Ruby Manor 4 tickets sold out in about 12 hours, and it's great and worrying at the same time

Written on January 25 2013 at 12:29

One one hand it’s great that the Ruby Manor tickets this year sold out so quickly - about 12 hours for 250 tickets at £15 each. Our little-conference-that-could must have a good reputation, and people must be excited about it.

On the other hand, I wonder what it else means. I worry when tickets for a conference are selling before there’s any hint of what the content will be, which is almost always the case with Ruby Manor. I know a lot of people will buy tickets for an event based on what they heard about the previous incarnation, but how good a reason is that?

Too cheap to pass up?

And when the tickets are only £15, maybe it’s the rational thing to get a ticket without thinking too hard; even if the conference turns out to be rubbish, or you realise you can’t attend, then you’ve only lost the price of quiet night out.

With Ruby Manor, though, it’s not enough to buy a ticket on a whim and then turn up on the day hoping for some fun presentations. We need everyone to get involved to build the schedule. Given that people tend to value things based on how much they paid for them, does that say anything about how people are going to invest in helping build our conference?

How many of you have read the Ruby Manor manifesto? I know some people really do get it, but I haven’t met most of the 250 people who will hopefully be joining us this year, so I really don’t know what most people think. I know that some of the people who helped us sell all our tickets won’t know anything about Ruby Manor except that it’s about Ruby, and it’s in London, and other people liked it. And that might be all they know at the end of the day on the 6th of April, too.

You can lead a horse to water…

In the Free Range weeknotes last week, Chris mentioned a parallel that I drew between things like indieweb and Vendor Relationship Management, but what I was thinking about when we had that conversation was that I am coming to terms with how hard (and maybe impossible) it is to change the way people think about conferences (or software), at all.

Chris wants people to realise that they can have much more control over what software services do with their data, and how they are built. I wanted conference attendees to realise that there was an alternative to expensive conferences with tired content and pointless swag.

What I’ve come to realise, however, is that even when you try and demonstrate that different is possible, and maybe even better, a lot of people will still approach what you’re doing in the same way as any other contemporary example (be that a conference or a software service). Even if something is better, and you can produce a coherent, concise and interesting argument for why it is better, and why someone should care, even with the most perfect meme to implant in their minds… it often still doesn’t make a difference.

It’s really hard to get people to recognise (let alone embrace) philosophical agendas; what I’ve come to accept over the 5+ years I’ve been thinking about Ruby Manor, is that some people just don’t care, and never will.

What I need to get better at is finding that minority who do care – even if they disagree – and build on that.

Anyway, there’s your slice of my brain for today. Do with it what you will.


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