The Thinking Behind £1.40 Conference

I’ve long been baffled by the insane costs people will pay to go to business and technology conferences. For the same money that many of them cost you could hire a couple of leading experts in the field to come to your company and help you out with whatever it is that you’re working on. This seems to have passed a lot of people by.

The most recent offender in this field appears to be the 140 Conference – an event first organised in NYC, apparently held in a basement (so very little web access) with inadequate resources, high ticket prices, and most – if not all – the speakers not getting paid to be there.

The news that it was coming to London made me wonder out loud (probably at Tuttle) about the possibility of running a free conference on the same day – doing it Amplified-style where everyone gets to contribute, share their knowledge, people can suggest and lead sessions, and we all gain insight, friendship, support and fun without anyone building some freaky empire and charging £500 a head for the privilege.

At this point, the genius that is Toby Moores (AKA Sleepydog) suggested that it be called the £1.40 Conference – and we all started riffing on the idea of what that could mean –

  • charge £1.40,
  • pay speakers £1.40,
  • beer and sandwiches cost £1.40 (Toby again – he’s so good at this stuff!)…
  • Any profits would be donated to a charity.

The idea came together really quickly. A brief chat at that time on twitter suggested that a few more people were interested in the idea too.

Fast forward to yesterday and on a whim I checked to see if the date of the London 140Conference had been announced – it had, Nov 10/11th.

So to coincide with it, I threw out the idea of holding £1.40 conference on the 10th November. Little else is planned as yet, but as we’re not planning on spending a shitload of money, and we already have the Amplified team in place to make events like this work, it’s going to be pretty easy to put it together.

I put a page up about it on the Amp09 wiki, and the ball is rolling. People are signing up – most of the people I’d want to book to speak at a conference like this even if we were charging £500 a ticket are coming along – it’s going to be fab, it’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be (nearly) free. (if you can’t afford the £1.40, let us know, someone will happily pay it for you, and no-one will ask for stock in your company in exchange.)

I’m sure there are situations where £500-worth of value can be squeezed out of a day-long conference. If such things were measurable, I’m sure I could show that I get that out of Tuttle most Friday mornings, and that’s always free and open to anyone.

I reckon you’ll get at least £450-worth out on Nov 10th, for just £1.40. 🙂

So, as of now, it has a wiki page where you can sign up, make suggestions, offer help, ask questions – it’s all happening over there. Head over there to join the £1.40 fun!

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8 Comments

  1. Man, you Brits are coming up with all the best stuff right now. Too bad I’m stuck in a backward city in the US that’s busy going bankrupt. Still, the $1.40 Conference could work in a major city that gets it, like NYC.

    The US just doesn’t have the advantage of a capital city that serves as the central hub for the entire country. 🙂

  2. Steve – What’s your “Theme” i.e. To follow up on the point made in Paul Carr’s commentary of the 140 Conference – where’s the narrative thread of the Amp £1.40 conference? Do you have someone to tie together talks so that there is some kind of thread throughout, rather than “a bunch of people turning up and talking about stuff”?

    1. Hi Mike, I think there’s a bit of a theme emerging in the things that people are posting on the wiki that they want to talk about – around the subject of twitter/microblogging – but I’m definitely of the opinion that there are way too many smart people out there thinking about this stuff for me to try and pin down what they should and shouldn’t be talking about. 🙂 I’ve been really frustrated by some of the tech conferences I’ve been to that they haven’t left room for the spontaneous and collaborative stuff, and have been really suprised at the consistency and quality of what happens when you give free reign to people’s imaginations and collaborative leanings. That’s part of the thinking behind the Amplified project as a whole – have a read of some of the other stuff on the wiki, and have a look at http://www.amplified09.com for more on that. I think the format for this will almost certainly be amp-style, but it’s not ‘my’ event – so we’ll see what happens.

      Would be great if you could be there – I really enjoyed the day you came to tuttle 🙂

      1. Steve – spontaneity is good, but if you have some kind of narrative & structure (“flow”) then folks will recall what was discussed much better. It doesn’t have to be restrictive…

        I’ll need to see whether I would be able to attend. We definitely need to touch base and follow up on the discussion we started around meta-data, meta-analysis, protocols and context.

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