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

Predictive APIs: Will Search Vendors Play in This Sandbox?

October 31, 2014

I received a notice about new conference called “The First International Conference on Predictive APIs and Apps.” According to the write up I saw:

Several companies who are building predictive APIs and tools to make predictive app development easier will be at PAPIs (BigML, Datagami, Dataiku, Indico, Intuitics, GraphLab, Openscoring, PredictionIO, RapidMiner, Yhat). We’re expecting to see both actual and potential users who will share and learn how to use these products. Newcomers will learn and get inspiration from the keynotes, showcases and practical “predictive for all” user stories. Experts will also be interested in the sessions on technical challenges and in the panel discussion on the future of predictive APIs.

A number of search and content processing vendors suggest they deliver advanced analytics. Text analytics vendors are either feeding data into predictive engines or delivering outputs that are predictive.

Are predictive analytics one of the next big things? If so, traditional information retrieval and content processing companies are likely to be attending this conference on November 17 and 18, 2014.

At this time, IBM and Microsoft are on the program.

IBM will be addressing “intelligent APIs.” In the abstract for his talk, I did not see a reference to Watson. Microsoft’s talk abstract is not on the program page as of October 30, 2014.

Worth attending if you in the Barcelona area.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2014

SharePoint Fest 2015 Announced for Washington DC

October 30, 2014

In the SharePoint community ongoing professional development is critical. SharePoint is vast and there is always something new to learn. Developers and users alike may be interested in the next SharePoint Fest which is scheduled for April 2015 in Washington DC. Read the details in the PRWeb release, “SharePoint Fest announced for Washington D.C. April 8-10, 2015.”

The press release begins:

“Returning from its successful conference in Bethesda in 2013, SharePoint Fest will be moving to a much larger and more central venue for 2015 in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center located in downtown DC. The event will consist of pre-conference workshops on April 8th, followed by a two day conference April 9-10. Over 40 speakers and 70+ sessions spread over multiple tracks are anticipated.”

To keep in touch with other training and professional development opportunities, as well as staying up to date on all the latest news, tips, and tricks, keep an eye on This web service is run by a longtime expert, Stephen E. Arnold. He has an interest in enterprise, particularly SharePoint, and his SharePoint feed is a treasure trove for many who work with the solution on a daily basis.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 30, 2014

Commvault to Help Sponsor SharePoint Fest Denver

July 29, 2014

For anyone in need of a little SharePoint training for the fall, SharePoint Fest Denver will be held September 22-24. Mark your calendar. Commvault is a platinum sponsor this year, and the press release, “Commvault Confirmed as Platinum Sponsor of SharePoint Fest – Denver 2014,” tells more.

The article begins:

“Commvault is a Platinum Sponsor of SharePoint Fest Denver, and joins other sponsors in bringing this conference to the Colorado Convention Center on September 22-24, 2014. Conference delegates will hear from keynote speakers and attend breakout sessions. Over 70 sessions will be offered across multiple tracks, as well as an optional day of workshops preceding the conference.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and follows all things SharePoint on his Web site, His SharePoint feed is a good place to check in on the latest trainings and professional development opportunities. He also follows the latest tips, tricks, and workaround, which are helpful for SharePoint implementations of all shapes and sizes.

Emily Rae Aldridge, July 29, 2014

SharePoint Fest 2014 in Denver

July 10, 2014

Conference season is a little heavier in the spring, but SharePoint Fest Denver is something to look forward to this fall, September 22-24. PRWeb gives all the details in their release, “AmeriTeach Confirmed as Title Sponsor of SharePoint Fest – Denver 2014.”

The press release begins:

“AmeriTeach is a Title Sponsor of SharePoint Fest Denver, and joins other sponsors in bringing this conference to the Colorado Convention Center on September 22-24, 2014. Conference delegates will hear from keynote speakers and attend breakout sessions. Over 70 sessions will be offered across multiple tracks, as well as an optional day of workshops preceding the conference.”

