Pycon disappointment

Tom Stambaugh tms at
Sun Mar 16 16:10:26 CET 2008

> But vendors often don't label themselves as vendors.  And often, the
> researcher or individual in question, who has something worth saying, does
> have a professional job of sorts, which might be related to his or her 
> work
> or speech.  I've heard people give very long, detailed talks about
> interesting topics, that did have a spin on them, but contained worthwhile
> information also.  Now, is that to be billed as a "vendor" (and ignored) 
> or
> not?
> Further, no vendor who is trying to sell a product will allow themselves 
> to
> be marked in an obvious way as advertising, knowing that they'll be
> ignored.  At least, they certainly won't pay for the time/space to any 
> real
> degree, knowing they'll be walking in under a cloud like that.

No vendor with integrity will want their advertising to be presented to 
attendees as anything but advertising. If vendors won't buy advertising, 
then find different ways to fund the conferences.

This sounds like an example of the editorial-content/advertising dilemma 
that publishers have wrestled with for a long time. It's basically 
impossible for anybody, even for seasoned professionals, to both sell 
advertising and set editorial content without bias. In the publishing 
business, it is a very big no-no for the same people to both sell 
advertising and also set editorial content. When you go high enough in an 
organization, it's harder to do, but still a goal.

Perhaps the organizers can therefore learn from the experience of 

1) Keep the folks who sell things in an "advertising department". They need 
to be different people from the folks who book keynotes and such.

2) Keep the folks who book keynotes and such in a "content department". They 
need to be different people from the folks who sell things.

3) Do everything possible to keep the "advertising" and "content" 
departments firewalled. This is cultural as much as anything else. Like any 
other potential conflict of interest situation, make it honorable for folks 
to recuse themselves when they sense a bias in themselves.

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