Conference Presentation Peril

August 29, 2019

No wonder giving a talk at a conference is a terrifying experience for some people. DarkCyber noted “Cryptography Startup Sues Black Hat Conference after Getting Booed and Heckled.” The write up explains:

Crown Sterling, was heckled during its presentation of the paper titled “Discovery of Quasi-Prime Numbers: What Does this Mean for Encryption”

The procedure described in the talk has some value to those engaged in horoscope generation.

A lousy and stupid talk at a conference – so what?

The answer to this question is a lawsuit charging Black Hat “for not upholding its standards of conduct for attendees and for violating their terms of Crown Sterling’s sponsorship package.”

The “sponsorship” angle is very popular at some technology conference venues. Here’s the basic idea:

  1. Pick a sponsorship package like hosting a luncheon, leasing a booth or “stand” in an exhibit hall, providing a mostly useless bag or carry all for marketing collateral, or some other activity. (The conference organizers call these deals by such names as “platinum sponsor” or “open bar courtesy of XYZ Corp.”
  2. Get one or more speaking slots. You can spot the lack of objectivity in the programs of sponsor supported conferences. Just look for the companies which have two or more presentations; for example, one keynote (big bucks), one thought piece presentation with minimal sales spin, and/or one product presentation (a pure sales pitch).
  3. A list of names of people who stopped by the booth courtesy of a bar code scanner which sucks in a person’s conference ID code and the handful of people who stop by the conference organizer office and ask, “Could you give my card to XYZ Corp’s rep. She was not available when I stopped by the booth.”
  4. Watch for conferences at which the “organizer” gives lengthy presentations. These conferences often have an agenda, and it may not be the attendees’ or reflect significant issues of interest to those who have an annual migration to an event.

The problem with this approach to conferences is that when one pays money, maybe as much as $150,000, the company buying a package wants results. Getting heckled is not what the sponsor expects. Therefore, the lawsuit sallies forth.

Attendees, check out who is speaking and how these people get on the program. Conference organizers, why not put on better events so the “sponsorship” lawsuit becomes impossible?

Note: I do attend a few conferences each year. I still get invited to give a talk. This is semi gratifying, but I will be 76 this year, and I have watched the decline in presentation quality and program value. Like many aspects of the tech world, deterioration and Las Vegas razzle dazzle are now the norm.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2019

TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Reminder

August 10, 2017

I wanted to let the world know that the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference is about one month in the future, September 18 to 20, 2017. The conference has emerged as one of the most important resources for corporate network security professionals, federal, state and local law enforcement digital forensic specialists, and cybersecurity industry leaders from around the world. The purpose is to raise international awareness of developments, teaching, training, responsibilities, and ethics in the field of IT security and digital forensics. The event will feature more than 70 speakers, 60 sessions, 20 new product demonstrations, and 25 sponsors and exhibits. exhibits. For full details and to register, please visit

Two of the Beyond Search team will be at the event. Check the program for our Dark Web lectures. If you spot one of the Kentucky crowd, ask about our pizza meet up on Tuesday, September 19, or our LE and intel special: A clean identity for Dark Web surfing and a bootable to Tails 3.0 USB. Proof of affiliation required for both show specials.

Stephen E Arnold, August 10, 2017

TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference Info

July 20, 2017

I am giving two talks about the Dark Web at the September 2017 TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference. With the take down of AlphaBay and the attentions Dark Web sources of synthetic drugs are getting in the main stream media, the sessions will be of particular relevance to law enforcement, security, and intelligence professionals. My first talk is a quick start basics lecture. My second presentation focuses on free an and source tools and the commercial services which can flip on the lights in the Dark Web.

The conference has emerged as one of the most important resources for corporate network security professionals, federal, state and local law enforcement digital forensic specialists, and cybersecurity industry leaders from around the world. The purpose is to raise international awareness of developments, teaching, training, responsibilities, and ethics in the field of IT security and digital forensics. The event will feature more than 70 speakers, 60 sessions, 20 new product demonstrations, and 25 sponsors and exhibits. exhibits. For full details and to register, please visit

As a reader of Beyond Search, you qualify for a 30 percent discount. Just use the promotional code DKWB17 when you sign up online.

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2017

Dark Web? Likely to Gain Traction

June 14, 2017

I completed a series of presentations at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference, June 5, 6, and 7. After my two presentations, two attendees spoke with me as I was preparing for my three hour invitation only tutorial on June 7. The two individuals told me that the most surprising point I made was that the Dark Web will become more important.

