Some thoughts of your typical data shepherd / data plumber / data dance teacher sort of person.
Continuing Professional Development
Having worked with a number architects (they that design building) companies l have been made aware of the concept of Continuing Professional Development. In that any qualified architect is expected to learn and refine their skills for as long as they are a practising architect.
Another big part of the conference is the sponsors, they have stands set up in the main part of the conference. Yes they are their to sell their products, on the other hand they are very generous and have many have prizes to give away. Entering the competitions to win prizes can be as simple as giving your email address, others you might have to work for. Such playing a racing car or sail boat simulator, these are geeks what do you expect ! Some of the sponsors have technical evangelists who are there to speak all of whom in my opinion are worth going to just for their sessions alone. Next how often do you get to meet with representatives from Microsoft and ask them questions face to face.?
Fun and Games
There's even more fun to be had. So far l have only attended two SQL Bit conferences. The evening parties are well something to be experienced, the best way to put it is that these are dreamed up by geeks and attended by geeks. Both of these groups of people know how to have a good time. Also if you visit the sponsors you might just come away with tokens, for free drink, at the parties. Need l say more?
The last question that occurs to me is why do l go? Personally and ultimately l want to be the best possible person doing my job. To provide my customers with the best possible service l can offer. To achieve that will take time, energy, and sacrifices. Part of that will be paying my way these conferences till l can convince my manager to pay for at least part of them. Until then l will go to learn and develop, then one day return and speak myself to starting paying back my technical debt.