The events world is getting really stale, but it is showing a new spring of innovation that in many respects mirrors the enterprise and its own paradox of sluggishness and fresh perspectives.
The big trade events and user conferences do have their merit. They provide an opportunity to get the user perspective and insights into the byzantine labyrinth of legacy software suites that so many customers still depend on. But the well spring of innovation is best discovered at events that focus on developers. These are mid-to-small-sized events that give you the chance to talk to developers and learn what is happening on the front lines of technology development.
We are coming to the end of the year so hopefully you can plan ahead to attend at least one of the 10 events below. This is not a definitive list I am sure there are several others that have merit. Please use the comments to add ones you would recommend attending.
Defrag/Blur/Glue: Expect to meet developers creating SDKs for brain-controlled apps, pioneers of emerging programming languages and the world's leading experts on all things APIs, application development and cloud automation. Plus, it is in Colorado, near Boulder, way away from the Silicon Valley/San Francisco echo chamber.
Google I/O: Expect to come home loaded with gizmos. It's becoming one of the most important developer conferences on the planet. This year's schedule gives a good idea about who you can expect to meet.
O'Reilly Strata: Focuses on how to use your data effectively and successfully.
OSCON: It's the gathering place for the open source community. The event is crawling with developers.
TechCrunch Disrupt: Our conference is simply the most global startup event in the world with one of the most lively hackathons you will find.
Monktoberfest/Monki Gras: These are two similar events put on by the RedMonk analyst group. Monktoberfest, in Portland, Maine, is described as a developer conference where social meets technology. Monki Gras, coming up in London January 31-Feb. 1, is described as an event where craft beer meets craft tech. Co-Founders James Governor and Stephen O'Grady get great speakers and treat their guests well. I have not attended one of their events, but people who have been say an emphasis is put on the hallway track so you get plenty of opportunity to chat with developers.
CloudConnect: The conference where the leading minds of the cloud computing world come to meet and discuss infrastructure, IT, the enterprise and developer practices.
Deploycon: Deploycon explores the emerging Platform as a Service (PaaS) market. It's a new conference that is still under the radar. The 2012 conference in New York explored enterprise issues. The 2013 conference will focus on developers. [Disclosure: I was on the content advisory council for the event.]
StrangeLoop: This St. Louis conference explores "emerging languages, alternative databases, concurrency, distributed systems, mobile development, and the web.
AWS re:Invent: This event has the potential to become the most important technology event on the conference circuit. It attracts people from consumer- and enterprise-focused services, cloud customers and a concentration of developers who are sophisticated in the workings of Amazon Web Services.
(Feature image courtesy of RedMonk, taken at last year's Monki Gras event.)