As we talked about their comment, I learned that after my talks a number of people were discussing the “knowledge gap” I identified in the existing cyber training programs. Specifically, the how to aspect of obtaining information about the Dark Web was a topic of considerable interest.


Stephen E Arnold fields a question about the impact of censorship, filtering, and surveillance on the Dark Web.

However, I learned from these professionals that the stepped up efforts to require Internet companies to perform filtering for hate speech and other information was moving forward in parallel with Theresa May’s call for more stringent content filtering in the UK. Egypt is following suit. Are the actions of Nokia Symbian and the BlackBerry OS smartphones an example of greater controls on WhatsApp?

The conclusion I offered was that activities possible on Surface Web services would force some activities to the Dark Web. As a result, as law enforcement, intelligence, and government efforts increased on Surface Web traffic, services, Web sites, and apps, the importance of the Dark Web would go up.

In my talks I offered this information in the context of squeezing a sponge or tube of toothpaste. The substance has to go elsewhere.

To sum up, the Dark Web is poised to become of more interest to those engaged in law enforcement, security, and intelligence activities.

For more information about the Dark Web, you can navigate to to get information about my handbook designed for professionals working in the LE and intel field. My earlier book about CyberOSINT is described at

Watch for information about my participation in the TechnoSecurity conference in San Antonio, Texas, in September 2017. We are considering an advanced Dark Web session as well as an invitation only training session about creating a legend for a false identity. These sessions are available only to those currently working in US or its allies’ law enforcement and intelligence entities.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2017

HonkinNews for April 11, 2017, Now Available

April 11, 2017

This week’s HonkinNews video program leads with information about Bitext, a company providing breakthrough deep linguistic analysis solutions. In order to put the comments of Dr. Antonio Valderrabanos in perspective, HonkinNews takes a look at the “promo” article discussing IBM’s cognitive computing activities. There is one key difference highlighted in HonkinNews: IBM talks jargon in recycled marketing language and Bitext’s CEO talks about the company’s rapid growth and licensing deals with companies like Audi, Renault, and one of the largest players in the mobile device and mobile services market. The program also looks at the remarkable 9,000 word Fortune Magazine article about Palantir Technologies’ interaction with US government procurement agencies. The very long article does not describe Palantir’s technical innovations nor does the Fortune analysis explain why using commercial off-the-shelf software for intelligence work makes sense. News about the Dark Web Notebook teams three presentations at the prestigious TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference in June 2017 complements a special offer for the only handbook to Dark Web investigations available. For discount information, check out the links displayed in the video. The video also takes a look at the new Yahoo. Once the transformation of Yahoo into Oath with a punctuation mark no less takes place, the Yahoo yodel will become a faint auditory memory. Does the HonkinNews item trigger an auditory memory. Watch this week’s video to find out. You can watch the video at this link.

Kenny Toth, April 11, 2017

Wow Revelation: AI and the Proletariat

October 29, 2016

IBM’s week long Watson conference WOW marks the starting gun for end of year marketing. I read “IBM Says New Watson Data Platform Will Bring Machine Learning to the Masses.” I like the headline. It reminded me of a part time lecturer at the one horse college I attended 50 years ago. Wild eyed, the fellow was a fan of “ism”, almost any flavor was okay with him. I read the books on the reading list and dutifully took the tests. To be candid, I was delighted when the course ended.

Watson, if the headline is to be believed, may be drifting into the lingo of that now ignored adjunct lecturer. I learned:

IBM unveiled a cloud-based AI engine to help businesses harness machine learning. It aims to give everyone, from CEOs to developers, a simple platform to interpret and collaborate on data.

There we have it: An “everyone.” Really?

The write up, which I assume to be spot on, told me:

“Insight is the new currency for success,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president at IBM Analytics. “And Watson is the supercharger for the insight economy.” Picciano, speaking at the World of Watson conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, unveiled IBM’s Watson Data Platform, touted as the “world’s fastest data ingestion engine and machine learning as a service.” The cloud-based Watson Data Platform, will “illuminate dark data,” said Picciano, and will “change everything—absolutely everything—for everyone.”

Interesting. “Insight” is the “currency of success.” The idea is that if someone understands an issue, that mental perception is money.

I like the superlatives too. I found this statement amusing: …Watson will illuminate Dark Data” and “will change everything.”

There we have it: An “everything.” Really?

Now Watson is no longer Lucene, home brew code, and acquired technology. Watson is an enabler. The write up told me that “I haven’t made it a reality yet.” The “it” is the potential of Watson. I liked the concept that I am going to have to do more with Watson.

