My thoughts on the 4 event clash on the 21st Feb

Yes I've seen it too.

Now I can shout and rave about how crazy it is having 4 london events on the same night (i did this before), but I'm also one of the guilty event organizers. So I should try and set the record a little straight, because people do seem to think we don't talk to each other.

Me and Sarah Blow from the girl geekdinner's did speak to see if we could avoid clashing on the same day. Now to be fair Sarah had the day first and I was planning the geekdinner for Monday 19th March (I have emails to citizen agency to prove it) but due to the Future of Webapps conference I needed to change the day.

Conferences like Fowa and @Media do have a odd relationship with the smaller events in London. On one hand small events like Geekdinners could be seen as nicking the best speakers from the conference holders, who to be fair have paid for the speakers to be in town that week. It could also be seen as taking people away from the main conference. This is something a lot more real, when you run a BarCamp next to a large conference. On the other hand (the hand I prefer) the smaller events can increase the amount of
people from out of town who come who go to a conference. For example I just booked flights to San Diego for Etech 2007 and left a good 2 days around the start and end to make way for smaller events. I see Etech as the main reason for going but the smaller events where I can actually talk with people and share ideas. If your a conference organizer, this is a bonus because you can keep both eyes on the conference and rely on a trusted small event organizer to do the social event for you. Even better is when the
conference and small event have some kind of cross linking. This was true of the @media social and now the fowa conference. So the point I'm getting at is, I respect the work which goes into fowa and they are happy to recommend geekdinner for the social event. You could say they are sponsoring the event, but I see more like supporting the event.

So with that support, it makes a lot of sense to have the social event on the last day of the conference (21st Feb).

Some would say, hey why don't you merge or partner for the 21st? Well this is difficult because of a number of reasons

  1. Girl Geekdinners and WikiWed have rules, which I would never want to break
  2. There just different kind of events. There's just different vibes and crowds
  3. Girl Geekdinner has sponsorship and we have different support. It wouldn't be fair on the sponsors to mess them around
  4. WikiWed is trying to get off the ground again, it would be unfair to try and partner on there first event for ages
  5. Difference in payment, Geekdinners costs, Girl geekdinners is sponsored. WikiWed I'm unsure about. It couldn't work without screwing someone
  6. Large venues costs a lot of money and time. Enough said really

So we're all in agreement that clashes like this will happen (much that I wanted to go to both Girl Geekdinners and WikiWed).

So the question is how do we try and stop this happening in the future?

Well last time I did propose a Google Calendar. Sarah Blow has been great using the calendar, I've not been so good. Others who I've invited have been simply rubbish. But I'm starting to wonder if a google calendar is the right way to deal with this problem? See the one place everyone uses now is Upcoming.org. I preferred Eventful.com but Upcoming is what everyone uses in London. So your at least guaranteed that event organizers will place there events up there. Maybe my biggest problem with upcoming is the lack
of a actually calendar. It was always hard to see what was on a certain day and if it was relevant enough to worry about.
Now I'm using Outlook 2007, this isn't such a problem but I'm only subscribed to the my events and my friends events. This keeps most of the crap out of my calendar but its not perfect. I'm still relying on one of my friends adding a event which I'm not aware of. Lucky I have a lot of friends on Upcoming so I can get a real idea of whats going on. But others are not so lucky,

Groups on Upcoming.org are reasonable and maybe one way forward. Although right now there not very used. But back to the main point, the fact upcoming is event driven not date driven (you can't click on a calendar anywhere and you can't navigate by dates) is a big problem when trying to pick dates for a small or large event.

So I'm now done.

Does anyone have something I've forgotten or is simply a unsolvable problem?

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.