This week I’m at the Lift Conference. I went last year and had an amazing time meeting a really novel cast of participants, and not all of them alpha-geeks by any means. There were people from the UN, doctor’s, bankers, homemakers, senior citizen’s advocates, artists, researchers, university professors, architects and on and on. The diversity made for such interesting and engaging conversations, which is something one rarely finds at a technology conference.
Lift is also a unique conference in my experience for the openness and transparency of its process. I serve on the advisory board and even with that exposure to the operation you’d think I have special insight, but I really don’t. We publish the expenses directly on the web site. For one, none of the organizers gets paid a salary, at all. Period. It’s all volunteer. No one gets paid. Speakers have their travel expenses covered for and that’s it. No long-dollar honorariums, etc. And that actually keeps the cost of attending within reason of humans. The conference costs 215000CHF to put on and had raised 210000, including registration of attendees. The last 5000 CHF should be made up by the last remaining last-minute registrations, which were raised to 395CHF each to make up for the deficit. Even at that price (around 319USD), this is still the least expensive conference around.