In a space like enterprise search, staying on top of the latest technology, tips, and tricks is vital. Training, webinars, and conferences are all important way to stay in touch with the industry and with the solution used at your organization. Another valuable resource is, managed by lifelong search expert Stephen E. Arnold. His SharePoint feed provides the latest tips and tricks for the full spectrum of SharePoint users and administrators.

Emily Rae Aldridge, July 10, 2014

Presentation by a NoSQL Leader

July 4, 2014

The purported father of NoSQL, Norman T. Kutemperor, made an appearance at this year’s Enterprise Search & Discovery conference, we learn from “Scientel Presented Advanced Big Data Content Management & Search With NoSQL DB at Enterprise Search Summit in NY on May 13” at IT Business Net. The press release states:

“Norman T. Kutemperor, President/CEO of Scientel, presented on Scientels Enterprise Content Management & Search System (ECMS) capabilities using Scientels Gensonix NoSQL DB on May 13 at the Enterprise Search & Discovery 2014 conference in NY. Mr. Kutemperor, who has been termed the Father of NoSQL, was quoted as saying, When it comes to Big Data, advanced content management and extremely efficient searchability and discovery are key to gaining a competitive edge. The presentation focused on: The Power of Content – More power in a NoSQL environment.”

According to the write-up, Kutemperor spoke about the growing need to manage multiple types of unstructured data within a scalable system, noting that users now expect drag-and-drop functionality. He also asserted that any NoSQL system should automatically extract text and build an index that can be searched by both keywords and sentences. Of course, no discussion of databases would be complete without a note about the importance of security, and Kutemperor emphasized that point as well.

The veteran info-tech company Scientel has been in business since 1977. These days, they focus on NoSQL database design; however, it should be noted that they also design and produce optimized, high-end servers to go with their enterprise Genosix platform. The company makes its home in Bingham Farms, Michigan.

Cynthia Murrell, July 04, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Attivio Exhibits At Informatica World 2014

June 19, 2014

Informatica World’s theme for 2014 is “The Power of Data” and what better person to be there than Attivio? According to Virtual Strategy: “Attivio Showcases Active Intelligence Engine At Informatica World 2014.” Attivio is known for the industry’s leading big content platform Active Intelligence Engine (AIE).

AIE was designed to give its users in short time spurts so they can unlock the data’s greatest potential.

” ‘We’re changing the way enterprises think about their information sources and how they integrate Big Content,” said Sid Probstein, Attivio’s CTO. “The majority of information produced today is human-created such as emails, documents, CRM case notes and social media. Our patented technology delivers rich analytic insight from unifying these sources rather than analyzing structured data and unstructured content separately.’ “

Targeting structured and unstructured data from the cloud and onsite servers is one of Attivio’s key components. It also makes an ideal way to complement for the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform. The ones who really make out from the two software are big content users. It empowers companies to use their data to the fullest capabilities and make better business decisions. Attivio is positioning itself to do something more than being a basic big data provider. The new buzzword is big content. What’s next?

Whitney Grace, June 19, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

SharePoint Video at SPTechCon

April 22, 2014

The SharePoint Technology Conference takes place in San Francisco, starting today and running through the end of the week. Virtual Strategy covers some of the vendors and exhibitors in their article, “ Invites the SharePoint Community to Visit Booth 607 at SPTechCon in San Francisco.”

The article begins:

“ (SPVideos), provider of online SharePoint training, consulting and end user support, will exhibit at SPTechCon, San Francisco next week. From Thursday, April 24 – Friday, April 25, invites attendees to stop by booth 607 for a number of exciting activities.”

Stephen E. Arnold of is a longtime leader in search and covers not only SharePoint, but also the third-party solutions that users are increasingly turning to. He finds that companies like SharePoint-Videos can improve adoption and efficiency as they can simplify the bulky and complicated software so that users and managers are more confident and satisfied.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 22, 2014

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