I am blown away by the great program at Macromedia DevCon this year. The conference isn’t cheap, and is held at a rather expensive area in Florida – but I was still seriously working on getting there. Now I have changed my mind and will boycott the event, and I think you should too.
Why? Because Macromedia is treating their speakers for the event bad. And they are treating the Flash developer community equally bad in letting some of the speakers actually charge extra for attending their speech. Jakob Nielsen who not too long ago asked for the help of the Flash developer community for his research (and most likely got a lot of good help) has decided to charge $500 for the access to “his” research. I would love to know if Macromedia in this way has footed some of the expense of its research over on us. Turns out the research was for his upcoming book, and the $500 is for his own mini conference the day before the Macromedia Devcon (see Mike’s comments at the bottom of this post)
I am sure Jakob is paid nicely and gets a free ride and stay at the hotel. (Apperantly he doesn’t get any special treatment, could anyone confirm if he gets the same amount for his speech as everyone else? I kind of doubt he does..) And I wouldn’t expect anything less for any of the speakers. But for the “regular” speakers it appears that they will have to foot the bill for the travel to and hotel bill for attending the conference themselves. Taking the whole conference from an event for the speakers to make a little bit of money, to something they will actually have to pay to attend. Seems fair to you? Remember, Macromedia charges just over a thousand dollars per head for entrance to the conference. And still they can’t afford to compensate their speakers right.
I feel bad for the speakers. And I know that I wouldn’t have been interested in that kind of a deal myself. But it seems there are Flash developers with so much love for the Flash community that they will go really far to be able to be there – One such person is Chris MacGregor. Instead of feeling insulted and telling Macromedia to stuff the whole thing, he has decided to try to gather money himself to be able to attend the conference (alas, in reality pay to be a speaker at the conference). He has set up a special donation for this very purpose, and you can check out his plea on his Flazoom.com site: Flazoom.com: Request for assistance…
Chris is the guy that wrote the white paper on Usability for Macromedia, and he has done a lot of great usability work for the Flash community and Macromedia. User Interface Engineering had this to say about him in their latest newsletter:
I’d have to say our interest really piqued last year. We’d been reading a lot about the great work that Chris MacGregor (http://www.flazoom.com) and other Flash developers had been doing to improve the usability of Flash-based implementations. We decided to conduct one of our most extensive research projects ever to examine the strengths of Flash.
I know Macromedia must be grateful for all the great work Chris has put into a field that they feel is important for the future of Flash, but still they are too cheap to be able to do the decent thing and pay for his ticket and hotel.
Macromedia, as a company you really owe it to the community to show more heart in these kind of circumstances. And you owe it to the people working their asses off to make sure that they at least are compensated fairly for their work. Keep this up, and you will loose a lot of the positive vibe that has been a trademark of the whole Flash extravaganza.
A little message to the Macromedia community people: You really need to kick some ass inside of Macromedia and make the company start showing appreciation for the work the people in the Flash community does for you. This latest news about how you treat your speakers at one of the more important community events really shows bad form. And I am sure it affects a lot more people than Chris.
Mike Chambers has given this information:
Actually, i just checked on this, and we are not paying jacob’s expenses. JDB, i would appreciate it if you corrected your post.
i am not really sure what jacbo nielsen has to do with this issue anyways. He is being treated just like the other speakers.
Also, someone posted on flazoom that you have to pay to go to his devcon session, that is also incorrect. He is holding his own mini one-day conference before devcon, but his devcon session is free to all attendees, just like the other sessions.