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How much?

Short form of the controversy:

Dave Winer and Harvard are throwing a one-day blogging convention at Harvard. The entry fee is $500; $250 if you’re a Harvard affiliate. This strikes some people as too high.

Today, Dave explained why the fee was $500, as follows:

1. It’s absolutely non-profit.

OK, good. Irrelevant to why the cost is so high, though.

bq. 2. We will use the money to pay expenses for speakers and students who will get in for free, some of whom will have their expenses paid.

This is the bit that actually irked me enough to get me writing. Students aren’t getting in free; it’s costing them $250. Speakers will presumably get in free. But that doesn’t really speak to the question of where the $500 goes; you need to explain that before you claim that it’s meaningful to give anyone a discount. When you reduce this down to its actual components, what it says is that the money is going to pay for plane tickets and lodging.

3. We’re going to have parties and dinners, all of which cost a lot of money.

You know, I’d be totally OK paying for my own dinner, because I’m pretty sure I could swing it for less than $500. Even two dinners. I also don’t believe that $500 a head is a reasonable cost for a party — and let’s be real, this is a single party, because most of the attendees will have to clear out before Sunday night.

Maybe he’s planning on putting on lunch both days for the attendees? If so, perhaps he should consider not doing that to make it possible for more people to come.

I don’t know how many attendees he expects, but he has 12 presenters and moderators listed. At least two of them live in Boston. Many of them live on the East Coast. I’m having trouble believing that the numbers balance out.


  1. Yeah. I was pretty disappointed at the cost of this. I really would like to go. But being unemployed right now, there’s no way I could justify spending the money on this. Heck, even at the student cost I can’t really afford it. Blah.

  2. It seems to me that the numbers probably do balance out, judging by the timbre of the response so far. 6 “guests” at $500 apiece should just about pay travel and lodging for 12 speakers.

    Honestly, to me, having a top-down conference about blogging like this is just stupid. People (well, at least, my particular interest of people) don’t need to meet face to face to learn about blogging; if anything, they might meet face to face to discuss blogging. Maybe it’s just a sign of how desperately I need to spend 10 hours being lectured about blogging that I don’t think there’s anything to be “taught” on the subject. If I’m paying $500 so a guy (not me) can fly to Boston and sleep in a hotel, it suggests that he has something important to tell me. Ironically, the invitation itself suggests that the real value of the conference is not the featured names, but the paying attendees. “[A]t this conference the people who make the products are here to listen, to learn how people use the software, and to learn how we can improve it.” Fantastic.

    I wonder if they’ll have a FlirtingOnAIMCon next year. But maybe I’m just jealous because I didn’t get invited to spend $500.

  3. So, BloggerCon is coming up in October and I got an invite for it in my email over the weekend. The good part about it is that I really think it could be an interesting thing to go to. I’ve…

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