This year the PASS Summit is virtual. I’m speaking, as a donation, and Monica Rathbun has written some thoughts on the event. I’m hoping that attendance is high enough to enable to organization to survive beyond 2020.
You can help by registering for the event. There are lots of great sessions, and some wonderful pre-cons. I want to do a pre-con, but I’m struggling to pick one. I need to decide soon, and 2 pre-cons alone is about what the entire conference costs. I’m going to get some training at a good cost, but also support the organization and pre-con speakers.
PASS Brings Us Together
I have a bit of a like/dislike relationship with PASS. It’s not much stronger than that, but I have struggled to support them at times, for various reasons.
However, as I talked about the organization with a friend, we both agreed that PASS, however flawed they are, makes our community better. From user groups to SQL Saturdays to the Summit, they have fostered an environment that brings us together.
Certainly volunteers make user groups and virtual groups go. Organizers keep things on track and speakers make the events worth attending. SQL Saturdays are almost completely driven by people in the community. Even the great networking experiences at the Summit are largely driven by speakers and volunteers that openly great people, put on events like Game Night, the Photowalk, and SQL Karaoke.
It’s us that makes things special. It’s not the PASS staff or the Board of Directors or a conference.
It’s us. Each of us, engaging with each other.
At the same time, I think that without PASS providing the central place we congregate, that marketing can focus on (mostly community marketing), and giving some financial or other resource support, I’m not sure how well things would go.
I think we’re worse off if PASS fails. In some sense, I hate writing that sentence.
Is the Summit Worth It?
Training typically costs $400-700 a day, depending on who you go to. Online training might be worth less, or feel that way, but a lot of full classes cost this much. If that’s the case, then the $999 bundle, which includes 2 pre-cons is worth the cost. Heck, 2 pre-cons are $800, and it’s only $200 more for the Summit included.
To support PASS, get other sessions, and keep alive an amazing event that has likely helped you in your career, and by proxy, your employer, I think it’s worth it.
Forget about Microsoft and Amazon doing their large conferences for free. They lose money anyway on those events, spending hundreds of thousands, or millions, on Ignite, ReInvent, or something else for marketing. The DevOps Enterprise Summit, the Pass Summit, and others can’t survive without some revenue. Apples and oranges trying to compare these.
I think the cost for the Summit is fair. Maybe it should be $100 more or less, but I wouldn’t quibble about that. If you’ve enjoyed the Summits, if you’ve learned, support PASS if you can. I think the two pre-cons are a good value, and I would emphasize that to your boss.
Two full days of intense training from experts, then 3 more days available for a year. That’s not a bad deal to sell to the boss.
Once in a Lifetime
This pandemic is a once is a lifetime event. I hope.
To me, this is like the hurricane that nearly destroyed PASS in its early years. Kevin Kline makes a case that we should step up because of the nature of these difficult events. I tend to agree, though clearly PASS has struggled through some difficult times.
I don’t know if I would continue to support this as a virtual event in the future. I have to see how this year goes. I don’t know if the way that the PASS organization is structured or handles finances makes sense. I’ll give them a pass this year and come December we can review and debate this.
I don’t remotely think PASS handles communication, transparency, and governance well. My view is the culture and BoD has failed miserably here for over a decade.
I’ll still support them this November and give them a chance to improve.
Now is the time, in my opinion, to support PASS. We can push for change in December, but for now, I think the world is better with PASS in it, and we, as members, should support the organization.