SmartData 2018: First canceled conference of the JUG.ru Group
We told many times on Habré what IT conferences we will hold. And now, for the first time in the history of this blog, we announce that the already-announced conference will not take place. Despite the fact that we have already invited speakers, booked a site, made a design and worked on many others, we were forced to decide to cancel SmartData 2018.
For those who are interested in SmartData, and for those who are interested “why the event is canceled for such stages of preparation ", under the cut more details. For example, there you can find out the clever expression “sunk cost fallacy”, having received at least some benefit from the sad event!
- What happened?
- It's simple: not enough audience interest. At some point, we realized that there would be few people, and the event would not be impressive - and we were not used to doing “just another conference on <...>”.
- Before the conference, there was still a month and a half, how do you know exactly about the audience interest? Maybe everyone was going to buy a ticket later.
“Sometimes in a month and a half you really won’t understand: for example, at our recent IT-festival TechTrain a lot of tickets sold out at the last moment. But it was a more entertaining event, and professional conferences were another story. They decide to go there much less impulsively, so according to the available data it was already possible to draw conclusions. Hypothetically, an explosion of interest can always occur, but in this case the probability was too low.
- And how could you, experienced organizers, have such an unexpected set-up?
- Well, as "unforeseen." Of course, we proceeded from another scenario, but did not consider it the only possible one. We regularly experiment, not knowing the result in advance: what if we fly to hold a Java conference in Novosibirsk? And what if you set up a conference on DevOps? And what if you hold an IT festival for 2000 people? Most of these experiments are successful, and the event becomes regular. But they can not be successful one and all.
- But SmartData is not the first time, it was already last year. It turns out, then people wanted to come, and now they ran away?
- Partly so. This year we have changed our positioning (more about this was written in the announcement). They wanted to improve everything, but it is possible that they worsened as a result: those who are interested in “about the bigdath” were scared off by the announcement, but did not attract new ones in return.
In addition, last year was the factor of the "first conference". When we start an experiment and hold an event for the first time, this is largely “run-in”, and the requirements for the number of participants are less stringent, but from the second time it takes a lot more to think about plans and prospects.
We hoped that the second time it will turn out to make everything bigger. In particular, thanks to the new stellar speakers, including foreign ones (the first SmartData was completely Russian-speaking). And in this direction were their successes, but they were far from what we would like. For various reasons: for example, it is difficult to invite foreign stars to an event where there haven’t been English-speaking reports before - for the speaker this is some kind of incomprehensible Russian history.
- And what, it was not a pity to cancel at such a stage? Didn't you want to finish it just out of principle?
- It's sad of course. Put a lot of work of different people. And often for them it was not just “tasks to accomplish,” but preparation for an event where they themselves wanted to be.
But here it is worth remembering about the behavioral pattern."Sunk cost fallacy" . When people have invested heavily in something and to refuse it means to lose everything, they are inclined, even with big problems, to continue by all means. It usually ends this way: people spend more and more energy, money, time and nerves on a sinking project, and end up in even greater losses than if they had just stopped. Psychologically it is clear why everyone is doing it this way - and it is rational to understand what not to do.
In general, this is a situation where making a decision is not easy, but necessary.
- I already bought a ticket, what should I do?
- Write on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- And then what? Will SmartData 2019? Or it will not, but in return will be something in a different format about working with data?
- This is still an open question. We are still analyzing the causes of the incident and thinking about how we can do better. Let's just say: now we will not promise anything, but at the same time we didn’t give up on “it’s on fire”.