Okay, but we sort of like the Facebook and Google tools. The IBM approach was important when I worked in my university’s computing center as a JCL go-fer. I even embraced IBM servers for projects at outfits like Bell Communications Research. Ah, the joys of MVS/TSO.

But now the Watson categorical superlatives are noise.

I highlighted this statement attributed to an IBM wizard:

“The number of people in today’s business who have to be able to leverage data as part of their everyday lives, to make sense of it, to drive intelligent decision-making, has grown rapidly,” she said. Gunnar pointed to the need for businesses to collaborate with data across departments to make decisions. The simple interface, she said, helps give everyone, from those who are data savvy to “citizen analysts,” a chance to work with data. “The notion of being able to work on data together, to share across the business, is a huge opportunity to accelerate insights and uncover things that weren’t able to because of the silos within the organization that prevented working on common information,” she [Ritika Gunnar, VP of offering management] said.

There we have it: “everyone.” Really?

The sheer overstatement and superlative density underscore that IBM is trying hard to make Watson a success. I am reasonably certain that Watson’s all-embracing range of functions will generate revenue for Big Blue.

But compare the coverage of the IBM Wow conference with the hooting and hollering for the Apple event which took place during the Wow event.

And remember the proletariat. Yep, wow.

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2016

Rocket Software: Video Marketing Moment

October 23, 2016

0I did a quick, routine check of Rocket Software’s search and text analytics Web page at this link. I saw a snippet of text and then a link to a new video:


Rocket is a player in the five day IBM Watson conference later this month. What’s interesting about the WOW 2016 event is that no list of participating companies is available via a search on or via public Web search systems. Interesting. A five day event with many luminaries I surmise.

Stephen E Arnold, October 23, 2016

Conference Criticism: A New Genre for Tech News

October 3, 2015

I don’t really do conferences. A couple of times a year I give a lecture for an outfit involved in training law enforcement and intelligence professionals. But no more of the jaunts to “summits” about digital topics. Please, do we need another Big Data, search engine optimization, or Bitcoin event for start ups?

I am officially summited out.

When I was working, I never obsessed over conferences. Most of them were excuses for folks to congregate at breaks and “parties” to meet and greet, to sell and be sold. The presentations at most conferences do not age well. You can test the validity of this observation by navigating to Slideshare or any other archive of presentations and enter a key word or phrase; for example, search, Big Data, SEO, or business intelligence. Then eyeball the results list. Pick a presentation from several years ago. View it. (Note that you may have to register to access this LinkedIn content service.)

Familiar? Do you see the same buzzwords, the same problems, and the same solutions. Most of the conferences I have experienced are into truisms, recycling marketing lingo, and the aforementioned “networking.”

It is tough to sell some products and services, so when there is a shot at a captive audience, conference organizers go for the gold.

I was, therefore, surprised when I read “Is Web Summit a Scam? Well, If You Have to Ask.” I think a new branch of marketing criticism may be taking flight.

There were earlier exchanges about this event. One of them is called “Is Web Summit a Scam? Setting the Record Straight.” I don’t want to dig into the he said, she said of this event. Online marketing seems to be a point of contention. Be forewarned. The blog posts contain some salty language, which would make a LinkedIn moderator leap into action. No quips in Latin in this Web Summit dust up.

Let’s step back. Conferences are an important part of some professionals’ work and real lives. Conferences are very expensive to produce. Conferences try to monetize everything the organizers can think to slap a price tag on. For example, a sponsor can buy in at a gold, silver, or bronze level. A company can lease a booth space, put folks in it, and pay for the staff, shipping both booth and human cargo, and mouse pads handed out to those who stop at the booth for a mouse pad or a mint. People can pay to use the registration list as a list of folks to spam with PR baloney, webinars (invariably boring and skewed to inside baseball information), and the “right” to host a cocktail party, buy lunch, etc.

The problem is that many conferences are just not working. Forget Comdex. I don’t want to point out a UK event that went downhill for a decade and then has been reinvented and put on life support. Vendors grouse that attendees are not plentiful nor equipped with allocated funds and ready to spend.

A recent event in Louisville, Kentucky, promoted itself as attracting hundreds of qualified information technology buyers. I have it from an actual attendee that on the first day of the event, one of the featured speakers had 45 people in the audience. Some speakers flew in from the Left or Right Coast. Were these folks happy? Nope. What about the exhibitors? Were they happy? From what I heard, the answer is, “Nope.”

