Real World 2009 Cancelled

I’ll be honest.  I love Real World.  Oops, I loved Real World.  It was the one event of the year that I could hang out and really be an RB geek.  When RS announced that Real World would not happen in 2009 I was disappointed and a little distressed.

I understand the reasons why they cancelled it.  In today’s economic climate you have to be prudent with your money and it would be foolish to throw money away on an event that loses money.  However, if you think Real World was around to make money you forget that it’s really a big public relations and marketing event.  It’s a big deal to be able to say, “Hey, look at us!  We have this big developers conference every year.  We’re happening!”  So from that aspect it doesn’t matter if RW is a money losing event because it isn’t about making money directly.  RS loses a little something by cancelling it.

It’s really the same thing as having the Forums.  They don’t make money for RS and costs RS moderators time and keeps them from doing other important things.  But NOT having forums would cost them stature because forums are expected.  So I look at losing Real World as losing something I expected a ‘happening’ development company to have.

I’ve attended Real World four times and for the last two years I’ve given a talk about running an RB based business.  I like talking to people about my success with REALbasic and Real World is the one place where I don’t have to preface all discussions with what REALbasic is.  The after-hours conversations with the engineers and attendees are the real draw (for me) and I consider many of the people I’ve met to be friends as well as colleagues.  I will miss that part of it.

I won’t miss Austin.  Not that Austin’s a bad place – I like it but it’s not a destination that draws people year after year like a Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando or even San Antonio which is just over an hour away from Austin.  I think if you had it in a tourist destination you might actually draw more people.  The drawback is that then RS has to make arrangements for their staff to be in the new location so costs go up even more.  And, let’s be honest for a second, destination cities charge a premium for holding a conference in their city.

I’m not sure what to think of the regional events.  Part of me says they’ll be smaller because they will not be as technical in nature.  Another part of me says that it might attract more people because the travel costs are much less.  I think it mostly depends upon what RS decides to do at these events.  One thing that I would advise against is making it nothing more than a PR and marketing event – it has to have some technical content to get experienced RB users to show up.

The plus side is that smaller venues can fit in smaller (but yet nice) hotels that don’t cost as much as the Omni Hotel.  The Omni is an awesome hotel but it’s pricey.  I was in Austin a month ago and stayed at the Sheraton which was not even a mile away but cost $50 less a night.  I would imagine that the conference facilities are similarly priced.  We’re mostly geeks, right?  I know I don’t need a fancy hotel room to feel comfortable.  Heck, as long as I have wireless access I would settle for a Motel 6 and a nice bar and grill next door.

So what do you think?  Is the announcement good?  Bad?  Indifferent to the whole thing?