ETech is a yearly conference developed by O’Reilly Media and held in San Diego, California. This conference first began in 2001, and is a way for people in media, software programming, business and a variety of other fields to get together to discuss, observe or create emerging technologies. O’Reilly calls many of the attendees and presenters alpha hackers, the idea men and women who continue to shape significant advances in technology.
Anyone can attend ETech, and there are several different ways in which the conference can be of interest. There are keynote speeches, tutorials and how to seminars, and an exhibit hall where the latest products are exhibited, often by some of the biggest names in Media, like Google®, Comcast®, and Disney®. ETech also features Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions which allow people face to face time to discuss shared interests in certain technologies or developments on the horizon, and they’ve showcased topics on developing technologies in other countries which definitely pique interest. In all, the conference is well attended; about 900 people attended the 2008 event.
Technologies showcased, introduced or discussed at ETech provide fascinating insight into what alpha hackers are thinking about. Discussions in keynote presentations represent a wide field of thought: the ethics of blogging, green technology or how to apply studies on the neo cortex to build thinking computers. Many of the companies that have demonstrations or present talks are truly start-ups, but they’ve latched onto ideas that quickly become things we’ll commonly see in upcoming years. Increasingly, being able to present at ETech is viewed as a possible avenue toward creating a successful business, since venture capitalists certainly turn out at these conferences and the opportunities to network exists in abundance.
Attendance at ETech or conferences like it can be pricey. There are a few ways to reduce cost and a variety of discount features. People running nonprofit organizations, or students, for example may be able to pay less to attend. Early registration often means discounts, and you may be able to save money on travel or on room accommodations by accessing the ETech wiki, where you can find others wishing to share hotel or motel rooms or even carpooling to the event. For maximum savings and for convenience, plan to register early and to book accommodations early. It can get more difficult as the conference approaches (typically in February or March) to find an available room.
ETech is only one of the many conferences run by O’Reilly Media. They also run Web 2.0, MySQL Conference and Expo, Where 2.0, and OSCON, to name just a few.