A thought on (Scientific) Conferences
Over the last couple of weeks I have been visiting a couple of conferences: MODELS, SLE, GPCE and OOPSLA (now: SPLASH). Particularly with OOPSLA, I noticed it was only a shadow of its former self: way fewer people, reduced programme, non-convincing location. Why is that? Clearly, it is all a consequence of the attendee numbers dropping. So why don't people go to OOPSLA anymore?
There are of course many reasons, and I am not the one to analyse all of this completely. For one, there is simply more competition: the Agile folks, who have been at OOPSLA before, now have their own conference. Conferences like JAOO - although different in style - pull many of the industry attendees away.
However, there is also another problem I'd like to call "conference fragmentation". People don't go to these "big software conferences" anymore, they go to more specialized ones. Let me give you a small overview of the major conferences in the modeling space: MODELS, GPCE, SLE, ICMT, ECMFA, Code Generation, ... and more. The problem here is this: each of these conferences has their own time and location, requiring travel. Because there are more and more conferences, you see fewer and fewer interesting people at each of them. All in all, it makes conferences much less attractive!
There may be reasons why more conferences are better (possibly, I don't know). But can we please colocate them? Can't we have a European Modeling thing go on in the spring (with 3 conferences colocated) and maybe another one in the US in fall? This would make organization simpler, would allow participants to network better, make everything cheaper (economies of scale) and, best of all, require less (annoying) travel.
Don't know if anyone of the decision makers is reading this, but if so, please give it a thought.