If I attended more conferences, I would cover them with a critical eye. Perhaps another person will fill the unmet need for critical commentary about technology events? My hunch is that hard hitting discussion of silly presentations, angry exhibitors, and frustrated attendees who are looking for a job would be helpful to some people.

Several observations:

  1. Conferences coalesce around topics for which their is a payoff for stakeholders; for example, venture-entrepreneur dating events
  2. A community is necessary to make a conference sustainable. My rule of thumb is, “No community, no money.”
  3. Certain types of conferences are a reaction to the failure of specialist events open to anyone; for example, MarkLogic hosts a conference and controls who gets in and what messages are disseminated. These conference offer control, which is important to companies perceiving themselves as misunderstood or important enough to go it alone.
  4. Many events have a side door. Some low tier and mid tier consulting firms offer a “pay to play” model for conferences run under the consulting banner. The goal is to showcase high value information. The winners are the attendees who get the inside scoop, the vendors who are showcased in the “pay to play” model, and the sponsoring consulting firm which gets it brand message in front of “decision makers.”
  5. There are conferences which are built on trends. The best example I have encountered is the explosion of Bitcoin and security conferences.
  6. There are conferences which “run the game plan.” Wow, these conferences are the same year after year. The tip off that a “game plan” conference is underfoot is one or more characteristics: [a] Multiple events in one venue with each promoted to a different market sector, [b] The same speakers appearing year after year, [c] One speaker giving two or more talks on what are described as completely different talks but are often the same old message recycled.

I look forward to the next installment of the Web Summit conference Bildungsroman. (I better be careful. I was criticized for quoting a quip from the Roman satirist Marcus Valerius Martial. I even presented Martial’s in Latin. Martial died in 104 CE or AD for oldsters.) The German word is probably less likely to twist a Latin student’s snoot.

Maybe next time?

Stephen E Arnold, October 3, 2015

Legal Technology Update

March 20, 2015

It seems that the field of legal tech is making progress. Above the Law reports on “Today’s (Legal) Tech: The State of Legal Technology in 2015.” Writer Nicole Black attended the LegalTech New York conference. She highly recommends this conference to her colleagues in the legal technology field, by the way. She also came away with a list of new legal tools. Be aware, though, that e-discovery and information-governance solutions are not among them; those areas just aren’t her cup of tea. Black writes:

“Whenever I attend LegalTech, one of my goals is to learn about new and interesting legal tools that are NOT related to e-discovery or information governance, since these areas simply don’t interest me. Trying to locate vendors with offerings outside of these two categories is no small task at LegalTech. The conference organizers seem to be single-mindedly focused on these subjects and you can’t walk more than two feet in the Exhibit Hall without tripping over a booth offering software related to either topic.

“But, I doggedly sifted through the slew of emails I received from vendors until I found a few with products that interested me. As is the case every year, a theme seems to emerge after I’ve met with the various vendors, and this year it was documents, documents, and more documents.”

Black goes on to list several vendors of interest. She met with three offering litigation-prep document management, Factbox, Allegory, and Opus 2 Magnum. Each works a little differently from the others, she notes. Then there’s Redact Assistant, which simplifies the removal of sensitive content; Plainlegal, which supplies document automation for IP filings; and Brainloop, which offers virtual data rooms to enhance collaboration. The final entry, Box, is a general online-document storage and collaboration tool that has been making inroads into the legal space.

Black wraps up her article with a description of swag found at the conference, but I’ll let you navigate to the article for those card-game-related details. It sounds like the conference was a lot of fun.

Cynthia Murrell, March 19, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Preview of SharePoint 2016 Available at Ignite Event

March 3, 2015

Customers were excited to hear that SharePoint 2016 would be unveiled this year, and even more excited to know that Microsoft is extending on-premises support. Now it looks like the first look at the newest version will be at the Ignite Event coming up in May. Read more details in the Redmond Magazine article, “Microsoft To Show ‘Early Version’ of SharePoint Server 2016 at Ignite Event.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft likely won’t have a SharePoint Server 2016 public preview available before its Ignite event coming up in May, but it will show an early version at the event. Bill Baer, senior product manager for SharePoint at Microsoft, explained this week that SharePoint 2016 is currently at an early development stage at Microsoft.”

Stephen E. Arnold keeps a close eye on the latest SharePoint news on his Web service, He has made a career out of tracking all things search. Follow his dedicated SharePoint feed to stay up to date on all the latest news, tips, and tricks. After the unveiling in May, stay tuned for additional information about SharePoint 2016, as it becomes available.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 03, 2015

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