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.