RSA 2009 – aka “Dear Mr. Kirschner”

Dear Mr. Alex Kirschner:

Every time I attend an RSA conference (or any other conference for that matter) I write up an analysis of the conference,  mentioning what I liked and did not like, what I found effective, what I found inspirational, what events were exciting in the Identity community, and what learnings I took away from the experience.

You won’t like the learnings I took away this time.

I didn’t purchase a conference pass — frankly, I couldn’t, I have just started a new business, and the fiscal reality involved in that activity forced me to be thrifty.  I thought that perhaps,  I could bridge this gap in my ability to be a paying member by applying for a blogger pass – after all, I have been blogging for a long time, and while I’m not exactly engadget-prolific, I think that my contribution is enough that the idea wouldn’t make anyone in the Identity community laugh out loud.

Let me be blunt: Your press registration workflow is a DISGRACE.  You should be ashamed.  You provided a single input box asking me to link to my most recent piece of writing, and then forced me to click on a radio button identifying me as a blogger (one of six generic types).  Within the text associated with that radio button, you informed me that I needed to have posted a minimum of 2 security articles a week for the last 3 months.

First of all, somebody ought to pull you aside and point out that not every track you offer is about security anymore.   Second, if you ask ANY BLOGGER to provide a single link to the most recent thing they have written, they will send you to the front page of their blog.  What else would they do?

As such, I was pretty surprised to receive the email I did (shown at the end of this post in its entirety).  My favorite part was the part that said:

PLEASE NOTE: You have been asked to provide a direct link to your latest written article or report. The press team will not search a Website for your article and publication home pages will not be accepted.

So.  Let’s get this straight, shall we? You have rejected my blog URL  without ever visiting it, but expect me to produce a single URL which will allow you to determine that I have written 2 blog posts a week for the last 3 months. About security only.  Without searching the website.

Right.  How could I have presumed to inconvenience the team so? Obviously I was barking up an empty tree.  I registered for an expo pass and shrugged it off.

Here is the part that you really won’t like however, and it is the true reason I’m writing this.  Obviously you have the right to choose who you waive fees for at this conference.  Being on the outside, however, taught me that while the tracks were inside, the PEOPLE weren’t always, and that in fact by ditching any illusory pretension to  education, taking advantage of the Concordia workshop for which entrance only required an expo pass, walking the expo floor, and attending the parties,  I didn’t miss the expensive & time-consuming sessions.

I hope I don’t have to go into much further detail to have you guess just how dangerous my conclusions are for your organization.  I am usually the most avid attendee at these things, asking a lot of questions and generally participating enthusiastically (ask anyone).  I have to say that the chances of that happening in the future at this conference has lessened dramatically.  I’m sure this doesn’t have you crying in your cheerios at the thought of the loss;  but I suggest you examine the trend it represents;  it is why you want the movers and the shakers *inside* the conference hall, not outside, as often as possible.

Yours ever so sincerely,

Pamela Dingle

ps:  be sure to check out the continuing saga

PFO Letter

4 thoughts on “RSA 2009 – aka “Dear Mr. Kirschner”

  1. Pamela,

    I’m Alex Kirschner and I wanted to respond to your post about RSA Conference. In registering the 300+ media that attend RSA Conference over the years, we have put a standard process in place that encompasses bloggers, traditional media journalists and industry analysts. Anyone receiving a press pass must be able to demonstrate that they are being read by an audience invested in information security. Because we are making a significant dollar investment in each press person who attends, we are committed to reviewing each request with equal scrutiny to ensure those receiving a pass meet our strict journalistic standards.

    Therefore, bloggers that are registered as press must meet the same criteria as traditional media. If an IDG publication is responsible for several stories a day while attending RSA Conference, we expect our bloggers to have the capacity and editorial focus to do the same or similar. As a blogger, the direct link you provide the press registration team will in fact be reviewed for its information security content and frequency of posting. We also use additional information, such as Technorati ratings, number of hits/page views and comment history to verify the credibility of the blog.

    In reviewing your blog, we did not see enough posts regarding information security, a high enough number of comments, track backs or page views that would have qualified you for a press pass.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions regarding our registration process.


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