summit to pass judgment on it, what I did see was pretty bleak. So bleak I blew off the afternoon of the second day and hit the road after lunch.
I didn't bother to fill out the summit's evaluation forms. Besides the fact that I hate them with a passion, there is hardly any point to filling them out unless the content is truly excellent. There is no point in telling people they're mediocre. They just get defensive.
Besides, that's what blogs are for!