I attended the Ruby Hoedown this past Friday through Saturday in Raleigh, NC. Chad Fowler has a nice summary of the event on his blog so I won’t go into details. I do want to mention how much I love smaller, focused conferences.
With a very small team of organizers (Nathanial Talbott and Jeremy McAnally), the Ruby Hoedown was a nice blend of high level, big thought talks with some technical ones. It’s a nice balance for a day and a half conference where the focus was on sharing knowledge and meeting others in the Ruby community. A great added bonus was the fact that the conference was only $100 to attend.
While on a much larger scale, SXSW provides a similar type of environment composed of these two similar factors – a blend of high level vs. low level talks and a focus on the interactions of the attendees.
While large conferences like RailsConf, SXSW, and Gnomedex obviously draw big names and large audiences, smaller regional conferences may provide the most for your investment when you consider how much easier it is to get to know attendees. I walked away from the Hoedown with new knowledge and some new friends that may spur my business in unforeseen future directions.
I hope these regional conferences are a trend that continues.