COMMON won’t be the same

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are going to be a lot of major changes at the next COMMON conference … and some of those changes are having impact:

Jon Paris & Susan Gantner are not going to be presenting.

I know for a fact that Jon & Susan are extraordinarily popular and good presenters at COMMON. Whenever someone asks me what sessions to attend, I always say “Anything by Jon & Susan completely justifies the cost of the conference”.

I have a suspicion about other popular presenters … Scott Klement, Paul Tuohy, etc … but haven’t heard anything concrete yet.

Jon & Susan: I for one am going to miss you.

p.s.: FWIW: This was not unexpected.

12 Replies to “COMMON won’t be the same”

  1. Thanks for the kind words David.

    I’m not sure which was harder – making the decision or writing the letter. We will miss seeing our many friends, but as we said in the note – this is hopefully “Au revoir” and not “Goodbye”.

    I really do hope that COMMON can regain its “raison d’etre” and go back to filling the role it once did.

    Jon Paris

  2. Oh, I think that Jon and Susan are the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come not only from a presenter standpoint but from an attendee standpoint. And as much as I like Jon and Susan and as super as thier presentations are, I find it hard to believe that there’s NOBODY else out there that can do presentations on RPG, ILE…etc… Yet, it was absolutely shocking to find that there were NO sessions on RPG, ILE, CL or any of the other traditional “AS/400” languages offered at IBM’s tech conf this past September.

    And if COMMON continues to capitulate to IBM’s demands that it become a AIX user group, it will also go the way of User Blue – even thought User Blue had alot of help in its demise from SHARE, IMHO.

    COMMON’s historical management (previous directors) had a habit of being fat and lazy up in Chicago and not thinking about pricing realities or what the attendee was really saying. Now the current cadre of management and board members are having to do some serious suffling. I wish them well, but they’ve let the deck get stacked against them. The end result will be a smaller, leaner organization which most likely limits itself to one conference in a location south of the Mason Dixon, east of the Mississippi (with the exception of San Antonio and perhaps Vegas).

    COMMON’s board has FINALLY, after years of suggestions, limited the venu geography to regions that actually tend towards cost effectiveness as well as decent logistics for attendees. This is stuff that membership, and committee chairs, were suggesting MANY MANY MANY years of fat and happy Chicago management and it fell on deaf ears as being politically uncorrect. This means that attendees won’t get hit with the sticker shock from room rates and surcharges experienced in venus like Boston and Chicago.

    The Orlando venu (Hilton) is a very nice facility. I’m not sure what conference room rates are going to be or how much of a ripoff nuisance fee is going to be levied against those staying at non-conference housing, but the facilities and staff are nice. Just expect to pay $3 for a coke in the gift shop.

    Frankly, I think that the better run LUGs will survive as long as COMMON and perhaps out live it. We’ll see. Whereas web based conferences are an interesting option, I don’t see the current generation of attendees prefering to use them vs one that they have face to face interaction with speakers and vendors.



  3. I too have to wonder about Don’s comment – can’t anyone else step in to do some of these sessions?
    Would some of the past presenters be willing to share their material?
    Doing a session is one way to really ensure that you understand the topic and, across a broader spectrum than maybe you use day to day.

  4. Not that it’s of the same magnitude, but I will not be attending/presenting either. Sadly COMMON is falling apart and while the city burns the BoD sits there and drinks. I don’t know that they are drinking for fact, but seems to me all of the recent changes has been helping the demise of COMMON not making it better.

    No one at COMMON seems to care either that the sessions and people submitting sessions is down and dragging. The problem is they are not helping people with the knowledge show up and they are not pursuing them to find a way to make them show up or even entice them to show up. So in the end what will be left. I hate to see COMMON doing this and going this direction….truly very sad.

    Maybe like the Phoenix, it’s needs to burn in order to be re-born?


  5. And just to note – Jon and Susan DID present at iSeries DevCon and no surprise their sessions were very well received. Even the PHP stuff :). So there is at least one other show that could be an alternative (besides of course their RPG and DB2 Summit).

  6. I will be at COMMON this spring. (Barring an extenuating circumstance.) I was fortunate enough to have someone (System iNetwork) offer to pay my expenses, and I guess I wasn’t quite ready to say good bye.

    I have to admit that I am not happy with COMMON’s attitude towards it’s volunteers, and I sincerely hope they re-think their direction.

  7. This is such a shame. I haven’t been to COMMON in years, but I still remember paying my own way to go when I was about to switch jobs. I drove myself to Boston, dove into the sessions and workshops, volunteered, and met loads of wonderful people, most of whom I only saw when I returned to COMMON in later years. The whole experience – not just the sessions, but the networking outside of it too was what made it such a valuable resource for education and development of employees.

  8. Would some of the past presenters be willing to share their material?

    That’s like saying “can I take away your ability to feed your family”. I don’t get my primary income from teaching/training, but it is starting to become a bigger slice of the pie, and as it does I am less willing to just post entire sessions online. I try to keep it well balanced by doing an article a month and participating in non-political groups (i.e. YiPs), but giving stuff away isn’t always feasible – especially for a education/training centered group like Partner400 (Jon and Susan) and ComCon (Paul Touhy).

    COMMON needs to realize what they are losing. A speaker that has been doing the same session for a number of years has honed it down to be very digestible by the most people while not sacrificing valuable get-up-and-running content.

    Aaron Bartell

  9. I have to second Aaron’s comments. Wow, Only someone who has never written a session could possibly ask that question. I spoke at MITEC this spring and Charlie Massoglia was there. At lunch I asked him how it felt to speak again and he replied “It was just like riding a bike I didn’t miss a beat, it was great! But I have more things to change in my morning sessions already.” Exactly. A good speaker changes material nearly every time. Sometimes minor and sometimes large scale. Always keep it fresh, like an investment. It’s not the DOING of the session that helps you become an expert or prove that you are, it’s the authoring of the thing!

    @DAVID: Certainly submissions are down and sessions too. To say that no-one cares about this is misinformed and wrong. As to not helping those folks show up well that’s a problem. Their primary tool to help such people make it to conference is to compensate them in some way and they don’t have the funding for that. They are certainly contacting folks and asking them but I don’t know what arrows are left in their quiver after that.

    COMMON had built a significant level of remuneration for it’s volunteers and many were only able to come with that level of support. It won’t be just speakers that are fewer as other volunteer ranks will also be significantly thinned. When changes such these are made, things change and it’s to be expected.

    – DrFranken

  10. I was a 25 year volunteer until 2006. I’ll second Larry’s comment about volunteers not being able to attend without some kinds of “benefits”. I knew many who even had to take personal vacation time to attend the conferences. Many didn’t even get to attend sessions due to the work they volunteered to perform.

    I’m not sure I know the answer, but as I viewed Scott’s video of Randy’s presentation at the MOM session, the first thing that popped into my mind was “I was offering suggestions like those 10 years ago!” For what it’s worth, I was laughed at back then.

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